The Master Migrator is already in Spain

Since my report yesterday the rest of 09’s data has come through and not only can we fill in the gaps from the beginning of his journey from Rutland, but we’ve also got an extra few hours of data. 09 has made incredible progess and only 34 hours after leaving his roost site on Wednesday morning he successfully crossed the Bay of Biscay and has reached Northern Spain.

The last time John Wright saw 09 in Rutland was on Tuesday, 4th September, as he bathed on Lagoon 4 on the eve of his 3000 mile journey.

09(98) bathing on Lagoon 4

09(98) on Lagoon 4

09 decided that it was time to leave at 9am the following morning, Wednesday 5th September, and after flying due south at 3400 feet for two hours he was already near Bedford. In the next leg 09 set a new flight speed record, an incredible 55mph! Helped along by a northerly wind he had soon reached the south coast and left the shores of England not far from Bognor Regis just before 2pm. It’s amazing what a difference the weather makes. Last year when 09 crossed the English Channel he flew very low above the sea, presumably to avoid the fog, but this time he was 1150 feet above the water and with a speed of 44mph he soon made land close to Bayeux just before 5pm. After the first eight hours of migration, 09 had covered 250 miles.

Crossing the Channel 5th September

For an yesterday’s account of 09’s journey through France, click here. In short, 09 continued south-west and decided to roost 130 miles inland. The next morning, Thursday 6th, he had covered 64 miles in four hours when he reached the west coast. At 3pm he was 700 feet above the Bay of Biscay and after maintaining a speed of 44mph he reached Northern Spain at 7pm yesterday evening. The last data point shows 09 just 37 miles west of Santander where he found a place to rest in the high hills just outside the Picos de Europa National Park.

09 rests outside the Picos de Europa National Park

It’s safe to say that 09 has had perfect weather for the start of his migration. As he headed south through England he was helped by a northerly wind and then he appeared to follow it when he reached France and the wind shifted to a south-westerly. The start of his migration this year is distinctly different from the route he took in 2011, see photos below. Last year 09 travelled through the centre of France and had many stops along the way but this time he skirted over the western corner and headed straight over the Bay of Biscay. This more direct route is most likely a result of better weather conditions.

09’s flight through France September 2011

09’s flight through France September 2012

In 2011 it took 09 four days to get as far south as he is now but this time he has travelled 700 miles in just 34 hours. Watch out Morocco, the Master Migrator is on his way!

After 34 hours 09 is in Spain