This time last year we all got very excited because eight and a half days after leaving Rutland, 09 had reached Northern Morocco. But this year he’s knocked the socks off his previous time and has made it to the same place in only five days! Not only that, he actually arrived in North Africa on exactly the same day as last year! Migration really is incredible. The Google Earth image below shows 09’s progress up to 7pm yesterday evening.
After leaving his roost site in the high hills just outside the Picos de Europa National Park on Friday morning, 09 went due south at a leisurely 18 mph, flying at 2000 feet. Two hours later he had reached a height of 5900 feet and by 3pm that afternoon he had already covered nearly 100 miles. It was still a few hours before he decided to rest for the night in a cultivated area near the small village of Fuentes de Año.
09 had a slow start on Saturday morning but by 1pm he had risen to an incredible 6000 feet as he flew 60 miles west of Madrid. He continued flying south until he reached the Sierra Morena Mountains in Southern Spain where he roosted a few miles away from a large lake.
Sunday 9th September: After roosting only 150 miles away from the Strait of Gibralter, today must be the day when 09 waves goodbye to Europe. By 11am he was cruising at a comfortable 32 mph and at 1800 feet he would have had great views of Cordova, a city in Andalusia, as he passed by on his way south. Up to this point, 09’s route this year has been very different to his route last year as you can see in the picture below.
Aiming for the shortest route across the Strait of Gibralter meant that just 40 miles south of Cordova at 1pm yesterday afternoon, 09 crossed the route he took last year…on 9th September.
Sure enough, by 5pm on Sunday evening 09 had flown over Palmones and he left the shores of Spain at Algerciras and was halfway across the straight of Gibralter on his way to Morocco. Flying at a height of just over 1800 feet visibility must have been good and this is what 09’s view of the crossing would have looked like…
This Southern most point in Europe is a fantastic place to watch migrating birds at this time of year and millions can be seen crossing the short stretch of water as they head north towards their breeding grounds. John Wright visited this area several years ago and many Ospreys could be seen flying through. Below are some of his photographs looking over the Strait of Gibralter to the coast of North Africa.
After a successful crossing, our last position shows 09 in Northern Morocco still making his way south. It’s now been five days since 09 left Rutland and he has covered an incredible 1,256 miles, averaging 252 miles a day. He’s nearly half-way!