The migration facts

With 09 and AW both now settled on their wintering grounds, in Senegal and Guinea respectively, it has given us the opportunity to compare their flights to West Africa.

As you will know if you tracked their progress, the two birds followed a similar route as they flew south. Both birds crossed the English Channel at Dungeness and then flew south through central France, passing over Orleans and the Osprey nests situated close by.

As AW approached the Pyrenees he switched to a more south-westerly course to avoid the mountains, whereas 09 flew directly through the high peaks. Both birds then made good progress through Spain and, interestingly, we recorded the highest altitude for both birds on this section of their journey. 09 reached an altitude of 6112 feet as he migrated over Andalucia and AW flew south at an incredible 9055 feet just north of Madrid. Their flight paths then converged again in the south of Spain, with 09 crossing the Mediterranean at Tarifa and AW heading across the sea further east.

The migration routes of AW and 09

Once in Africa both birds skirted around the foreboding Atlas Mountains before following a remarkably similar route across the vast wilds of the Sahara. AW took just three days to cross the desert, with 09 taking a day longer. Each was clearly intent on crossing as quickly as possible; we recorded fastest speeds for both birds in Western Sahara – 29mph for AW and 50 mph for 09.

By the time he reached his wintering site on the Senegal coast 09 had covered 2972 miles from Rutland Water in 16 days – an average distance of 186 miles per day. AW flew further south to Guinea. He migrated 3277 miles in just 14 days – an average of 234 miles per days. Interestingly AW’s average speed was significantly slower than 09 – 15 mph compared to 29 mph – but by flying for longer each day, he completed his migration faster.   The table below summarises the key facts of the two flights.

  AW 09
Total distance flown 3277 miles 2972 miles
Duration 14 days 16 days
Average distance per day 234 miles 186 miles
Average speed 15 mph 27 mph
Fastest speed 29 mph 50 mph
Average altitude 2431 feet 1919 feet
Highest altitude 9055 feet 6112 feet

Finally, here is Osprey fact of the day. 09 is thirteen years old and now we know where he has spent each winter since his first migration from Rutland Water in 1998. This means that in his lifetime he has migrated a staggering  75,000 miles. In other words he has flown round the world three times!