…in the winter when you’re not in England? Well, we are beginning to have more of a definitive idea!
Thanks to satellite-tracking studies and sightings of ringed birds, we have learned that most UK Ospreys winter in West Africa, usually in The Gambia and Senegal. We are lucky enough to be aware of the wintering locations of some Rutland birds. Due to her satellite transmitter, we know that 30(05) winters in Senegal, and 5F(12) has been seen on her wintering grounds in The Gambia several times. Now, thanks to a trip to West Africa in January 2016 and a bit (or a lot) of luck, we also know where another of our birds, 32(11), winters. Since we returned from our trip this year, we have had more reports of sightings of Rutland Ospreys, thanks to the birds’ colour rings. As a result, we now know where another two of our birds spend the winter months!
Firstly, we send our thanks to Rafa Benjumea, who spotted a Rutland male, 06(09), in Senegal this year! 06(09) fledged from an off-site nest in 2009. He bred in 2014 and 2015, raising one and then two chicks respectively. Rafa and colleague Blanca Pérez are ornithologists working in Senegal for the project Tougoupeul – (click here for more information). They spotted 06(09) in November 2015 when they were counting birds at the Parc National de la Langue de Barbarie in Senegal – not all that far from where John, Paul and I were watching 30(05) just a few weeks ago!
Rafa and Blanca saw 06 on three separate occasions, 11th, 14th and 15th November 2015. This shows that this particular location is 06’s wintering site, and he has likely been wintering there since he was a juvenile in the winter of 2009. Here are some photographs, taken by Rafa Benjumea, of 06(09).
The Osprey team visited this site in 2011, so 06(09) must have been there somewhere! It looks like a beautiful place – here are a few of John’s photos from the team’s visit in January 2011.
To see Rafa’s website and for information about his birding tours in Andalucia, click here.
As I mentioned above, we know that most UK Ospreys winter in West Africa – not all of them do. There have been reports of Ospreys from the UK spending the winter in southern Europe, such as 06(01), a female translocated to Rutland in 2001 who wintered in Portugal, and AA1 or “Caledonia”, a 2012 female chick from Loch Garten who wintered in Spain. We now know of another bird who winters in Spain! 1J(13) is a male Osprey who fledged from the Manton Bay nest in 2013. He first came back to Rutland in June 2015, and was subsequently seen at Fishlake Meadows in Hampshire a few months later.
We send our thanks to Rafa Garcia, who sent us his report of 1J, seen on 24th January 2016 at San José del Palmar Saltpan, Puerto Real, Cádiz, Spain!
Tim and Paul were at this site in 2008, and say it is a great spot for Ospreys. Here are Rafa Garcia’s photographs of 1J.
These reports of Ospreys from other countries emphasises the importance of colour ringing, and also shows that the awareness of Ospreys outside of the UK is increasing. It is wonderful to know more about where our birds go when they leave us each autumn, and these reports prove that they are finding suitable wintering locations and are safely returning there each year. We thank Rafa Benjumea and Rafa Garcia once again for their reports and photographs of their sightings.