UV takes it easy in sunny Portugal

UV is looking very settled in Portugal. This week the weather has been mainly sunny with temperatures in the mid to high 20s Centigrade, rather better than the previous wet and windy spell.

Since the last post UV has ventured to the coast a couple of times but otherwise has only ranged over 0.5 km or so.

His first trip to the sea was on 17 October. He arrived there sometime before 13.00 GMT -fixes were only every 20 to 40 minutes in the morning and a few were inaccurate, probably due to UV being in trees and out of reach of enough satellites. From the available data he only spent a short time flying up the coast towards Sines before heading inland. He flew over the Morgavel river finally roosting in trees beside it. The image below is the current Google Earth view, with the river hard to identify. The pegs show UV looking as though he may be heading away then he decided to explore for a while.

Morgavel river and some of UV's points when he started exploring the area

Morgavel river and some of UV’s points when he started exploring the area

The next map is from historical imagery. The dam at the edge, Barragem de Morgavel, was completed in 1980 and water releases affect the amount of water in the river between it and the sea. Wetter months are most likely to see releases so now the water level is probably more like this September image although the channel appears silted.

Morgavel river in  September 2004

Morgavel river in September 2004

UV roosted between 13.41 and 14.51, with a short fly around during that time.

UV's roost spot on the river

UV’s roost spot on the river

The populated looking area just to the west is a camping/caravan site with some fixed holiday homes, Camping São Torpes.

On leaving the river UV flew along the north side of the Barragem de Morgavel but didn’t explore. He had a siesta on the east side of it on 15 September, the day he started stopover. Or whatever this is! Ospreys do overwinter in Portugal although research hasn’t found any UK ospreys reported since 2012 when a Scottish 3 year old male White 65 overwintered on the river Tejo (Tagus) near Lisbon.

On 20 October UV returned to the coast in the late morning and flew south down it for a short distance before turning inland. Again he flew past the Barragem de Morgavel without detouring over it.  Otherwise UV has not gone far. With not much flying fixes are often 20 minutes apart during the day – the microprocessor reduces their frequency if there is limited activity. It is harder to detect successful fishing but he does tend to be in trees on the edge of the water between 07.00 and 08.00 most days, so probably makes an early catch. Recently he has been more consistent in his choice of overnight roost, using the same area 17-22 October.

7H is still near Azemmour in Morocco. There will be a post about her activity in the last week in the next couple of days.





Posted in Blue UV, Migration, Osprey updates | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Migration ‘up’date: up to nothing!

The two juveniles are still at their respective stopover locations. The weather early in the week would have been no encouragement to move on. The image below  shows the Atlantic depression on 15 October when it was heading east. It also indicates that the usual Azores “high” is off-position, and what’s left of it is centred over the Canary Islands – making life difficult for our ospreys and also for the sailing competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race, which started from Valencia on Saturday. Thanks to Paul for the analysis.

Surface wind map from Earthschool, additions courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

Surface winds map from Earthschool, additions Paul Wildlifewriter

The Earthschool website  has a great animation of the current surface winds. Hurricane “Gonzalo” is now a bit further northeast. The Portuguese coast is still experiencing moderate to fresh southerly winds.

On 14 October UV did make a couple of trips for a change of scene, although one was to the Barragem de Fonte Cerne where he’s been before. The second was to a small reservoir. With his limited travel mostly fixes are only every 20 minutes or so. Often he has moved in between those around his home patch, but he certainly isn’t going far. He is roosting overnight at one of four regular wooded areas and continues to move occasionally in the very early hours.

As for 7H, it was back to the Mazaran Beach Resort on Wednesday after a couple of days respite. At 11.44 GMT she was nearing it but over the sea. She had a very brief stop on the beach next to the golf course, no more than a couple of minutes, but soon went to the small lake. She flew around it, was stationary by it for only 10 minutes, then headed back towards the river.

Back to the resort for 7H

Back to the resort for 7H

On her flight back to the river you can see a bright blue rectangle just below the top of the map which she deviated towards. It is a swimming pool next to a play area at a campsite so no fish there, one assumes! 7H spent another half hour or so flying up and down a small section of the river. So in total she was in the air for 2 hours with only a 10 minute break, her longest sustained flying for a while.

On Thursday she was back at the resort once more, from 09.54 to 11.44. She spent from 10.13 to 11.32 in trees by the lake so perhaps she fished. Or it’s just a good spot to sit for a while!

Back again

Back again on 16 Oct

The image above shows 7H’s visit to Marazan Beach Resort on Thursday and activity from mid afternoon on 14 October until mid afternoon on 16 October; the red dots for the 15 October visit to Marazan have been removed for ease of viewing. Low tide on 16 October was at 14.26 so 7H was at the mouth of the river a couple of hours or so before that and did not stay in the area. Her limited travel range is very clear, typical of either a stopover or wintering grounds.

The ‘Location Maps’ tab in the top bar of the blog now shows summary maps of the juveniles’ migration so far. Tweed Valley Ospreys have recently published details of their tracked juvenile FK8’s migration to the end of September. Her journey through the UK is very similar to UV’s and her latest track in SW Portugal reflects 7H’s last couple of days in Europe, with both taking westerly routes. Fascinating stuff to ospreyholics!


Posted in Blue 7H, Blue UV, Migration, Osprey updates | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Still nothing much to report

Neither of the juveniles has been exploring new areas over the last few days.

7H has re-visited the Mazagan Beach Club and especially the pond several times. Below is an image of it without lots of red dots! The bright green area is the golf course and beyond that some of the villas with their private pools. The area is on the edge of the whole complex so there should be little human activity to disturb 7H by the water.

An attraction for 7H

An attraction for 7H

The image below highlights two visits each day on 9 and 10 October and an early morning one on 11 October.

There is a lake there somewhere!

There is a lake there somewhere!

On 9 and 10 October 7H spent between 20 and 40 minutes each visit flying around and almost certainly did not fish. On 11 October the fixes were further apart and she possibly did make a catch because she was in the trees by the lake for well over an hour. But she hasn’t been back there since! So maybe not a very tasty breakfast.

7H has spent a bit of time at the coast although there doesn’t seem a close match with any particular tidal time. Today she was sitting on the sand just west of the estuary from 13.13 until 13.31 GMT. Low tide was at 11.02, high tide 17.11, so the water would have been rising. Yesterday she was stationary at the estuary at 08.15, a couple of hours before low tide, so the water level would have been falling. Her favourite area of the river is still her prime fishing spot – on 11 October she was flying quite low along it, down to 12m at 14.05, then she went straight back to one of her daytime roosts for a couple of hours. So possibly a catch. Or maybe just sightseeing!

As predicted, the weather in SW Portugal over the last few days hasn’t been particularly good and UV has done very little. On 9 October over 33mm of rain fell at Sines on the coast and it has been showery since with increasing winds. On Sunday at Sines gusts of 57 kph were recorded and 11mm of rain. It was wet again today. UV moved roosts three times overnight 9/10 October, perhaps a sign of inclement conditions. That is it for anything of note for him!

Posted in Blue 7H, Blue UV, Migration, Osprey updates | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Update. If the lack of activity merits the title!

7H and UV are still in their respective stopover spots, which may become their wintering grounds at this rate. (That will make them move on!)

On 5 October high tide for Azemmour was at 11.15. 7H was flying near the estuary just before then and landed on a sandbank further inland than on 4 Oct for half an hour after which she went down to her favourite part of the river. A fix of 5m above the water was followed by her heading back to a roost tree. Possibly for lunch!

In the afternoon 7H was sitting at the edge of the estuary again; she was nearer the water as it appears on Google Earth but was probably a similar distance from it to her earlier ‘high tide’ point. In mid afternoon she explored the river south of Azemmour but the fixes didn’t indicate that she caught a fish.

On 6 October 7H visited the estuary  at 09.43 but did not land. She flew along her preferred fishing area then travelled inland to the east before heading south to a bend in the river about 5 km from the estuary. She spent about 30 minutes criss-crossing the area before going north at over 400m to the coast. After flying level with the shore she moved to a small lake on the edge of the Mazagan Beach Resort. She spent about 15 minutes in the area.

The small lake by the Beach Resort

The small lake by the Magazan Beach Resort

The image below shows 7H’s travel on 5 and 6 October. The two circular areas are her 6 October journey. The fixes on the area of the river between the usual haunts and the furthest exploration are her 5 October visit.

7H goes a bit further afield

7H goes a bit further afield

On 7 and 8 October 7H didn’t go far although she visited the beach resort again on Tuesday.

7H visits the resort again

7H visits the resort again

Apart from that excursion it was the usual mixture of roosting, going to the estuary (but with only one short stop on the sandbank on 8 October at 11.21, midway between low and high tidetimes) and flying over her favourite area.

Interestingly the blog has had a hit from Morocco. Is it coincidence? Or has someone seen 7H? Azemmour has about 37000 inhabitants and she must have been seen over her favourite stretch of the river and possibly over the Beach Resort.

Meanwhile in Portugal UV has been doing even less. On 5 October UV stayed on his home patch apart from a visit to a small lake early in the morning. The next day he ventured slightly further afield, exploring a couple of other small lakes, but travelling no more than 30 km in the day. Since then he has been fairly sedentary, as a result of which the fixes even in the 09.00-17.00 period are usually at 20 minute intervals. It was quite wet in the area yesterday and the forecast for the next few days isn’t good for SW Portugal, with a succession of fronts rolling in from the Atlantic. The coast especially will see increasingly strong SW then W winds. (Thanks to Paul for the forecast.) So in all probability UV will stay put, and probably should.



Posted in Blue 7H, Blue UV, Migration, Osprey updates | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Day trippers

7H has continued to frequent a small stretch of the Oum Er Rbia near the estuary but she hasn’t landed for any length of time on the eastern side of the river. During her first few days in the area she liked to roost on three groups of trees a few hundred metres inland in the daytime, but recently she has tended to return during the day to one of her overnight roost spots on the west side of the river. The image below shows her activity over approximately 24 hours from the afternoon of 2 October to the afternoon of 3 October. The fixes on the east side were when she was flying and usually she was over 100m high, sometimes over 200m. The image also highlights 7H’s main fishing area, just north of the most populated part of Azemmour.

24 hours of 7H on the Oum  Er Rbia

24 hours of 7H on the Oum Er Rbia

On the night of 3/4 October she roosted at a new spot in the scrub, although she had visited it in the daytime. On 4 October she explored a bit further afield between about 13.00 GMT and 14.30, flying over Azemmour then to the east over a loop of the river. She was mainly over 200m high, at times up to 500m, and she circled a couple of times over agricultural land. At 14.28 she was back at the mouth of the river and landed on the shore for 8 minutes. Just possibly she was on wreck that features in a number of photos, although her altitude was zero. EDIT: she wasn’t on the wreck, that is it (now covered by sand) to the north of 7H. Thanks to Paul for finding it on the historic imagery.

7H on the shore

7H on the shore

The image below shows her day trip.

7H has a change of scene

7H has a change of scene

After his visit to the Barragem do Monte da Rocha on 1 October, when he covered about 200 km during the day, UV had a lazy Thursday only moving from roost to roost. But on Friday and Saturday he was back on the wing with the Barragem do Monte Da Rocha the main area of interest.

On Friday UV had a close look at a small reservoir near Cubeiras on the way to Monte da Rocha. After over half an hour of flying over it he headed straight for Monte da Rocha arriving at about 13.00. He went to the SE inlet and perched on whatever is protruding from the water there. Initial research indicated there may be small islands there but larger ones are shown on Google Earth nearer the dam, and UV’s height is roughly the same as when he is flying over the water. So are there tall structures in the water? As on 1 October he was on two offshore points in the inlet, but he was also stationary in the main body of water near the inlet. It seems an unlikely place for boats to be moored being the furthest place from the road access. A bit puzzling!

Although the fixes were at 1-2 minute intervals they didn’t suggest UV caught a fish – the reservoir holds barbel, carp and bass. By 16.20 UV was heading away from the water although he should have roosted there to save energy because he returned the next day. But first he visited the coast and flew south parallel with the shore for about 20 minutes before heading inland. As he flew east he went very near the Barragem de Santa Clara, where his cousin 7H stopped a couple of weeks ago. UV didn’t detour to it although he must have seen it as he was flying at up to 1350m over the mountains. On his arrival at Monte da Rocha at  just after 14.00 he explored the area near the dam before heading to the SE inlet, but he didn’t stop or fish. By 15.00 he was heading away at height. He had a couple of stops, one near the Barragem da Daroiera which he’d visited on 1 October, and another by a river, the Campilhas. He didn’t appear to fish anywhere although the fixes were less frequent by the time he was on the riverside. He flew about 200 km in the day. Here is an image showing his Monte da Rocha explorations on 3 (mainly the SE inlet) and 4 October.

UV at Monte da Rocha on 3 and 4 Oct

UV at Monte da Rocha on 3 and 4 Oct

And some of his 200 km of flying are in the last image, which also shows the pin for 7H’s roost spot.

UV on 4 October

UV on 4 October

Posted in Blue 7H, Blue UV, Migration, Osprey updates | Tagged , | 4 Comments

7H and UV still at stopovers

Since the last update 7H has continued to frequent the Oum Er Rbia but her range has narrowed somewhat, concentrating on the couple of km from the estuary up the river. The image below demonstrates this and also shows three of her overnight roosts.

7H is highly focussed on the river - this is 30 September travel

7H is highly focussed on the river – this is 30 September travel

A couple of times she has moved in the very early hours from roosts on the north west side of the river.  The roosts are fairly close to houses but she isn’t deterred enough by whatever has caused her to move to completely abandon the lightly wooded area at night. Here is a photo of the view across the river to the edge of that area. The trees she roosts on are usually about 15-20m high, so relatively short compared to the 30m high nest pole at Kielder.

During the day she has been flying up and down along the river for long spells. On 27 and 29 September she was in the air most of the time during approximately 2 hours of the morning period; yesterday morning she spent just under an hour on the wing. Often she is under 20m high. Is she finding it difficult to catch fish? That seems unlikely given she has such a short range. Within that range there are a couple of stretches where she spends most of her time, suggesting she is successful there. She is likely to move south soon whether the fishing (or her ability) is good or not but for the desert crossing it is to be hoped she has replenished her reserves.

UV is still on his Portuguese stopover. He seems to have got into a routine over the last few days and has a day touring then a day of rest. Even though he isn’t travelling more than 120 km or so on his days out, so can hardly be tired! On 28 September he visited several reservoirs. He made thorough aerial explorations of the first two but didn’t appear to fly low and fish. He was mainly over 50m altitude and flying at around 30 kph; he didn’t land at either site. The larger of the two was the Barragem da Daroeira. Here is an image of his time there.

UV checking out the Barragem da Daroeira

UV checking out the Barragem da Daroeira

He left the reservoir at 13.10 GMT and stopped about an hour later at the Barragem de Fonte Cerne.

UV stops at the Barragem da Fonte Cerne

UV stops at the Barragem da Fonte Cerne

He didn’t seem to explore the fishing possibilities on the wing but was stationary by the water for 50 minutes.

His next day trip was on 30 September when he had a brief visit to the coast and over the Barragem de Morgavel where he had stopped on 15 September. This time he only flew over, apparently uninterested in fishing.

Breaking his ‘day on, day off’ habit UV ventured inland on 1 October. His first break was at a small lake for about 20 minutes. The fixes weren’t minute by minute at that point but he didn’t seem to try and fish. He set off again at soon after 11.00 and in the next 70 minutes flew mainly over 550m high, and for a short spell up to 1200m, until 12.20 when he lost height as he approached the Barragem do Monte da Rocha. The photo in the link showing islands was useful – on Google Earth there do not seem to be structures/islands in the reservoir, yet UV was twice on something off shore! Whilst it isn’t so obvious in the image below, his roosts were both 20m or more from the edge of the water.

UV at the Barragem do Monte da Rocha

UV at the Barragem do Monte da Rocha

UV was at the reservoir from 12.23 until about 17.00 with nearly 3 hours of that time stationary. He’s going to know the reservoirs of SW Portugal very well if he stays much longer in the area.

Posted in Blue 7H, Blue UV, Migration, Osprey updates | Tagged , | Leave a comment

One sea, two rivers 500 km apart

In the last few days both 7H and UV have been over the Atlantic, briefly, and both have fished in rivers that flow into that Ocean. But on different continents and about 500 km apart.

UV is still in Portugal and is tending to spend most of his time in trees on the shore of a reservoir. He is just into his third week of stopover. Until Friday he had flown only a few km exploring the area. On Friday he racked up nearly 100 km visiting the ocean and the river Mira. Here is a link to a photo taken very near where UV spent two periods apparently hunting. He arrived at the river just before 11.00 GMT and followed its course. He had been flying at over 1000m not far from the river and dropped height rapidly as he neared it. As he flew along over the water he was mainly below 100m altitude and around 20 kph. After checking the river out he went to the coast, but must have liked what he had seen because he went back to the Mira.

A quick trip to the sea then back to the river Mira

A quick trip to the sea then back to the river Mira

The map below shows the timings of what looked like a catch.

A possible catch for UV

A possible catch for UV

As he was only 6m above the water at 12.19, he may well have caught a fish which he flew SE with initially but then back north and on a tree for 10 minutes. Was he eating the head? He then moved a little bit further north and was stationary for over an hour. Although he then flew along the river for a few more minutes 12.19 (or perhaps during the few minutes he flew south after that) was the only time he could have caught a fish because he did not roost again. Of course, he may not have been successful at all and was just roosting!

UV's exploration of the Mira

UV’s exploration of the Mira

Yesterday he had a rest after those exertions. Although some UK ospreys overwinter in southern Spain, eg Beatrice and Green J, it is some years since UK ospreys were identified wintering in Portugal. Temperatures are typically 10-12 degrees Centigrade between December and March in SW Portugal. A few ospreys do take the risk of a cold spell sending fish to the bottom or warmer waters; the Portuguese website avesdeportugal has some details of where they might be found.

Also on a stopover is 7H, in Morocco. On Tuesday afternoon she was at Oum Er Rbia for what could have been a lunch break. She is still on that river and has been exploring a stretch. Paul Wildlifewriter has just published an analysis of a Finnish tracked juvenile Birgit. She is on a stopover in Holland and is behaving like an adult, with a 20 km corridor to hunt along so she is not restricted to a single food source. 7H is confining herself to about 3 km of river. Even though the fish supply is probably ample, potentially she could attract attention from humans because she must be frequently visible. At least she varying her overnight roosts. Let’s hope she’s read Paul’s piece.

It has been difficult to pick out a hunting trip as clearly as with UV. There are plenty of times 7H is over the river, usually fairly low, and then goes into trees, but all of them won’t be successful catches. It is striking that on the whole she is using small areas of low trees on the east side of the river when she is out during the day, but her overnight roosts have been on the west side.

7H's favourite daytime roost areas

7H’s favourite daytime roost areas

The upside down triangle of massed red dots at the three points were favourite daytime places during her first couple of days near the river. The next image shows her initial roost on 23 September.

7H's first night roost

7H’s first night roost

Lastly, the very small area she is frequenting.

7H's small range on the Oum Rr Rbia

7H’s small range on the Oum Er Rbia

The southernmost fix is by a motorway bridge and she was there on 23 September, her first day. The exploratory loop to the west was a short trip on 26 September.

Hopefully she will soon feel able to continue her migration after this bit of R&R.

With thanks to Paul, Tiger and Sue especially for useful discussion and links to items about ospreys and Portugal particularly.

And finally, there is still no data for VV, last heard from on the edge of the Atlas Mountains on 11 September. She almost certainly has not survived although the reason is not apparent. Even with limited mobile phone masts in some areas she should have reached Senegal and better coverage several days ago. So sad, she had been migrating safely and without over strenuous days. She will never be forgotten.

Posted in Blue 7H, Blue UV, Blue VV, Migration, Osprey updates | Tagged | 5 Comments