Weather highlights. And a bit about the juveniles!

The blog is becoming more about the weather than the juveniles. But as it is increasingly changeable the question of the impact on them – and fish – arises.

For UV in SW Portugal the weather picked up last weekend but it was cooler than he has been used to at 15-16°C. Tuesday was showery and on Wednesday 93mm of rain fell in the area during thunderstorms in strong winds. Below is an image from the Earthschool animated surface wind map for Wednesday.

Strong southerly winds of SW Portugal: late afternoon 19 November Image from Earthschool

Strong southerly winds of SW Portugal: late afternoon 19 November
Image from Earthschool

What effect has the wetter and windier weather had on UV? On Monday, a reasonable day, the fixes showed him moving fairly frequently albeit still only around the reservoir; yesterday he was so inactive the fixes were roughly every 70 minutes; he was mainly sheltering in trees although he flew over water in mid afternoon. Today a couple of fixes in the morning showed him flying but over land. During the last week he has been on the southern side of the reservoir more, with a popular new day roost and also a new night roost on a peninsula which appears to have relatively shallow water on the west side. Perhaps UV finds fishing easier in that part of the reservoir.

The forecast for the next few days is warmer ( up to 21°C) weather until Monday then it will be more showery and cooler, especially overnight, by the middle of next week. Winds will change from a S/SE direction to NW by Sunday and it will feel much colder when wind speeds pick up later next week. Many coastal and estuarine fish migrate for the winter but ospreys overwinter in Portugal both on the coast and at the inland reservoirs so there must be sufficient supply. How tough successful fishing will become remains to be seen. If UV stays, of course.

In Azemmour 7H saw a drop from the mid 20°Cs to 20°C for the early part of the past week and 25mm of rain fell on 14 November. Temperatures have been higher since Wednesday although they are expected to fall again to 20°C or a bit less by next week, with some rain over the weekend.  Gales are expected in parts of Morocco and it will be windier than 7H is used to in Azemmour with a shift to a northerly direction by Monday. Will she decide it is time to head south? She had a jaunt on 17 November, travelling about 30 km down the coast before turning back. No stops en route. As you can see in the image below, she set off soon after sunrise so if the data for the day had come in just after the 08.26 GMT fix it could have looked as if she was off!

7H explores the coast

7H explores the coast

The pylons are still popular, but she is spending more time away from there than on them. In the last week she has roosted near the river slightly more often than on a pylon. And she has definitely got a new affinity for the coastal strip on the east side of the river mouth.

7H activity near the mouth of the river 16-17 November

7H activity near the mouth of the river 16-17 November

On the image you can see the cluster of fixes quite near the estuary (more about that later) but also some further north.  On 19 November 7H really took a shine to them, spending over 3.5 hours at two points. She also visited them on 18 and 20 November but not for as long.

A popular spot or two on 19 November

A popular spot or two on 19 November especially

Returning to the spot nearer the estuary, the current Google Earth image suggests it was a strange spot to sit because of human activity nearby.

A bit crowded?

A bit crowded?

But a historical image shows that by November the beach is rather more deserted.

A November image

A November image

Will it be a week before another post or will one of them make a move? Who can tell, certainly not this analyst!

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UV and 7H update

UV

The weather has been quite unsettled in Portugal with some wet and windy days; on 13 November there was an Orange weather warning for rain and 41 mm of rain was recorded at Sines on the coast. The surface winds map below shows the winds at 12.45 GMT on 13 November and although the animation is missing it is clear the SW Portuguese coast (and the western UK) was experiencing  strong southwesterlies.

Strong winds in SW Portugal Image from Earthschool

Strong winds in SW Portugal
Image from Earthschool

So it is no surprise that UV has confined himself to a small area. He has spent more time during the day on relatively new roosts which may have given him greater shelter, and in so far as it is possible to tell from the fixes he has fished in a more central area of the reservoir this week compared to last. But everything is relative and he is still mainly within a 500m² area.

7H

7H is also keeping to a more restricted area since her Moroccan explorations last week, but hers is about six times as great as UV’s range! In UV’s defence the weather is a lot better in Morocco, still 20-22°C and dry.

Since returning to the Azemmour area 7H has only roosted on a pylon overnight once (she actually went between two during the hours of darkness), preferring the scrubland west of the river. And on 11 November the data indicated she didn’t visit the pylons at all; much of the time there are very frequent fixes so that is probably accurate. The image below shows her activity from just before 14.00 GMT on 8 November until darkness on 11 November. The flight up the coast was from the pylons in the late afternoon of 9 November, an event that occurred soon after the e-mail for that day.

7H stays 'home'

7H stays ‘home’

7H does visit the pylon area for a couple of hours at a time and had an hour or so by the Resort pond on 10 November. But she is spending much more time by the mouth of the river and on trees on both banks or a little inland. Most days she has been stationary on the beach by the estuary in the morning and again in the afternoon. There is no clear correlation between her activity and the tide times other than that her visits don’t coincide with either high or low tide. Here is a more detailed image of 7H’s activity on the river between 10 November and mid afternoon on 13 November; the last fix yesterday showed her flying just a bit further north up the coast.

7H and the river 10-13 Nov

7H and the river 10-13 Nov

So for both juveniles it is back to wondering if these are their wintering grounds or ‘just’ stopovers. If the latter they are much longer than the norm. UV arrived on 15 September so 2 months now and 7H reached Azemmour on 23 September. The Aberfoyle male juvenile is still in Portugal too, but further north near Aveiro. On 10 September UV was within 5 km of Lonaig’s current haunts, mainly around and west of the purple ‘Aveiro’ on the map below.

UV on 10 September

UV on 10 September

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Back to base for 7H

After an exciting (well, to her followers!) couple of days 7H has returned to the Azemmour area.

The last fix on Friday showed her making a U turn, but was it just to find a roost area? She followed a line of pylons as the sun started to set, stopping on a couple briefly before finding a really comfy one for the night!

On Saturday she moved away at about 09.00 GMT and continued in a northeasterly direction, getting back to Pylon City at 10.06. The image below shows her travel between the afternoons of 7 and 9 November, the line of the pylons is clear.

7H movement 7-9 November

7H movement 7-9 November

She stopped on P11 before heading to the river soon after noon. From 12.25 until 13.19 she flew up and down her favoured stretch. Although she went to an inland roost on the east side of the river she was only there 10 minutes so no catch. Another half hour of flying up and down the river followed and she possibly was successful as she flew to a new pylon – P12! – for over an hour.

On Saturday her overnight roost was in that area and on Sunday she stayed on familiar ground.

Here is an image of her movement on Saturday and Sunday morning after her return to the Azemmour area.

Home again!

‘Home’ again!

Unless there is a break from routine (and yes, UV isn’t doing anything!) it’ll be back to roughly weekly updates.

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Is 7H moving on?

The last post ended with 7H possibly flying away from her stopover near Azemmour and heading for her final wintering destination. When yesterday’s data arrived it showed that in fact she returned to Azemmour. But there’s lots more to tell. This post owes much to Paul Wildlifewriter for details about the weather conditions and also advice and research. Any errors will be the result of my efforts.

So to start where we left off at 15.01 GMT on 6 November. Almost immediately after that 7H landed in the industrial complex at Jorf Lasfar. This is a deepwater commercial port and rapidly expanding industrial area with a strong phosphate/petrochemical component. It is also home to the largest water desalination plant in Morocco which is run by OCP, the world’s leading exporter of phosphate rock and derivative products. Phew! 7H roosted for an hour by channels that are part of the seawater pre-treatment cycle.

7H by the desalination plant

7H by the desalination channels

If she thought she was onto a fishing winner at a shallow river she was wrong! She left the plant at soon after 16.10 but stopped on a nearby pylon for a few minutes. She is normally at her roost area around this time and she flew back along the coast to roost for the night on one of her scrub trees north of Azemmour. The image below shows her travel to Jorf Lasfar (centre path) and return to Azemmour (top route).

7H travel on 6 Nov

7H travel on 6 Nov

On her flight to Jorf Lasfar 7H had reached over 600m altitude a couple of times. Perhaps she was establishing landmarks to help her locate her staging post on future migrations. Or prospecting a southwesterly route for onward migration. The weather in Morocco is favourable for migrating to W Africa at the moment with a northeasterly airstream, although on 6 November there was a temporary wind shift in the afternoon. Was this a reason 7H turned back? We’ll never know.

On 7 November she was on the wing early because the first fix away from her roost was at 07.44 on the river bank. Sunrise had been at 06.58. Hopefully she had caught a good sized fish because she didn’t fish again before 16.21, the last fix. She flew from the river back to Pylon City where she spent half an hour before heading off in a southerly direction initially. By 11.00 she was at 300m altitude and flying in a more westerly direction; there are several little diversions on her general course where she gained height and then changed course slightly. She reached 900m altitude although was mostly lower and was speeding along at 55 to 60 kph at times before arriving about 5 km inland of Jorf Lasfar. She turned towards the coast and spent an hour flying along it and exploring the harbour.

7H familiarises herself with the dock area at Jorf Lasfar

7H familiarises herself with the dock area at Jorf Lasfar

She didn’t land as far as can be determined from the fixes, one a minute mostly, and for the last few minutes of her exploration she was at altitudes of between 677 and 778m. It is tempting to think she was making sure that in the future she would recognise the quite distinctive complex even from some distance and establishing other landmarks inland from it.

She then flew high and just inland at speeds of up to 68 kph (that backwind helping, no doubt) before slowing and dropping height as she reached an area of salt marshland south of Sidi Abed. In the image below and this photo you can see what is probably evaporative salt production. 7H flew past there, more interested in a shallow lagoon which looks quite like an estuary. A bird watcher’s delight according to the guidebooks.

7H explores the lagoon

7H explores the lagoon

You can see from this photo that there are pylons inland so a double attraction! 7H spent an hour flying quite slowly (around 15 kph) and low (around 20m altitude) over the area but cannot have caught a fish.

She kept to the coast as she flew on SW but as it started getting more barren she turned inland, heading SE for a time before stopping near what seem to be water storage areas for an hour. At 16.21 she flew off in  a northeasterly direction but paused for a few minutes on a pylon at 16.28! The last fix was at 16.42, she had travelled around 120 km but not in a straight line, where would she spend the night? And is she resuming her migration or just extending her horizons? Here is an image of her day, ignore the top two paths from Thursday afternoon.

7H travel on 7 Nov

7H travel on 7 Nov

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Pylonphilia!

7H

During the last few days 7H has virtually abandoned her scrubland roost areas near the river for the pylons further inland. She has now spent many hours on 11 different pylons although some are more favoured than others. And only a few minutes on others that must be sub-standard to an osprey!

She has roosted on a pylon each night since 28 October and 4 November was the first day that any fixes have shown her stationary in her old area. On 4 November she roosted on an old tree roost, but on 5 November it was back to Pylon City. Even the Resort pond has been almost ignored. The image below shows her pattern of a lot of time around pylons, a bit on the coast to the north and some on the river.

7H's travel mid afternoon 30 Oct to late morning 1 Nov

7H’s travel mid afternoon 30 Oct to late morning 1 Nov

The beach visit was on 31 October. She almost certainly fished successfully on the river during the trip shown above, which was on the same day; here is a more detailed image.

Probably a catch for 7H

Probably a catch for 7H

She had flown at over 100m altitude from the pylon area dropping to half that as she approached the river. At the 13.48 GMT fix she was only 13m above the river when she turned and started heading towards the estuary. On the 13.51 fix she was at 9m altitude and may have made a catch about then because she gained height and flew inland, dropping onto a tree at 13.56. She was there for 20 minutes only which is about half the length of time she is stationary normally if she seems to have a fish, but that was the first time she had been near the river. She could have taken a part eaten fish back to the pylons, of course. Apart from that excursion there are few times since her move to the pylon area when her actions suggest that she has taken a fish although early visits to the river or sea can be missed because fixes then are about 40-50 minutes apart.

On 3 November she spent some time by the sea from 13.02 to 13.26 but went back inland without seeming to hunt. She arrived at the river at 15.32 and flew up and down for half an hour. Her altitude was mostly higher than when she is hunting but the fixes were approx 3 minutes apart so she may have succeeded near the end of her visit. On 4 November it is possible she made an early catch. For the first time in several days an early fix showed her on the river. At 07.37, an hour after sunrise, she was flying along it and by 08.12, the next fix, she was on one of her old roosts in the scrubland west of the river. During the rest of the morning she made more visits to the east side of the river than of late, so perhaps she is getting fed up with pylon life! That might not be a bad thing. There can be coastal fog which if it rolls inland could put her at risk of flying into the wires, especially as there are a LOT of pylons about. Here is a photo taken from the beach near where she has been recently and the striking pylons are visible in the background. The image below shows her activity from mid afternoon on 1 November until just after noon on 4 November.

7H activity approx mid pm  1 Nov to noon 4 Nov

7H activity approx mid pm 1 Nov to approx noon 4 Nov

On 5 November 7H spent an hour flying non-stop in a large circle inland a short way and then over the sea and up the coast. But it was back to the pylons by 14.50 and she roosted on one again. Yesterday she was flying along the river at soon after 08.00 but was back on a pylon until early afternoon when she headed off for……? The last fix came in at 15.01. She was further from Azemmour than she has travelled before and there is a tailwind for birds flying to West Africa. But she may just have been out for an afternoon jaunt. Time will tell. No e-mail yet today. There’ll be an update with anything exciting!

UV

UV was stung into action by the comment in the last post that he scarcely moved more than 500m² in a day because that same day (30 October) he went to the coast and back and also flew around the reservoir more than the data normally suggests! He still didn’t cover many km though.

The most interesting aspect of his behaviour recently has been some overnight changes of roost. He has a new daytime roost point which he’s favoured since around 20 October and especially in the last week, although his interest is starting to wane!  In the early hours of 31 October and again on 2 and 3 November he moved around 150m to the daytime roost area from the then usual overnight spot. There is no obvious reason, both sites are on the east side of slopes and the weather has been largely settled although it was wet and windy early and late this week. Then on 6/7 November he again made an early hours move between roosts, both of them trees he had roosted on overnight earlier in his stopover but less frequently of late.

On 4 and 5 November he was flying more often than of late; he was sufficiently active to generate fixes only a minute apart for a while! But he still didn’t go more than about 1 km from his roost areas.  It was fairly cool at 14°C by recent standards on 4 November and quite wet. There are showers today, likely to continue over the weekend, but then the weather will pick up again.

 

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Ponds, pylons and other places

7H

This week 7H has exhibited changes in behaviour culminating in a new roost area overnight since 28/29 October and exploration of new areas to the west.

So what has she been up to?

On 26 October she was at the Resort pond by 07.11 GMT. It has been established that there are no fish in it so her food must be coming from the river or sea. She left the pond about 10.15 and was flying up and down her favourite stretch of the river by 10.27 at heights between 1m and 22m for some minutes. But she only had a couple of short spells in trees thereafter so presumably didn’t make a catch. Although she can eat very quickly! After more time over the river and in her usual roost areas nearby she went back to the pond and was perching at 13.16. She was there until 16.21 and then came her first bit of new behaviour; she spent the next hour plus on a couple of electricity pylons south of the pond, only leaving as the light faded to return to her usual overnight roost area.

The two pylons from a historic image

The two pylons from a historic image

The image above shows the pylons themselves better than the current Google Earth imagery. They are very near an industrial complex which may be a municipal waste management plant being planned in 2009. One aim was to generate electricity to feed into Morocco’s national grid and the pylons for that are perhaps what attracted 7H!

The industrial complex and pylons

The industrial complex and pylons

On 27 October she was at the pond early again (06.44) until around 09.30 when she flew up the coast and then along the river. Her altitude was between 3m and 22m before she headed off to a roost area for 70 minutes, so she may have fished successfully. She then travelled up the coast east of the river, stopping twice for a few minutes on the beach near where she perched on 23 October. After that she went inland and after flying at up to 144m identified a new pond to sit by! It is a recent construction, not appearing on 18 month old imagery.

Another insignificant looking bit of water!

Another insignificant looking bit of water!

Here is her travel for part of the afternoon.

Along the coast and then inland to a new pond

Along the coast and then inland to a new pond

The rest of that day was more routine, with a short stay on a previously used perch on the east side of the river before more flying along it.

On 28 October she may have had an early catch because she was roosting quite near the river until 10.42 when she was heading for the Resort pond. Although she flew over it she settled for a couple of hours on an area just south. For the rest of the afternoon she confined herself to a small area between the pond and pylons and she spent the night between two pylons, her first time away from a roost within a couple of hundred yards or so of the river.

On 29 October she was out flying over the sea to the west by 08.00 before heading back along the coast and then inland to Pylon City! By the time the last fix came in she had perched on five pylons for varying periods of time as well as going further west than previously. On her trip back along the coast after one excursion she had a couple of stops on the beach by the Royal Golf Course. Below is an image of 7H’s change of focus away from the river.

7H sticks to the coast and pylons

7H sticks to the coast and pylons

STOP PRESS! Just as this was being finalised the data arrived and 7H has spent most of today pylon hopping. Just one early trip to the river. A probable attraction of the pylons is their height; at approx 53m tall they are over twice the height of most of the trees 7H has been using.

UV

In the 6 days since an update on UV he has scarcely flown outside a 500m² range. He had an excuse on 28 October because the sunny and warm spell was replaced by a day of thunderstorms caused by a slow moving trough almost parallel to the coast. Although the most frequent fixes are roughly once every 15 minutes (and mostly they are at least 30 minutes apart) he was flying only twice at the times they were made.

It was still wet on Wednesday for a time, although the temperature remained around 25°C. After a return to sun on Thursday (and 26°C) the temperatures are expected to fall by Monday to around 18-20°C  with showers then heavy rain by midweek. Will the more inclement conditions cause UV to think of moving on? It was wet – and windy – a couple of weeks ago but he just sat it out. The last fix on today’s e-mail (10.13) was him flying very near the coast in the area he visited last week. It is always frustrating when he is going somewhere and there won’t be any more news until the next day!

UV has almost always moved position between dawn and sunrise, usually to a point right by the water. He heads for his overnight roost spot in the hour before sunset. So he is out and about when it’s light, even if he doesn’t travel far usually.

For readers interested in osprey migration Paul Wildlifewriter has written the first part of a series on ‘Migration in Detail’ on his blog. A fascinating read. No downwind tacking for the Kielder pair at the moment with their limited ranges!

Grateful thanks to Paul for some of the research and weather related information in this post. Any errors are mine.

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Old and new for 7H

The weather in Azemmour has been in the mid 30s Centigrade for the last week with light winds. 7H is doing considerably more flying than cousin UV so there are many more fixes showing her location. She has exhibited some minor changes to her range, but can’t leave that pond at the Mazagan Beach Resort alone for more than a couple of days at most! She’s been on the beach more than usual in the lovely weather and has returned to roost during the day in areas of land east of the river for the first time since early in her stopover.

On 18 October after an hour by the Resort pond 7H flew along the river before heading up to the coast where she sat on the beach near this spot for about 10 minutes.  She then flew further north and paused again; the image below shows the two points.

A couple of stops on the beach for 7H

A couple of stops on the beach for 7H

On 19 October the main item of interest was a two hour period of non-stop flying, mainly up and down the river but occasionally a short way inland. This was between 12.49 GMT and 14.48 so it would have been very warm indeed.

On 20 October she spent four spells sitting on trees on the east side of the river a little inland; as stated above she hasn’t perched on that side of the river for nearly a month. This is the view from near the bottom two points if she was facing south west. Below is an image showing the roosts, one of her overnight roosts (Roost 6) as well as her travel over roughly 24 hours from early afternoon on 19 October to just after 16.00 on 20 October.

7H travel on 19 and 20 October

7H travel on 19 and 20 October

The next day she was back to the Resort for an hour or so by the pond before going to the east again. There isn’t an obvious reason why she has started to use that area; for instance it appears to have less shelter from the heat of the sun than the more wooded land west of the river. Or the trees by the pond!

Second day on the east side of the river

Second day on the east side of the river

From then until early on 25 October she has continued to sit by the pond for at least an hour every day and has been back to the eastern day roosts and the beach. She obviously likes regular changes of scene! The final image shows her activity from about noon on 23 October to 09.00 on 25 October when she was at the pond. Roost 5 is an area she has spent the night and also visits during the day.

7H from midday 23 Oct to 09.00 25 Oct

7H from midday 23 Oct to 09.00 25 Oct

 

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