UV: a high flyer!

In the post last Friday we wondered if UV would head for Africa by the end of the weekend given favourable weather conditions for crossing the Mediterranean. As of 11.00 UTC on Monday the answer was ‘no’, although he hasn’t done much sitting around in the Alentejo area of Portugal.

UV is behaving quite restlessly for an osprey on a stopover where the norm is ‘catch a meal then loaf around’ – much like activity in wintering grounds. He has been flying for several hours a day and at high altitude at times. On Sunday he probably flew without a break for about 7 hours, although he could have perched briefly early in the period when fixes were about 20 minutes apart. Paul has prepared a graphic showing UV’s altitude profile over Saturday and Sunday.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

For nearly 2 hours on Sunday UV was flying at over 3000m ASL. The terrain was mainly only about 150m ASL. This is a view of the area near his highest point.

Terrain ENE of Odemira Courtesy Street View

Terrain ENE of Odemira
Courtesy Street View

On Monday morning UV flew from his inland roost to the Atlantic Ocean and on 24 September he spent a few hours at the Rio Corona, his main area on 21 September.

UV checks out the dam area too on this visit

UV checks out the dam area too on this visit

Over the last few days UV has surveyed reservoirs (generally small unnamed ones), the ocean and rivers but mainly from altitude. Why is UV so restless?

Several factors could be at play. The weather is good and for the most part UV has explored areas he wasn’t recorded as visiting in 2014. So he could be filling in gaps in his memory bank whilst visibility allows him to see far and wide. But perhaps there is a more specific purpose.

The region has experienced a very dry summer. Paul’s chart shows the average climate for the region – you can see ‘hot and dry’ is the norm for summer.

Beja region temperature and precipitation averages courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

Beja region temperature and precipitation averages
courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

In 2016 the temperature has been over 25°F much of the summer and only 9.14 mm of rain has fallen since 1 June. Water levels in many reservoirs are low or very low. See the statistics in this article (translation here courtesy ‘google translate’ 20160905-www-publico-pt-article-on-near-drought-alentejo). In some areas livestock are dying because wells are drying up. UV could be partly motivated by the lack of water in some reservoirs impacting on numbers of available fish and is identifying the best foraging areas – resource-surveying.

We don’t know his reasons, and probably never will, but one thing is certain – he is in ‘explore mode’.

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UV U turns

The last post on UV described him slowing down and starting to explore. This graphic by Paul of UV’s track on 20 September shows the start of the changed behaviour. Times are UTC.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

The kinks on the track are usually when UV is catching a thermal – sometimes this happens several times an hour. This animation by Paul shows such a section of UV’s track. Click on the image to play.

playOn Wednesday UV spent most of the day around the Rio Corona.

UV chills out!

UV chills out!

By the end of Wednesday he’d travelled 2300 km since leaving N England. Would he stop at the river for a few days?

The answer is ‘no’ – after spending Thursday morning in the same area UV set off south. But then he made a U turn.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

The reason for the U turn wasn’t weather. Migration conditions to cross to NW Africa were ideal. When he was heading south UV was flying high enough to have seen the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. He would also have recognised places he stayed and visited during his 3 months in SW Portugal in 2014. Yet he didn’t divert to re-visit them until he was over São Teotónio, a small municipality between the hills and the lower agricultural land near the coast.

UV starts to head north

UV starts to head north

By 15.11 UV was near the Rio Mira which he would remember from 2014.

Yesterday was UV’s 13th day of migration. His is a very different journey to Rutland Osprey Project’s 30(05) who flew from Rutland to Senegal in the same number of days.

The weather over the next few days looks fairly settled, perhaps cloudier conditions later in the weekend. But will UV will take advantage to cross to Africa?

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UV slows down

Today’s data shows that UV has switched out of ‘migration mode’ as he travels S/SW in Portugal. Here is an overview of yesterday in Google Earth. One of Paul’s clear graphics will follow tomorrow.

20 Sept: UV's modest travel

20 Sept: UV’s modest travel

Yesterday UV made a couple of stops after leaving his roost around 06.30 UTC so it wasn’t until about 08.50 that he resumed his migration. But he was only 120-150m above terrain and was flying at slower speed than usual when migrating. He did gain height as he approached the Rio Tejo and would have seen an area he recognised from his first migration in 2014. In this image his 2014 track is green.

An area with striking features

An area with striking features

At closest yesterday UV was about 65m away from his position in 2014. The irrigated fields are quite noticeable alongside the river and the islet too is a landmark. Having reached the river UV flew towards the estuary for a while then went to perch in some trees nearby.

courtesy Street View

courtesy Street View

He changed position to a telegraph pole in a field opposite the trees.

courtesy Street View

courtesy Street View

UV was by the Tejo for over 1.5 hours then flew on towards the Rio Sado at Setubal. Again a familiar sight. 2014 is the green track.

Close at the rivers but not between them

Close at the rivers but not between them

Yesterday UV’s route curved gently to end as a SSW course by 17.40 when he halted briefly before roosting in woodland.

This morning’s limited amount of data revealed he stopped several times before noon. Is he heading for a stopover – the weather shouldn’t have held him up – or just taking a day or so out?

 

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UV reaches Portugal

Today’s data arrived very early with UV still at roost, but there is plenty of interesting material for this post. Here is UV’s travel yesterday.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV flew for around 10 hours and covered 358 km. His average speed was 16 kph (including roost period). Since leaving Northern England (but excluding his stopover in the SW) he has travelled 2187 km.

Yesterday UV flew down an arm of the Embalse de la Almendra, the second largest reservoir in Spain.

19 Sept: UV flies over the Almendra Reservoir

19 Sept: UV flies over the Almendra Reservoir

Unlike his visit there in May, UV is now in full migration mode. Although he reduced height when crossing the dam, he showed no inclination to explore further. Here’s a fascinating graphic from Paul.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

In May UV flew a figure of 8 across Spain and into Portugal. The bottom green track is his ‘out’ route. On 18 and 19 September UV was very close to that route in particular. From 16.43 UTC on 18 September to 10.33 on 19 September he was only a few km away from his May track and his roost was just 7.3 km from the May crossover point.

Yesterday UV started to diverge from familiar territory before he reached the Almendra but he would have recognised it given his elevation.

UV carried on flying SW over hills at first where he was often over 1000m above the terrain. He crossed into Portugal at 13.09 and by 15.19 was in an area with a number of reservoirs, including three sizeable ones, which again he ignored.

19 Sept: UV flying high parallel to a ridge NW of the reservoirs

19 Sept: UV flying high past the reservoirs

About an hour later and still over gently sloping hills the frequent fixes showed UV using the slope-soaring flying technique.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

Paul wrote a series of articles in his own blog describing various flying strategies. This one
covers slope-soaring.

UV stopped for the night in a wood in lowlands nearer the coast. By tomorrow he could cross the Atlantic to Africa if he chooses a similar route to his 2014 migration. Or he may stopover in Portugal. ‘Wait and see’ time again!

Many thanks to Paul for the graphics which are more time consuming to produce than the Google Earth images.

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UV flies on

UV’s data arrived quite early today with a last fix of 10.55 UTC. Here is a graphic from Paul of his progress through Spain so far. Times are UTC.

UV makes progress courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV makes progress
courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV’s course is taking him towards Portugal where he could fly down the coastline as he did in his 2014 Autumn migration. Or he may have headed south next fix!

Yesterday UV travelled for approximately 7 hours after his long flight the previous day. He roosted in agricultural land near Pollos in Valladolid Province.

18 Sept UV's roost area

18 Sept UV’s roost area

This photo was taken a few km away to the north.

Today UV left his roost early and from around 06.00 to 08.00 was perched in a wood near the shallow Rio Trabancos, which joins the larger Rio Duero to the north. The Trabancos is an important river for birds – see the last paragraph headed ‘Zepa designation’ in this Wikipedia link.

A breakfast stop or just time to bathe and preen?

A breakfast stop or just a time to bathe and preen?

By 08.20 he was flying west as shown in Paul’s graphic at the top of the post.

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More on UV’s migration to Spain

Delving into the data covering UV’s travel from the UK to Spain has revealed some further points of interest.

He left the south coast on Friday to the east of Portland Bill, but no sightings were reported by the Observatory.

16 Sept UV leaves the UK

16 Sept UV leaves the UK

Before he completed his Channel crossing he halted on Îles Chausey. UV was there for under 30 minutes. He moved position, possibly in response to the tidal effects mentioned in the link.

16 Sept UV at Îles Chausey

16 Sept UV at Îles Chausey

UV carried on and reached land just west of Mont Saint-Michel. Again he stopped briefly, this time on the mud flats.

15.53 UTC UV near Mont Saint-Michel

15.53 UTC UV near Mont Saint-Michel

He roosted inland. A newly tracked juvenile male, Sagal, crossed to France a day behind UV but his track and distance travelled were extremely similar.

On 17 September UV left the French coast west of Saint-Nazaire to cross the Bay of Biscay. He passed over another French island, Noirmoutier, which is home to the most expensive potatoes in the world!

17 Sept UV's track over Normoutiers

17 Sept UV’s track over Normoutiers

Over a third of UV’s crossing was at night and with a near full moon. He reached the port of Getxo in Spain at about 02.20. He didn’t stop immediately but travelled over Bilbao and was perched on the roof of the Bilbao Exhibition Centre in the first stationary fix!

An unusual roost for UV, Bilbao Exhibition Centre

An unusual roost for UV, Bilbao Exhibition Centre

Yesterday UV was heading SW in Spain.

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UV is travelling through Spain. And other news

UV was still on his stopover on the River Severn on Friday morning when data came. Yesterday there was no email – this suggested he might be over water.

Today’s data reveals he left the UK at lunchtime on Friday making landfall on the Brittany/Normandy coast. Times are UTC.

UV leaves the UK courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV leaves the UK
courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV flew 230 km across the Channel at an average speed 49 kph, maximum 74.1 kph with following winds providing assistance.

Yesterday he crossed Brittany on a SW course then flew over the Bay of Biscay for almost 13 hours. The total distance flown on Saturday was 534 km at an average speed of 29.4 kph, maximum 65.3 kph.

Today he is travelling SW through Spain. He may well be aiming for another stopover – in his 2014 Portuguese reservoir area. The forecast for Iberia tomorrow is perfect for migration with quite light NW winds, 5-8 knots.

UV in migration mode courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV in migration mode
courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

We haven’t had time to examine the data in detail so there may be another post tomorrow. To the last fix this afternoon he had travelled 1714 km. Many thanks to Paul for rapid work on graphics, weather forecast and statistics.

Back at Kielder there were no further sightings of ospreys on Nest 2 so it is likely 37 began his migration on 14 September.

The Nest 4 ospreys have also migrated. Y8, who was fitted with a GSM tracker, was still there on 8 September but we haven’t received any data since then. On 8 September Y8 was still around the nest area. The ospreys had all left Nest 4 on migration by 11 September however it isn’t known where Y8 encountered a problem – the likeliest explanation for lack of data. In the US a tracked juvenile, Trepassey, does appear to be fine despite the data ceasing. It is possible that Y8’s tracker malfunctioned but there is no reason from the telemetry to suspect that to be the case. Nevertheless it would be wonderful if Y8 is seen on his migration.

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