As if it were yesterday

UV has been settling back into life in Northern Senegal. Yesterday, his first full day, he visited familiar areas. The northern part of the Langue de Barbarie had been his main focus since late 2015 and he spent much of his time perched in favourite spots. He flew offshore several times: this was his furthest foray, mostly low and slow but he probably didn’t make a catch. Or it was small as he was off again 30 minutes later!

34 minutes of foraging

34 minutes of foraging

Local friend of Kielder Ospreys, Jean-marie, had been to that very area a couple of days ago and saw 27 ospreys in total, 9 within 300m.  He writes about the Langue de Barbarie and the area around Saint-Louis here.

UV also travelled inland to perch by the outflow from Lac Guembeul, another oft visited site. An island looks rather like a horse’s head.

A call at the Nag's Head!

A call at the Nag’s Head!

Today data arrived very early and it appeared that UV was heading off to check on some other favourite places.

Paul has written an overview of UV’s migration on his own blog – a very good read.

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More on UV’s migration through Mauritania

UV’s travel through the desert has more variety of scenery than might be expected. His roost on the evening of 6 October was below exposed ground where seasonal water courses can be seen, supporting plant life.

Not endless dunes for UV's vista

Not endless dunes for UV’s vista

The next night was a more typical desert roost.

A more featureless view

A more featureless view

On 8 October UV covered 294 km on a mainly SW course with much of his travel over 1000m above the terrain. Near the end of his flying he curved around almost as if sightseeing when he was near Aoussard.

UV changes course

UV changes course

UV's view of the hills

UV’s view of the hills

There is an UN base to the east of the hills, which are the subject of a number of photographs on Panoramio.

UV’s roost was another desert floor perch but on 9 October he reached the Mauritanian coast increasing the options available to him. He started his migration in the early hours, travelling over 90 km by 05.56 UTC when it was still dark.

UV reaches Mauritania

UV flies into Mauritania

UV arrived at the Atlantic Ocean at the Parc National du Banc d’Arguin, an important overwintering area. In 2014 he had travelled down the coast from the Bay of Cintra and halted on an offshore island; this year he perched on the mainland.

A brief halt by the ocean

A brief halt by the ocean

UV carried on near to the coast although his roost was inland in the dunes once more. He had flown 416 km assisted by stronger winds as he approached the coast. His maximum speed with wind assistance was 80 kph.

On 10 October UV continued his migration at a slower pace with several stops. He was often close to the N2 major road. He skirted round the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, in the early evening and roosted inland once more. The distance covered was 156 km.

UV roosts near the N3

UV roosts south of the N3

UV left his roost in the early hours and flew almost 100 km before perching inland before 06.38. He flew on to the coast for another stop, one of several on 11 October. By 13.00 he was just a few km from the Senegal River but he felt in no rush to return to the Langue de Barbarie. He perched in irrigated agricultural land north of the river.

Another stop

Another stop

Then he explored part of the Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj although he didn’t land as far as the frequent fixes show.

More meandering

More meandering

The assessment of ‘Threats to the Site’ in the BirdLife link above makes worrying reading.

Finally UV crossed the border between Mauritania and Senegal at 14.31. As this post was being finalised we received new data. UV reached his winter home territory shortly before 18.00 and went straight to a roost tree he had used before commencing his Spring migration.

Destination reached!

Destination reached!

173 days after he left the Langue de Barbarie he was back safely.

Paul will be writing an overview of UV’s autumn migration – not the fastest even excluding two stopovers but an interesting journey nevertheless.




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UV enters Senegalese airspace!

After several days without data an email tonight was most welcome. It showed UV had crossed from Mauritania into Senegal late this afternoon.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

At the last fix, 16.15 UTC, UV was flying over an area he knows well between the Senegal and Lampsar rivers. He was under 50 km from his favourite roost inland from the Langue de Barbarie National Park.

On 7 October  UV flew only 172 km in light winds. He utilised the energy efficient ‘soar and glide’ technique often that day. Since his roost on 7 October he had flown 1267 km by the last fix.

On 8 October UV was about 20 km from his 2014 route just before the point it veered west for the Bay of Cintra. Easterly winds would have influenced UV’s course in 2014. This year UV knew his destination. As stated in the last post, if he had travelled to Cintra this year it was by design. Stopovers are often used again – as was the case in SW Portugal – but UV ‘cut the corner’ and travelled onwards to Senegal.

There’ll be more tomorrow on the last few days when we’ve had time to analyse the wealth of data.

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UV continues his migration

Despite limited cell towers in the Sahara UV was near enough to one yesterday evening to allow data to be transmitted. Paul has prepared a graphic showing UV’s progress between the afternoon of 5 October and the last fix yesterday. All times are UTC. The green line is his 2014 route.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV left Portugal on Wednesday morning and apart from one short stop after landfall in Morocco he continued flying non-stop until 16.39 on Thursday when he paused for about 30 minutes.

He then carried on until he reached a wadi and intermittent river, the Saguia el-Hamra.

UV halts by Saguia el-Hamra

UV halts by Saguia el-Hamra

The image above shows him deviating from paralleling the R101 road and flying along a ridge. He was using available thermals for efficient flying; yesterday he deployed the ‘soar and glide’ technique to even greater effect, especially from around 14.00-16.00. Another of Paul’s graphics.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

At the highest point UV was roughly 2300m above the terrain.

The ‘soar and glide’ technique is very energy efficient when winds are light to non-existent.
However less ground is gained, as borne out by UV travelling 219 km after landfall in Morocco at an average speed of 26 kph, not as eyecatching as his 50.4 kph for 989 km of sea crossing!

We haven’t received any data today; it could be a couple of days until the next email if UV is aiming for the Bay of Cintra, his  6 week Western Saharan stopover in 2014, or longer if he continues on an inland route.

The top graphic shows UV is diverging slightly from his course in 2014 and is well to the east of it. In 2014 easterly winds influenced his course at a point south of the area in the top graphic. Without those winds he may have flown on through the desert and past the Bay of Cintra. Paul’s analysis of the weather data indicates stable conditions ahead so if UV does return to Cintra it will be by design.


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More on UV’s travel

On Tuesday UV left Portugal at 13.38 UTC from the south coast west near Salema, a village now more focused on tourism than fishing.

4 Oct: farewell to Portugal

4 Oct: farewell to Portugal

He had green rolling hills behind him as he set out over the ocean.

UV's track is the orange line

UV’s track is the orange line

Yesterday at about 08.25 he made landfall in Morocco and perched for a while in a rather different landscape.

5 Oct: UV stops briefly after flying for over 21 hours

5 Oct: UV stops briefly after flying for over 21 hours

As mentioned in yesterday’s post this point is just 14.2 km from UV’s landfall in 2014. Paul explains how this is not coincidence:-

“Even by osprey standards, UV’s landfall is a remarkable feat of navigation. We think that birds (and many other creatures) use a positional / directional method known a “time-compensated sun compass”. As the name implies, this requires the animal to have a sense of the passage of time (because the sun and other celestial bodies change their apparent angle in the sky as the Earth rotates.) UV’s flight tells us how accurate that internal circadian “clock” must be. To get within 15 km of the target after a flight of almost 1000 km – much of it at night – requires the time element to be estimated correctly within about thirty seconds.” This article describes research into the method; thanks to Paul for the link.

Yesterday morning UV travelled on after a brief rest. He changed course slightly when he met the only significant road on his route.

5 Oct: UV flies parallel to the Tan-Tan to Smara road

5 Oct: UV flies parallel to the Tan-Tan to Smara road

Yesterday was UV’s 26th day of migration but at least part of 19 of those have been at stopovers in England and Portugal. In 2014 his first staging post was SW Portugal and he spent nearly 3 months in the Alentejo region. This year he stayed just 13 days. In 2016 he  explored slightly different areas to 2014 so he now has quite comprehensive knowledge of resources at his disposal! His last outing this season was on 2 October when he travelled to the Rio Corona again. He had halted there on his migration then returned during his stopover; on 2 October he wasn’t attracted by the river, though, but explored the reservoir.

2 October: UV isn't foraging whilst overflying the reservoir courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

2 October: UV isn’t foraging whilst overflying the reservoir
courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV was too high to be foraging. He went back and forth, sometimes quite quickly. Was he interacting with another bird or birds? We’ll never know, but usually he takes a close look at any water when visiting a reservoir or river.

He won’t be seeing either of those features for a while as he crosses the desert. There are few cell towers away from the main road much nearer the coast so we may not receive data for a few days.




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UV reaches Africa. In style!

Yesterday afternoon UV left Portugal for Africa. All times are UTC.

UV crossing to Africa courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV crossing to Africa
courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

It is fascinating to see UV arrive at the same point in the Atlantic Ocean he was at in 2014 – at night this time – then stay very close to that track. So close that he arrived just 14.2 km away from his landfall in 2014.

UV makes landfall west of the River Draa, the longest in Morocco courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV makes landfall west of the River Draa, the longest in Morocco
courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

By the last fix today at 12.56 UTC UV had been flying for over 25 hours excluding one short stop. He had flown 1180 km since setting off, 989 km of which were over the sea. His average speed over the sea was 50.4 kph, or 31.4 mph. This is yet another proof that long-distance routes over open water can be much more energy-efficient (or faster, which amounts to the same thing) than the same distance travelled over land.

The weather forecast (courtesy Paul) is good for onward travel.

There will be another post early tomorrow with a bit more detail on UV’s journey.

Safe travelling and roosting, UV, heading south through the desert.

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UV remains in Portugal. And news of a bird survey in Senegal

Last week’s post about UV described him being in ‘explore mode’, flying for several hours a day in the Alentejo region of Portugal. Since 27 September he has been a lot more settled. Paul has analysed weather data to determine if it is a factor in UV’s behaviour. Over to Paul:-

“UV’s continued stopover in Portugal is not enforced by the weather. Migration conditions have been quite favourable, with northerly winds prevailing over most of the western flyway. This situation looks set to continue for the coming week. There may be some strong winds locally in the Straits of Gibraltar – often seen from day to day at this time of year – but the general picture is that migration into west Africa should not present many problems.”

Paul has prepared an animation showing the wind speed and direction forecast from today until 11 October. This still from it of today shows the area of SW Portugal that UV has been in the past week or so.

UV's recent range is within the red circle

UV’s recent range is within the red circle

The animation, press HD for best quality…

On his 2014 Autumn migration UV didn’t reach Senegal until the end of January 2015. If he takes as long this time he’ll miss the chance to be counted in an important bird survey in the Langue de Barbarie National Park which is planned for the end of the year as part of Project Tougoupeul. If you click on the link you’ll find the Project carries out worthwhile and wide ranging work in Senegal. Of special interest to us UV features in an article on the website by Blanca Perez and Rafa Benjumea of Ecotono Birding Sevilla who conducted the 2015 survey.

This article on the Ecotono website describes in more detail the birdlife found during the 2015 survey in the Langue de Barbarie National Park as well as background about the area.

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