Hello again, Blue YU!

Thankfully the weather is improving at Kielder. On Nest 2 White EB bore the brunt of the snow on Friday. She didn’t leave the eggs even though 37 landed just after 16.00 yesterday ready to relieve her. But half an hour later she took advantage of another offer after the rain which followed snow had ceased.

!6.50 37 incubating (c) Forestry Commission England

16.50 37 incubating
(c) Forestry Commission England

Nest 1 was covered in deep snow yesterday but that didn’t deter one young osprey.

Blue YU landing (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue YU landing
(c) Forestry Commission England

Once on the ?ground her ring wasn’t visible.

Cold feet (c) Forestry Commission England

Cold feet
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blue YU was last seen on a nestcam on 18 April just two days after her sibling Blue YS. She is a three year old from Perthshire. Unfortunately neither Blue 39 nor Blue 2H were around for the ten minutes she stayed.

Today YA made an early visit to Nest 1. Much less snow!

09.40 YA checks out Nest 1 (c) Forestry Commission England

09.40 YA checks out Nest 1
(c) Forestry Commission England

Back to Nest 2 where not much later 37 brought a large fish for White EB. She was away eating for an hour!

09.50 37 delivers brunch (c) Forestry Commission England

09.50 37 delivers brunch
(c) Forestry Commission England

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Bits and bobs

First, here is a link to a video of White EB laying the third egg yesterday morning at 09.54.playThe third egg can just be seen by White EB’s foot if you pause the video.

First sight of egg 3 (c) Forestry Commission England

First sight of egg 3
(c) Forestry Commission England

Within a couple of hours the weather deteriorated to almost constant heavy snow. As has happened to the incubator on some of the Scottish nests White EB was covered. This is her just before 13.00 today when the snow had eased.

12.59 White EB (c) Forestry Commission England

12.59 White EB
(c) Forestry Commission England

In the last few days she has experienced several intrusions. Mostly the other osprey has arrived when 37 has been elsewhere. White EB has defended the nest and avoided standing on the eggs. During the afternoon of 25 April Blue 2H inspected his natal site.

A fly past by Blue 2H (c) Forestry Commission England

A fly past by Blue 2H
(c) Forestry Commission England

Earlier in the afternoon he had visited Nest 1 looking quite well fed – and with the rest of the meal ready to present to a female, perhaps!

Blue 2H looking in fine shape (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 2H looking in fine shape
(c) Forestry Commission England

On 26 April Blue 39 annoyed White EB.

Blue 39 hovers over Nest 2 (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 39 hovers over Nest 2
(c) Forestry Commission England

27 April brought a ringed intruder but the ring has proved impossible to read.

Is this Blue 39? (c) Forestry Commission England

Is this Blue 39?
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 39 was on Nest 1 both before and after the Nest 2 intrusion so he could have been the Nest 2 intruder. Although there are only glimpses of the underwing markings of that osprey they are consistent with Blue 39’s pattern.

Here is the first time the Nest 1 camera has captured him landing on his natal nest since he was a fledgling.

15.39 A brief visit by Blue 39 (c) Forestry Commission England

15.39 A brief visit by Blue 39
(c) Forestry Commission England

On his second visit he did some stick moving and was on the nest about 15 minutes.

Blue 39 tidies up (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 39 tidies up
(c) Forestry Commission England

On Nest 3 too snow has inconvenienced the incubator.

The Nest 3 female (c) Forestry Commission England

The Nest 3 female
(c) Forestry Commission England

The forecast is for a rise in temperature after today but there isn’t a dry day on the horizon.

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Third egg for new partnership 37 and EB

When the nestcam stream began at 09.30 37 was on the nest beside EB. If he was waiting to take a turn incubating he was out of luck as EB remained tight on the eggs.

37 stands beside EB (c) Forestry Commission England

37 stands beside EB
(c) Forestry Commission England

At about 09.45 she started getting fidgety and at times she was straining. At 09.54 she gave a lurch and stood. Was that a third egg?

09.54 What happened? (c) Forestry Commission England

09.54 What happened?
(c) Forestry Commission England

It wasn’t at all clear but analysis of the footage indicates that she did lay at that point. Here she is a little later turning the eggs.

EB turns the three eggs (c) Forestry Commission England

EB turns the three eggs
(c) Forestry Commission England

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Roller coaster travel

The previous blog about UV pointed out we’d be lucky to get data for a few days given a desert crossing seemed to be imminent. So it was a surprise to receive an email last night – had he gone back to the Langue de Barbarie?? – and even more surprising to see where he was when the incomplete data downloaded.

22-26 April route

22-26 April route

Paul’s weather analysis offers a possible explanation for the sudden change. Over to him.

When the e-mail from UV’s tracker came in, it was very late on Tuesday and – as Joanna has already mentioned – a whole 36-hour period was missing. At first it was not clear why UV had chosen this odd-looking path, or why he seemed to be moving south into Mali on Tuesday afternoon, when we expected him to be heading NORTH!

The first clue came from an earlier Ornithondar blog entry by our old friend Frédéric Bacuez, who mentioned the ‘harmattan’ (the hot sand-laden NE wind that blows out of the western desert.) A check of sandstorm monitoring images from the SEVIRI satellite instruments shows a lot of convection activity in the region. We don’t get this data in real-time – it is about two days in arrears – but it suggests that UV found his route northwards being obscured by dust and the resultant poor visibility. Until the missing tracker data has “filled in”, we won’t know for sure at what point he turned back, but it is now clear that he did so. This graphic shows UV’s track in green, overlaid on the SEVIRI infra-red spectrograph pictures from Monday afternoon.

Graphic courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

Graphic courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

On his journey SE from late morning on 25 April UV followed the line of the eastern escarpment of a geological depression, Erg Aoukar. He roosted on one of the cliffs.

Roosting on the edge of the escarpment

Roosting on the edge of the escarpment

The minute by minute fixes show him catching some thermals as he flew. He set off in the same direction on 26 April and crossed the border into Mali at 14.30.

He was heading for a greener area, the NW edge of the Inner Niger Delta. He roosted west of a large town, Niono, near which there are sugar cane plantations.

Today he set off in a NE direction and by lunchtime he was nearing Lake Debo on the NE edge of the Delta. Would he stop and consider his options over a fish? After all he has flown well over 1500 km since Saturday. No – he did drop altitude to under 400m but sped over and onward. He has been moving at over 100 kph on some fixes today.

UV keeps on going

UV keeps on going

Here is a context map.

UV's route and what lies ahead

UV’s route and what lies ahead

Paul has written an informative article about crossing the desert, well worth a read whatever UV does next!

 

 

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Mainly White EB

White EB has been the main incubator today with only a short stint by 37 this morning. Yesterday he incubated every few hours. The lack of change over has limited opportunities to see the second egg and latterly both eggs have been moved back in the cup so are more obscured by nest material. However here is a short clip of White EB turning the eggs.

The second egg is paler than the first as is usually the case.

After this shuffle the eggs became harder to see (c) Forestry Commission England

After this shuffle the eggs became harder to see
(c) Forestry Commission England

There have been several intrusions most days. Sometimes 37 hasn’t appeared to defend the nest and EB has had a couple of close encounters with divebombing visitors. One was YA! This is a quiet time for the males who usually incubate for a limited amount of time and aren’t yet required to provide fish for growing chicks. Checking out who else is around is a natural occupation. Thanks to Paul for enhancing the image to confirm the intruder was YA.

YA gets too close for comfort (c) Forestry Commission England

YA gets too close for comfort
(c) Forestry Commission England

We know White EB hatched in Tweed Valley in 2007 because of her Darvic colour ring. That ring has enabled her to be identified in her wintering grounds. The Rutland Osprey Project visit West Africa most years and they have seen White EB twice – in 2014 and again this January. She winters in Senegal at the Somone Lagoon, a nature reserve and one of the most picturesque places to watch ospreys foraging. Many thanks to Rutland’s Field Officer John Wright for sharing his superb photographs from this year.

Somone Lagoon, Senegal (c) John Wright

Somone Lagoon, Senegal
(c) John Wright

Sun glints on White EB (c) John Wright

Sun glints on White EB
(c) John Wright

White EB with her catch (c) John Wright

White EB with her catch
(c) John Wright

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Egg 2 for Nest 2

The average time between eggs 1 and 2 is around 70 hours so we expected to see a fairly newly laid egg when streaming began today. Doubtless the bitter wind and snow showers contributed to White EB staying tight on the egg. Or eggs!

The first view for watchers at 09.49 was suggestive of another egg.

An egg or nest material? (c) Forestry Commission England

An egg or nest material?
(c) Forestry Commission England

Then White EB really hunkered down as snow drove across the fell.

EB keeps her head down (c) Forestry Commission England

EB keeps her head down
(c) Forestry Commission England

Eventually there was a better view.

11.26 Definitely two eggs! (c) Forestry Commission England

11.26 Definitely two eggs!
(c) Forestry Commission England

There’ll be another post later with more on the eggs and also on White EB.

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UV is up and away!

April had been very quiet for UV until 22 April. He had focused almost exclusively on the northern part of the Langue de Barbarie and favourite areas nearby – such as the tip of the mainland – with an occasional outing to the canal near the N2.

1-21 April: UV's range

1-21 April: UV’s range

19 April was quite an active day compared to some!

19 April: UV spends the day in three areas

19 April: UV spends the day in three areas

Recently he has hunted north along the seaward side of the spit, as in the above image, rather than in the river mouth.

On 22 April the day seemed fairly normal until after 11.00. He flew a little NE of his usual haunts and explored a new watery area, perching for a few minutes.

UV checks a new area

UV checks a new area

Next he visited the Trois Marigots and perched in fields irrigated by the river Lampsar. And then he was off!

UV starts his migration by heading SE

UV starts his migration by heading SE

He continued his journey yesterday as this graphic by Paul shows.

22 and 23 April

22 and 23 April

Paul’s addition of the wind directions explains the reason for what might appear an odd course for an osprey who should be heading for the UK. Here’s Paul:-

“Along the coast of west Africa, the prevailing wind is from the north – and this rarely changes until the arrival of the SW monsoon in summer. Young ospreys on the first return migration would find it hard work to battle into this breeze for hundreds of kilometers, so they often seek out the inland route over the desert, where conditions can be more favourable. At this time of year, cyclonic low-pressure areas over the Sahara can form and shift, giving locally variable winds that birds can take advantage of – IF they can find them.”

Other tracked ospreys that have flown inland then taken the desert route north include Rutland Water’s 30(05) who was a little north of  UV’s path a few weeks ago and Rothiemurchus, one of Roy Dennis’s tracked male ospreys, who had a similar route in Spring 2014.

On 22 April UV flew nonstop between 12.18 and 17.51. He covered 234 km from roost to roost. He was over 1000m ASL much of the time and reached a high for the day of 3023m ASL. The terrain below was 56m ASL.

Yesterday he wasn’t quite as high flying so often, with a recorded maximum of 1428m ASL.  Apart from a very brief stop he was airborne from 08.42 to about 18.00. He flew 486 km from roost to roost.

Last night he was relatively near Kiffa in Mauritania having crossed the border at 12.56. It is a fairly large town hence cell towers. We’ll be lucky to receive data in the next few days given the desert crossing that lies ahead. The wind direction early today at Kiffa was from the south. Fly safely and well, UV.

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