UV in January

January has seen UV exhibit some changes in his routine – in so far as he ever has one of those! This heatmap by Paul shows his range over the month and areas he has spent significant time in. Click on the map to enlarge it.

UV in January

UV in January

As you can see from the key blue shows the greatest frequency of fixes ie sites he has perched. But the heatmap also makes clear the amount of time he has spent flying over the southern part of the Langue de Barbarie and especially his original area – the ‘less orange’ points.

The mid-January post about UV described him showing more interest in the National Park, that southern part of the Langue de Barbarie, and wondered if he would spend more time there. This image of the last week in January has the answer!

25-31 January: UV's range

25-31 January: UV’s range

The ringed areas are places he had spent many hours in recent months but they are very much out of favour now.

The previous week UV had begun to visit the northern spit again for the first time since 4 January. On 22 January he perched in the mainland wetland area near the coast and on north spit.

22 January: wetlands and north spit beach

22 January: wetlands and north spit beach

The following day UV left his roost area late, another increasingly frequent event, and split his time between both parts of the Langue de Barbarie.

23 January: UV on both parts of the Langue de Barbarie

23 January: UV on both parts of the Langue de Barbarie

The mid-January post commented on his return to more sea foraging after the rough seas abated. The data shows UV certainly spends a lot of time offshore and scarcely any in the channel, but he is often flying far too high to be foraging. In the last week or so he has often been airborne between one and three hours a session.

This image shows UV towards the end of a two hour flight mainly offshore from the National Park. This is the first time he has been so far south since late August, when he had a couple of days away near his Fas Boue site.

30 January: UV perches near Sag

30 January: UV explores near Sag

UV spends much of the day on the narrow strip of land opposite Gabar. In this photograph looking across to the Langue de Barbarie you can see the relatively sparse vegetation compared with the wider expanse of land further north which is visible in the image of 23 January above.

Although it didn’t have had a significant effect on UV a feature of the weather is worth mentioning. Desert thermal convection activity initiated high level dust cloud formation which travelled on the prevailing northeasterly winds out to the Atlantic. The Harmattan is a hot, dry wind that occurs between November and mid March. It generally picks up large amounts of Saharan sand/dust, but this event was unusual for January because the convection activity lifted the material high into the atmosphere. This graphic by Paul shows the activity.

Origins of the dust storm

Origins of the dust

Already you can see some dust clouds offshore from Mauritania. The slideshow below covers the next couple of days, focusing mainly on UV’s area.

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The Senegalese authorities issued an air quality warning in the early hours of 27 January, valid until 29 January. Although by 28 January visibility had improved for Senegal (the green colour just offshore is plankton bloom) further west large amounts of dust were still apparent on satellite imagery. Another graphic from Paul.

28 January south of UV's area

28 January: west (and south) of UV’s area

In late February the many adult Ospreys in the National Park will start to leave for their breeding grounds. Will UV return to the one place where he did have something approaching a routine, the area of Mangroves and beach towards the tip of the southern Langue de Barbarie?

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UV’s start to 2016

The December update on UV described his near desertion of the northern part of the Langue de Barbarie. That is still an accurate description of his behaviour; unless he has visited for very short periods when the fixes are every 30 minutes or so he hasn’t perched there since 4 January. On that day he was flying more often than normal over water and mainly at foraging height. This image shows his various outings which were all during the afternoon.

4 January: UV keeps fit!

4 January: UV keeps fit!

As you can see he concentrated on the river rather than travel offshore. During the yellow trip with the 14.14 fix he was recorded at heights around 100m but otherwise he tended to be at about 45m ASL.

The rough sea conditions mentioned in the last post are likely to be affecting UV’s behaviour. The wind is still usually from onshore which will lead to higher waves and recently there has also been an influence from the ocean swell created by a very active low pressure area to the west. Here is a graphic of it courtesy of Paul.

13 January: GRIB graphic of the low pressure area

13 January: GRIB graphic of the low pressure area

UV does still fly offshore but whether he catches fish is debatable. He is showing more interest in the southern part of the Langue, the National Park, that was his territory until October and his ocean flying is normally west of there or just beyond the breach which separates the two parts of the Langue. The next image shows UV flying offshore as he headed north and crossing the spit quite near his old ‘home’.

13 January: UV near his original territory

13 January: UV near his original territory

UV was generally too high to have been foraging. He appears to be checking out the National Park more often; on 12 January he spent much of the afternoon just to the south of the land shown above.

12 January: UV on the beach in the National Park

12 January: UV on the beach in the National Park

Is he gaining more confidence in holding his own in an area with many adult Ospreys? Spring migration for adult Ospreys won’t begin until late next month so it will be interesting to see if before then UV spends increasing amounts of time in the National Park.

UV’s behaviour may also reflect an alteration to his non-ocean foraging. The fix above ‘Mboumbaye’ was early morning and on other days this month he has been over the channel then returned to near his roost for several hours, presumably with breakfast in his talons! Fixes early in the day are infrequent but UV used to fly at around sunrise to the north part of the Langue along the channel, rather than return to the land near his roost. He may have had breakfast with him then too, but spending more time inland is a change in his day. Perhaps the channel alongside the National Park is now his principal source of fish rather than one of several areas.

UV’s main perching area during the day is in and around the outflow from Lake Guembeul, although he is still flying NE to the Ngalam River area occasionally. Especially during these trips he is at altitudes of over 300m ASL much of the time and up to 1000m or so. This graphic by Paul shows how far he can see on a clear day – and he has had many recently.

UV's distant horizons!

UV’s distant horizons!

To the south the part of the Grande Côte he lived in when first in Senegal is just a few km from his field of view. To the north Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and to the east Lac de Guiers might seem attractive to UV. Ospreys overwinter at both but UV doesn’t seem tempted. Will he explore further afield soon?!

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UV ends 2015 on a high! The December summary

The last post about UV described his increased high altitude flying. That aspect of his behaviour continued in the last week of December. Here is a link to Paul’s ‘day by day’ animation of December – the orange deepens the faster UV flies so you can see he was also speedy quite often. Many thanks to Paul for the animation.

playApart from UV’s more frequent activity across a greater range the most noticeable aspects of his behaviour in December are the recent near desertion of the northern part of the Langue de Barbarie as the favoured daytime territory and a possible attempt to reoccupy his old base in the National Park on the southern part of the Langue.

On 30 December UV had spent the morning and early afternoon in the area around the outflow from Lake Guembeul. But in the afternoon he went back to his old area. This is an overview of the day.

30 December: UV back to his old area

30 December: UV back to his old area

As is clear from the number of fixes UV spent a LOT of time flying. Here is a close up of all the action!

30 December: UV and his original territory

30 December: UV and his original territory

He spent the first hour flying mostly over the channel or the spit but he was too high to be foraging. Regular readers will remember the report from Rafa Benjumea who saw UV interacting with other Ospreys, and whose monitoring work with his colleagues in connection with Project Tougoupeul resulted in an estimate of around 300 Ospreys in the area overall. Another article has just been published where the writer saw 3-4 Ospreys at a time in late December. The third paragraph contains the Osprey (Balbuzard) details but the whole article is well worth translating. Bird Paradise!

UV’s behaviour is highly suggestive of an attempt to find his own place. He did land in one area (the yellow circle above) a little north of his old base. But he was there only 40 minutes. Will he try again in January?

For the last week or so of December the area just south of Lake Guembeul has been one of UV’s most frequent destinations – as on the morning of 30 December – but he is also sitting  on the mainland, or areas that seem detached from it. The imagery on Google Earth cannot reflect the physical reality in the rapidly changing river mouth. This graphic by Paul shows UV seeming to perch in the water – it is a favourite place to sit and he was there today as this post was being drafted.

A sandbar must exist where UV is perched

A regular perch

One reason UV is foraging offshore less often is the height of the waves currently. On 2 January the authorities banned fishermen from going out in their pirogues beyond the breach because of dangerous conditions. Sadly two fishermen were lost overboard in separate incidents on 31 December. The video in this news article shows how difficult fishing must be.

UV is spending time in marshy ground near both Lake Guembeul and the Ngalam River. On 26 and 31 December he visited the same patch of wetland near the Ngalam. On 26 December he overflew the river too but didn’t appear to bother on 31 December.

26 Dec: UV at the Ngalam River

26 Dec: UV at the Ngalam River and nearby wetland

On his return from the Ngalam area on 31 December UV  had a tail wind and as he neared the coast he was at 918m ASL after being over 600m ASL most of the way. Ending the year on a high note!

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Kielder 2009: the first Northumbrian Osprey chicks for over 200 years

After summering at Kielder for a couple of years and finding a female in 2008 an unringed male Osprey settled on a newly built platform in March 2009. Within a couple of weeks he was joined by an unringed female, possiby the 2008 bird. With no nestcam the dates of egg laying and hatching are unknown, but as the chicks grew the monitoring Forestry Commission Rangers and Kielder Ornithologist were delighted to see three healthy looking youngsters exploring their nest.

Rediscovered video of the ringing of these chicks is the source of these stills, a wonderful record of that historic year.

The first chick to be ringed looked around and at the new bling, not at all shy.

The first ever Kielder chick to be ringed (c) Forestry Commission England

The first ever Kielder chick to be ringed
(c) Forestry Commission England

Another view (c) Forestry Commission England

Another view
(c) Forestry Commission England

A historic ring (c) Forestry Commission England

A historic ring
(c) Forestry Commission England

The second chick was given a White Darvic KC. The process was filmed from slightly further away so there isn’t a close up of the ring.

The second chick to be ringed awaits the big moment! (c) Forestry Commission England

The second chick to be ringed awaits the big moment!
(c) Forestry Commission England

Another still of White KC after the BTO and Darvic rings had been fitted.

This is a big nest! (c) Forestry Commission England

This is a big nest!
(c) Forestry Commission England

The third chick was given Darvic ring White KH.

White KH just after receiving two rings (c) Forestry Commission England

White KH just after receiving two rings
(c) Forestry Commission England

It looks as though the beak may have suffered in a scrap over a fish, perhaps.

White KH again (c) Forestry Commission England

White KH again
(c) Forestry Commission England

Waiting to go back to the nest (c) Forestry Commission England

Waiting to go back to the nest
(c) Forestry Commission England

One chick wasn’t keen on posing!

One chick lies low (c) Forestry Commission England

One chick lies low
(c) Forestry Commission England

We’ve had no sightings reported of any of the 2009 chicks and the unringed parents are no longer with us. But they left a legacy for the Osprey population of Northern England because their 2010 chick Blue 35 has produced six chicks in her first two years of breeding at Foulshaw Moss with the Lake District’s White YW.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this ‘look back’. Thank you for your interest in Kielder Ospreys and best wishes for the festive season to all our readers.

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UV’s head for heights!

The last blog in early December speculated whether UV would vary his fishing between river and ocean given he had begun to hunt more in the river with the disappearance of the sediment outflow. The data shows he is using both areas and travelling inland too!

In the daily NASA weather satellite imagery the sediment ‘murk’ has been replaced by plankton bloom.

11 Dec: extensive plankton bloom along the coast

11 Dec: extensive plankton bloom along the coast

The nutrients will attract marine life and should be good news for Ospreys too!

UV has been rather more active recently. The reason isn’t clear given food supply should be ample. He is still spending most of his day on the northern part of the Langue de Barbarie but seems to be making more flights away from his perches. Quite often he is over the water four times a day whereas in autumn he usually had only a couple of flights -although there were often fewer fixes then because of cloud cover. This image shows 11 December.

11 Dec: UV goes out to sea more than along the river

11 Dec: UV goes out to sea more than along the river

UV has been flying at high altitudes more frequently than in November. This graphic by Paul has the ‘panels to ground’ feature which is so helpful.

14 Dec: UV's morning outing

14 Dec: UV’s morning travel ends on a high note!

The wind is almost always from the NE or E at the moment so he was using the tailwind well – his maximum speed was 74 kph! He made a very similar journey a couple of days later. On occasion UV gains altitude to well over 200m ASL when flying around his daytime area, so he isn’t foraging at those times.

Perhaps he is checking to see what other areas may be worth a visit. He has been to one new site, a canal running from the Ngalam River, twice in the past few days. The canal was built after 2005 with international funding. The aim was to increase horticulture in the surrounding area by supplying improved irrigation.

16 Dec; UV in the canal area

16 Dec: UV in the canal area

UV’s second canal visit was on 20 December and he went there in a meandering flight where he was over 750m ASL at highest. He checked the river briefly before heading to the same part of the canal as before.

20 Dec: UV heads inland

20 Dec: UV heads inland

In a straight line it is about 11.5 km to the canal, the same sort of distance UV travels to and from his roost site each day.

His behaviour now is in marked contrast to the summer, when he was seldom recorded flying above 50m ASL and his range was usually no more than 1 sq km.

There will be a blog on Christmas Eve with some previously unseen images of an historic event – the ringing of the three chicks in 2009, the first year Ospreys bred at Kielder.

 

 

 

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UV: more interesting behaviour and another photo!

The mid-November blog about UV examined where he might be catching fish, given there was still a lot of sediment flowing into the ocean. Lake Guembeul, a recent popular area, was one possible answer and UV has spent increased periods around tributaries of the Senegal River and near its mouth.

29 Nov: UV checks out Lake Guembeul and the river

29 Nov: UV perches at various sites near Lake Guembeul and the river

He has also been close to his original territory on the southern spit of the Langue de Barbarie which is within the National Park.

On 27 November UV appeared to be quite near his old ‘home’ for much of the morning, possibly foraging but also flying at high altitudes at times. There were few fixes but here they are.

27 Nov: UV catches breakfast near his old patch??

27 Nov: UV catches breakfast near his old patch??

Rafa Benjumea and his colleague Blanca Perez (you’ll recall they saw UV on 20 November when monitoring birds for Project Tougoupeul) confirmed that UV had indeed been foraging; here is a photo, so wonderful for us back at Kielder to see.

UV foraging (c) Rafa Benjumea

UV foraging at 08.34
(c) Rafa Benjumea

UV’s moult is apparent in the photo. Rafa described UV interacting with a couple of the many Ospreys spending winter in the area. The monitoring work is proving the National Park is indeed a haven for birds including Ospreys. There are plenty of fish, Rafa says! We hope he and Blanca see UV again before their work is completed later this month. Our heartfelt thanks to Rafa for sharing his so special photographs.

Most days UV is still spending time at the ‘little island’ on the north spit which featured in Paul’s post on 1 December. But on 3 December he was in the Langue de Barbarie NP all day. Here is an overview, showing UV stayed to the south of his old area almost opposite the Zebrabar.

3 Dec: UV spends the day near his old base in the National Park

3 Dec: UV spends the day near his old base in the National Park

As you can see UV was busy offshore! There were two trips, the first lasting almost an hour and the second about 20 minutes. Paul has made a graphic in which UV’s flying strategy is clear.

3 Dec: UV takes advantage of the wind

3 Dec: UV takes advantage of the wind

The wind, although light, was from the ENE – a change from the prevailing direction over the last few months. UV travelled offshore gaining elevation from the tailwind then he was able to glide back reducing altitude to foraging level as he neared the beach. He can’t have caught anything in the first flight, but right at the end of his second outing he was very near the beach at 14.17 and at just 12m altitude. The temperature of the tracker at 14.17 dropped 5.5°C, possibly indicating immersion and then UV sat on the beach for nearly four hours. The wind direction probably resulted in lower height waves which would also help UV locate fish. A strong case for a catch!

On 4 December UV spent the morning on the south spit, leaving for the northern part of the Langue at just after 14.00. You can see he used the same flying strategy as he set off north after perching by the lagoon, roughly the centre of the image.

4 Dec: UV on the southern part of the Langue de Barbarie

4 Dec: UV on the southern part of the Langue de Barbarie

The sediment outflow has lessened significantly now the dry season has arrived. Fishing offshore will be becoming easier, but river fishing will also be productive in December as some species of spawning fish are returning to the ocean. Will UV split his efforts between sea and river fishing – and between the two parts of the Langue de Barbarie? Time will tell!

Many thanks to Paul for detailed weather information and the elevation graphic.

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UV’s Little Island – by Paul Wildlifewriter

Since late October and November, we’ve seen UV adopt a new location on the Senegal coast where he spends many happy hours indulging in a young adult osprey’s favourite activity… inactivity. This animation sequence covering the last three weeks (only) shows his perching [red] and flying [orange] positions through each day. The scale is 1:12000

play

The “focus” location appears to be a small island on the Langue de Barbarie. Six years ago, this low-lying bubble of sand didn’t exist. Six years before that, it DID exist – but it wasn’t an island.

There’s a reason for all this…

The course of the Senegal River as it approaches the sea has always been variable and its hydrology is unstable. Unlike most major river deltas, the Senegal encounters a strong south-going current where it meets the Atlantic Ocean and this means that a sand spit – the Langue de Barbarie – has formed at this point, forcing the mouth of the river to migrate down the coast. In the geological past, tidal effects and the accumulation of silt meant that the estuary could no longer accommodate the peak river flow during the rainy season. The land behind the river became flooded to a greater extent each year, until a breach in the Langue appeared. There is evidence from drilled core samples that this cycle has happened many times over the last 380,000 years.

In 2003, the city of St Louis/Ndar was threatened with such flooding and the Senegalese authorities decided to give Nature a hand by creating a relieving breach themselves. They dug a channel through the Langue about seven kilometres south of the city centre, allowing the pent-up waters of the river to escape to the sea.

Image credit: Durand, Anselme and Thomas, article in Cybergeo 2010

Image credit: Durand, Anselme and Thomas,
article in Cybergeo 2010

The plan worked and St Louis/Ndar was saved – but the power of the river and the ocean had been underestimated…

The gap in the Langue got wider. The next year, it was wider still. Salt water from the sea contaminated the low-lying fields around Gandiol. People lost their farms and their homes. Some of Senegal’s most popular tourist hotels were inundated and, inland, whole forests died. It was an environmental disaster.

Since then, the coastal erosion of the southern Langue has continued and its pace is accelerating. This sequence of Google Earth images shows that the rate of erosion between 2004 and 2008 was around 300m per year. From 2011 to 2015 it was over 1200m per year and still rising. Some attempts have been made to construct erosion defences at vulnerable spots – but this hydrological genie will not go back in the bottle until his work is complete…

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…because as the Langue de Barbarie is destroyed towards the south, the river and the sea are rebuilding it in the north. It is a process that will take many hundreds or even thousands of years but, in the meantime, some of the local wildlife is already taking advantage. Coastal vegetation is starting to re-establish. Ospreys are adaptable birds and UV has found that the newly-formed little island is an ideal spot for sunning himself, safe from predators and human disturbance. Reports suggest that many other ospreys are still occupying the area: the terrain may have changed but they have worked out how to turn these changes to their own purposes. It may be that the altered river course concentrates fish movements into a smaller area, making hunting easier.

UV at 10.42 on 20 October (c) Rafa Benjumea

UV at 10.42 on 20 October
(c) Rafa Benjumea

As west Africa moves from wet to dry season this winter, we will be watching UV’s activity with keen interest to see what he makes of it.

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