7H: a ‘mini break’ or more?

Just as the last update on 7H was being finalised data arrived showing she had flown down to the port and industrial area at Jorf Lasfar on 26 March. She was still there when the data arrived early today.

She started 26 March by spending the morning around the loop in the river upstream from her new favourite spot to sit near the A5 bridge. She took some hunting level flights along the river but before noon she set off towards the SSW reaching a maximum recorded elevation of 557m ASL. She arrived at Jorf Lasfar at about 13.40 GMT having stopped a couple of times and explored over farmland. The following image shows her range.

7H heads back to Jorf Lasfar

7H heads back to Jorf Lasfar

Was there a reason she left Azemmour or was it just ‘restlessness’? Perhaps fishing had been trickier. The waves had been up to 12 feet high at the coast on 25 March, more offshore. Paul has produced an animation showing the trend over 24 and 25 March.

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But upstream – where 7H spent most of her time – she shouldn’t have had real problems.

For whatever reason she has chosen to move to an area that isn’t best described as a tourist attraction as this video shows. Many thanks to Paul for producing the animation and finding the video.

During the afternoon of 26 March 7H was around the dock area.

7H at the dock area

7H at the dock area

Her roost for the night was further inland … a pylon!

On 27 March 7H made an excursion south of around 8 km in a straight line but the relatively unspoilt scenery didn’t appeal as much as Jorf Lasfar. Back she went with only a one minute halt during the trip.

A trip down the coast

A trip down the coast

On 28 March 7H spent the day mainly below the outfall from the power station (described by Wikipedia as the largest independent power station in Morocco).

On 28 March 7H paid most attention to the outfall from the power station

On 28 March 7H paid most attention to the outfall from the power station

The water is not polluted – it is raw seawater used to cool the turbine heat exchangers. It will be slightly warmer than the sea and smaller fish often congregate around such places. 7H may have caught a fish when flying there at around 09.40 because the temperature reading on her tracker dropped 11 degrees between 09.40 and 09.46.

Last night she roosted between two different pylons. Will she extend her stay or fly back to Azemmour? Or carry on south?!

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7H: either doing nothing much or quite a lot!

The last update on UV described some unsettled behaviour. Here is more detail from Paul Wildlifewriter on what may be the cause.

Ospreys are creatures of habit, and so any observed departure from their usual routines is a cause for interest. UV’s recent unsettled behaviour – particularly around his habitual evening roost sites – has no obvious explanation, but it might be just the time of year that is affecting him… Many species of migratory birds exhibit zugunruhe (migratory restlessness) at certain times of the year. Research has shown that this happens in accordance with “built-in” circannual rhythms, although modified by external influences such as the varying lengths of day. Recent studies suggest that this behaviour is an intrinsic part of being a bird, and even some non-migratory species can exhibit it. If this is true, then we might expect a first-year osprey to feel some of the effect – even though it is not actually required to undertake a full migration until another twelve months have passed. This is yet another aspect of osprey ethology that is being highlighted by GSM tracking technology – it would not normally be observed in the wild. It will be interesting to see how this develops as the season goes on. Citation: “Zugunruhe of migratory and non-migratory birds in a circannual context” B. Helm, 2006, DOI: 10.1111/j.2006.0908-8857.03947.x

Many thanks to Paul for the insight. 7H has been more markedly unsettled than UV as recent updates have highlighted. On the whole this continues to be the case, although just after the last post she appeared to have ceased her explorations. It was rather worrying at first because on 21 March, a day of rain, she sat on the beach a little north of her usual positions from 10.30 GMT until just after 18.00.

7H in one very small area all day

7H in one very small area all day

Although the eagle eyed will notice the time slider at the top reads 16.02 it was 18.18 before there was a fix away from the area as she returned to a Eucalyptus tree for the night. You can see the place she sat looks very bare; was 7H injured or ill to sit so long in an apparently inhospitable spot? Pip and Vic were consulted and provided some reassurance. They remembered a bit more vegetation when they visited at the end of February. Presumably 7H did find a ‘comfortable’ place to sit out the rain. On 22 March she was relatively quiet again (it was still rainy), staying around the Eucalyptus trees until a data point at 12.14 showed her flying quite near the mouth of the river. She may well have caught lunch because the tracker temperature dropped 12°C between 12.05 and 12.17, suggesting possible immersion. She returned to the Eucalyptus trees until later in the afternoon when she went across to the pylons for the rest of the day and night. On 23 March 7H went up to the beach near the gravel extraction site after sitting near the wreck at the mouth of the river on the southern side. She left there in mid afternoon and had a wide sweep round the farmland on the east side of the river.

A bit of exploring

A bit of exploring

7H went up to 374m ASL to survey her surroundings and beyond as she headed south towards her new favourite spot near the bridge over the A5. Her most adventurous day was 24 March when she flew mainly along the winding river further upstream than previously.

7H goes upstream for the afternoon

7H goes upstream for the afternoon

A straight line from the A5 bridge to her furthest point is about 21 km. Paul has researched whether some anadromous fish species may have migrated upstream and she was following a food source but this seems unlikely at this stage of the season. Mostly her altitude was too high to have been hunting although she circled lower examining the terrain a few times.

The end of the outing

The end of the outing

Just as this post was being completed a partial data download arrived; at some point yesterday 7H went south to the area around Jorf Lasfar – she was still there at 17.30 today. Zugunruhe indeed! There will be a further update in the next couple of days.

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Another ‘home and away’ post

The Nests 1 and 2 cameras are working with streaming to Kielder Castle Cafe during opening hours, which from Saturday for the two weeks of school holiday are 09.00 to 17.30.

Reviewing recorded footage has identified a few birds on both nests, but not the ones we long to see!

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Whilst work has been going on at Kielder in readiness for the new season UV has been ‘doing not a lot’ on the Grande Côte in Senegal. As a juvenile his patch may not be quite as good as those used by some adults who will have started their migrations now, although from Google Earth images there appears little difference in habitat along most of the coastal strip between the Langue de Barbarie and just north of Dakar. Neverthless readers may recall that UV made frequent exploratory trips from the area he is now in, especially to the north, suggesting he could have felt it lacked ‘something’. The Rutland Osprey Project adult female 30(05) left her wintering grounds on 10 March. UV had spent a night quite near her area, but he has been nowhere near there since she left. He hasn’t ventured very far afield at all. Apart from a direct return trip to the phosphate mine at Darou on 20 March UV’s only ‘exploring’ was on 17 March when he went well south of his normal Darou route on the way back. This made it a 75 km outing. He was never at a particularly high altitude and had a stop on the beach when travelling up the coast.

UV goes south before heading home

UV goes south before heading home

Most days he has been very sedentary, with perhaps three flights off shore. Here is an image of a fairly typical day.

UV on 21 March

UV on 21 March

But on 22 March he was very unsettled in the area he sits during the day. Instead of spending a couple of hours or more in a very small range he often flew around for about 5 minutes before returning to a tree close to the one he left for 15 minutes or so, then off again. Spot the difference to the previous image!

An unsettled UV

An unsettled UV

Some nights he has been fidgety too, flitting around some distance in the dark. Paul’s weather analysis can find no explanation for these behaviours.

Meanwhile, in Morocco 7H has continued doing interesting things suggesting she is unsettled too. Are some first winter ospreys restless at migration time, caused either by the adults moving through, or by instinct?

 

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7H: a lot has been going on! Part 2

This post shows the changes in 7H’s behaviour in more detail, and considers some possible explanations. Readers of the last post may like to read more here about how Paul uses GIS to create some of his graphics, for example the ‘heatmap’ of 7H’s activity.

Back to the last week or so. 7H was using only her usual haunts for the most part, although on 10 March she flew upstream south of Azemmour in late morning and again late afternoon. She roosted in a Eucalyptus tree that night. On 11 and 12 March she was quite inactive; as a consequence there were fewer data points and she could have gone south again for a few minutes but there is no evidence. On 13 March 7H flew just south of Azemmour again but also visited the mouth of the river on what was another quiet day. She roosted on a pylon.

On 13 March 7H flies quite high on her way to and from the river

On 13 March 7H flies quite high on her way to and from the river

Over these few days there was no strong indication of what would happen next.

On 14 March 7H had a couple of flights in the morning onto the stretch of river shown above. The major road you can see is the A5. But she also sat at the mouth of the river for a few minutes (having reached over 600m altitude on the way) and seemed to hunt on her usual stretch of river before going to the pylons for the early afternoon. And then along to the ‘new’ section of river again. Here are images of two of her sorties.

7H flies over the river after sitting in a field for a short time

7H flies over the river after sitting in a field for a short time

Another flight to the river

Another flight to the river

Although on the second of these visits 7H was low over the river itself it didn’t appear to be a hunting trip. On both occasions she was mostly flying higher than usual.

On the morning of 15 March 7H again restricted her range to around the A5 bridge, the fields either side (and road edge for brief periods) and pylons before travelling to Jorf Lasfar which she circled and then left! That is a round trip of over 80 km.

16 and 17 March were centred on the river around the A5 bridge and pylons. 7H often sat in fields near the river. This image shows she had a vantage point as the fields are quite elevated.

On 18 March 7H took another trip west, but only to the headland on which El Jadida was built. She flew low and slow around the top of the headland….

7H to the headland and back

7H to the headland and back

….then flew back to ‘pylon land’, via a pylon stop on the way. She flew about 40 km.

On 19 March this was 7H’s range.

Back to 'home' range

Back to ‘home’ range

On 20 March 7H flew down to the area by the A5 bridge for the morning. At 12.19 she set off on a circular trip reaching a maximum altitude of around 750m. After a 40 minute break near the coast she returned to the pylon area but flew on to near the A5 bridge to sit. After hunting along the loop of the river she returned to the Eucalptus trees for the night.

7H activity on 20 March and  21 March until 16.00

7H activity on 20 March and 21 March until 16.00

Paul has made an animation of the winds in West Africa during March.

So what explanation can there be for 7H’s shift of area? We can only speculate but it is extremely likely that the reason is another osprey (or more). Paul’s wind animation shows how the conditions for migrating ospreys worsened during the period 13-20 March. It is feasible that one or more adults halted in the coastal area around Azemmour to await better conditions, and 7H moved upstream because of increased competition. Her higher than normal flying could be her scouting around for other birds. Alternatively an adult could have left the A5 bridge patch on migration and 7H has been trying it out. When she arrived at Azemmour last September she was between what became her territory and the area around the bridge; she moved after a couple of days, perhaps because she was too near another osprey’s domain rather than that she identified the downstream section as the best.

Her frequent day trips may be her keeping out of the way of experienced ospreys. She hasn’t fished on any of the outings and she isn’t really ‘exploring’ because she has been to the same places. Lots of ‘coulds’ and “maybes’!

On 21 March 7H spent the day along the coast near the northern end of the gravel extraction. It was rainy from about 10.00 so she was probably sitting it out.

 

 

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7H: a lot has been going on! Part 1

Now that we are receiving data again from 7H’s tracker she has decided to provide some entertainment! The last week has seen a lot of intriguing behaviour which can’t be definitively explained, although it is hard to resist the conclusion that another osprey (or ospreys) are the reason. This post will give an overview of what has happened, with another tomorrow showing some aspects in a bit more detail.

Before that, the following image has been produced by Paul from the data available to late January.

7H's flying 'hotspots'

7H’s flying ‘hotspots’

It shows clearly 7H’s preferred area of the river for fishing and the other fish sources she frequented – the resort pond and the mouth of the river. The pale green areas are the pylons (the strip under the pond area) and the gravel extraction/beach area, top right. By removing stationary fixes distortion eg from the overnight roost is avoided.

The map is a neat introduction to the last week. The six weeks of missing data would fit into the image above comfortably. But more recently 7H made a radical change to her range. Here is an image showing points from the afternoon of 14 March to around noon on 19 March.

7H leaves her usual haunts

7H leaves her usual haunts

The orange paths towards the river mouth are her previously favoured areas. Suddenly, apart from roosting overnight on the pylons, she had not even flown over any of them until yesterday afternoon. Paul has researched detailed weather data – it has been settled around Azemmour so no help there. Out to sea it has been stormier which may have driven estuarine fish further upstream but those conditions have occurred before without any similar response from 7H.

She also took two trips to the west during this period. First, on 15 March she flew to Jorf Lasfar, a busy port and industrial area she has visited before. It was just an afternoon trip and flying back at dusk she roosted a few hundred metres west of the pylons on her return. On 18 March she travelled to El Jadida, or rather the headland around the city. The majority of time was spent in her new range.

The next post will examine her behaviour in a bit more detail.

Finally, readers may recall that during their trip to Morocco Pip and Vic noticed that Ospreys near Agadir still fished on a Sunday when local people were enjoying the beach. But the birds were unsettled by the human activity, taking their meal elsewhere. Paul did some preliminary work to see if the same could apply to 7H at Azemmour. When the backlog of data arrived he did more.

7H avoids sitting either side of the river mouth on Sundays

7H avoids sitting either side of the river mouth on Sundays

7H spent some time sitting near the gravel extraction site (top right) but it is unlikely that is a popular spot with local residents. Thanks to Pip and Vic for the observation (and so much more!) and to Paul for graphics, research etc.

 

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Home and away

a Crossbill has the freedom of the nest (c) Forestry Commission England

a Crossbill has the freedom of the nest
(c) Forestry Commission England

The breeding season is very close now, although the adults at Kielder aren’t usually among the early returners like the Glaslyn pair, 37 and YA’s parents. The Kielder camera system is still warming up with some limited streaming as the solar powered batteries charge. Nests 1 and 2 will be on the big screen in Kielder Castle Cafe very soon. On Thursday the Nest 1 feed was turned on for a time and within 20 minutes a bird had landed – an adult female Crossbill who busied herself eating lichens growing on some of the twigs on the nest.

A Family Osprey Day will take place on Saturday 28 March at Kielder Castle with a range of activities. (The booking is only required for the Guided Walk, just turn up for anything else.) Whatever the weather something should appeal!

That is the home’ bit, now the ‘away’ – an update on UV in Northern Senegal. For the second week he has been upstaged by his cousin 7H!  But (with a couple of exceptions) UV has been quite sedentary so there isn’t much to report. First, a nice weather graphic from Paul. If there is high cloud spectrometers on satellites can’t ‘see through’ it to identify fog. This didn’t apply on 6 March as illustrated on this graphic from Paul.

a foggy day for UV

a foggy day for UV

Fog may partly explain some slightly unusual behaviour by UV on 8 March. Here is an image of the day.

8 March activity

8 March activity

UV travelled down to the phosphate mine area in late morning but only spent about an hour there. He usually flies directly back to the coast but this time he had frequent short stops along the way. Was he loitering because he could see fog ahead? Or maybe it was just a lazy Sunday afternoon! When he reached the coast he went north past Fas Boue which is just beyond his regular turning point. He made two more trips to the sea late in the afternoon so overall it was an active day compared to most recently.

The other interesting behaviour was on 13 March when after spending the morning in his inland roost area UV went to the coast. For the first time in a while he expended energy with some fairly high flying, heading out to sea three times and reaching altitudes between 418m and 538m. He also reached over 450m altitude when flying back to his inland roost in the afternoon. Why?!

UV flies high out to sea late morning

UV flies high out to sea late morning

Today the data arrived at lunch time. UV had moved position several times in the night. He has just started roosting overnight in the area immediately behind the beach – the sort of terrain used by Rutland’s 30(05) further up the coast.There is no obvious weather-related reason for UV to need to move in the dark. Early this morning he visited the mine for the second time this week but was back on the coast by late morning.

Later next week there will be a blog about 7H after her seven weeks of ‘radio silence’. She was on a pylon on the last fix today, but there was some interesting behaviour too. More anon!

 

 

 

 

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7H gives Pip and Vic the runaround

All the missing data for 7H has now arrived. It will take a while to go through, but apart from one excursion she was in her usual spots. Although her pattern of activity may have altered  – there’s been no time to work that out yet!

On the day Pip and Vic arrived to hunt for her, it was a slightly different afternoon in part. The morning was fairly ‘normal’ in pre-22 January terms. 7H spent about 3 hours in the ‘beach area’ from 10.30-13.26 GMT. It was visited by Pip and Vic later in the afternoon.

After flying down the river and possibly getting a fish (there was a big temperature drop on the tracker, but it could have been a failed catch) 7H went to her overnight roost area by 13.40. Although she did use that area during the day sometimes it was a less popular option than either the pylons or Eucalyptus area. Pip and Vic started their hunt at the pylons at about 14.00 for about an hour. Then they went to the beach; all that time 7H was in the overnight roost area. At 15.52 7H was back on the river, a fraction more to the south than usual and flying at over 100m mostly before heading to the pylons. As Pip and Vic arrived at the Eucalyptus area 7H was just about landing on a pylon. Ten minutes or so difference and they may just have seen an osprey in the distance flying upstream!

7H left the pylons to roost overnight in the Eucalyptus trees. She left them  before 06.40, when she was just a short distance away. At 08.11 just before Pip and Vic were arriving for their morning hunt 7H was roosting by the Eucalyptus trees again; there wasn’t another fix whilst they were there so we can’t know if initially she was just the other side of the trees to their position.

After Pip and Vic’s sighting on the tree 7H flew along the river and didn’t hunt successfully whilst in their view. The temperature readings on the tracker (which are taken at different times to the positional fixes) dropped significantly, possibly the failed catch or maybe she was lucky when out of sight.

Here is an image of 7H’s activity during the afternoon hunt. Pip and Vic’s efforts were rewarded the next morning, and perhaps today!

Box and cox between 7H and Pip and Vic

Box and cox between 7H and Pip and Vic

 

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