The last post about VV was just after she had crossed the Bay of Biscay into Spain. Since then she has flown through Spain and on into N Africa via just about the shortest possible sea crossing route.
Her journey through Spain was apparently trouble free. On 5 September she left her hillside roost by 08.44 GMT, flying south initially then more SSW. She gained altitude as she crossed the first of a number of Sierras and was over 1700m when passing near Logroño on the river Ebro at about 12.30. She didn’t stop but carried on over the mountains in La Rioja by 14.15 rising to over 2500m altitude. She had a pause by a tributary of the Duero (Douro when it reaches Portugal) but didn’t seem to fish successfully as she was only stationary for 7 minutes. She carried on until 18.13 when she roosted near Sigüenza, on a river and just a few miles from a reservoir. She had covered about 260 km in the day.
On 6 September she didn’t get going until after 09.00 but was flying at over 2000m and generally around 50 kph by the time she was level with Madrid. By late afternooon she had veered from a SSW direction to more westerly near the Castile-La Mancha province border, flying at a height of over 3000m at times along the line of the Sierra de la Calderina. She reached her roost, an unremarkable looking spot south of Toledo, at 18.20 having flown about 280 km in the day.
On 7 September VV had a fairly similar day continuing down through Spain, mainly SW or SSW and usually at over 37 kph and between 1000-2200m or so. She stopped to roost at a very attractive (to her) spot near industrial premises on the outskirts of Cordoba on the river Guadalquivir.
She had travelled about 220 km in the short day – she stopped at 16.43.
On 8 September she left around 10.00, maybe stocking up her reserves, and reached the coast west of Gibraltar at 15.33. The map below shows the small adjustments made for about 4-6 minutes as VV flew parallel to the coast; all the Kielder juveniles do the same.
She flew over the bay at about 300-400m altitude before gaining height as she flew further south and left the coast of Europe at 16.08, arriving in N Africa at 16.29. A crossing of just 18 km. She flew on until sometime after 19.00 when she probably roosted after a 340 km day trip on two continents!
On 9 September there was no data until 11.35 when VV was 93 km south of her roost. A reservoir was not far to the east of the direct line – did she fish there? She flew near or over other reservoirs but did not try to fish. She was flying at speeds of up to 80 kph at times, faster than usual, and at altitudes of up to 2200m at first but later over 3000m as she approached the Atlas Mountains. At 18.47, the last fix, she had stopped but only after inspecting the terrain ahead and turning back.
She wasn’t far from a reservoir near Ait Ishaq and there is another to her east. But where she settled does not seem to be near water. She had flown about 280 km since 11.35, mainly in a southerly direction.
What will she do next? Millie, a tracked juvenile from Loch Garten who quite often covers twice VV’s distance each day, turned west when approaching the Atlas Mountains and took a route much nearer the coast over Western Sahara and Mauritania. Ospreys do fly over the Sahara successfully but VV hasn’t been doing the sort of distance that suggests it would be wise to try. So far her route has been pretty ‘safe’ – in fact through Spain she was on a very similar route to experienced Rutland Water adult female 30(05). But 30(05) then went down her usual more coastal path in Africa to her wintering grounds. A bit of a nail biting time ahead, perhaps, for VV’s fans.