Ponds, pylons and other places


This week 7H has exhibited changes in behaviour culminating in a new roost area overnight since 28/29 October and exploration of new areas to the west.

So what has she been up to?

On 26 October she was at the Resort pond by 07.11 GMT. It has been established that there are no fish in it so her food must be coming from the river or sea. She left the pond about 10.15 and was flying up and down her favourite stretch of the river by 10.27 at heights between 1m and 22m for some minutes. But she only had a couple of short spells in trees thereafter so presumably didn’t make a catch. Although she can eat very quickly! After more time over the river and in her usual roost areas nearby she went back to the pond and was perching at 13.16. She was there until 16.21 and then came her first bit of new behaviour; she spent the next hour plus on a couple of electricity pylons south of the pond, only leaving as the light faded to return to her usual overnight roost area.

The two pylons from a historic image

The two pylons from a historic image

The image above shows the pylons themselves better than the current Google Earth imagery. They are very near an industrial complex which may be a municipal waste management plant being planned in 2009. One aim was to generate electricity to feed into Morocco’s national grid and the pylons for that are perhaps what attracted 7H!

The industrial complex and pylons

The industrial complex and pylons

On 27 October she was at the pond early again (06.44) until around 09.30 when she flew up the coast and then along the river. Her altitude was between 3m and 22m before she headed off to a roost area for 70 minutes, so she may have fished successfully. She then travelled up the coast east of the river, stopping twice for a few minutes on the beach near where she perched on 23 October. After that she went inland and after flying at up to 144m identified a new pond to sit by! It is a recent construction, not appearing on 18 month old imagery.

Another insignificant looking bit of water!

Another insignificant looking bit of water!

Here is her travel for part of the afternoon.

Along the coast and then inland to a new pond

Along the coast and then inland to a new pond

The rest of that day was more routine, with a short stay on a previously used perch on the east side of the river before more flying along it.

On 28 October she may have had an early catch because she was roosting quite near the river until 10.42 when she was heading for the Resort pond. Although she flew over it she settled for a couple of hours on an area just south. For the rest of the afternoon she confined herself to a small area between the pond and pylons and she spent the night between two pylons, her first time away from a roost within a couple of hundred yards or so of the river.

On 29 October she was out flying over the sea to the west by 08.00 before heading back along the coast and then inland to Pylon City! By the time the last fix came in she had perched on five pylons for varying periods of time as well as going further west than previously. On her trip back along the coast after one excursion she had a couple of stops on the beach by the Royal Golf Course. Below is an image of 7H’s change of focus away from the river.

7H sticks to the coast and pylons

7H sticks to the coast and pylons

STOP PRESS! Just as this was being finalised the data arrived and 7H has spent most of today pylon hopping. Just one early trip to the river. A probable attraction of the pylons is their height; at approx 53m tall they are over twice the height of most of the trees 7H has been using.


In the 6 days since an update on UV he has scarcely flown outside a 500m² range. He had an excuse on 28 October because the sunny and warm spell was replaced by a day of thunderstorms caused by a slow moving trough almost parallel to the coast. Although the most frequent fixes are roughly once every 15 minutes (and mostly they are at least 30 minutes apart) he was flying only twice at the times they were made.

It was still wet on Wednesday for a time, although the temperature remained around 25°C. After a return to sun on Thursday (and 26°C) the temperatures are expected to fall by Monday to around 18-20°C  with showers then heavy rain by midweek. Will the more inclement conditions cause UV to think of moving on? It was wet – and windy – a couple of weeks ago but he just sat it out. The last fix on today’s e-mail (10.13) was him flying very near the coast in the area he visited last week. It is always frustrating when he is going somewhere and there won’t be any more news until the next day!

UV has almost always moved position between dawn and sunrise, usually to a point right by the water. He heads for his overnight roost spot in the hour before sunset. So he is out and about when it’s light, even if he doesn’t travel far usually.

For readers interested in osprey migration Paul Wildlifewriter has written the first part of a series on ‘Migration in Detail’ on his blog. A fascinating read. No downwind tacking for the Kielder pair at the moment with their limited ranges!

Grateful thanks to Paul for some of the research and weather related information in this post. Any errors are mine.

This entry was posted in Blue 7H, Blue UV, Migration, Osprey updates and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Ponds, pylons and other places

  1. KEITH ROGERS says:

    I do keep wondering if it is something to do with Glaslyn that these birds are not yet further south. However I do have an inclin they may move further south at some point.
    Once again Thanks Joanna for keeping well updated on the progress of both birds.

    • joannadailey says:

      Keith, it is tempting to think that these juveniles are reflecting their genes and by not going too far south perhaps indicate most Glaslyn related ospreys don’t. And that could be a big factor in the excellent rate of return. But evidence isn’t very supportive. First, Blue 1H, one of 37’s 2012 young, was sighted in northern Senegal last November and second, VV (YA’s daughter) appeared intent on going south when we last had data at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. So 50:50, and also there are too few ‘samples’ for confidence! It is interesting that UV and 7H are still relatively far north though. I’d love to know where more of the Glaslyn offspring (and THEIR now numerous offspring!) overwinter and, of course, 11(98) and the Glaslyn female.

      • KEITH ROGERS says:

        Your reply to my original post is so interesting that I have pasted it into my records on these two birds and reflecting my own thoughts and only speculative thoughts. I am also tempted to think many of Glaslyn chicks did not venture too far south and maybe even one of the adult pairing thus as you point out the great return record. Then as you point out we spot Blue 1H in Senegal and Blue VV probably wanting to go somewhere similar.
        I wonder like in human families one takes the fathers side and one the mothers side – I do not know enough about ospreys to comment on this but aliken them to my own children – not two alike.
        One thing for sure I will be fixed to the progress of the two remaining birds with much interest thanks to your blogs.

  2. I think Joanna is right about this. All the evidence (such as there is) indicates that there is no specific “tendency” to a destination that is dependent on parentage. However, when the sum of ALL destinations and directions is taken, there is a correlation with the behaviour of the population as a whole.

    This may conflict with our view of human heredity, but it is in line with everything we understand about avian genetics AND migration theory. The final wintering location of a juvenile osprey is influenced by many factors – of which chance is not the least – and these also include weather conditions en route, location of the starting point, time of departure, and how well the young bird has fed prior to that time.

    In summary, we can conclude that the only ‘thing’ a young osprey inherits from its parents is “how to migrate like a European osprey” – and that all the other variables take over from there.

  3. Hilary J says:

    I’ve been wondering about this for a few years. While the numbers are small I have noticed a tendency for sibling pairs to end up in the same region and/or take similar routes. One striking example was the 3 youngsters from Dyfi 2011. All 3 made an unusual sharp turn to the West towards the end of their migration. In one case the turn took the young osprey some way out over the Atlantic. Fortunately he turned back. Their younger brother Ceulan (2012) did not make the turn but finished in the same region (Senegal/Gambia/Guinea).

    On the other hand Caledonia (Loch Garten 2012) wintered in Spain despite all her tracked siblings and half siblings going on to Africa.

    • joannadailey says:

      Hilary, as you say numbers are small and many more UK tracked siblings/families are needed to provide evidence of any parental influence. From memory I don’t think the Lake District tracked osprey siblings ended up particularly near each other. There is such a lot to learn about migration.
      Finnish tracked ospreys this year include 2 families of the parents plus one juvenile; the paths radiate out like a fan on Google Earth! They, and other Finnish ospreys fitted with trackers previously, are interesting to follow: http://www.luomus.fi/en/finnish-satellite-ospreys

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