A data update came in early on Saturday for UV. And yes, he was continuing his mini-stopover in Western Sahara. A first, possibly, for an osprey from the UK (although are two nights an ‘official’ stopover) or will he stay? A tracked Swedish osprey overwintered about 200 km further north in Western Sahara.
Analysing his time on the bay south of Dakha shows some interesting aspects. But first here is some background, thanks to Paul Wildlifewriter for most of it. The bay is the Gulf of Cintra although it isn’t named on Google Earth. It is possibly still an important breeding ground for one of the rarest and critically endangered seals in the world, the Mediterranean Monk Seal.
UV is favouring a small area, more on that in a moment, but 2003 Google Earth images show there used to be a fishing village at the extreme SW on Puntillas de las Raimas. Paul has written about it here, well worth clicking through to read, but for now here is a 2003 image showing the village at bottom left and also UV’s movements nearby.
UV arrived at the bay just before 17.00 GMT on 11 December after flying over desert. The sight of water must have been welcome, despite that long sea crossing on 7/8 December. At 17.14 he was over the sea, then ten minutes later was stationary on the beach. He explored up and down the central area of the bay before heading off NNW inland shortly before sunset. That night he used three roost points, shown on the image below.
The altitude readings indicated he could be on structures, but none are clear on Google Earth so they may be natural features.
On 12 December he was up at the coast by 08.20, and the next series of fixes (roughly 35 mins apart) showed him travelling down the shore until at 12.23 he was over the sea at the top of Puntillas de las Raimas – the most westerly point in the first image.
He went inland briefly but was soon back to the coast and all afternoon he frequented a small area with lagoons – Bajo Tortugo, or Bay of the Little Tortoise.
The red dots which appear bolder (more obvious if you click and enlarge the image) are ones where he spent between around 30 minutes and an hour. Were some of his moves caused by Mediterranean Monk Seals ‘inspecting’ him? We’ll never know but more probably he was moving as the tide altered the landscape.. The bold dot on the extreme left looks as though he was in the water, but historic images show a sand bar there.
Between 17.25 and 17.48 he flew inland and established his overnight roost. Almost certainly on a pole for telephone lines. 7H would approve of the use of man made structures! On the image below you can see the white dots which are the foundations for the poles, and also the distance between Bajo Tortugo and his roost.
On 13 December he left the roost area between 07.15 and 07.57, when he was flying near the sea – the yellow bull’s eye in the close up image of the lagoons. Quite an early start as sunrise was 07.37. What next, we wonder? No e-mail yet (16.00) so perhaps he has moved on.
Even if he did stay only a couple of days it was interesting to follow his behaviour – sweeping the bay to the south immediately on arrival, roosting inland then flying slowly down the coast on the west before focussing on what is almost certainly the most productive area for fish.