UV and the Gulf of Cintra

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.

Gulf of Cintra and the fishing village

Gulf of Cintra and the fishing village

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.

UV roosts overnigth 11/12 Dec

UV roosts overnigth 11/12 Dec

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.

UV on the afternoon of 12 December

UV on the afternoon of 12 December

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.

UV's roost 12 Dec

UV’s roost 12 Dec

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.




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

2 Responses to UV and the Gulf of Cintra

  1. KEITH ROGERS says:

    Great Blog – So interesting to read about the area that UV is frequenting – so much different than Aveiro in Portugal and Kielder.
    He may enjoy this area but sparce in trees and am not sure if ospreys only roost on the desert floor out of choice.
    The parc Banc D’Arguin is only a few hours flight away for him and am sure he would encounter many other ospreys there. Maybe Cintra a good choice but he has probably moved on the next “phone home”.

  2. Vivien Finn says:

    Thanks Joanna for another interesting blog. Maybe UV is building up his reserves after that long flight and will be on his way again soon. We will soon know where his wintering grounds are to be.

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