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.
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.
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….
….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.
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.
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.