Just because …..

Soon after publishing yesterday’s post about UV settling back into his usual range – quite large in itself – new data arrived. UV flew 182 km on a round trip to the south! Interpreting behaviour can be a real challenge. Yesterday was a good example as Paul describes so effectively below:-

Ospreys. Gotta luvvem, right? Just when we thought that UV had settled down to a winter of comparative idleness at his winter quarters in north-west Senegal, he decides to prove us wrong.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

Just before 7:00 UTC yesterday morning he left his roost site and headed off – not westwards towards his usual hunting grounds, but south-east into the rural interior. What was going on?

Joanna and I have been analysing osprey behaviour for a long time, and we have developed some standard methods and protocols to help us understand it. We check the weather for that location. We study the terrain features being traversed. We consult maps to see if there are rivers or lakes on the route which might attract one of our birds. We did all those things yesterday, and we were baffled.

Moving at a brisk clip, UV flew for almost 50km, down to an otherwise unremarkable area of farmland near the town of Gueoul. No lakes here. No irrigation canals, no flooded mine workings – nothing fish-related at all. As the morning breeze died away, UV began to circle. He gained almost 600 m of height before gliding down and away northwards over fields and Baobab trees new-greened after the seasonal rains.

(c) tinofrey courtesy Panoramio

(c) tinofrey
courtesy Panoramio

Another 50 km, and the autumn sun began to generate rising air currents – “thermals” – above the flat landscape. UV flew. Using little or no excess energy, he soared in graceful arcs to the apex of these thermals. On my screen, his GPS track forms cathedral spires of altitude, and the glides between them are flying buttresses – an architecture of the air, made visible.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

Technical analysis went out the window. There is only one interpretation that fits what we saw UV doing yesterday. He is a young, strong creature, back home in his adopted land. His flight back to the river was not merely a journey – it was a virtuoso performance by a master of the aeronautic art. UV had no destination in view, no special reason to make this trip…

He did it because he could. … Ospreys. Gotta love them.

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

13 Responses to Just because …..

  1. JW4926 says:

    This made me smile ….. thank you ….. Glad UV’s such a free spirit!

  2. Vivien Finn says:

    Wonderful in every way! Loved the blog and UV’s trip to the interior. Thank you.

  3. Cirrus says:

    Absolutely WONDERFUL. You’re the boy, UV.! Live it up down there. Thanks for a great Blog Joanna

  4. PatO says:

    What a brilliant blog! Real poetry in motion. Thank you for the wonderful descriptions. As a frequent visitor to cathedrals, I could really relate to this.

  5. SK2 says:

    Bless you for taking the time to try and understand these wonderful birds, and relating to us armchair watchers a real feel of being an osprey, your enthusiasm and dedication educates all who follow
    Thank you

    • joannadailey says:

      Thanks, SK2, glad you enjoy the posts. Learning more about the ospreys is very rewarding for us too. Well worth the time!

  6. Mike Simmonds says:

    I cannot do more than echo SK2’s post. So true Kate.

  7. Sheila Elliott says:

    Another fascinating insight and interpretation into the life of a special bird. Thank you.

  8. thegreatgeraldo says:

    Fascinating! Had UV previously explored the interior (2 years ago?) & so be aware there was nothing of interest down there?

    • joannadailey says:

      Thanks (and everyone else above) for comments.

      Re UV’s previous explorations of Senegal he mainly stayed close to the coastal strip. On 28 Oct his southern path is less detailed (early in the day there are fewer fixes) but he was no nearer than about 5 km from an area nearer the coast he overflew in early 2015. His detailed return path was about 17-20 km away from areas previously crossed very occasionally. So he was in new territory on Friday although from his altitude at times on the return trip he would have seen the coast/ocean to his left.

  9. thegreatgeraldo says:

    Thanks for the reply. Humans have a habit of heading off into the country for the day for no apparent reason! ;-#))

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