Christmas comes early – Aln is safe

Until late yesterday afternoon, we lacked any knowledge of Aln’s whereabouts since she was in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains early on 9 November.

We have now received a precious 100 data points, all from yesterday. Although we don’t know her route, Aln appears to be well and is living on the coast in Mauritania. For now!

from the mountains to the ocean

courtesy Paul McMichael

As Paul’s label states, Aln is in the very far north of the Banc d’Arguin National Park, and was also north of the Park boundary yesterday. We’ve mentioned the Banc d’Arguin before. This year, when he reached there, UV changed from the direct migration mode he’d deployed over the desert to a strategy more akin to fly-and-forage migration. He took several days to return to the Langue de Barbarie.

Analysing Aln’s new data suggests she has been in the area for a while. She had roosted a short way inland then went to the coast, flew north, and was returning south on the last fix late afternoon. The ‘panels to earth’ in Paul’s graphic above show she was flying high at times. The next image shows her travelling across the desert at much greater elevation than most of her flying offshore and along the coast.

meandering around the shoreline, high over the land

On her trip north, Aln flew low and slow.

about 5 km offshore at furthest points as Aln flew north

She perched for varying lengths of time during the day. In the image above, Aln sat from 11.54-13.35 – her longest recorded period of perching – at the edge of the ocean at her most northerly point of the day.

All these behaviours are characteristic of an osprey in their wintering grounds, or at a staging post.

We may be fortunate and receive some more data over the next few days, however it is clear that cell tower coverage is not comprehensive. Those 100 or so fixes have given reassurance that Aln is safe, for now.

A few 100 km to the south, UV was also flying high – over 500m ASL – when his data arrived this afternoon. He hasn’t spent much time on the North spit of the Langue de Barbarie lately. There’ll be a short post about his activity towards the end of the week.

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

20 Responses to Christmas comes early – Aln is safe

  1. Vic Paine says:

    I can’t believe she’s avoided cell towers for the last 5 weeks, possibly an iffy backpack, lets hope we get some more data to fill in where she has been. Absolutely splendid news.

    • joannadailey says:

      More data will be very welcome indeed. The engineering file doesn’t suggest an issue with the transmitter, although I’m no engineer!

  2. Jillian says:

    Excellent news alongside Roy Dennis’s Rothemurchus being spotted in Africa with a broken transmitter. I never give up on these tracked birds unless there is definate news. Thank you for letting us know.

    • joannadailey says:

      It is hard to understand how Aln arrived at the Banc d’Arguin without at least a partial download of data, but she did. As you say, never give up.
      For me, it has been a wonderful few days, being in the group that found Rothiemurchus then receiving Aln’s data. Stuff of dreams!

  3. Jo says:

    Wonderful, wonderful news!! It’s definitely not over ’til it’s over …… you clever girl Aln!! So so pleased for you all ….. she’s gonna be one to watch …… she’ll defy every rule in the book!

  4. Amazing news, hopefully Archer will turn-up now. The only thing that worries me is that every time this happens it gives the doubters who claim that transmitters are inherently unreliable more ammo.

    • joannadailey says:

      Appreciate your concern. There isn’t any evidence to suggest Aln’s transmitter has a fault, although she did well to avoid an upload of even partial data in her mountain/desert travel! GSM/GPS transmitters are dependent on the mobile phone network for uploads, and although in West Africa coverage is often better than in rural UK, it isn’t 100%.

  5. Ann says:

    Thanks, JD–I expect you are flying so high on this news that you won’t need a plane to come home! Happy landings and Happy Christmas–I hope your Christmas is not a disappointment compared to this!

    • joannadailey says:

      The data came when I was at the airport waiting for the flight back to the UK, Ann. The plane flew just west of Aln’s location, but it was dark, so no 35000 feet photo!

  6. Like Jo, I also cannot find any hard evidence that there is anything wrong with the tracker itself. There are really only two possible explanations for why 7L has been out of touch for five weeks…

    Proposition “A” is that she has been foraging and roosting in a small area around the north of the Banc d’Arguin reserve. In this theory, a short exploration flight up the coast has brought her within range of the network for a brief transmission. Alternatively…

    Proposition “B” holds that 7L has only just ARRIVED at the Mauritania coast, having found some remote stopover location in southern Morocco where there is no cell tower coverage.

    One reason we do this tracking is to discover new staging areas that south-bound ospreys are using, so it could be that we are are about to find another one. Or… not.

  7. Gerry Valliere says:

    Great news…..and we call ourselves the superior species!?

  8. Mike Simmonds says:

    Great news for all concerned. Whatever the reason for the delay the news that she is safe is the main thing. Thank you both.

  9. Claire Pearson says:

    What absolutely fantastic news! With both Aln and Rothiemurchus found safe and well Christmas is off to a great start! Let’s hope New Year brings news of Archer. Best wishes to all.

  10. Sal Lloyd says:

    What an amazing comeback – Go Aln, you beauty!
    The mystery of it all is wondrous, although I understand that probably doesn’t fit so well with the need to understand how migration works, perhaps you will all know in good time :-)
    Happy Christmas to all, especially Aln, I pray you stay safe..

  11. Starling says:

    How did I miss this!! Absolutely fantastic news.. Aln is one of those ospreys that I have a soft spot for. Very strange how that happens with some of them lol. Hope all the Ospreys are having a good winter break,, and hopefully we will see some of them back very soon.
    Thank you for making my day joanna ,and a very merry xmas to you all xxx

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