We haven’t received any data for Archer since 11 October. She had been overwintering in an area between the main N2 road and the Senegal River. Our friend Jean-Marie Dupart visited on 20 October, but saw no ospreys. He made contact with local villagers at that time. Jean-Marie spent last Friday in Archer’s territory, which was mostly south and east of Boundoum.
Here are photos of one of Archer’s favourite stretches of water to perch near and forage along, seen from sluice gates near the junction with the Lampsar River.
Jean-Marie talked again to the villagers at Boundoum. Many of them fish in the rivers in the area. Being caught in unattended nets is a risk for ospreys – and other fish eating species – but the local people have seen no evidence that Archer met such a fate.
At the edge of the village there is a dam on the Gorom River.
In the next photo, the mobile phone mast which probably transmitted most of Archer’s data stands tall.
As you can see in some of Jean-Marie’s photos, there are numerous electricity poles and a few pylons in the area. Archer usually roosted on some poles to the SE of the village. Flying into wires could be a hazard in poor visibility, and electrocution can’t be ruled out. But the crops are tended and the rivers fished and no remains have been found by the villagers.
Jean-Marie saw one osprey during Friday’s visit, but it was definitely not Archer as it was unringed.
The rivers may contain plenty of fish but wetland lagoons – which Archer also visited – are drying up now. Did Archer leave the territory because of increased competition for reducing resources? There is still enough water and fish to suggest several ospreys could overwinter there comfortably. Jean-Marie has seen only one osprey in two visits.
An aside – Booted Eagles also flew over the river during Jean-Marie’s observations. Here’s a lovely photo of a juvenile. They overwinter in wooded savannahs along the main river systems in West Africa.
So what conclusions can we draw following Jean-Marie’s visits? There is no evidence – so far – that Archer has come to harm, yet she does not appear to be present in the area now. As we’ve said previously, the mobile phone networks in Senegal provide good coverage, but perhaps Archer has found a ‘notspot’. Her transmitter could have developed a fault, despite working normally in the days leading up to the loss of coverage. The reality is that we may never know what has happened.
Many thanks to Jean-Marie for his searching, making contacts who could yet discover some answers, and for his photos of Archer’s area.