A new year dawns

This year four pairs of ospreys bred in Kielder Forest, a significant achievement for the Forestry Commission who have provided the platforms they use for nests.

We have seen a Kielder hatched osprey, Nest 2 Blue 2H, return to his natal grounds which is a major milestone. And for the first time this year Nest 1 Blue 39 was also recorded on a nestcam.

But for many the return of Nest 1 Blue UV – one of the first three chicks to be tracked at Kielder – was more of a highlight. Being able to follow his migrations and life in his wintering grounds in northern Senegal has been a privilege.

This morning he was sitting in the sun on a beach in northern Senegal.

In July he perched by his mother, not that she would recognise him. Here he is, having just landed on the new platform his parents occupied this year. Mum wasn’t happy!

UV lands on his parents' new nest

UV lands on his parents’ new nest

We look forward to 2017, which will begin with more about UV’s recent activity. Our best wishes to readers and thank you for following our ospreys.

 

 

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Where today?

Since the last post about UV he has been a bit of a gadabout. He has visited places such as an irrigation canal and the surrounding land some 11 km east of the centre of his main wintering area.

18 Dec: a few hours inland

18 Dec: a couple of hours inland

He has flown at elevations of over 500m ASL at times – as he did when heading back to the coast from the canal area. On several sorties south around the Langue de Barbarie National Park he has interspersed high and low flying as he did in this typical long flight.

17 Dec: a foray along S spit

17 Dec: a foray along S spit

The flight in the image below around the breach that separates the two parts of the Langue de Barbarie is quite typical of others that last around an hour.

21 Dec: a mixed altitude foray

21 Dec: a mixed altitude foray

UV has also perched in the area around Lac Guembeul and scrub nearer the coast. The last image shows the extent of his range over the last couple of weeks.

UV's recent range

UV’s recent range

Seasons greetings to blog followers from Kielder Ospreys and many thanks for your interest and support.

 

 

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Sand and sky

The last post about UV focussed on his activity south of the area he’s frequented since he returned to Senegal. So you can guess what happened next – he hardly went south again! Until yesterday when he was mainly very high over the Langue de Barbarie National Park area.

UV has had some quiet days when he perches in a very small area for a few hours but there are some intriguing aspects too. In some earlier posts we’ve put images of UV apparently perching on water. On 11 December there are several examples of this where UV is south of the northern section of the Langue de Barbarie.

Wet or dry feet?

Wet or dry feet?

The Google Earth imagery is from May 2016 (that is recent, Kielder Forest is mostly 2009!) and for the most part the sandbanks visible in shallow water will be land now. Paul has calculated that since UV has been in the area (mid October) the north spit has extended by at least 38m. So he is perching on areas that are now land all or most of the time.

UV has foraged near to the shore and also a little way out to sea. Satellite imagery shows plankton bloom on many days now, good feeding for fish.

courtesy Paul wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

Some spots are especially attractive to UV when he is foraging.

A hot spot?

A hot spot?

As you can see in the image he returned to a small area after a foray south. He may have caught a fish but we can’t be sure.

UV is settled in his wintering grounds after his first return to the UK and Kielder. For his followers it has been a wonderful year, seeing his epic Spring migration and nestcam footage of him.

He’s just getting on with life each day and long may that last.

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Sea change

The last few posts about UV described his quite settled existence. He has no fixed routine -spending different amounts of time in several places – but he uses familiar spots and he can sit for hours! Just like most over-wintering ospreys.

On Wednesday UV flew further south than he has done since arriving back in Senegal. At his most southerly point he was offshore near the area that was his home for several months in 2015.

Familiar territory

Familiar territory

Yesterday UV was back there and went further, higher and for longer! He was in the air for around 2.5 hours with a 3 minute break perched on a tree by the river. His maximum altitude was 1036m ASL. Especially when over the river UV could have been hunting. But about 40% of the time he was over 150m ASL, far too high to see fish especially as the water is not clear. Perhaps UV was observing where other birds were hunting given he hasn’t been flying over the area recently. Whatever the reason for his behaviour it is interesting data.

It’s impossible to capture UV’s activity in an image. Paul has spent hours, literally, creating an animation of UV’s outing. UV’s altitude is shown at each point of his journey. Click to follow his route.

play

 

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Overview and ‘microview’

Since the last update on UV he has continued to spend his days in a few familiar places but without having a settled routine. Sometimes he is at the coast for most of the daylight hours, occasionally he is barely recorded away from a roost area. An interesting aspect is where he still hasn’t been – no recent recorded activity on the south spit of the Langue de Barbarie, no travel to the southern end of the National Park where the river mouth used to flow into the ocean. His foraging areas have varied but before looking at a couple of examples an ‘overview’. Paul has prepared a migration map which will go up in A2 and A3 versions at Kielder Castle. It is also in the Location Maps section of the blog. 

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

Whilst in ‘overview’ mode the daily MODIS weather satellite data for 20 November showed a red dot at the top of this graphic indicating thermal activity very near Djoudj National Park.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

The smoke billowing out to sea covers as large an area as the patchy cloud near the Senegal River mouth. The red dot is in an agricultural area and the likeliest explanation is that the crop is sugarcane. Sugarcane field burning commences in November, the start of the dry season. The fires burn the leaves off the stalks which makes harvesting the sugarcane easier.

Back to UV. His foraging activity has  ranged from just offshore to around 4.75 km out over the ocean. On 25 November he went further south offshore than usual.

checking different areas of the ocean

checking different areas of the ocean

When there are one minute fixes the change from slower foraging to moving on to try a different area is clear. After speeding south UV slowed down from 15.14, when he circled over a spot before carrying on south then east and north to a shallower area.

In contrast many of his forages look more like the image below.

another fishing trip?

another fishing trip?

That shallow area is a popular one.

Data arrived as this blog was being finalised. UV had two excursions today into the deep blue of the ocean, about 3.25 and 4.75 km offshore. Where tomorrow, UV?!

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Busy doing nothing much!

In the ten days since the last update UV has lived up to the title of this post! He hasn’t visited anywhere new nor has he travelled south in the Langue de Barbarie National Park, an area he used regularly late last year and early 2016. But he has no set routine. He may spend two or three days flying between a couple of beaches but the next he could be inland all day – as far as the data reveals. He is quite restless at night and has been moving before midnight to a different tree a few hundred metres from his initial roost.

In the first image UV looks as though he was perched in water rather than on the beach.

Dipping his talons?

Dipping his talons?

Probably the 12.41-13.16 area was above the water level given the low tide time. But it is possible it is permanently above water now. The image is of the southern end of the northern section of the Langue de Barbarie. The tip of the mainland is just left of the North symbol. This slideshow with the island of Doune Baba Dieye at the centre reveals how rapidly the landscape there is changing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

UV has spent many hours on either the Langue de Barbarie or the area circled in the last image. He only settled in the Langue de Barbarie in April 2015, the date of the first image, when the area he now frequents was still submerged.

Regular readers may recall previous mention of the devastating impact of an attempt to reduce flooding in Saint-Louis. In 2003 a 4m breach was cut in the Langue de Barbarie peninsular. It is now 6 km wide as the sea erodes land to the south of it and sand accretes to the north. Several villages have been destroyed including the one on Doune Baba Dieye and the ecology of the area has been adversely affected. By the end of the year the Senegalese government will decide which of several alternative measures to implement to try to alleviate the situation.

In the April 2015 image in the slideshow the sediment flowing downriver and into the Atlantic is apparent. Recently there has been more rain in West Africa than usual at this time of year. Paul has made a graphic showing the percentage above normal of the rain.

courtesy Paul Wildlifwriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifwriter

As you can see the white, green and blue areas are all affected by higher than usual rainfall. The Langue de Barbarie is in the blue area just below the Senegal-Mauritania border. As there is mostly no rainfall in November even a small amount produces a very high ‘percentage above normal’ reading.

Latterly days have been cloudy so weather satellite imagery is often unrevealing over coastal Senegal. But on 13 November it was possible to see the sediment leaving the river and dispersing to the south carried by the prevailing current.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV had been foraging nearer shore but he has been further out to sea at times in the last week, possibly in part because of the opaqueness of the water.

UV

UV almost into the deep blue

By the end of November Project Tougoupeul will have begun their month long survey of birds in the Langue de Barbarie National Park. Last year UV was photographed a couple of times but he’ll have to change his habits to get in the picture again!

 

 

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Thunder and … foraging!

In the previous post we described UV changing behaviour slightly and foraging along the shoreline of the northern part of the Langue de Barbarie. On 3 and 4 November data didn’t show UV foraging activity in any detail.  There were very few fixes on 4 November, a day of unseasonal thunderstorms.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

UV sat tight inland most of the day although the showers could have missed his spot altogether. The daily recorded rainfall at Saint-Louis airport was 0.51mm. Podor airport (about 180 km upriver in a straight line) recorded 6.10mm.

NASA weather satellite imagery had been showing quite a small area of silt (carried downriver as a result of the earlier seasonal rains) around the Senegal River mouth although it looked dense. Today looks rather different.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

The silt is extending about 20 km offshore, well past the 6 km distance UV has been foraging sometimes. The silt plume is heading south. This slideshow of graphics prepared by Paul shows the seasonal currents. Green is cooler water, the arrows show the direction of the currents.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Paul: “The prevailing direction is north-south – “The Canary Current”. This flow starts as an upwelling of cold water from the deep ocean, and gets warmer as it travels south near the surface. The cold source is nutrient-rich, which is why that whole region along the west African continental shelf is such a rich fishing area. (For ospreys and people.)”

Is it possible to discern a change in UV’s behaviour caused by the currents carrying the sediment south and out to sea? On 5 November UV flew further north along the shoreline than previously since his return. The data doesn’t show him heading out to the deeper ocean – blue – at all.

UV's foraging areas

UV’s foraging areas

The single offshore fix to the south was at 13.00 UTC when the frequency of fixes was 15-20 minutes apart, so he could have been further afield during that sortie. UV also foraged just off the SW of the spit, a popular place for him.

On 6 November there were many more fixes for much of the day. He had two foraging trips near land to the south of his usual areas. This image shows the longest.

Around 50 minutes of foraging

Around 50 minutes of foraging

An animation can bring alive so much better than an image how UV foraged. Many thanks to Paul for this one.

play

 

 

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