Osprey Tracking Update – 25th November 2015

After FR3 and FR4’s recent adventures, the last week or so has been fairly uneventful, with both birds settled in their respective areas of the Gambia.

FR3's activity from 19th-22nd November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s activity between 19th and 22nd November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3 continues to make daily journeys between the two bolongs (creeks) near Sutu Sinjang and Bulok.

FR4's movements from 15th-24th November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR4’s movements from 15th-24th November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

Meanwhile, FR4 has been exploring more of the Baobolon Wetlands. The majority of the activity took place between 15th and 21st, while the last few days have been more sedentary (see the central cluster of points for 22nd-24th).

With a month to go till Christmas our two young ospreys are currently 72km (45 miles) apart. Might they have a family reunion?

Keep checking the tracking page for the latest news!


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Osprey Tracking Update – 19th November 2015

Both of our young ospreys have been relatively active over the past week, particularly FR4 who having travelled all the way to Guinea-Bissau the previous week has promptly returned to the Gambia!

FR3 spent the first few days of last week continuing to move between the bolongs (creeks) beside the villages of Bulok, Sutu Sinjang and Ndemban. Sometime after 10am on 14th November our young osprey began heading SW from Ndemban and by 2pm was 26km (16 miles) away in scrub woodland on the banks of the Diouloulou River (a distant tributary of the Casamance) in Senegal.

FR3's activity from 10th-18th November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s activity from 10th-18th November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3 doesn’t appear to have travelled far on the 15th but the following day between 10 and 11am headed further west towards the town of Diouloulou. This photo of the riverside near Diouloulou gives you an idea of what the area is like. Our young osprey then changed course after 12pm and flew east towards Guilankoumou, Sambouladian and Essom, before turning north in the direction of the Gambia. FR3 was back in Sutu Sinjang by 5pm, remaining there until the end of the 18th.


Meanwhile, between 10th and 14th November FR4 completed the second half of a 600km (373 mile) loop around the Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau.

FR4’s progress between 10th and 14th November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

As you may remember from the last update, we were missing some of the data for the 10th as our young osprey skirted along the coast of the Cacheu region of Guinea-Bissau. We now know that FR4 ventured out onto the Ilha de Jetta and Ilha de Pecixe – two low lying islands just off the mainland. Here’s a photo of a beach on the Ilha de Jeta – looks pretty idyllic!

On the 11th, FR4 travelled upstream beside the Mansoa River for about 20km (12 miles) before heading north towards Senegal. Crossing over the border into Senegal between 3 and 4pm, our young osprey roosted for the night on the north bank of the Casamance River, 56km (35 miles) east of Zinguinchor.

FR4 continued northwards for a further 80km (50 miles) over the course of the following day. On the 13th our young osprey flew west towards the Senegal-Gambia border, crossing into the Lower River region shortly before 12pm. From here FR4 headed north and within a couple of hours was back at the Baobolon Wetlands where the journey had began a fortnight previous!

To view all the data for yourselves visit our tracking page or login to Google Earth using the instructions provided.


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Has winter arrived?

There is a distinctly wintery feeling in the air at Loch of the Lowes today. The weather system associated with “Storm Abigail” which hit the west and north of Scotland overnight is certainly making its presence felt.

Temperatures have dropped by about 10 degrees compared to yesterday and a mixture of heavy rain, sleet and snow has been falling intermittently throughout the morning. There is even a light dusting of white on the hills to the north and east of the loch.

Snow on the hills ©Jonathan Pinnick/Scottish Wildlife Trust

Snow on the hills ©Jonathan Pinnick/Scottish Wildlife Trust

The feeding station has been a frenzy of activity, with birds and red squirrels frantically feeding away to keep their energy levels topped up sufficiently to maintain body temperature.

Feeding station ©Jonathan Pinnick/Scottish Wildlife Trust

Feeding station ©Jonathan Pinnick/Scottish Wildlife Trust

We’ve had up to four red squirrels visiting our nut box feeders…

Red Squirrel feeding ©Doris McLean/Scottish Wildlife Trust

And a wide variety of birdlife, including up to ten Coal Tits, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, half a dozen Siskin and one of our quintessential winter visitors, the Brambling…

Brambling ©Doris McLean/Scottish Wildlife Trust

Brambling ©Doris McLean/Scottish Wildlife Trust

Bramblings are part of finch family, breeding in Scandinavia and Western Siberia. In winter they form large flocks, often in association with their similar looking cousin the Chaffinch. Numbers visiting the UK vary from year-to-year depending on food availability in other parts of Europe.

A male Sparrowhawk also made a brief appearance, but was too quick for us to photograph.

Out on the loch there have been large groups of Goldeneye and Tufted Duck as well as smaller numbers of Wigeon.

Winter loch ©Jonathan Pinnick/Scottish Wildlife Trust

Winter loch ©Jonathan Pinnick/Scottish Wildlife Trust

Why not pop down this weekend and see what you can spot? We’re open Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am-4pm.


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Osprey Tracking Update – 11th November 2015

It has been a week of contrast for our two young ospreys, with one unsettled but not covering any great distances, and the other going country hopping!

FR3 has had another fairly quiet seven days, travelling back and forth between the various bolongs (creeks) along a roughly 15km (9 mile) stretch on the south side of the Gambia River.

FR3's activity from 3rd-9th November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s activity from 3rd-9th November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

Activity in the first half of the week (3rd-6th November) focussed on the areas around N’Demban and Sutu Sinjang, with the exception of a brief trip NE towards Kandonk between 1 & 3pm on the 5th.

The latter part of the week (7th-9th) saw a westward shift, with FR3 exploring an area to the north and west of Bulok.

Hopefully at some point FR3 will stop wandering altogether and establish a permanent roost. However, with competition from adult birds and other youngsters this isn’t an easy feat to achieve.


Having been very settled, sibling FR4 has now gone to the other extreme. Over the past week our young osprey has travelled over 300km (186 miles) and is now in Guinea-Bissau!

FR4's progress between 3rd & 10th November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR4’s progress between 3rd & 10th November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

Leaving the Baobolon Wetlands at around midday on the 4th, FR4 travelled west along the north bank of the Gambia river. By mid-afternoon the following day our young osprey had crossed the river to the south of Banjul and was heading inland in a south-westerly direction towards the Darsilami wetlands, which lie on the boundary between the Gambia and Senegal.

Roosting here for the night, FR4 then flew SE into Senegal on the morning of the 6th, traversing the Casamance river catchment. Having crossed the Casamance FR4 spent the next couple of days recuperating among tidal wetlands on the river’s south bank.

The journey resumed sometime after 10am on the 9th as by 2pm FR4 had crossed the border into Guinea-Bissau. Continuing SE across the Cacheu river our young osprey appears to have skirted around the coast of this north-westerly region of Guinea-Bissau, although there are big gaps in the data so we can’t be sure of the route. Hopefully we may be able to fill some of these after the next download.


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In search of FR3

Earlier this week we were contacted by Chris Wood, a volunteer from the Rutland Osprey Project. Chris has visited the Gambia on a number of occasions in recent years and is regularly in contact with Fansu Bojang, an experienced birdwatcher and freelance wildlife tour guide. Last month Fansu successfully located and photographed 5F, a female osprey fledged from Rutland in 2012. This week Fansu was in the area close to N’Demban, where FR3 had been spending a lot of time. So yesterday, armed with the location details which Chris passed on, Fansu went in search of FR3.

Unfortunately Fansu was unable to locate FR3, who as we now know has moved on further west towards Sutu Sinyang some time over 4th or 5th. He was however able to take some brilliant photographs of the area which Chris has very kindly passed on to us to share with you.


N’Demban wetlands (Credit: Fansu Bojang)


N’Demban wetlands (Credit: Fansu Bojang)

N'Demban river (Credit: Fansu Bojang)

N’Demban wetlands (Credit: Fansu Bojang)

As you can see from the photos, the habitat is a mixture of marshland, open water and mangrove swamp forest – very similar to Tanji Marsh where 5F overwinters.

There are also three man-made fishing ponds; Fansu was able to speak to the owner who told him that he had seen an osprey hunting over the ponds on several occasions, up to a few days ago. The owner didn’t mention if he’s spotted a tell-tale aerial and FR3’s hourly locations don’t show him over the ponds at any point, however it is quite possible that fishing trips may have taken place in between times. Although FR3 has left the area for the time being the owner and Fansu will stay in touch in case there are any further sightings.


Fishing ponds (Credit: Fansu Bojang)

Fishing ponds (Credit: Fansu Bojang)

Fishing ponds (Credit: Fansu Bojang)

Fishing ponds (Credit: Fansu Bojang)

We are extremely grateful to both Fansu and Chris for their efforts to locate FR3. Chris is travelling out to the Gambia next month so may be able to catch up with either FR3 or FR4 himself.

Fansu and Chris

Fansu and Chris


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Osprey Tracking update – 5th November 2015

Following on from an extended excursion into Senegal last time out, FR3 made a brief return trip across the border on 2nd November in what was otherwise a relatively uneventful week for our young osprey.

FR3’s activity between 28th October and 2nd November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

Virtually all of the past seven days have been spent in forest beside a small river between the villages of Ndemban Chapechum and Bessi.

FR3's localised movements around Ndemban ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s localised movements around Ndemban ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

Ndemban River (Credit: Tommaso Rontevroli)

Ndemban River (Credit: Tommaso Rontevroli)

Sometime after 1pm on the 2nd, FR3 headed south across the border into Senegal. From looking at the satellite imagery in Google Earth this area appears to be densely forested. Having crossed the border FR3 then flew SE to meet the Koulimba (a distant tributary in the catchment of the Casamance River) near to the village of Djibidione at around 3pm. Our young osprey evidently didn’t stay here long (perhaps this minor river had already begun to dry up as the dry season takes hold?) and an hour later was back in the Gambia, between the villages of Jakisu and Kabokorr. By 5pm FR3 had returned to Ndemban having travelled approximately 45km (28 miles).


Meanwhile, FR4 has relocated and is now roughly 40km (25 miles) downriver from what was potentially looking like a permanent winter roost.

FR4's movements from 27th October-2nd November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR4’s movements from 27th October-2nd November 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

There was some indication that FR4 was perhaps becoming restless on 28th October, when our young osprey went on a 30km (20 miles) round trip across the bend in the Gambia River – by far the longest journey undertaken in many weeks.

FR4's round trip on 28th October 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR4’s round trip on 28th October 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

This was confirmed the following day, when at some point after 10am FR4 began flying west. By 2pm (there’s a gap in the data) our young osprey was by the Baobolon Wetlands to the north east of the village of Tunku and has remained there for the past few days. I mentioned these internationally important wetlands in a previous blog , as FR3 was near here last month. You can read more about them on the RAMSAR website.

FR4's localised movements around the Baobolong Wetlands ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR4’s localised movements around the Baobolon Wetlands ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

Will FR4 decide to stay here or continue west? We’ll just have to wait and see.

The satellite tags are now only sending data every 4 days (previously we were receiving data every 2 days). This is to save battery life during what is generally a period of reduced activity for the birds, now that the main migration is complete. Therefore it won’t be possible to update the tracking page as frequently.



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