Into Africa

The previous data had shown that Jules crossed the Bay of Biscay from Brittany to northern Spain on 3rd October. Next morning he resumed his migration shortly before midday and set off south through the mountains of Asturias passing peaks of over 2000 m. By 15:59 he was south of the highest mountains, and he continued flying until almost 20:00 when he settled to roost among scattered trees near Une de Quintana after a day’s flight of 181 km.

Jules flew through the mountains of Asturias in northern Spain on 4th October

At 09:20 he was perched beside a large reservoir 9 km to the south and an hour later had moved 2.5 km south and was probably eating a fish. By 11:18 he was migrating again and he made excellent progress south, passing into Extremadura soon after 16:00 at an altitude of more than 2000 m. By 21:00 he had flown 325 km from his overnight roost and was perched at the northern end of the appropriately named Embalse de la Pena del Aguila. However with a full moon and favourable winds Jules took the opportunity to press on, flying a further 137 km by moonlight before finally settling to roost for the night on a hillside in north-west Andalusia after a day’s flight of 462 km.

At 08:10 next morning he had flown another 9 km south but he didn’t resume migration proper until just before 11:00. He maintained a south-westerly heading and three hours later he was perched beside the Rio Tinto at Heulva, close to one of sites where Scottish ospreys were released as part of the successful osprey translocation project in southern Spain. He continued south-east an hour later, passing over the world famous Coto Donana, before roosting for the night on the banks of the Guadalquivir River after a day’s flight of 168 km.

Jules spent the night of 6th October beside the River Guadalquivir

Next morning Jules followed the river to the coast before turning south and heading towards Cadiz. The fish rich waters of the harbour and surrounding area support an increasing number of wintering ospreys and Jules is likely to have encountered some of them while fishing just to the north of Puerto Real during the afternoon. He spent the night in a forested area 5 km east of Puerto Real having flown 75 km during the course of the day.

When migrating through Spain most migrating raptors head for the short crossing to Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar, but ospreys are well capable of much longer ocean crossings and after two relatively easy days Jules set off from Cadiz before 06:00 and headed out across the Atlantic. By 07:30 he had already flown 113 km and was flying south-west across the sea at an altitude of 110 m. This initial bearing would have caused him to miss the Morocco coast, but over the course of the next eight hours he flew in a wide arc across the Atlantic at relatively low altitude (all positions less than 90 m) before making landfall at Casablanca at 14:17 local time having flown 398 km across the sea. After crossing Casablanca Jules turned to the south-west and flew another 113 km before eventually settling to roost for the night at 19:09 among olive trees having flown 524 km from Cadiz at an average speed of around 37 km/hour. A superb day of migration.

Jules flew 398 km across the Atlantic between Cadiz and Casablanca

Rather than continuing south on 9th October, Jules headed almost due east. At 13:02 he had reached the coast at Oualidia and then, during the course of the afternoon, completed a loop of some 57 km just to the south. He eventually settled to roost in an area of scattered trees near the village of Abde Laaziz Ben Yeffou having flown 127 km during the course of the day. However his afternoon wanderings means that, in fact, he was just 75 km south-west of his position the previous evening.

Yesterday morning Jules left his roost site at 10:00 and this time headed due north. At 11:10 he had flown 33 km and was at the coast near Ouled Salem. An hour later he was perched on the beach 6 km north-east and he remained there for the rest of the afternoon. With an hour between each GPS fix, there is every chance that Jules caught a fish in the sea at some point during the afternoon and then returned to the same spot on the beach to eat it. Eventually he flew 8 km inland to roost and he was still there at 08:07 this morning.

Jules has spent the last two days on the Morocco coast to the south of Casablanca

It will be very interesting to see how long Jules remains on the Morocco coast. His behaviour over the past two days is typical of an osprey¬†during a stop-over, but there is a slim chance that he could winter here. Most European ospreys either winter in sub-Saharan Africa or in southern Europe but a small number winter in Morocco. The chances are, however, that he’ll continue south across the Sahara in the next few days. Don’t forget that you can check out his latest flight on our interactive map.

Jules’ flight through Spain and Morocco, 4-10 October