Deshar

Deshar is a young osprey hatched in June and ringed on 19th July 2019 near Carrbridge in the Scottish Highlands. One of a brood of three at nest A08 which has been used in use for decades. The measurements on the day gave a wing length of 370 mm, a tail length of 158 mm and a weight of 1760 gms indicated that it was a female. A satellite transmitter, funded by Reidhaven Estate, was fitted to two of the three young. Under the direction of the head keeper Ewan Archer, this osprey has been adopted by Deshar Primary School at Boat of Garten.

Deshar still in Senegal

Over recent weeks, our satellite-tagged juvenile female osprey, Deshar, has remained on the coast of Senegal. In fact between 19th October and 23rd November she was extremely sedentary, spending the vast majority of her time on the same peninsular in the norther part of the Casamance River Delta, that she had favoured since early October. Google Earth imagery indicates that the peninsular is fairly well vegetated, meaning that Deshar was able to roost there each night and then spend much of the day perched on the sandy shore with one or two flights out to sea each day to catch fish.

Deshar was extremely sedentary during October and much of November

On 23rd November she flew just under 20 kilometres south to the mouth of the Casamance River and spent several days exploring the northern and southern shore. These exploratory flights are an important part of a young osprey’s first winter in West Africa – helping them to learn the landscape and decide where is best to settle for the winter.

In late November Deshar spent just over a week at the mouth of the Casamance River, moving between the north and south shore

On 2nd December Deshar flew back north and returned to her favourite spot on the peninsular and the latest data shows she’s still there. It is encouraging she’s gone back there – and indicates that she is not being chased away by adult ospreys, which is one of the key challenges juvenile ospreys face after arriving in West Africa for the first time.

Deshar’s GPS fixes over the past six weeks

You can also check out Deshar’s movements on our interactive map.

Deshar settled in Casamance

One of the challenges for young Ospreys when they first arrive in Africa, is finding somewhere safe to spend the winter, and, crucially, where they are accepted by the wintering adult birds. The most recent satellite data show that Deshar appears to have done just that. She has spent the vast majority of the past fortnight living along a sandy spit in the Northern part of the Casamance River Delta. In fact she is just three miles south of an area that we know was frequented by another of the Ospreys we satellite-tagged in Scotland – Jules.  We know that  is a superb place for wintering Ospreys.

The satellite data indicates that the young female is spending most of each day perched on the sand, fishing in the sea at least once daily and then roosting in vegetation on the spit.  Last winter Joanna Dailey, from the Kielder Osprey Project, visited this part of Senegal and sent us some photos which show the spit just to the north. Joanna saw a large number of Ospreys in the area, demonstrating that it is an excellent location for Deshar to have settled. Let’s hope she stays there.

Deshar has been living on a sandy spit in the Casamance River Delta.

A photo of two Ospreys on a spit immediately to the north of Deshar’s favoured area. This was taken by Joanna Dailey during a visit to Senegal last winter.

Deshar has been spending most of her day perched on the sand – just the link the bird in this photo, taken by Joanna Dailey last winer, which is perched on a stump.

Don’t forget you can also check out Deshar’s latest movements on our interactive map.

Deshar returns to the Casamance

Last week the satellite data showed that on 24th September, Deshar flew north from the Casamance region of Senegal across the River Allahein, into The Gambia. We now know that next day the young female continued north and at 13:00 she landed on Bijoli Island – a small sandy island just off the coast at Tanji. This is one of the best areas for Ospreys in The Gambia. In fact Gambian bird guide, Junkung Jadama, recorded a piece from Tanji beach for this week’s podcast. After landing on the island for twenty minutes Deshar appeared to attempt to fish in the shallow water nearby. She would definitely have encountered adult Ospreys there, and perhaps that’s why she headed south soon afterwards – almost certainly without a fish. During the course of the afternoon Deshar continued south and paused briefly at the wetlands close to Kartong Bird Observatory before continuing onwards back into the Casamance. At 17:30 she returned to the same part of the Casamance coastline that she has been frequenting prior to her journey north after a day’s flight of 108 km (67 miles).

Deshar flew over Tanji beach in The Gambia on 25th September

Since then Deshar has been wandering around a 10 mile section of coastline in coastal Casamance – fishing in the sea, perching on the sandy beaches and roosting in coastal mangroves. This is a superb place for a juvenile Osprey to be exploring. Life isn’t easy for young Ospreys when they first arrive in Africa, but Deshar is doing very well so far. Let’s hope that continues.

Deshar flew over 100 km through The Gambia and back into Senegal on 25th September

Over the last week Deshar has explored a ten mile section of the Casamance coastline

You can check out Deshar’s movements on our interactive map.

Deshar is also featured in this week’s podcast. Click the link below to listen.

Deshar makes it to West Africa

In our last update Deshar had almost completed a crossing of the Sahara from Algeria to Senegal. We now know that the young female roosted just north of the Mauritania-Senegal border on the evening of 18th September after a superb eight day flight across the desert. However, not content to rest after her arduous flight, Deshar flew another 500 km south-west over the course of the next two days and by the evening of 20th September she was close to the very eastern part of The Gambia. Next day she continued south-south-west across the River Gambia and then into the Casamance region of southern Senegal. Just eighteen days after leaving her nest site in the Scottish Highlands she had reached a favourite wintering area for Ospreys from the UK.

Next day Deshar continued another 100 km west, following the course of the Casamance River before roosting in an area of mangroves to the north of the main river channel. She was now just 25 km from the sea and next day she reached the Atlantic coast at around 14:00.  The satellite data then indicates that the young Osprey spent just under an hour fishing in the sea, before landing on the beach, presumably with a catch. This may have been her first meal since arriving in Africa on 10th September, and demonstrates why it is vital for young Ospreys to depart their nest site in good condition, with plenty of stored body fat.

Having crossed the Sahara, Deshar headed south-west to the Casamance region of southern Senegal.

After reaching the Senegal coast, Deshar spent close to an hour fishing in the sea.

One of the problems for young Ospreys when they arrive in prime wintering habitat is that they will often be chased away from the best areas by experienced adult Ospreys who return to the same place each winter and often become territorial over favoured perching and feeding areas.  This perhaps explains why Deshar continued to wander around the coastal mangroves that afternoon and again next morning. In fact the last data we received in this batch showed that during the course of the day on 24th September Deshar headed 60 km north and crossed the River Allahein into The Gambia.  Let’s hope she finds somewhere safe to settle down after her fantastic migration from the Scottish Highlands.

Deishar flew north to The Gambia on 24th September

To see Deshar’s complete migration on our interactive map, click here.

Deshar also features in our latest podcast. Click the link below to listen online.

Deishar crosses the Sahara

When Deshar arrived in Algeria on 10th September, we were concerned that she was much further east than the route favoured by experienced adult Ospreys from the UK. It meant that, if she was to reach the fish rich coastline of West Africa, she would have to make a very long flight across the vast and desolate Sahara.

Fortunately the latest data shows that Deshar is making good progress. The latest update we have – from the evening of 17th September showed that she had almost completed her epic flight across the desert and was in southern Mauritania.

And what a superb flight it has been so far. After leaving her roost site in northern Algeria on the morning of 11th September  Deshar flew 2608 km (1620 miles) over the course of seven days – that’s an average of 372 km (231 miles per day). During this period she maintained a remarkably direct south-westerly heading through Algeria, before crossing into North-west Mali on the afternoon of 14th September and then into Mauritania next afternoon.  She’s well on course to reach the West African coast – and we very much hope that will be the case when we receive the next batch of data from her transmitter.

Deshar flew 2608 km (1620 miles) across the Sahara in seven days

While crossing the Sahara Ospreys roost on the ground, and usually delay the start of their daily flight until thermals star rising. Deshar’s transmitter, which logs her location once every minute as she flies across the desert, shows that, despite her inexperience, she has utilised these thermal updrafts well, sometimes circling up to staggering altitudes of 3400m before opening her wings and gliding forwards until she reaches the next thermal.  This saves valuable energy during a period when she is unable to feed.

By circling up on thermal updrafts and then gliding forward, Deishar saves valuable energy as she crosses the Sahara

You can check out Deshar’s flight across the desert on our satellite tracking map.

Deshar also features in our latest podcast. Click the link below to listen.

Deishar’s first flight south

Deishar set off on migration three day’s later than her brother Carr, but, like her sibling, she has made excellent progress south since leaving Scotland.

Deishar began her migration on 4th September and very quickly made up for lost time. Aided by a tailwind she flew just under 500 km to Cheshire on her first day of migration, flying south through central Scotland, and then across the Solway Firth and Morcambe Bay – which she crossed after dark.

Next morning Deishar was flying again before 06:00, heading powerfully south through Shropshire and then Herefordshire. At 10:16 she was 186 metres above the Severn Estuary and, at 10:50, 550 metres above the centre of Bristol. At 12:32 she headed out across the English Channel from the Dorset coast, west of Abbotsbury. She flew 135 km to Guernsey and then a further 98 km across the sea to the Brittany coast at Saint Brieuc. She was making such fast progress that she had now overtaken her brother, Carr, who arrived and then roosted on Guernsey a few hours after Deishar had passed through. She continued flying for a further 90 minutes after reaching French airspace, before roosting in an area of woodland near Plumeliau.

Deishar arrived in Brittany just two days after leaving the Highlands

Next morning Deishar continued south-west towards the Atlantic coast. Unlike her brother who then flew direct across the Bay of Biscay to Spain, Deishar always kept the coast in sight as she headed south. By 16:48 that afternoon she had flown 275 km and was over Ile d’Oleron just to the south-west of La Rochelle. She continued south over the River Gironde and then settled to roost in a forested area near the village of Naujac-sur-Mer, around 50 km north-west of Bordeaux.

Deishar (red line) kept to the coast as she flew south through France, whereas her brother (yellow line) crossed the Bay of Biscay to Spain

Next morning Deishar headed south-east away from the coast and towards the Pyrenees. She flew just under 200km before roosting beside the River Adour. Although she arrived too late to fish that evening, the data indicates she may have caught her first fish since leaving Scotland, soon after first light the next morning.

Deishar roosted beside the River on the evening of 7th September, and the data suggests she fished in the river the next morning.

Deishar resumed her journey at around 11:00 on 8t September and reached the Pyrenees two-and-a-half hours later. Her satellite transmitter – which logs her location once every three minutes – showed how she flew picked her way through the imposing mountains to avoid crossing the highest peaks. Nevertheless she still reached a maximum altitude of over 2564 metres above sea level as she flew through the mountains.

Deishar reached a maximum altitude of 2564 m as she crossed the Pyrenees

Once clear of the mountains, Deishar continued south until 19:44 local time when she settled to roost beside the River Ebro, 10 km east of  Zaragoza. She had flown 250 km during the course of the day.

Having reached northern Spain, Deishar showed no signs of letting up and she made the most of excellent flying conditions on 9th September, soaring and gliding through Aragon, sometimes reaching altitudes in excess of over 3000 metres. She continued flying until 20:00 by which point she had covered a further 300 km and was now 45 km south-west of Valencia.

Deishar made the most of excellent thermal conditions as she soared south through Spain, climbing on thermal updrafts and then gliding forwards.

Next morning Deishar continued on the same southerly heading and at 14:00 local time she reached the south-east coast of Mercia, south-west of La Manga and headed across the sea. The crossing to Africa is much further here than the Strait of Gibraltar where many Ospreys cross, but Desihar made light work of it, flying 210 km across the sea in four-and-a-quarter hours.

Deishar made a 200km sea crossing from Spain to Algeria.

Having reached Algeria, Deishar continued flying for a further 60 km before roosting on the edge of the town of Relizane. Deishar is now much further east than her brother, Carr, and will have a longer crossing of the Sahara unless she makes a drastic turn to the south-west. Her transmitter works through the mobile network and so we may not receive any further updates from her until she is across the Sahara. Let’s hope she makes it – but it is a difficult journey for you Ospreys on their first autumn migration.

Deishar has reached Algeria just seven days after leaving her nest in the Scottish Highlands.

To see a map of Deishar’s journey so far, click here.