Migration marathon



25 September 2012

Thanks to information provided through a solar-powered GPS tracker sponsored by IBERS, researchers have confirmed that the Dyfi osprey chick has completed his migration to West Africa.

The transmitter, which is sending regular location and flight pattern data back to IBERS’ researchers, shows that this year’s sole surviving osprey, Ceulan, has settled close to the town of Rosso near the border of Mauritania and Senegal along the Senegal River.  

Data is currently received every 48 hours and the team have produced an interactive migration map allowing staff and students easy access to the movements of Ceulan and his 2011 siblings.  The map can be found at http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/ibers/research/research-groups/abeb-new/osprey-migration/

Ceulan took just under two weeks to complete his 2,953 mile journey from the Dyfi Estuary near Machynlleth on Monday 3 September, to Rosso on Saturday 15 September.  

Since arriving on the Senegal River ten days ago he has concentrated his efforts on fishing, never straying more than fifteen miles from his new home.  

Vicky King, a full-time research project coordinator at IBERS and regular volunteer with the Dyfi Osprey Project, explains, “This was an astonishingly fast migration for a young osprey on its first trip to the west African wintering grounds.

“Looking at the GPS migration data in detail, it would seem that on more than one occasion, Ceulan went several days without feeding and instead took advantage of the favourable weather conditions. He flew continuously, sometimes through the night, in an effort to reach his destination as quickly as possible.  

“He’s only moving small distances at present, and appears to be putting a lot of effort into fishing and trying to regain the weight and body condition he will have lost during migration.”

The trackers have an operational life of approximately five years, allowing IBERS researchers to follow the birds during several annual migrations between their summer breeding territories in Wales and their wintering grounds in West Africa.

The trackers provide invaluable and cutting-edge information about osprey ecology and migration that will ultimately aid in the birds conservation and recovery in Wales and beyond.