Sunday, 26 February 2012

Search for Rothiemurchus

A satellite tagged Scottish Osprey called Rothiemurchus, tagged by Roy Dennis as a juvenile in 2009 was wintering on a river that was just in Senegal but that had to be approached unofficially from the Gambia side. After driving the bus through several villages along narrow sandy tracks and with Google Earth open on a Laptop we eventually felt that we were in the "right" area. 

Initial searches revealed an untagged Osprey, a group of  14 Montagu's Harriers and 2 Booted Eagles but no sign of Rothiemurchus. The terrain was very flat which made it very difficult to see any distance into the mangroves and our only hope would be if he began fishing. 

As we conceded defeat and slowly drove back towards the main road, JJ convinced us to stop and spend a few more minutes at another more accessible part of the river of which we were just passing. It was still well within the range of the Ospreys movements so we all walked down to the waters edge for one last scan.

Within minutes an Osprey appeared over the mangroves - Rothiemurchus. He circled high over our heads and looked as though he was intending on fishing the river right in front of us. 

Suddenly another adult male came stooping in and a dog fight began. The other bird was far more dominant, eventually forcing Rothie back up river and out of view.

The aerial is visible in these heavily cropped photo's.

The victorious male celebrated by washing his feet before heading back down river.