I’m sure you’re all familiar with the saying “no news is good news” – an uncomfortable situation to be in, but one which unfortunately we find ourselves in at present with Blue 44.
We haven’t received any GPS satellite data for Blue 44 since Ainoa posted the last update on 10th November. The last few GPS points on 9th November showed him roosting on the NW shore of the Alcantra Reservoir, around 20 miles NW of Caceres, Extremadura, and one non GPS point from early the following morning indicated that he was on the large island in the middle of the reservoir (see the Google Earth image below). The activity meter readings at 0913 and 1018 GMT suggest he had been moving, so the evidence points to him being alive and well on the morning of 10th.
But why no data since then? Having consulted Roy Dennis it seems there are a number of possible explanations. The weather in Extremadura over the past week has been generally cloudy with spells of rain. Under such conditions the battery powering the satellite transmitter can become depleted, preventing the transmission of data. If Blue 44 was roosting under cover to keep out of the wet this would further exacerbate the situation. Another possibility is that the transmission may have switched from a four to six day cycle. This was not due to happen until the end of the month but can apparently sometimes occur ahead of schedule due to a programming error.
There is nothing in the data to suggest that anything untoward has befallen Blue 44. He was making steady progress on his journey through Spain (see below) and as far as we can tell was in good health. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that new data will come in over the next few days and will update you as soon as possible.
In the meantime here’s some exciting news from Ainoa…
As soon as we found out Blue 44 was in Spain, we tried to find any ornithologists working along his route. Of course, the chances of anyone spotting and actually managing to get a picture of Blue 44 were slim but it was worth to try. That is why I am very pleased to say the person beating the odds and taking these amazing photos was José Antonio Manzanedo. I would also like to thank Ici Fenellós for putting us in touch with Ángel T. Mejías, the Spanish ornithologist that tracked the pictures down for us, and Javier Prieta, who helped him in doing so.
Blue YD had been enjoying his normal routine perching from tree to tree around the Doue area, often flying across the River Senegal into Mauritania to return again and spend the night in Senegal. But on the morning of the 13th of November he decided it was time to see the coast and set off west on a journey that took a couple of days and roughly covered 132 miles (see Google earth image below).
Blue YD did most of his initial trip through Mauritania, crossing the border towards Senegal only to maintain a straight flight path onto Mauritania’s coastline. He then followed the coast into the province of St. Louis (Senegal) to about 8 miles south of the capital, also call St. Louis. This town is situated at the mouth of the River Senegal, an estuary surrounded by human settlements and inland lagoons which are replenished by both seasonal rainfall and inflow from the river.
The latest satellite data situates Blue YD north of Ndiében, very close to Guembeul Natural Reserve. This Acacia woodland reserve was established by the IUCN in 1983 and is home to numerous bird species, including winter visitors such as Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Spoonbill, Pied Avocet and Grey-headed/Slender-billed Gulls; and residents such as Sahelian Woodpecker, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Black-scrub Robin and Sudan Golden Sparrow. It is particularly known for being at the centre of reintroduction programs for mammals such as Mhorr gazelle and Scimitar Oryx; and reptiles such as the African spurred tortoise.