Time keeps creeping on and we are now in mid-April. These are the questions everyone is asking.
Where is KL? Is it too late to expect her back? Is there a chance she has survived?
Where is KL? – the short answer is that we do not know. She does not have a satellite tracker (unlike her son No14) so we cannot pinpoint her position or what date she might have started the migration (No 14 started on March 19th). We know her roosting spot is in Senegal in the Sine Saloum Delta and thus her probable flight path follows the desert coast of Africa through Spain and France to home. She has a white ring on her right leg but unless someone sharp eyed with good optics picks this up and bothers to send in the sighting we are no further forward.
Is it too late to expect her back? Not at all. The time it takes to migrate depends very much on wind and weather. As we know the strong easterly winds have effected the whole of Europe and many migrants will have battled or just decided to rest up until certain of kindly winds. Waiting though means they will need to spend time to replenish their fat reserves to resume the journey.
This year statistics from the other observed nests in the UK all point to many individuals who have not turned up yet. Usually between 8% and 10% of adult ospreys do not make it each year. This year about 25% are missing. It seems unlikely that all of these will have perished (although being blown out into the Atlantic will have been a very real danger!). Lastly, In their first year both Unring and KL arrived on April 24th and this is not the latest date recorded overall by a long chalk.
Is there a chance she has survived? The journey is the single greatest factor in the mortality rate of osprey. Think of all the hazards and it is amazing that any find their way at all. KL is now 9 years old, an experienced traveller and in her prime. What we do know from osprey behaviour is that if it is at all possible for her to make the journey she will continue trying.
From Unring’s behaviour he is still on the look out for her, spending yesterday nest building and sitting as a watchman on the topmost branch of the nest tree.
So, this is what a good home looks like to Unring, a cosy bunk, his lovely lady and good food. Worth waiting for!