Penelope 2010

 2008 maps for Penelope
'09 maps for: Bea -- Buck -- Caley -- Claws -- Conomo -- Hix -- Hudson 09 -- Isabel -- Katy -- L.R. --
Moffet -- Mr. Hannah
-- Ozzie -- Penelope -- Rafael
2010 maps for: Belle -- Buck -- Gunny -- Hudson -- Mr. Hannah -- Neale -- North Fork Bob -- Penelope -- Sanford -- Sr. Bones -- Thatch
2011 maps: Belle -- Buck -- Henrietta -- Katbird -- North Fork Bob -- Pemi -- Saco -- Sanford -- Sr. Bones -- Snowy -- Thatch -- Tucker

2012 maps: Art -- Belle -- Bridger -- Chip -- Cutch -- Jill -- North Fork Bob -- Rammie -- Snowy -- Sr. Bones -- Thatch
2013 maps: Art -- Belle -- Bridger -- North Fork Bob -- Rammie -- Snowy -- Sr. Bones
Osprey main page -- Migration page -- Migration09 -- Migration10 -- Migration 11 -- Migration 12 -- Migration 13 -- Home Page

20 Aug-3 Oct 2010. Penelope is off on her second migration south. She explored a great deal of New England (visiting all states save Vermont and Maine) over the course of the summer. She made a 2-day cameo appearance on Martha's Vineyard in August, but seemed focused on the Merrimack River in southern New Hampshire, returning there three times.
     She is now just 30 km north of Isla de Magarita, which is just north of Venezuela, but she's either on a boat or she's dead and floating in the ocean. Very nerve wracking! We won't know for another 3 days. Aargh.

She did not make it. Very sad to lose this bird. Sad to lose all of them, of course, but the longer we get to know them, the more we have emotionally (as well as scientifically) invested in them.

Jump to the start of the fall migration.

Jump to summer maps.

Jump to spring migration maps.
 2 Apr-1 June 2010. Penelope is home! Sort of.
     After 18 months in South America, mostly on the Ouagui and Itani rivers in French Guiana, our Martha's Vineyard youngster from the class of '08 began the long trip home.
     She left the upper reaches of her South American headquarters on the 2nd of April. She stopped that first night near the cataracts on the Itani River, where she spent some time during the past 16 months, so we really didn't know if this was the real thing.
     Indeed it was. On the evening of the 3rd she pitched her camp in northeastern Suriname. Over the next 25 days she pushed northwest, with a two-week hiatus in northern Venezuela.
     Another spurt of migration got her to Hispaniola, where she stopped for 2 weeks.
     Once she got moving again, she skipped Cuba (she's one of the rare Ospreys to have made it to S.A. without seeing Cuba) and is now working her way up the east coast of the U.S., presumably heading for Martha's Vineyard, where she was born almost exactly 2 years ago.
     On the 1st of June she arrived in southeastern MA and could certainly see Martha's Vineyard, but she opted for a junket to central Massachusetts rather than a real homecoming.

Scroll down for details.
A Year Abroad - 2009.

1 Jan - 31 Dec 09
. Penelope has settled down on about 100 miles of river through Suriname and French Guiana.
      The stretch of river between French Guiana and Suriname is called the Litani or Itani. In French Guiana, Penelope is on the Ouagui River, a tributary of the Litani.
    She should head north in April '10. [Finally, a prediction comes true!]
Jan 2010. Same stretch of the river for 3 months now. Sometime this spring, she will head north.
Feb 2010. She got bored and made a 2-day trip all the way up to the cataracts on the Itani River, where she's spent a lot of time. Apparently, she wasn't impressed, as she flew back to the Ouagui River in French Guiana the next day.
     For all of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, she has moved up and down 110 miles (178 km) of the Ouagui and Itani Rivers.
Mar 2010. Another month in this same area.
     As her second winter proceeds down here, the day length is increasing, just as it did a year ago. This time, however, the change in day length (presumably--we don't know what else it could be) is going to trigger migratory behavior.
     Migration is a whole suite of behaviors, all genetically determined. The first step is to fatten up, so birds preparing to migrate will put on weight. Then they experience migratory restlessness, or zugunruhe--a term borrowed from our German colleagues. This restlessness is what drives the birds to move. Some other set of genes tell them what direction to follow.
     Among the many mysteries of migration we witness following these young Ospreys is the question of why did they not respond to this lengthening of the day a year ago? The stimulus is exactly the same, but last year it did not move her (literally), this year it did.
     They must have some internal calendar that keeps them from responding to the increasing day length in their first spring on the wintering grounds.
2-7 Apr 2010. Penelope is off to the races.
     On the 4th she got to the coast of Suriname. It's clear that her internal, innate flight plan is telling her to go northwest. But, remarkably, when she got to the coast, she knew it was not yet time to head out over open water. She's did not make this decision based on remembering landmarks from her fall migration back in '08. She is nowhere near the ground she covered back then (the orange line).
     So, she made an adjustment following the coast southwest a bit and then hugged the shore for another day and a half.
     On the 6th she crossed into Guyana.
Depending on the route she takes, she has about 3,500 miles (5,600 km) to go before she gets back to the Vineyard.
6-10 Apr 2010. Penelope continues to head northwest, crossing twice the route she took coming south 19 months before.
     She crossed the Orinoco River on the 10th.
     HX, one of the first birds we tagged, way back in 2000, spent his winters on the delta of the Orinoco.
10 Apr 2010. Penelope is about to come to a very interesting point in her migration. She's likely to hit the north coast of Venezuela on the11th. Will she push off and cross the Caribbean here, or will she make another course adjustment to the southwest to stay over land, as she did back on the 4th?
10-24 Apr 2010. So much for my prediction that Penelope would continue northwest to the Venezuelan coast! I think she checks my predictions on her iPhone and then just goes the other way.
     She has holed up on the shores of the Gulf of Paria and shows no signs of moving.
     Mark Martell had young stop migrating before reaching their natal areas, but never this far south. His birds were headed for Minnesota and quit migrating in the southern U.S.
     Alan Poole remembers young showing up at the Westport River colony as late as June--teenagers are never on time for anything--so she still may make it home.
     I do predict that Penelope will move again, but I'm not saying in which direction!    
10-24 Apr 2010. Penelope has settled down, at least for the time being, at the edge of a pretty vast expanse of mangroves. This would appear to be an area where she's not likely to run into any humans.
     If and when she does decide to continue north, she still has to run the gauntlet of Hispaniola and Cuba.
24-26 Apr 2010. Penelope is finally on the road again. She got going around noon on the 25th and headed northwest for only about 3 hours. She wandered around a bit before backtracking a bit and settling down near Rio Casanay.
     On the 26th she got an earlier start, leaving around 09:00. She passed over Isla de Margarita, heading northwest towards Hispaniola.
    Around noon she apparently caught sight of the tiny island of Isla la Blanquilla and flew over there to spend the night. She must have ADHD.
26-28 Apr 2010. Penelope left her roost on Isla la Blanquilla between 8 and 9 AM. 13 hours later she was about 160 mi (260 km) southeast of the Dominican Republic.
     She settled down in northern Hispaniola that evening.
28 Apr-11 May 2010. Penelope spent two weeks in northeastern Hispaniola, making us all pretty nervous. After her two-week layover in the D.R., she headed west sometime in the morning of the 11th and moved only 92 miles (148 km) before settling down for the evening near the north shore of the island.
28 Apr-10 May 2010. This, apparently, is how to survive in the D.R., if you are an Osprey: Find a relatively uninhabited part of the country, fish only rivers, staying away from farms, and hide deep in the woods when you're not fishing!
28 Apr-12 May 2010. After her warm-up trip on the 11th, she took off around 09:00, heading due west, following the what appears to be a simple genetic set of instructions: stay over land if at all possible as long as you can go pretty much in the direction you want.
     About 14:00 she left Haiti behind (lead-free!), heading northwest. As the afternoon progressed, she caught sight of Great Inagua Island, where she'd spent the night 602 days before (17 Sep '08) and camped out there again.
12-14 May 2010. Penelope shows us here that she is not following landmarks that she remembers from her first migration. Were that the case, she'd have island-hopped through the eastern Bahamas. Instead, she found Andros Island for a night's sleep and then pushed on to Florida on the 14th.
     The crossing from Andros Island to West Palm Beach took 6 hours.
14-16 May 2010. Penelope seems to be in the mood to travel. After spending the night in West Palm Beach, she move north and spent some time fishing on the St. John's River in northeastern Florida. This is a favorite spot for our migrating birds. If I wanted to see a lot of Ospreys in Florida (not a hard thing to do) I'd hang out along the St. John's.
     On the 16th, she pushed northeast. She was in South Carolina by 14:00. Not sure where she set up camp. We'll find that out when we next download data.
     Penelope left her winter haunts 46 days ago. Of those 46 days, she has been migrating only 18. Her distance traveled so far is 2,823 mi. (4,543 km). She has averaged 157 miles/day (241 km/day) of actual migration.
     She has about 900 miles (1,450 km) to go if she's going to return to Martha's Vineyard.
16-17 May 2010. Penelope spent the night of the 16th on the shore of Lake Moultrie in South Carolina's low country. The next morning she moved a few miles to the Santee River and spent the day there.
     It has been interesting to watch where Penelope has stopped to feed as she heads north--almost always at rivers. This makes sense, given that she spent her 18 months in South America hunting up and down a couple of rivers.
16-20 May 2010. Penelope moved to the Pee Dee River in South Carolina where she spent the night of the 18th.
     On the 19th she moved 119 mi. (192 km) up into North Carolina, where she spent the night along the Neuse River.
     On the 20th, she made a big move-- 172 mi (277 km) to the eastern short of Virginia. At around 16:00h she crossed the path she had followed in the fall of '08 for the fourth time.
21 May 2010. Penelope really seems to have momentum on her side now. On the 21st she crossed the mouth of Chesapeake Bay and moved up the
"Delmarva" peninsula. She crossed her fall '08 route for the 5th time in Virginia, took just over an hour to knock of the Maryland part of the peninsula, and about the same for Delaware. Around 16:00 she was in New Jersey.
     She continued north for 3 more hours, finally settling down near Atlantic City.
     Depending on her route, she has about 230 mi. (370 km) to go before we hang up the balloons for her welcome-home party on Martha's Vineyard.
     I wouldn't be surprised if she's already there (as of the 24th).
20-25 May 2010. Penelope has thrown another curve ball at us. She was moving up the Jersey shore and was only two days short of arriving on Martha's Vineyard, if only she'd stayed on her northeastern heading. But, no, she decided to turn northwest and settle down for a few days in central New Jersey.
22-23 May 2010. On the 22nd, Penelope just plunked down on Island Beach State Park around midday. After the 13:00 location, all fixes for her were at one spot for 22 hours. This doesn't mean she didn't move, of course, it just means that every time her GPS unit took a reading (on the hours), she was perched on whatever it was she was sitting on. She probably was flying around, doing some fishing nearby, but she sure didn't go far.
23-29 May 2010. After her somewhat  surprising turn to the west on the 23rd, Penelope once again put migration on hold for a couple of days just west of West Freehold, NJ. She's just moving around in a small area working some small ponds for a change. Guess she couldn't find a river.
     She spent a week here.
29-30 May 2010. After her somewhat  perplexing week in central New Jersey, Penelope went on an 80-mi tour of the central coast around Barnegut Bay, and then headed north (again).
30 May-6 June 2010. On the 31st, Penelope made it to Connecticut. The next day she took about 5 hours to cross the state. A couple of hours later she had Rhode Island in her rear-view mirror as she passed through the heart of the Westport River Osprey colony. At this point she could see Martha's Vineyard about 16 mi (27 km) away, and was 22 mi (42 km) from the nest where she was born. She was apparently not overwhelmed with homesickness, and rather than cross Vineyard Sound, she turned nortwest and is now in central MA.
     This behavior fits in with what we know about dispersal in young Ospreys. Males rarely nest more than 15 mi ( km) from where they were born. Females are the wandering sex. This difference in the dispersal behavior of the two sexes helps keep the gene pool mixed up.
     Back in the early 70s I banded an Osprey on Martha's Vineyard that was recovered years later up in Maine where it was surely nesting. Odds are that this was a female.
6-13 June 2010. Penelope continues to explore southern New England. At the end of this week, she settled down in northeastern Connecticut, which seems to contain a giant Osprey magnet. Two of the adult Ospreys we tagged on Martha's Vineyard in the early 2000s commuted between this area and their home territories after their nests failed. Three of the young tagged on the Vineyard also spent time in this area, which is full of small ponds--and apparently lots of fish!
14-19 June 2010. One can see in this image why the area is popular among southeastern New England's Ospreys.
20-26 June 2010. On the 21st, Penelope decided it was time for some more exploring. She moved 91 miles (148 km), passing through, or at least over, Boston before heading northwest and settling down just south of the New Hampshire border. On the 22nd she moved up to Concord, NH, where she settled down for a week on the Merrimack River.
     In this map I've included locations for our five adult males tagged in Rhode Island and SE Mass.
22-30 June 2010. Penelope spent her year and a half in South America working up and down a couple of rivers in French Guiana and Suriname, so it's not surprising to see her work rivers like the Merrimack.
31 June - 5 July 2010. Penelope is on the move again! She left the Merrimack River north of Concord, NH, on the 30th of June and spent that night in northern MA. She settled down on the Ware River, just east of Quabbin Reservoir for a couple of days before a big move all the way down to Block Island. She by late afternoon, she was in southern Rhode Island.
     Will she ever wander back to Martha's Vineyard?
2 - 5 July 2010. Penelope worked this stretch of the Ware River on the 3rd and 4th. The last point on the map was at 10:00 on the 5th, when she took off for points south.
2 - 5 July 2010. Penelope can't make up her mind. She made a 3-day junket down to Block Island, visiting the Pawtucket River in RI for a couple of days. The Pawtucket and Wood River basin was the last toe- (talon?) hold of Ospreys in RI when the species was decimated by DDT in the late 60s and early 70s.
    From there, she went back to the Ware River area and then back up to the Merrimack in NH.
5-8 July 2010. After a quick stop on Block Island, Penelope flew back to mainland Rhode Island, where she stopped and fished the Pawtucket River for a couple of days. She left this area around 10:30 on the 8th
8-13 July 2010. Penelope came back to an area she's visited before. She stopped at Brookhaven Lake, and somewhat uncharacteristically, for her--river rat that she is--did some fishing in the lake. She went up to the Ware River on the 9th (leaving around 10:00), then 24 hours later came back on the 10th. She only spent a couple of hours at the lake before going north to the Ware River again. On the 11th she flew down late in the afternoon to spend the night at what appears to be a big beaver pond only to return in the morning of the 12th back to the Ware River. She was at this beaver pond back in early June. She left the Ware River about noon on the 13th, heading northwest.
13-17 July 2010. Penelope made the 50 mile trip from the Ware to the Merrimack in a little over 2 hours, arriving a little after 14:00 on the 13th. She spent the next 4 days working about 2 miles of the river upstream of East Merrimack. She's 23 miles (37 km) south of Concord, where she spent some time fishing this same river during the last week of June. She has never been here before, so she did not navigate back here, but is rather still exploring, adding to her ever-growing data base of good fishing spots.
     A return to Martha's Vineyard is looking less and less likely. Laddbrokes is giving 100-1 against.
18 July-5 Aug 2010. I hope someone took the 100-1 bet! I should know better--as soon as I predict something that this bird is going to do, it does the opposite. Penelope, after 7 weeks of denying her heritage, left her river hangout in New Hampshire and flew more or less directly, over about 5 hours, back to the ponds where she learned to fish. She spent a day and a half there and zipped right back up to the Merrimack River. Why, after all this time, did some set of neurons fire in that Osprey brain, triggering this cameo appearance in her old 'hood? Some things we're able to figure out by following these juveniles, some things will remain forever mysteries.
22-24 July 2010. Penelope made a cameo appearance back in her old backyard. Green balloons and orange lines trace her movements 2 years ago when she fledged from a nest between Long Cove and Homer Pond along the south shore of Martha's Vineyard. Lots of orange tracks show how often she flew from her nest up to the head of Deep Bottom "back in the day." This year, she apparently decided that nostalgia is not all it's cracked up to be, and flew back to New Hampshire after less than 48 hours on the Vineyard. She left Deep Bottom about 09:00, did a bit of fishing perhaps in Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven, and was back on the Merrimack River about 12 hours after leaving Tisbury Great Pond.
22 June-5 Aug 2010. Penelope has been up in New Hampshire on three separate visits. I've color coded her balloons to the three stays here. She was on the Merrimack near Concord in the last week of June (orange), then about the third week in July (pink), and now, after her junket down to the Vineyard, she's back (green). Most of her time on this most recent visit has been spent near Manchester on of the Piscataquog River, a tributary of the Merrimack.
1 June-5 Aug 2010. No one will be able to accuse Penelope of making a snap decision when she finally decides where to nest!
     The orange track was her route south in 2008. White is where she's been this summer.
4-14 Aug 2010. Penelope is hanging out just west of Manchester, NH.
8-19 Aug 2010. Tirrell Pond must have a lot of fish in it. This is the first place that has caught Penelope's attention to this degree. After arriving on the 8th, she only left twice for short (about 1 mile) forays down to the Piscataquog River. She stayed here until the morning of the 20th, when she began her second migration south.
20-29 Aug 2010. Penelope is off on her second migration south! I've included her paths on her first trip south back in '08 and her first trip north this spring. While we already knew this, her travels provide ample evidence that Ospreys do not follow a memorized route relying on known landmarks.
     She covered 663 miles in 10 days, which included 4 days of actual migration and 6 fueling up, probably waiting for favorable weather.
20-26 Aug 2010. Penelope began her migration around 10:00 with a modest 139 mile trip down to Danbury CT, where she stopped first on the Lillinonah Reservoir (part of the Housatonic River) and then Lake Candlewood, a  few miles west. This was about the time a wicked Nor'easter hit New England, so she was biding time here waiting for the weather to turn.
28-29 Aug 2010. Our favorite river-rat Penelope settled down for a couple of days on the Neuse River, southeast of Raleigh, NC. I don't think we've ever had a bird so tied in to rivers.
     Hurricane Earl is on its way north, expected to approach the North Carolina coast on 2 September. It looks like Penelope is going to neatly sidestep out of its way. She's on a route that looks to take her to Florida along the coast, and she'll probably be way south of the Carolinas before Earl gets there. But then we remember how my predictions for Penelope have not been exactly the stuff of oracles.
20-31 Aug 2010. Well, another prediction holds up! Penelope is safely in Florida and will miss all the fun that Earl may provide.
     I've included her other trip routes on this map. It will be very interesting to see if she goes through the Bahamas--her path north this spring, or winds up going through Cuba.
     It will also be really interesting to see how Earl stirs up all the birds that are on the runway, waiting to head south. Approaching hurricanes, because of the counter-clockwise flow of wind around them, provide ideal conditions (northeast winds) for fall migration. We saw this dramatically with Jaws and 2 other migrating birds back in '04 as Hurricane Jeanne sat right about where Earl is now.
     (I wish I'd figured out 3 years ago that you can drop current weather conditions onto Google Maps!)
31 Aug 2010. Penelope did not retrace her route through the Bahamas. We have come to understand that young Ospreys learn the general route south when they fly north on their first return trip. Penelope's route here shows us again that routes are very general, and not reliant on landmarks. It also indicates that the overriding principle of migration (either north or southbound) is to stay over land as long as you can.
3 Sep 2010. This is a familiar view. Penelope spent the night along a very small river somewhere in the middle of Cuba. This habit should be a pretty safe one for her as she moves through Cuba and Hispaniola as it reduces the chance that she'll find herself at a fish farm.
3-7 Sep 2010.
     Penelope is working her way southeast through terra incognita. Unlike most Ospreys on their third trip through the Caribbean, she has never been on Cuba.
6-10 Sep 2010. Traveling through Haiti this fall, Penelope was pretty much, but not exactly, retracing her route through the country from two years before. When she crossed into the Dominican Republic, she left the beaten path.
     Given our track record of no young surviving attempts to overwinter in the D.R. we're always nervous as birds go through the very Osprey-unfriendly land. Once again, we hope that her very strong penchant for hunting rivers will keep her away from fish ponds.
10 Sep 2010. This is what we like to see Penelope doing--roosting near little rivers far from humans.
9-12 Sep 2010. There seems to be no end of really interesting things that Penelope does. Here, we see her break out of the south-bound migration mode to visit a river in the northern Dominican Republic where she spent a couple of weeks back in May on her way north.
     She was about 45 mi (78 km) south of this favorite fishing spot when she decided to head up there to refuel. Good fisherwomen have good memories, know where the fish are, and are willing to go a bit out of their way to visit a productive site.
     What we don't know is how she found her way up there. She probably could have seen some landmarks if she got up on soar. Alternatively, she might have used some other navigational sense, which we know birds possess but have no clue as to how it works.
11-26 Sep 2010. Penelope spent 15 days on these small rivers in the northern Dominican Republic. She resumed her migration around 10AM on the 26th.
26-28 Sep 2010. This makes me really, really nervous. Penelope headed off to South America around 12 PM on the 27th. Around 3 hours later she changed course and started flying southwest, and then shifted to a westerly direction. Around 7 PM I believe she landed on a ship. The 8 PM location is only about 10 miles (16 km) from the 7 PM location, and that's pretty much too slow for an Osprey to fly. At that point the GPS stopped recording, but fortunately, this was when the transmitter was due to upload the GPS data, so we have some location data for her, based on the old Doppler location system. Over the rest of the night her signal was moving northeast, at about 10 mph. Our last signal was at 05:52 on the 28th.
     We have not had good luck with birds landing on ships. I think we've had 4 birds land on ships, and 2 of them were never heard from again. But, looking at the glass half full view, 2 birds have hitched rides for a while and taken off in the morning.
     Talons seriously crossed on this one! We have to wait 3 more days for her next data upload. Let's hope this is an unarmed crew!
9-29 Sep 2010. OK, she got off the boat or ship--let's just call it her floating ride--sometime after 6AM on the 28th and flew to Puerto Rico, where she bunked down for the evening. On the 29th she island hopped her way through the Virgin Islands, and once she'd seen all of them she decided to make the big push south to Venezuela. She probably started this trip around 7AM. We don't know if she stopped on St. Croix or not. (Remember that the lines connecting locations do not mean she necessarily took that route. We're safe to assume that when points are about 25 mi and an hour apart, but when there's 12 hours between GPS locations, we really don't know where she was between those points and times.)
9 Sep-1 Oct 2010. Relieved to see that she made it across the Caribbena. It seems that at some point in this leg of her journey she remembered stopping on Isla Blanquilla and set her navigational system for it. She spent part of a day resting there on her way north in late April (the green track), and probably stopped there for a bit on this journey, although the data are not clear. I can't imagine she wouldn't stop to catch her breath after 430 mi. (700 km) of non-stop flight.
9 Sep-3 Oct 2010. Now I'm really, really nervous again. These points are from the morning download on 3 Oct. and are missing a whole day's points (2 Oct).
     I was a bit premature in printing this map, because it often takes several passes of the satellites to download all the data.
     Looking at these points, I wondered if she didn't backtrack towards Isla Blanquilla on the 1st and spend the 2nd there. We still have worrisome points at the end of the track here.
This is a little better, but still very perplexing. With another satellite pass or two, we got the full data set from her GPS.
     Why would she go back to Los Hermanos when Isla de Margarita was so close? And then what's with the erratic path? Is she on a boat again? The track ends at 5PM with three points (i.e. 2 hours of time) where she only moves a mile. I really don't like that.
     Scroll down for the probably answer.
4 Oct 2010. This weather image probably explains what's going on. This image is from the 4th, a day after the last points on the previous map, so Penelope may have flown into this "area of tropical instability" which has the potential to develop into a tropical depression or hurricane.
     Another 3-day cliff-hanger, and I don't have much hope here. Ugh.

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