1 Oct-1 Nov 2011.
Buck is back in Venezuela after a truly amazing, 3-month search
for his home territory earlier this summer.
This fall, he was behaving like a normal Osprey, moving down the
Osprey Highway to the Tropics until he got to Cabo Beata
in the Dominican Republic. From there he made two aborted trips over the Caribbean
and then seemed settled in for a long stay. A
month after arriving on Hispaniola, he suddenly
took off and two days later was back at his
wintering grounds in Venezuela's Cienagas
(Marshes) de Juan Manuel National Park.
The white track is his first trip south back in 2009.
The mass of blue spaghetti in the eastern US
tracks his wandering around looking for his
Scroll down to follow his 8,000 mile tour of almost
every eastern state this summer (don't miss this
if you haven't seen it already), or
Skip ahead to his fall migration.
19 Apr-27 July 2011.
Buck arrived home after the longest
convoluted trip we've ever seen.
He made it across the Caribbean safe and sound dodging
all the fish farms in Cuba as well as Cuba
itself. He did some island hopping in the
southern Bahamas and then set his sights, or at
least his compass, on Cape Fear, NC.
For three months and many thousand miles,
he defyied conventional wisdom (male Ospreys
almost always return to the vicinity of their
nests to breed) wandering around the
northeastern U.S. He kept trying to fly
southwest toward his natal territory, but every
time he got to North Carolina or Virginia he
turned around and headed northeast again.
Between 26 Apr and 6 July, he moved over 6,000
miles, measuring roost-to-roost distances! It
appears he finally may have gotten around
whatever was confusing his internal compass.
He finally got into South Carolina and just
blew past his old 'hood. His onboard navigation
system, for which he deserves a refund, told him
it was recalculating (again!) and finally got
him back to his natal area on the Catawba River
in Great Fall, SC. Tennessee.
What a trip.
Scroll down to follow all his movement in 2001
Skip to the beginning of his spring migration.
Follow his travels in the U.S.
1-31 Jan 2011.
Buck is a few months away from
returning to the States. We don't know where
he'll go, but it will probably be close to his
natal area on the Catawba River near Great
Falls, SC. This despite his having spent a month
or so on the Cumberland River in Tennessee River
before migrating to Venezuela.
Thanks to Venezuelan
biologist Daniella Dearden, we have some great
new pictures of the area where Buck has been
trying to diminish the local fish populations
for the past 18 months or so.
Buck has spent his time down south in Venezuela's
Cienagas (Marshes) de Juan Manuel National Park. Here's the habitat
Buck has called home since he got to South
America. The water in the distance is Lake
Maracaibo, which opens into the Gulf of
In the south, it's mostly fresh water, but as
you move north towards the Gulf, it becomes more
and more saline.
1-28 Feb 2011.
I'll be adding pictures when I get a chance.
1-31 Mar 2011. Departure
1-22 Apr 2011. And, he's off!
Buck spent the first 18 days of April in the
Cienagas de Juan Manuel National Park. On the
19th and 20th he headed north, staying over land
as long as possible (the first rule of Osprey
migration). On the 21st, he pushed out over the
Caribbean and did the 400 miles (665 km)
crossing in probably 20 hours We don't know
exactly when he made landfall in Haiti, but he
was averaging a rather slow 20 mph between his
10AM departure from Colombia's Guajira Peninsula
and our last fix for him at 9PM out over the
Caribbean. So he probably made it to Haiti
21-24 Apr 2011.
After about only 3 hours to rest up and maybe
catch a fish, Buck was heading north by 9 AM.
Eight and a half hours later, he left Haiti
behind and headed over to roost on an island
just 4 mi (7 km) off Haiti's north shore.
On the 23rd he took off, looking like Cuba was his next
stop, but then apparently caught sight of Great
Inagua Island. Given that the island was north
of where he was, it seemed like the right place
to be, so he changed course. This meant that he
would up skipping Cuba altogether, which, given
our past experiences of Ospreys and Cuban fish
farms, was a good thing.
23-24 Apr 2011.
This track is a bit
strange. We don't usually see so much meander in
an overwater migration leg. Maybe he was getting
distracted by islands as they came into view. Or
winds may have been shifting.
24-26 Apr 2011.
A bit of a cliff-hanger here. Our last signals
from him on the 26th were about 30 mi south of
Cape Fear, North Carolina.
He clearly had his compass set on a number. How he came
up with that direction, we can't know.
On this crossing, he left his island roost around 8AM
on the 25th and made it to North Carolina around
noon the next day--28 hours of non-stop flight.
26 Apr-2 May 2011.
Buck's going a bit rogue on
us here. We expect males to return to the
vicinity of their natal territory. Buck,
apparently, did not study up on Osprey behavior.
28-4 May 2011.
New Jersey makes the 10th
state Buck has visited since he left his natal
area back in the summer of '09.
What's this southern boy doing heading for New England?
4-8 May 2011.
Buck settled down a bit
along the Delaware River. He made a foray south
through much of New Jersey and then retreated to
his stronghold on the Delaware.
4-10 May 2011.
On the 9th he headed
southwest and got all the way into Virginia
(again). He then made an almost complete
about-face and flew northeast into Pennsylvania
(adding West Virginia to his list of states
10-12 May 2011.
Buck continued on this
northeasterly course, seemingly back in
migration mode through the 11th and 12th. He
flew right over Hartford and then settled to
roost for the night east of Stafford Springs,
12-16 May 2011.
It sure looks like Buck's
compass is a bit out of kilter and that's he's
still migrating. On the 13th over a 13-hour
period, he flew 200 mi (325 km), clearly
following the maxim of going in a more or less
fixed direction, but staying over land. The only
place he slowed down at all was near the Cape
Cod Canal, where he may have stopped for some
fishing. The rest of the day was spent in
dedicated movement. When he got to Cape Cod, it
seems the urge to stay over land won out over
the urge to fly east. This is a good thing.
Otherwise he'd be on his way to Ireland about
now. The Cape seems to have redirected him
almost 180 degrees.
He flew right over Boston and roosted in the Boston 'burbs
on the 13th.
Then it was off to New Hampshire! He seems to have
settled down there, for a few days at least now.
14-16 May 2011.
This looks like a good spot
for an Osprey. I don't think he'll stay here
This is going to be an interesting summer!
16-26 May 2011.
On May 18th, Buck took off
and headed home. On the 22nd he was up in the
Appalachians in West Virginia. He got down into
Virginia and then veered off course, winding up
near Norfolk VA on the 24th. A day later he was
backtracking into the Appalachians. He kept
right on going and wound up in north central
Pennsylvania on the 26th.
26 May-1 June 2011.
Buck wandered over into New
York and on the 29th made another somewhat
half-hearted stab at getting south. He got to
Cape May on the 30th and then retreated back to
1-11 June 2011.
He began another attempt to
get home on the 1st with pretty much the same
result. This time he got all the way into North
Carolina, where he once again veered off course.
It's as if he is meeting a barrier he can't get
through. This must have something to do with his
internal compass and sense of magnetic fields.
We do not understand how birds do it, but they do
somehow generate some sort of magnetic map of
their world and use this to correct when they
find themselves off course. We've seen this with
a number of our young birds on their first trips
north or south.
However it is supposed to work, something is not
happening for Buck.
11-19 June 2011.
Without resting a day, Buck
turned around on the 12th and tried again. Same
result. He can't get through North Carolina.
Five days after turning around he was back up in
19 June-2 July 2011.
Again, from one day to the
next he switched from northbound to southbound,
and once again got to North Carolina only to
flip the switch once again and head back north.
This time he had quite a bit of 'west' in his
orientation and found himself in western
Pennsylvania on 2 July.
2-6 July 2011.
He's having another go at
it. In the process he added Ohio to the list of
states he has been in (that's a record 19 now)
14-16 May 2011.
He is sort of making an
'end run' here. He was in Virginia on the 6th,
but he once again is veering to the east. Will
he make it this time?
The area he has covered since arriving in the U.S. back
in late April is roughly that of all of Great
Britain and Ireland!
27 Apr- 4 July 2011.
Using the Maryland border
as a point of reference, we see that he has
crossed it 11 times. Including his latest foray
south (over on the West Virginia-Ohio border)
and two trips into New Jersey and back, we see
that he has tried to get south seven times.
In 70 days he has moved (just measuring the distances
between nightly roosts, 6,455 mi (10,388 km)!
6-15 July 2011.
He got pretty close to home
on this pass. He was about 35 mi. from the
northernmost of his wanderings around his nest
back in 2009 (the yellow track). On the 9th of
July he spent the night at Coddle Creek
Reservoir, where there has been a breeding pair
of Ospreys for many years. From there he passed
over Lake Norman, apparently unimpressed, and
wandered back up into Virginia.
His trip northeast out of North Carolina into Virginia
on the 10th was right along the eastern
escarpment of the Appalachians. He was probably
working updrafts along the way.
He spent 3 days on the James River near Lynchburg, VA
and then went west to the New River, where he
stayed until the 18th of July.
14-18 July 2011.
He stayed here until the
morning of the 18th, when he pushed on to the
11-27 July 2011.
Buck finally arrived in his
home state of South Carolina. But he was only
passing through! This is the first time his
travels this spring and summer have crossed
places he visited back in the summer of 2009.
Apparently he wasn't really impressed. He pushed right
on through SC and then on the 21st crossed all
of North Carolina's coastal expanse in a 9-hour
dash. Well, almost all of it. His roost on the
22nd was 2 miles south of the VA border.
The next four days saw him moving across Virginia and
arriving back in the mountains of eastern
Tennessee on 27 July.
August 2011. After 11
days around Boone Lake and a quick one day 90
mile excursion to Knoxville on Aug, 1st he
headed southeast through North Carolina (passing
within 4 miles of my old house!) on the
7th and 8th. At noon on the 8th he was about 27
mi (44 km) due east of his natal territory.
He overshot and wound up on Lake Marion in South
Carolina. The next couple of days saw him moving
northwest, again overshooting the mark.
I think he on-board navigation system was once again
telling him it was recalculating and had him do
a big U-turn.
He finally, and I mean finally, made it home on 13
August, 109 days after hitting the North
Carolina coast back on 26 April!
I haven't calculated the distance he traveled over this
time for the whole 109 days, but it's going to
be close to 8,000 miles!
13 Aug-6 Sep 2011.
Back home like he's never
13 Aug-6 Sep 2011.
Buck may have been over to
his nest, but he was never there when his GPS
took its hourly fix.
1-30 Sep 2011.
Buck spent the month cruising his old
'hood waiting for the right set of hormones,
weather, and body condition to align and get the
urge to move stronger than inertia.
1-3 Oct 2011.
Buck is heading south after a month
and a half around his old home turf in South
3-10 Oct 2011.
7-10 Oct 2011.
11-17 Oct 2011.
Buck cruised through Haiti and made it
to Cabo Beato in four days. Cabo Beato is a bit
like Cape May or any other south facing
peninsula in fall migration. Ospreys, like other
raptors, like to stay over land as long as
possible, so are funneled to concentration
points like this.
Cabo Beato would be a good spot to sit and watch
Ospreys in the fall!
15-17 Oct 2011.
Buck started out over the Caribbean
around 2:30 PM on the 16th and then changed his
mind and retreated to Isla Beata, where he spent
the night. He then on the 17th hopped back over
to the D.R. proper.
It's unusual for a bird to retreat like this.
Presumably he ran into some weather he didn't
like, although nothing big shows up on radar in
the Caribbean. Maybe he ran into a local squall.
16-19 Oct 2011.
Buck made another aborted crossing of
the Caribbean. This time he got a lot farther.
He left the D.R. around 10 AM on the 19th. Seven
hours later he was 144 mi (231 km) offshore.
Shortly thereafter, he turned around and headed
back to the D.R.
Presumably, he ran into some bad weather, although I
didn't see any sign of it on the Weather
Based on his travels in the States this summer, one
might suggest he has ADHD and just couldn't
remember what he was doing out there over the
15-17 Oct 2011.
Buck seems to like Cabo Beata. He's
spending a lot of time at Laguna Ovieda.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Laguna de
Oviedo: It is
a saltwater lake in Jaragua National Park. It is
approximately 25 km2 in area, making it the
second largest body of water in the Dominican
Republic after Lake Enriquillo (where Snowy is
currently in residence).
freshwater from the Bahoruco Mountain Range, the
lake is hypersaline due to sea water flowing
into the lake through an underground system
caused by a karstic depression.
Here's a photo of Laguna Oviedo where
Buck has spent a lot of time fishing.
5-17 Oct 2011.
It seemed like
Buck was going to spend the winter on Cabo Beata.
Then, out of the blue he moved north towards
Santo Domingo. This made us very nervous, given
the survival rate of zero for birds trying to
winter in the D.R.
Thus it was with great relief that I saw him heading
south on Nov. 15.
5-17 Oct 2011.
Buck had clear sailing across the
Caribbean and wasted no time (for a change!)
getting back to his wintering grounds. (I guess
we should say his wintering waters--he really
doesn't care about the ground there, after all.)
The white tracks show his wandering back in 2009 when
he first arrived in South America. He first
settled down on the shores of the Gulf of
Venezuela (where lots of our birds stop for a
while) and then wandered around exploring. He
finally settled down on the shores of Lake
Maracaibo, and with the exception of one strange
"road trip," stayed there for the duration.
I remember when we tagged him back in 2009 how he was
awfully small and skinny and thinking that I
wouldn't be surprised if he didn't make it! And
here he is, only the third of my 35 juveniles to
make it back to his wintering waters.
17 Nov 2011.
Buck is smack in the middle of the
area where he spent most of his "gap year"
abroad--fall of 2009 to spring of 2011. The blue
tracks are from January-April of 2011.
17 Nov 2011.
clearly prime real estate for a wintering
Osprey--plenty of water, and it's a National
We're hoping to get better resolution images of the
area sometime, but we're not holding our
17-27 Nov 2011.
This is Buck's
last map. Much to our surprise and great
disappointment, we stopped getting signals from
Buck on Nov. 27th. He returned to his favorite
perch (the cluster of points in the middle of
the map) at noon on the 27th and didn't move the
rest of the day. Those were the last signals we
received from him. This one's hard to interpret.
He probably died, but we usually get signals for
a few days when a bird dies. The complete lack
of signals after the last day is confusing.
Sometimes we'll never know.