29 Sep - 28 Nov 2012.
Bob is is back in his winter hideout
in the highlands of southern Venezuela. He has shown us
once again that Ospreys don't really care what
route they take south, they just need to be
heading in the correct general direction. They sort out the navigation stuff at the
His two previous fall trips are indicated on the map in
green (2010) and yellow (2011).
He's took 59 days to get back to his winter home--3
more than last year. He does dawdle along the
Scroll down for all his maps this year, or...
Skip to the start of fall
Skip to the wintering
21 Mar-3 June 2012.
Bob is home after
19 days on the wing. This map shows all his
tracks since we tagged him way back in the
spring of 2010. The yellow track is his route
south in 2010. The hot pink tracks are fall and
spring of 2011. Green is this year.
Jan-Mar 2011 vs. 2012.
In case anyone
needed proof that adults return to the same
wintering areas each year, here it is. The red
symbols are locations from last winter. Orange
symbols and tracks are 2012. He left one day
later this year than last.
21-24 Mar 2012.
Bob is a creature of habit. The green
track is his route home last spring. The red
symbol just south of the Gulf of Venezuela was
his roost on 22 Mar 2011. At this point he's
about a day and a half behind last year's trip.
24-27 Mar 2012.
Bob followed the standard rule of
avian migration--stay over land as long as
possible. This makes north-pointing peninsulas
great places to watch spring migration and
south-pointing capes (like Cape May, NJ) great
in the fall. This year Bob skipped the visit to
He left Venezuela around 9 AM on the 25th. For the next
eight hours where we have locations over the
water, he flew 213 miles in 8 hours, averaging
27 mph. If he kept that pace up, he would have
arrived in Haiti 8.5 hours later--about 2 AM.
25-29 Mar 2012.
Bob spent the night of the 25th on the
south shore of Haiti (I forgot to put his little
tent there) and then pushed north, leaving
around 9AM, pretty much standard operating
procedure. At 5PM he was heading north and ran
out of land, so he pushed out over the short (55
mi) span of open water separating Hispaniola and
Cuba. His last transmission for the day was
where I have the tent on the 26th. He didn't
spend the night there, but rather somewhere on
the eastern tip of Cuba.
The red symbol was his roost on the 25th of March in
2011, so he's now exactly 1 day behind last
He moved north through Cuba, fortunately dodging all
the tempting but dangerous fish farms along the
As of the 29th, he's gone 1,722 mi (2,772 km) in 9
29 Mar-2 Apr 2012.
The way we like 'em. No drama, just
pushing north, heading back to Long Island.
He's staying on script from last year (the green track)
and a day and a half (all of Florida) behind his
2-8 Apr 2012.
The "same old same old" here. Bit of
slow going on the 5th--probably weather related.
Other than that, he was just grinding his way
home. On the last 2 days, he flew 337 miles (543
km)--131 mi (211 km) on the 7th and 206 mi (332
km) on the 8th.
On the 7th he roosted somewhere south of Philadelphia,
not very far from my new nest.
8-11 Apr 2012.
OK, let me
walk you through the interpretation of the new
data for North Fork Bob. Very cool stuff!
So, here's the first few days' data back around where
we trapped him.
As some of you will remember but newcomers won't know,
we trapped Bob by accident back in the summer of
2010. We were trying to catch a juvenile at a
nest just off the Mattituck Golf Club course. We
put fish in the nest (a nice bronzino, rather
than the usual menhaden--it's a long story) with
a noose carpet over the fish. We were expecting
the juvenile to come in for a meal, but it was
skittish after we'd been up in the nest, so it
was hanging back. We caught an adult male, which
I assumed was the male at this nest. Turned out
it was a larcenous neighbor that saw the fish in
the nest and figured that if no one else wanted
it, he'd have to take advantage. He got a
satellite transmitter instead.
We later learned that he had had a nest on
a cell-phone tower nearby, but it had been knocked down by a
maintenance crew working on the tower earlier
that spring. He didn't nest that year, flew to
Venezuela and returned the next spring. He
didn't nest in 2011 either.
So here he is back in the spring of 2012. He didn't go
back to his old nest, nor the nest where we
trapped him. But he is spending a lot of time
around a small pond between Downs and Deep Hole
Creeks (Halls Creek, I believe). Let's see why.
8-11 Apr 2012.
There's a significant cluster of
points here on the east side of the pond.
Everyone else on the planet besides me and a
handful of Osprey biologists who work a lot with
Google Earth would not notice that black
lollipop looking thing out in the marsh. What is
shadow of a nest platform! In this image, one
can actually see the platform.
So it looks like Bob
has found a home. The question now is will he
find a girlfriend as well?
OK, all you North-Forkians need to get out there with
your binoculars and spend some time watching the
nest to see what's going on.
This is really cool!
When I looked back at the data for the summer of 2011,
it turns out Bob spent a lot of time
Here are his
locations from July 2011 for his core area (more
distant locations from fishing trips aren't
included). He spent a lot of time hanging around
the pond where he is now. I never thought to
zoom in and look very closely at this spot, or I
would have noticed the nest pole.
This is how young Ospreys find a nest in their first
few years back in their natal areas. We call
them "house hunters." They're not quite ready to
breed, or perhaps are ready to breed, but there
aren't any unoccupied territories available. Sometimes
they float around building nests on any old
structure they can find--often winding up in
trouble in the process when the structure they
choose is a power transformer or some other
inconvenient nesting spot like cranes or
But sometimes they get lucky and find an unoccupied
prime real estate nest site on a salt marsh like
If they can hold on to the spot over the course of the
summer, they get a sense of ownership, and when
they come back the next spring, they're going to
have enough of an attachment to the location
that they're likely to run off any other
pretenders to their throne--the home-court
advantage is huge in birds.
True veterans of these maps will remember that some of
our first adults tagged way back in 2000 and
2001 left Martha's Vineyard after their nests
failed and then began commuting between some
fresh-water fishing hole in NE CT and their
territories back on the Vineyard. Why go to all
that trouble? Because you don't want some young
whippersnapper like Bob to get any ideas about
taking over your nest pole! They basically fly
all that way to keep the No Trespassing signs up
around their home turf. (keep scrolling)
So, grab your
spotting scopes and binoculars and head out New
Suffolk Ave to Dean Drive. Go down Dean Dr. to
Bechwood Rd. At the end of the road, there looks
to be a good view of the nest. Report back any
and all intelligence to Osprey HQ!
Specifically, we want to know, obviously, does
he now have a mate? Are there
more than 2 birds around the nest?
Sometimes early in the spring there can be
several contenders (of either or both sexes)
vying for the vacancy. These struggles can often
be noisy protracted affairs. Sometimes it's such
a drawn out battle that the birds never get
around to nesting.
What happened last year? Was he hanging out
alone or were there 2 birds around the nest in
July and August? Local residents may know. (We
may need to wait until later in the summer to
find this out.)
If Bob does find a mate and gets a nest going, it will
be our chance to re-trap him and relieve him of
the transmitter he's been kindly lugging back
and forth between Long Island and Venezuela.
There's no need for him to do it again, so we'd
like to move that transmitter to another bird.
12-23 Apr 2012.
off the nest where he was trying to stake a
claim, Bob's been all over eastern Long Island.
He's obviously given up on nesting this year.
20 Apr-5 May 2012.
Bob was feeling a bit adventurous on
the 29th. He headed out over the open Atlantic
around 3:30 PM on the 29th. Our farthest fix was
42 miles (68 km) offshore. He could have been
further out, as we really don't know where he
went between 5 and 6 PM. Remember that the lines
between points don't mean that this was the path
he took. They just serve to let us put the
points in chronological order. He was certainly
wandering around somewhere out there between 5
and 6 PM. This is the first time he's been out
deep-sea fishing! (Our Nantucket bird, Sr.
Bones, has done a bit of this, but it's the
first time for Bob.)
5-20 May 2012.
Not much going
on here. Just a carefree bachelor wandering
around looking for some easy fishing.
19 May - 1 June 2012.
Well, that was
unexpected! Bob's on a road trip over to
Connecticut. This suggests that the fishing's
not very good this year.
We've seen several female Ospreys from Martha's
Vineyard commute to and from northeastern
Connecticut after their nests failed. We also
had an adult from Shelter Island commute to and
from CT, presumably after a nest failure. When
the fishing's bad in the salt water ecosystem,
Ospreys head to freshwater fishing holes.
1-10 June 2012.
Bob's back on
Long Island. He's spending most of his time on
the Peconic River, west of Peconic Bay.
10-30 June 2012.
back and forth between his fishing hole on the
Peconic River near the Calverton Airport (see
picture below) and the Mattituck area, where he
tried to steal a fish from a nest that just
happened to have a noose carpet on it a couple
of years ago.
We see here that he's hunting out in Peconic Bay as
well as out in Long Island Sound.
On my way up to
Mattituck to trap this year's Long Island
Osprey, I stopped by North Fork Bob's favorite
fishing spot on the Peconic River. It's a rather
idyllic little stretch of the river that has
been dammed, so it's wide and presumably pretty
shallow. An ideal spot for Osprey fishing.
Apparently some humans agree.
1-31 July 2012.
fishing the Sound, but is working the north part
of Peconic Bay near Mattituck--when he leaves
his Peconic River hideaway.
24 July - 4 Aug 2012.
last 10 days' data showing some overlap with our
newly trapped non-breeding adult male, Cutch,
who was caught dipping his talons in the same
cookie jar (nest) that we caught Bob in 2 years
24 July - 4 Aug 2012.
Bob and Cutch
may have bumped into each other in the Mattituck
5-29 Aug 2012.
Bob made a
couple of trips west to his fishing hole on the
Peconic River in Calverton. He also made a quick
trip out to Orient Point, about 30 miles east of
the Calverton spot. Most of his the month was
spent around Mattituck, close to where we
23 Aug-4 Sept 2012.
almost all these 15 days around Mattituck. I've
also included Cutch's locations for the same
Both Bob and Cutch did some fishing out in Peconic Bay.
23 Aug-4 Sept 2012.
These seem to
be easy days for our boys Bob and Cutch. They're
spending a lot of time just hanging out. It
looks like they're catching a fish in Peconic
Bay and then just chillin' around a few favorite
What's particularly interesting here is that Bob is
going back to the marsh between Deep Hole Creek
and Downs Creek (it doesn't have a name on the
USGS Topo maps) where he tried to claim the nest
pole this spring.
4-25 Sept 2012.
Islanders, what's Bob catching out in the Bay?
He's doing a lot of fishing way off shore. Are
there a lot of menhaden out there?
His fellow homeless Osprey, Cutch, took off for points
south on the 10th.
Bob is one of only 2 of our 10 tagged birds in North
America that aren't migrating yet. But he was
late last year as well, leaving on 3 October, so
he seems to be on his regular schedule.
He's also still hanging around the nest he tried to
occupy last spring. Maybe he'll have better luck
29 Sept-2 Oct 2012.
This year Bob
started his fall migration on the 30th. Last
year he started on the 3rd of October, and in
2010, the first year we tracked him, he started
on the 19th of September. This is the first year
we've seem him go down the west side of
1-11 Oct. 2012.
Bob is taking
care of business--moving south every day since
he left Long Island.
11-13 Oct 2012.
Here we can
see how south-facing peninsulas funnel birds to
concentration areas. In Bob's case, the
funneling happened over the three fall
migrations we have tracked him. That's why Cape
May is such a great hawk watching spot and why
the Florida Keys Hawk watch counted an
astounding 651 Peregrine Falcons on October
12-22 Oct 2012.
cruised through Cuba and made it over into the
D.R. on the 21st. He missed the turn south to
Cabo Beata most likely because Hurricane Sandy
was raging up the Caribbean (see the next map).
He made me very nervous by settling down in the D.R for
almost three weeks.
22 Oct 2012.
Bob dodged a
bullet by being on Hispaniola rather than half
way to Venezuela when Sandy barreled west
through the Caribbean.
22 Oct-9 Nov 2012.
Bob left his
temporary bivouac around 11AM on the 9th. As he
moved east, he wasn't in full migration mode.
Some of his hourly fixes were only 10 miles or
so apart. That means he wasn't in straight
flapping mode, but was either using thermals or
stopping along the way for a bit of fishing. By
4PM he was moving south full speed ahead--which
is about 25mph under normal conditions.
9-12 Nov 2012.
Bob made the
crossing apparently without a hitch. The colored
balls mark where he was (roughly) when he was
sending his GPS data up to the satellite. He did
this at night while he GPS unit was not
collecting data. These locations are the old
"Doppler" fixes that we used to rely on before
GPS capability was added to the transmitters.
They're not precise, but they do tell us that
his path to South America did not follow the
straight line that connects the last GPS fix on
the 9th to the first on the 10th.
His whole crossing was probably about 450 miles (817
km) and would have taken around 18 hours.
9-28 Nov 2012.
Bob spent a
couple of weeks in the llanos of Venezuela
before making the final climb up into the
highlands to get to his winter hideout.
The maps below detail these last legs of the trip.
9-12 Nov 2012.
known only to himself, Bob stopped migrating
(again!) in the Venezuelan state of Apure
beginning on the 13th. On the 20th he flew down
to the Rio Capanaparo late in the day, spent the
night there, and apparently unimpressed, flew
back north. After 4 days back there, he started
the final leg of his long trip back to his
wintering area on the Rio Ventuari.
9-12 Nov 2012.
like a most unlikely spot for an Osprey to spend
a couple of weeks, but we have to remember that
this part of the Venezuelan llanos is a
seasonally flooded wetland. This picture was
taken during the dry season. Had this been a
current picture, we'd see a lot of water in this
9-12 Nov 2012.
Bob spent a
couple of nights on this small river in the
middle of the bizarre sand dune region of the
state of Apure.
9-12 Nov 2012.
Bob took yet
another route to his favorite winter fishing
hole on the Ventuari River this year. This is
the third year we've tracked him, and each year
he's climbed up onto the Guianan Shield by a
9-12 Nov 2012.