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Loons on Squam Lake

Project OspreyTrack: Chip Map

October 19, 2012
Chip didn’t make it to the Azores. The latest data points indicate a watery grave about 400 miles from the Island of Flores. What an amazing journey. He gets an “A” for effort, but an “F” for compass reading. The map tells the full story. We plotted the major shipping lanes and it’s clear that he was hopping onto east-bound container ships (at least three). Based on the speed, direction and altitude we can determine when he was perched and when he was flying. Even when he wasn’t hitching a ride, his internal orientation was off. Perhaps away from the magnetic fields of the eastern US, he was lost without a compass. He hit rough weather that first night on October 7 and either landed on a ship or got blown off course and out to sea. By 9am on the 8th he was lost and spent most of that day floundering around in a wide circle some 300 miles offshore. By 7 pm he was on a ship that was on a S. Carolina to Gibraltar bearing and rode east likely right through the night of the 9th, he was flying for most of October 10th and 11th likely until 10 am on the 12th. His straight line distance covered was more than 760 miles – east. At 10 am on the 12th he was on another ship, likely headed from the St. Lawrence to Africa. He stuck with that ship until the mid-afternoon of the 13th and then skipped to another ship, likely headed from the Caribbean to the English Channel. He stayed on that ship until late afternoon on the 14th, but it looks like on the evening of the 14th he took off and was headed SW (back the way he had just come). All of the points after that are in the same location and the data on the 17th was only the non-GPS Argos points; again in the same location. What a shame he couldn’t hang on for a few more hours. Rob’s data suggests an 80% mortality rate in the first two years of life, so only one in five young Ospreys makes it. Both Chip and Jill proved that point.

Chip October 19

October 15, 2012
Chip is now closer to Europe than he is to North America! Based on the data points, I strongly suspect that he was still alive as of Saturday afternoon when he flew to his fourth ship. After six days at sea, I can only conclude that he is finding a way to catch fish and perch and feed on the boats. He is beating the odds and creating a story never seen before. In all of the 50+ Ospreys that Rob has tagged over the last 12 years, he has never seen anything remotely close to this. As of noon on Sunday the signals were showing that he was on a ship (likely another large freighter headed for the English Channel). If he stayed on this ship, he would pass within 80 miles of the island of Flores in the Azores within the next couple days. That would be an incredible turn of events if he flew to one of the Azores islands. The maps below show the overview of his incredible journey, my best guess on his ship-hopping, and a close up his latest data points in relation to the Azores. What an incredible journey!!

Chip October 14

Chip October 15

Chip's Ships

October 11, 2012
Chip is plunging to new depths of weirdness. We have never seen an Osprey do what he is doing . . . and none of it is good . . . and his chances of survival are very slim. After hitching a ride on a boat overnight on the 7th, he flew around in a circle and either landed on the same boat or picked another one and spent the next two days cruising in the wrong direction. He’s likely on a massive container ship that left a port in South Carolina or Georgia and is headed for Europe. The points are all at 50m above sea level and 13kph headed in a direct 70 degree bearing. He decided to jump ship between 8-9 am on the 10th and flew on an easterly bearing for most of the 10th. The last two points at 7 pm and 8 pm look like he might be on another boat; this one heading SE; slower at 6-7 kph. He is as lost and hopeless as an Osprey can be. We have no idea if he could catch a fish out in the deep ocean. The sea would have to be calm and a shoal of fish would need to be near the surface and he would have to fly to a boat to feed. It is more likely that he has not eaten since he left Rhode Island on October 7.

Chip October 11

October 9, 2012
After sitting on his butt for weeks, Chip finally decided to migrate on Friday afternoon (October 5) at 1 pm. He only got 20 miles before changing his mind and returning back to base!! The next day he sat on his butt again, but on Sunday (7th) he left in earnest. Unfortunately, he headed directly south -- out to sea. He paralleled the coast (125 miles offshore) for the whole day and by 9 pm had gone 316 miles. He was straight out from the Virginia Coast. The transmitter is programmed to give locations between 9 am and 9 pm, so we don't have any overnight positions, but by 9 am on the 8th he was 180 miles ESE of his 9 pm position -- more than 300 miles from the coast!! It seems almost certain that Chip landed on a east-bound ship for the night rather than continuing to fly. He was flying again at 9 am on the 8th and was making some progress SW and at the last data point at 5 pm was heading west, but still 275 miles from the North Carolina coast. So, he is showing the dreadful inexperience of a youth with no idea where he is going. Hopefully he will keep flying through the night towards the coast or hitch a ride on a west-bound ship. I have to wait until Thursday to find out his fate. Fingers crossed.

Chip October 8

October 5, 2012
No change for Chip. Maybe once this cloudy, damp weather moves through, he will get the urge. Fair skies and NW winds by Monday may do the trick.

October 3, 2012
Chip still hasn't moved!!

September 29, 2012
Chip is STILL in the very same location in Rhode Island. In contrast to his sister’s 3,000+ mile journey, his data points make it look like he has barely moved 3,000 feet in the same time period!!

September 26, 2012
Chip Still Stalled in Rhode Island

September 21, 2012
Chip is still in the same spot. He’s active and fishing . . . but mostly perching.

Looking south down the East coast at the locations of Jill, Chip, and Art.

Jill, Chip, and Art from North

September 16, 2012
Chip is still hunkered down in Rhode Island.

September 10, 2012
No change. Chip is still in Rhode Island.

August 31, 2012
Chip is still hanging out in Rhode Island (the fishing must be good). He has really settled along the Narragansett River. He did take a field trip yesterday up to North Kingstown, 6 miles away, but returned “home” later in the day.

Chip August 31

August 28, 2012
Chip is already on his way south. He departed the nest for the last time on the morning of August 21 and ended his first day 85 miles away on one of the Boston Harbor Islands. He had tracked down the middle of New Hampshire, following the Merrimack through Concord and Manchester stopping off briefly along the river right next to the Hooksett tolls. He went to the west of Nashua and checked out the Nashua River before he flew right over downtown Boston, before finding his offshore roost. On the 22nd he headed south down to Rhode Island to the shore of Narragansett Bay. He has settled in for the last few days along the Pettaquamscutt River. On the 25th he flew south-west over to near Matunuck, but changed his mind and went back to Pettaquamscutt.

Chip August 28

August 21, 2012
I got a whole bunch of points that were missing for August 16 that shows that Chip went on a real adventure; flying all the way to Boscawen/Penacook and then taking a tour of Canterbury before returning to the nest. He left the pond adjacent to the nest at 9 a.m., visited Knowles Pond at noon and then by 1 p.m. was way down on the Merrimack River near Penacook. He was stationary (perched next to the river – maybe eating a fish) until 3 p.m. By 4 p.m., he was 5.5 miles away in Canterbury near Clough Pond, 1.75 miles south of the Shaker Village. By 5 p.m. he was on his way north and by 6 p.m. was back at the nest. On the 18th, he went west and explored along the Winnipesaukee River and over the Pemi just above the dam in Franklin.

Chip August 21

August 21, 2012
Chip is wandering further and further afield, while Jill is sticking close to home. Chip has been as far as their nearest Osprey nest neighbor on Lake Winnisquam (probably didn’t get a warm welcome). He spends good portions of each day along the river and frequently explores Silver Lake. He may even be fishing for himself (or at least trying to). Maybe Jill is too, but if so she’s doing it in the pond right next to the nest (which does have plenty of Pickerel). Their mom may have started her migration already – her work is done; her chicks are close to being independent and no longer need the protection of their mother. She’s made this migration several times before and knows what’s in store – might as well get a head start. We’ll be able to recognize her next year, as she is now banded (we caught her on the day we tagged Chip and Jill – see photo below of her with Rob Bierregaard).

Chip August 21

Photo courtesy of Chris Martin

August 14, 2012
Chip continues to spend much more time away from the nest. Jill did take on “field trip” on August 11. At 5 p.m. she was over the J.Jill facility (apparently 980 meters up) and then at 6 p.m. was flying back towards the nest almost two miles away. From the position, I would guess that she had visiting Knowles Pond which is 2.25 miles from nest. Chip spends good portions of each day along the river and down to Silver Lake, but so far within a two mile radius of the nest. Dad and Mom are still feeding them (and their sister) multiple times each day back at the nest.

Chip August 14

August 9, 2012
Chip is already proving to be quite adventurous; following his dad to his favorite fishing holes. The map shows a couple trips over to the Winnipesaukee River and as far as Silver Lake (1.75 miles away from nest).

Chip August 9

August 7, 2012
Jill and Chip were tagged on August 2, 2012 at their nest in Tilton, NH. Both have been flying for about ten days now and are sticking pretty close to the nest. It looks like Chip has followed dad over to the Winnipesaukee River on one occasion (got to learn how to fish by watching the master). He was also perched on a utility pole just to the north. His dad tried to build a frustration nest on that pole three years ago. The pond adjacent to their nest – which has plenty of pickerel -- will provide lots of opportunity for practicing their dives. The nest remains the major dinner table and Jill and Chip (and their untagged sister) spend a lot of time begging at the nest.

Chip August 7