Data Detective

2012-12-31-fantasy-tripIt is business as usual in Bird Marsh in northern Colombia.  Coley’s resting and feeding trips remain almost the same as they have since he arrived there for the winter.  However, when I opened the Google Earth map showing his recent movements, it appeared that he had taken a major flight south southeast about 191 miles on New Year’s Eve.  Must have been an exciting party that he had to attend to celebrate the New Year!

It turns out to be an impossible trip unless Scotty was involved some how to beam him down there.  At 3pm Eastern Time, he was perched in Bird Marsh.  At 4pm, the data tells us that he was 191 miles SSE; and by 5pm he was back in Bird Marsh.  Now we all know that Coley is a great traveller and can easily cover about 200 miles in one day during migration.  But 400 miles or so in 2 hours, nope, isn’t going to happen!  This is a good lesson as it indicates that you should never completely trust the data taken out of context.  If he had left one morning with hourly fixes showing his movements south, and then back the next day to two later, then it would be authentic.  The satellite data reported Coley traveling at 127 kilometers per hour or about 80 miles per hour.  As I said before, nope, it ain’t going to happen. Unless he was flying with a 50 mph tail wind.

Coley will likely enjoy about two more months of life in Bird Marsh before he begins his northward migration back to Jamaica Bay.  Not such a bad thing to be down there when it is so cold up here in the Northeast.

Snail kite

Snail kite

Photo by Dario Sanches. Creative Commons license.

Recently I spoke with a Colombian bird tour guide who told me that Bird Marsh is in fact one of the birdiest places in the world.  The Snail Kite, the same species that is found in the Florida Everglades, is particularly abundant.  He did say that it was very hot there, and that the mosquitoes can be so bad that you can be down a quart of blood in no time.  Coley, I think I will take the cold, thank you.

Next report will be later this month or in early February.

Happy New Year to all of you and thanks again for your input and support.

Coley and Dr. Bob Signing off.

Bull’s eyes = Osprey’s location every hour.
Lines = Sequence of locations in time (not the actual flight path)

Click the Sat(ellite), Ter(rain) or Earth buttons on the map for alternate views. The Earth view requires you to have the free Google Earth software on your computer. For a larger map, go to Google Maps or download the KML file to view in your copy of Google Earth.


  1. I want to be where Coley is…