On March 16, around 9:30 am, off Coley II (C2) went into the Wild Blue Yonder to make his way back to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge from his winter home along Lake Valencia in Venezuela.
C2’s migration began much later in March than I would have expected, but considering the Winter we have been having in the Northeast, it was a wise move on his part to stay south as long as possible. Now he is heading back with the speed that he showed us in the Fall, when he flew 2,750 miles from Jamaica Bay to Lake Valencia in just 16 days.
The current data we have covers C2’s movements through 3 pm EST on March 19th. As you can see in the Google Map below (where times are GMT, which is 5 hours later), after leaving Lake Valencia on the morning of the 16th, he flew north and west to the coast of Venezuela, probably departing for his trans-Caribbean Sea flight from the La Quajira Peninsula in Colombia, and reaching Jamaica after 504 miles of non-stop flying by 5 am on March 19th. He did not stop to rest very long. By 1 pm, he was on the NW coast of Jamaica, beginning his over water crossing toward Cuba.
All told, C2 covered over 950 miles in just 3 days and 10 hours!
C2 is the first of four Ospreys that I have tracked that has actually gone through Jamaica heading north. The other three birds, Mr. Hannah and Señor Bones from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, and C2’s neighbor Coley (I) from Jamaica Bay, all flew from South America to Hispaniola Island, either to the Dominican Republic or Haiti. So C2 is already charting a new path for our birds.
Here are some details of C2’s first four days on the move:
Day 1 – March 16th – Sometime after 9 am EST, the migration center in C2’s brain was activated and he took off, heading west and then northwest until he hit the Caribbean coast. Clearly, this was not his jumping off place to cross the Caribbean, so he headed west and southwest until he stopped for the evening, sometime before 6 pm, a few miles west of the small town of San Francisco, Venezuela. In less than 9 hours, he’d covered more than 240 miles!
Day 2 – March 17th – C2 left his evening roost sometime after 7 am and headed west. As we only have one more data point for the day at 8 am, we do not know where he ended up for the evening.
Day 3 – March 18th – Our first data point for the third day puts C2 halfway across the Caribbean Sea at 3 pm. I am not sure why we do not have data from 8 am the day before until 3 pm this day, but, needless to say, C2 is not wasting any time. His NW direction suggests that he was being blown west by strong easterly or southeasterly winds. He reached speeds of over 30 miles per hour, again suggesting strong cross or tail winds. It is likely that he started the day on the La Quajira Peninsula and we know that he flew into the night to arrive in Jamaica at or before 5 am on March 19th, covering the over 500 mile Caribbean crossing in less than 24 hours.
Day 4 – March 19th – C2 reached the south coast of Jamaica around 6 miles west of downtown Kingston sometime around 5 am. He may have stopped for a brief fishing or rest stop between 7 and 8 am at some fish ponds but then raced through Jamaica with speeds of up to 35 mph reaching the northwest coast by 1 pm, a distance of no less than 100 miles. Apparently without hesitation he headed NNW out to sea toward Cuba. Our last data point at 3 pm put him 41 miles NW of Jamaica.
C2 is clearly on a mission to get back to Jamaica Bay as soon as possible. The route home through Jamaica is shorter than the route through Hispaniola, so this “Jamaican Shortcut” may save him a day of travel time. Some Ospreys, including Coley I’s mate, have already arrived in Jamaica Bay, so C2’s mate might already be there as well. The price for being late to arrive on the breeding ground is potential loss of mate and/or nest site.
So when do you think C2 will make it back to Jamaica Bay? And do you think his mate will already be there or will she be arriving after him? Let me know your thoughts on these questions.
As always, please feel free to send me any questions that you may have about Ospreys and particularly about C2 and the other Ospreys from New York City/Jamaica Bay.
C2 and Dr. Bob signing off,