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Photostory: Filming our ospreys' winter home in west Africa

Tim Scoones Tim Scoones | 16:21 UK time, Friday, 13 November 2009

James Smith, Simon King's producer/director for this year's Autumnwatch, writes about the team's trip to west Africa.

This Autumnwatch, one of Simon's goals was to link Britain to the places our birds migrate to and from. He began by heading up to the Arctic to find and film barnacle geese before they set off for our shores. Last week, he completed the other half of the migration story by heading south, following Scottish ospreys on their 3,000 mile migration to west Africa.

Two flights and a long drive later he finally arrived at the Parc National de Saloum, a vast wilderness just north of the Gambian border. Simon had been reliably informed that this was a stronghold for ospreys over-wintering in Africa, but even so it was a relief to see an one after just a short boat ride into the swamp. A few more sightings confirmed that this was great osprey habitat - and well worth the journey!

Whether in Scotland or Senegal, ospreys start the day by hunting for fish, and you've got to get up early to catch them at it... 4.30 am, to be precise. But the lack of sleep was more than compensated for by the spectacle of tens of mature ospreys expertly hunting against a moody African sky.

Here's a few photos from the trip...

In search of ospreys in the mangrove swamps of west Africa (photo: Zubin Sarosh)
The crew at sea (photo: Zubin Sarosh)
Tea's up! Even wildlife cameramen get a break (photo: Zubin Sarosh)
Yes, you can get a mobile signal even in the remotest places (photo: Zubin Sarosh)
Simon and me spotting ospreys (photo: Zubin Sarosh)
Solomon Jallow, osprey spotter extraordinaire (photo: Zubin Sarosh)
Next three photos: the ospreys' neighbours in Senegal (all: Zubin Sarosh)



Tim Scoones is Executive Producer of Autumnwatch


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