Archives for March 2009

North of The Pyrenees

’ve been a few days near Tarifa in southern Spain (very strong winds in the Straits – no good for migration from Africa) at our annual meeting of the Osprey Reintroduction project in Andalusia so I’ve been checking on the birds from afar – this evening I’ve checked on Beatrice, she is stopping over on the Adour river north of the Pyrenees, while Nimrod and Morven are still to start their migrations. I’ve updated Beatrice’s page and will get the rest updated over the weekend.

Better late than never – I went to see Beatrice’s winter quarters. En route to the annual meeting of the Andalucia Osprey Reintroduction Project, I was collected from Malaga airport by Juan Jose Mejias, and taken by 4×4 to the River Guadiaro. A lovely hot afternoon with swallows and house martins skimming the meadows, and Spain looking very green after a wet winter. We checked out Beatrice’s favourite roosting and fishing sites on the river (alas she had left 3 days ago) but it was easy to see her haunts from the GPS positions. The farmers were harvesting the orange crop and I will always now remember her winter home as a place of oranges – looking across the orange groves laden with fruit to the eucalyptus trees growing along the river, which were her roosts. The area is a mix of farms, orange groves, cattle range, with local roads and power lines, in fact a much busier locality than her nesting area. It’s not far from the busy coastal motorway.

Beatrice is off!! It’s snowing again outside and not migration looking weather but I’ve just checked the satellite data from Argos in Toulouse and found that one of the satellite tracked ospreys has started migrating and it’s not the furthest away Nimrod in Guinea Bissau, but the nearest in Spain – Beatrice. She’s already flown 305 kilometres – if she keeps up this rate she will be back home in March – but there’s a long way to go yet and probably weather events in her path.

I’m excited that another osprey season will soon be underway in Scotland – this past week I’ve checked 14 ospreys nest to see whether the December gales or the heavy snow in January has caused problems – two nests have gone. Yesterday, we climbed the alternative nest at one of them, and removed a big tussock of grass which had grown up in the cup during the two summers it has not be used. Now it’s suitable for nesting ospreys again – I hope the old female (20 years old) will return – she winters I think in Extramadura – or she did when we tracked her in the winters of 1999 and 2000, and a local Spanish bird-watcher there is sure it’s the same osprey which still spends each winter on the big reservoir.

I’ve updated Beatrice’s pages now the migration has started – please let your friends know a new osprey migration is underway on these webpages.

It’s starting to feel spring like, with some really nice warm days and the oystercatchers, curlews and lapwings have arrived on the inland fields, but today it’s back to snow. The tracked ospreys are all still in their wintering sites, but they should move soon, especially the furthest south – Nimrod. In late February, a friend emailed saying he saw one flying north over Madrid and a few days ago there was one flying north in Hampshire. In Scotland, the sun is now rising higher and the satellite transmitters are starting to work better now that the solar panels are charging the batteries. Tom left home again on 1ist March and has been away now for 4 days so it looks like his parents have pushed him out, as they start the count down to egg-laying and a new breeding season. Alma has been moving about in Deeside and the Angus glens, and is now back in Glen Tanar. The juvenile sea eagles are still both on Mull and the transmitters are starting to give more data on their movements. As soon as the ospreys start flying north – we will update the pages regularly.