Archives for September 2010

Talisman still here

I saw Talisman with a large freshly caught flounder sitting on an old stump on the mudflats at Findhorn Bay at 1:50pm today. I had seen another Osprey further along the shore but it was unringed. Yesterday, Talisman was in much the same place but he seemed out of context because behind him on the mudflats was a huge noisy flock of 5000 pinkfooted geese, freshly arrived from the Arctic. A real wintry feeling to the day and what a way of linking migration journeys – some of them were probably from north-east Greenland – and once Talisman reaches his winter quarters he will be way down in West Africa. On Thursday 16th September I called by his nest and there he was, perched in the old Scots pine above the nest. I saw no sign of his young but they could have been hidden, especially if he had just brought a fish. But he should be off soon, he is the last one to go.

Today it was good to see signals come in from both the hen harriers; both are still in Angus, the female, named Tanar, was in Glen Esk and the male, Glen, a bit further south in Glen Lethnot.

Talisman above nest 16th September

Talisman perched in Findhorn Bay 18th September

Migration news

It was a miserable wet day and I was down at Findhorn Bay in the afternoon. Two ospreys perched on the usual saltmarsh posts but neither seemed to have a transmitter, later I checked the satellite tracking data and found that Talisman had been perched just out of my sight further to the east, but had moved to the main saltmarsh after I had left. It was just a poor day for seeing birds; the waders being pushed up into the salt marshes because of the high tide and I didn’t see the Avocet, which had been there over the weekend – a rare bird this far north.

This evening as the data came in I could see that the young osprey Spey had been delayed by equally bad weather in Yorkshire, but what really surprised me was that yesterday afternoon, a nice sunny breezy day when we were on the coast, Nimrod had set off late in the afternoon on his migration to Africa and he had headed away to the east and then out from the Aberdeenshire coast over the North Sea and an incredible loop which finally brought him ashore on the north Norfolk coast during the night. He also found today’s weather not good form migrating and just managed to wind his way down into Suffolk. Morven also set off yesterday from Caithness, unfortunately I don’t know which track she took because her radio transmitter has been malfunctioning for a long time, but this afternoon I got signals showing that she was near Arbroath in Angus. The only tracked ospreys still to go is Talisman. The end of another summer of ospreys – I hope they all have another successful migration and I see them back next spring.

Talking about migrating ospreys, my friend Daniel Schmidt from Germany sent me a photograph and an email this afternoon asking about a colour ringed osprey seen at Lake Klingnau in north Switzerland. Later Hans Schmidt of the Swiss Ornithological Institute sent the details – it had been photographed on 26th of August by Martin Trachsel. The exciting thing was that the bird, wearing a white/black 94 colour ring, was one of the youngsters ringed at the North Wales osprey nest this summer. It’s the first recovery of a British osprey in Switzerland. There’s always something new in the osprey world.

Martin Trachsel's photo of Osprey 94

Talisman fishing at Findhorn

At 11.25am a male osprey flew in and started hunting in the SW corner of Findhorn Bay while I was wader watching. With the scope, when he was hovering, I could see a black ring as his legs hung down and the satellite aerial on his back, which identified him as Talisman. Within three minutes he dived right at the edge of the saltmarsh on the rising tide to catch a small flounder, and made off inland. So he’s still fishing for his young. As he splashed in after a 150 foot dive the redshanks and curlews on the saltmarsh closeby hardly looked up, yet a sparrowhawk dashing out from the trees ten minutes earlier had sent all the waders up in a panic. How well they know their raptors!

Checking the satellite data this evening fascinated to see that the two young peregrine seem to have settled down in their new localities – Freya in the Ladder Hills and Vega has been roosting in woods along the Spey and then flying up on the moors, even north of Lochindorb, during the day. Most nights they choose new trees in which to roost.

Lake District ospreys

On 8th July, I went with the Osprey project team to the Lake District osprey nest to ring the two young. Earlier in the year I had helped them with their arrangements to satellite track their young for the first time, and after ringing I fitted their MicrowaveTelemetry 30gms Argos/GPS transmitters. The young have now migrated and the Lake District Osprey Project are now enjoying following their young on their first migration. They are both doing very well and yesterday the latest transmissions showed that both were in Africa. One had completed a 1360 kilometre flight over the Atlantic Ocean from near Lisbon to the Western Sahara and the other had flown 460 kilometres across the Ocean from Huelva in Spain to Northern Morocco. Great that they both avoided the pitfalls of being lost at sea. You can find their migrations on the Lake District osprey website.

Migration season

This evening checked out some of the new satellite tracked birds and found that signals had come in for both peregrines and both hen harriers. The other young female peregrine, Vega, had left the nesting area and moved to Lochindorb and across the Dava as far as Tomatin, at night she had roosted in a tree beside the River Spey east of Nethybridge and in woodland near Carrbridge. I’m already interested to note that these youngsters reared in a cliff face have taken to tree roosting so quickly after departing the nest cliffs. The other peregrine, Freya, remained in the Ladder Hills, with trips as far into Aberdeenshire as Glenbuchat. The two hen harriers were still in much the same place with the female being in the watershed of the North Esk and the male being on moorlands near the bottom of Glen Clova, both sites in Angus.