New Year Greetings and I hope 2009 turns out to be a good year for you.

Here, 2008 was an exciting year for conservation projects and this quiet time, when most of our birds are wintering in far-off lands, is a good chance to remember the past year and to look forward to 2009. The excellent ‘World on the Move’ wildlife programme, made by the Natural History Unit in Bristol and transmitted live on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday mornings, brought to life the epic spring migration of Logie as she returned to Moray, and then Nimrod’s autumn flight south to Guinea Bissau. The programme brought many new visitors to our migration website and it’s been wonderful to know that so many people have found the migration stories interesting and inspiring. Of course there’s sadness when a well-known bird comes to grief on migration, but it is important to remember that migration can be very difficult and that deaths on these great journeys have been a part of the ospreys’ way of life for millennia.

In mid winter in Scotland, the sun is so low and weak on the horizon that the solar panels on our eagle transmitters only occasionally charge sufficiently to give good contacts, but it’s already been very interesting to compare the behaviour of Tom (one of this year’s male eaglets) with that of Alma, who fledged in 2007. She had left home to wander by the middle of September, while stay-at-home Tom is still with his parents in December. I wonder which is the better strategy for success as a golden eagle in Scotland.

3250 miles south of here, Nimrod is wintering in mangrove swamps on a coastal estuary in Guinea Bissau, probably with hippopotamus and crocodiles as neighbours. How very different from his summer home at Findhorn Bay, where today I watched greylag, pinkfeet and Greenland white-fronted geese. Further north from Nimrod, Morven is hunkered down on the Mauritanian coast, and, from the occasional low voltage of her transmitter, I guess that the sun is often obscured by the wind-driven sand and dust of the Sahara desert. And then, much further north again, there’s Beatrice, who after living for nearly four months on a small river system near Soto Grande in Spain, recently took a two day break closer to Gibraltar.

It’s only about ten weeks now until the first of the ospreys will start its spring migration, and I guess it will be Nimrod, the furthest away. Once again I’ll try to keep the migration pages regularly updated as the birds fly north – I’m sure there will be many great stories to tell. Hopefully, all three will get back to northern Scotland – and wouldn’t it be fantastic if Logie, too, returned to her nest, the reason we lost her proving to have been just a technical hitch with her transmitter. Very soon thereafter we hope to have a new osprey book published by Whittles Publishing, looking at the individual migrations of Logie and Nimrod.

Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback over the year about this website, and to those who bought my book ‘A Life of Ospreys’ and especially a big thanks to all those who sent donations to the Foundation, in support of our work. The total received in this way, via the website, in 2008 was £6700, an extremely helpful contribution in helping us to continue our satellite tracking studies and our bird conservation work.

Kevin Lawler climbing down to eyrie