A nice surprise

I was out monitoring osprey nests this morning – first bright sunny day for a while – several of the fledged chicks were near their nests including Morven’s, which was perched below his mother in her favourite dead Scots pine perch tree. He is satellite tagged – we’ve called him Stan, but more about that another day.  I was at one of the nests in Moray when in the far background I saw a honey buzzard flying towards the empty eyrie (which I know had fledged two young)  – the adult osprey flew up from nearby tree just to warn the passing intruder, and one of the flying juvenile ospreys joined in as well. The honey buzzard passed by without conflict and was a very dark plumaged male, and then with the telescope I could see a small transmitter on its back. I’ve just checked our data and the most likely candidate is Vespa – a young honey buzzard I tagged in Moray in 2009.  He and his sister (a pale bird) were tracked in West Africa until the batteries ran out – Vespa in Liberia last signal 18th October 2010 and Rana in Cameroon last signal 28th July 2010. Vespa was a very dark bird and the plumage fits as well as being back in the same area as where he was fledged. Of course, it’s not possible to prove it was Vespa but it’s really good to know at least one of the sat tagged birds is back. At three years this might have been his first attempt – but not a good summer to choose. I wonder if Rana and the chicks from 2006 made it home to the Highlands – they are such a secretive species it so difficult to know.