Loss of an old favourite – Osprey Beatrice found dead in the Basque Country.

I was getting very worried about Beatrice as no signals had been received since 13th March. The weather was still very wet in Northern Spain and she would have found fishing very difficult in the turbulent rivers. This morning my worries were confirmed by an email from my Basque friend, Aitor Galarza of the Urdaibai Osprey Reintroduction Project telling me that Beatrice had been found dead.

This afternoon Aitor emailed again with the following message

“Hi Roy

The body was found yesterday by a birdwatcher (Carlos Area) on the banks of the Urumea river close to Hernani (UTM 586604, 4785491) and passed to the gamekeepers of the area. I have just talked with the head of the forest guards and he has told me that the bird was without the head and looked extremely weak. They did a x-ray in order to rule out that it had been shot. He thinks it died because of weakness and later the head was eaten by an small carnivore. He will send the transmitter and the rings to the Aranzadi Society of Sciences in San Sebastián. From there they can send you the transmitter by mail or I can take it with me when going to Scotland this summer. Attached some pictures by Carlos Area.

Best wishes,


Beatrice found dead by river

Beatrice found dead by river

What a great pity. I thought something might go wrong when she abandoned her normal stop-over location on the River Adour because her favourite fishing areas were no good because of heavy rain. She tried to find alternative fishing sites including going to two small estuaries in North Spain but again fishing was no good – cold water and floods. Turning into the mountains to find the smaller rivers was unfortunately unsuccessful and she starved to death.

Beatrice was an old experienced osprey coming into her 16th year but it shows that even old experienced ospreys make mistakes. She should not have left her wintering site in southern Spain so early and then she could have missed the worst of wet weather. Running into very wet weather in north Spain and south-west France is a hazard for UK breeding ospreys returning north in spring. Remember the old female Logie which got stuck for two weeks in 2008 in Urdaibai estuary and the young osprey, Fearna, died in Rioja region in bad weather in May 2013.

Beatrice was ringed as a chick in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire on 8th July 2000 by Ian Francis and Stuart Rae, and was one of three chicks. She arrived at nest B16 near Forres in Moray in 2003 and was joined later in the summer by a male. She then bred successfully for 12 summers, 11 times at this nest while in 2010 she bred at an old nest K02 in East Moray. She raised a total of 24 young in her life time – 8 broods of two young, two broods of three and two broods of one young. She paired with three different male ospreys.

I caught her in July 2008 and fitted a GPS transmitter which gave us amazing data into the eighth year. Beatrice was a slightly unusual osprey in that she did not migrate all the way to Africa, but wintered in southern Spain, an area which is only a stop-off point for most Scottish ospreys.  On her migrations she had a favourite stop-over location on the River Adour in south-west France. Beatrice became a firm favourite to many people, especially my Scottish friends who could watch the nest from their house, and the local people who searched for and found Beatrice at the River Adour and the River Guadiaro in Spain. On one occasion she also visited Rutland Water.  We will all miss her. I hope a new female will take her place at nest B16 and I hope that bird may look forward to as long and as successful life as Beatrice’s.

Beatrice at Eyebrook 2008

Beatrice at Eyebrook 2008