Carr is a young osprey hatched in June and ringed on 19th July 2019 near Carrbridge in the Scottish Highlands. One of a brood of three at nest A08 which has been used in use for decades. The measurements on the day gave a wing length of 340 mm, a tail length of 155 mm and a weight of 1480 g which indicated that it was a male. A satellite transmitter, funded by Reidhaven Estate, was fitted to two of the three young. Under the direction of the head keeper, Ewan Archer, this osprey has been adopted by Carrbridge Primary School.

Sad news from Morocco

Having been present at Lalla Takerkoust, a reservoir situated to the north of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco for just over a week, we began to become concerned about Carr on 23rd September. It was clear from the latest data that either the young Osprey hadn’t moved for at least three days, or his transmitter had become detached. Although the locations we receive are highly accurate, they could not explain what had happened. The only option was to try and find someone who may be able to go and have a look for us.

After a week at the reservoir we became concerned when the satellite data indicated Carr hadn’t moved for three days.

We put out an appeal for help on Monday morning, and within a few hours Adil Boulahia had found two Morocco ornithologists – Karim Roussleon (Moroccan Association for Falconry and Raptor Conservation and member of GREPOM) and Dr Mohamed Radi (Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc (GREPOM) – BirdLife International’s local partner in Morocco) – who were prepared to go and search for Carr. That evening Karim visited the site and found a pile of Osprey feathers at the location we had directed him to. Sadly it was clear that Carr had been predated by a fox or a dog while he had been perched on the ground.

Karim found a pile of Osprey feathers at the last known location of Carr (photo by Karim Roussleon)

Close-up of the feathers (photo by Karim Roussleon)

Carr had obviously been perched on the ground when he was predated by a fox or a dog (photo by Karim Roussleon)

Carr had spent over a week at the reservoir north of the Atlas Mountains (photo by Karim Roussleon)

Although it was clear that Carr had died, Karim was not able to find the transmitter that evening. Mohamed kindly offered to search again on Wednesday, and this time managed to locate it nearby.

It is extremely sad that Carr had died, but the reality is that at least 70% of young Ospreys do not survive the first two years of their life. Many die on their first journey south, while others perish once they reach the wintering grounds. Even though Carr had been flying strongly for two months and had made an excellent migration to Morocco, he was still very inexperienced – and this led to him perching in a place where he was at his of being grabbed by a mammal predator. This is one of the many hazards that young Ospreys face as they migrate south for the first time. In fact one of this year’s Poole Harbour Ospreys suffered the same fate just as it was about to depart on migration at the beginning of this month.

Whilst the outcome is not what we had hoped for, we are extremely grateful to both Karim and Mohamed for their valuable help and assistance this week. This kind of information adds greatly to our knowledge of Osprey migration – and the threats the young birds face as they migrate south for the first time. Sincere thanks to both Karim and Mohamed for their help.

Although Carr has not survived his first flight south, we are pleased that his sister Deishar is now in West Africa. You can check out her latest update here. You can also view the flights of the two birds on our interactive map.

Carr and Deishar also feature in our latest podcast. Click the link below to listen online.

Carr stops-over in Morocco

Having arriving in Morocco just 11 days after leaving the Scottish Highlands on his first migration south, Carr has obviously taken a liking to life in North Africa. After reaching northern Morocco on 11th September, Carr travelled another 400 km next day, flying at altitudes of up to 2000 metres as he headed south. By 18:00 local time he was passing to the east of Marrakesh and that evening roosted on a wooded hillside in the northern foothills of the imposing Atlas Mountains, at an altitude of just over 1200m.

Next morning, as the sun rose, Carr may well have been able to look down from his roost site to Barrage Lalla Takerkoust, a 2 km-long lake, 12 km to the west. It was no sunrise, therefore, that soon after first light, he headed straight there. He remained beside the water for the rest of the day, and, what’s more, he’s still there a week later.

Carr arrived at the lake on the north side of the Atlas Mountains on 13th September

Carr has now been present at the lake for a week.

A look at the spread of Carr’s data points over the last week shows that he has spent most of his time on the shores of the lake, and must be catching fish on a daily basis. He has made one or two longer exploratory flights locally, but returned to Barrage Lalla Takerkoust on each occasion. Stop-overs like this can be very important for young Ospreys like Carr because it will enable him to refine his fishing skills and also put on body fat prior to his crossing of the Sahara. We wonder how long it will be before he sets off across the desert?

Carr flew 400 km through Morrocco on 12th September and is now in the northern foothills of the Atlas Mountains

Carr’s migration to date from northern Scotland

Don’t forget you can follow Carr’s migration on our interactive map. 

Carr also features in our latest podcast. Click the link below to listen.

Carr heads south

Carr set out on his first autumn migration early on 1st September. He made fast progress south and crossed the First of Forth to the west of Edinburgh at 13:30. He continued flying until around 18:00 when he settled to roost in a wood to the north of Langholm in the Scottish Borders having flown 254 km.

Next morning he left his roost at around 07:30, but didn’t fly far. An hour later he was perched beside the Smithy Sike River and he remained in the area for the next two days. Perhaps he caught his first fish since leaving his nest site?

After two days in the Borders, Carr resumed his migration on the morning of 4th September, passing to the east of Carlisle at 08:15 and then continuing on a south-easterly track. By midday he was flying south through the Yorkshire Dales, climbing up to an altitude of 833 metres. At 13:30 he was fishing in Lumley Moor Reservoir and he spent the rest of the afternoon in the area – perhaps eating a fish?

Next morning Carr began migrating around 06:35 and he passed over Harrogate at an altitude of 327 metres 20 minutes later.  At 07:20 he was 230 metres above Leeds and he continued to make good progress south during the course of the morning, passing just to the east of Sheffield before skirting around the west of Nottingham at 10:15 at an altitude of 488 metres. He was flying with a strong tailwind and it showed. He made fast progress through south-west through the Midlands and by 15:39 he was passing to the east of Salisbury in Wiltshire. He showed no signs of letting up and at 16:54 he crossed the mouth of Poole Harbour at 758 metres and then, ten minutes later, he headed out into the English Channel over Swanage. He maintained the same south-westerly course for 140 km over the sea before arriving on Guernsey at 20:30 and roosting beside Saint Saviour Reservoir after a day’s flight of 550 km.

Carr flew 148 km across the English Channel from Swanage to Guernsey.

Carr flew 550 km on 5th September

On 6th September Carr began migrating at 07:30 and flew 120 km across the sea to the Brittany coast, making landfall at Mont Saint Michel. From there he continued south-south-west, passing over Rennes at 13:36 at an altitude of 831 metres. An hour later he was perched in a large block of forest 25 km south-west and he remained there for the rest of the day.

Carr set-off again just before 9am next morning and at 12:27 he reached the Atlantic coast, flying over the island of Noirmoutier at an altitude of 113 metres. Many Ospreys follow the French coast as they migrate south, but Carr simply continued south, necessitating a long flight over the Bay of Biscay. The 411 km flight took just under 12 hours, with Carr finally making landfall on the Spanish coast west of San Sebastian after midnight. An excellent flight for a juvenile Osprey on its first migration.

Carr took 12 hours to fly over 400 km across the Bay of Biscay

Once in Spain, Carr used a route favoured by many Ospreys as they head south – flying through the centre of the country. He passed just to the east of Madrid during the morning of 10th September and crossed the Sierra Morena Mountains in northern Andalusia later that day. He eventually settled to roost 35 km south of Seville having flown 504 km that day alone.

It took Carr just over three days to fly through Spain.

Next morning Carr continued south-west to the coast and at midday local time he flew over Cadiz Harbour – an excellent place for Ospreys to stop-over or even spend the winter. Carr, though, showed no signs of letting up and he followed the coast south-east. At 14:42 he was 12 km north-west of Tarifa and he headed out across the Strait of Gibraltar towards Morocco, flying at altitudes of less than 100 metres during the course of his 28 km crossing. He reached Africa airspace at 15:15 and continued flying south until just after 20:00, covering a further 183 through northern Morroco before roosting in riverside trees north of the village of Sidi Kacem. He is now over 2500 km south of Carrbridge, just 11 days after leaving Scotland.

Carr made a 28 km crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar.

To see a map of Carr’s migration so far, click here.