News: Missing Scottish osprey finds his place in the sun

4th February 2016

©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Staff and volunteers at the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scotland's leading nature conservation charity, were thrilled to discover that an osprey born on one of its wildlife reserves three years ago has been spotted alive and well in Senegal, West Africa.

The osprey, known as Blue YD, was spotted by staff and volunteers from sister charity, the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust, which runs the Rutland Osprey Project. The Rutland team has been visiting West Africa since 2011 as part of their Osprey Flyways Project which aims to educate African school children on the incredible story of osprey migration.

During this year’s trip, the team travelled to Lompoul sur Mer, western Senegal, to locate another satellite-tagged female bird from Rutland known as 30(05). It was here, on a 30km stretch of white sandy beach where around 100 ospreys spend their winters, that the chance encounter with Blue YD took place.

Three-year-old male bird, Blue YD was tagged with a light-weight satellite tracker in July 2012 at one of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s reserves near Forfar, Angus. Since the tag stopped transmitting in May 2014, the project has relied on very occasional eye-witness reports of Blue YD's travels, which have placed him at various times in North Yorkshire, St Andrews and now Senegal, where he will spend the winter months.

Rab Potter, the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Reserves Manager for North East Scotland, said: “Ospreys are a wonderful conservation success story. Once extinct in the UK, there are now around 240 breeding pairs in the UK thanks to the efforts of nature conservation charities like the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust. But for such a high profile species, there’s still an awful lot we don’t know. That's why satellite tagging is so important - because it helps us get a better insight into the lives, migration routes and behaviours of these magnificent birds."

John Wright, Field Officer for the Rutland Osprey Project, said: “This is the second visit I’ve made to Lompoul sur Mer and both times I’ve counted around one hundred ospreys consisting of many German and Scottish birds. It was fantastic to see that Blue YD was alive and well. He’ll no doubt be enjoying the final few weeks of warmth before he makes his way back to the UK for the breeding season at the end of March.”

Jonathan Pinnick, Assistant Manager at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre, which is world-famous for its ospreys, said: “It’s wonderful to learn more about the life of a bird that we have followed since it was a fledgling and it shows the value of tagging in allowing us to track the life history of individual birds. Perhaps he will be spotted back in Angus this summer, hopefully breeding and helping the continued recovery of the osprey population in Scotland.”

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