Yesterday was a milestone moment for Blue 44, as he reached the grand old age of six months. He came into the world on 21st May and grew rapidly, with no siblings for competition and a rolling conveyor belt of fish provided by Dad.
Fledging right on cue at exactly 8 weeks of age on 16th July, Blue 44 then proceeded to give us all quite a scare, going AWOL for a full four days! I’m sure you all remember well the scene when he did finally return to the telling off of his life from Mum.
This seemed to act as a cautionary lesson for our young osprey who from then on stayed very close to home for the rest of his time at Loch of the Lowes – in fact we were beginning to wonder if he was ever going to leave! But again he surprised us all by suddenly deciding to up sticks and depart on his first ever southerly migration on 8th September.
Blue 44 made steady progress during the first week of his migration before finding himself what seemed to be a home-from-home on the Etangs Blanc, Noir & D’Hardy in southern France. This proved beneficial not just to our young osprey but also to ourselves, as we were able to strike up a relationship with the local rangers Stéphanie, Paul & Mathieu at the Etang Noir nature reserve. They provided us with regular updates on sightings of Blue 44 as well as some fantastic photos of him.
Life was good for our young osprey but in the first week of this month the weather in southern France took a turn for the worse with heavy rain and strong winds. This may well have influenced Blue 44’s decision to continue his journey southwards into Spain, crossing the Basque Country and the regions of Rioja & Castille y Leon into Extremadura from where we lost contact with him on 9th November.
I’m sorry to have to report that this is still the situation with no new data having been received over the past week. We have contacted local representatives of SEO (the Birdlife International partner in Spain) to see if there have been any possible sightings of Blue 44 and whether anyone might be able to help us locate him. However this is likely to prove difficult as the catchment of the reservoir where he roosted on 9th is vast and he may well have moved on from the area.
As I stated in last week’s blog post, the data that we received up until we lost contact with Blue 44 clearly indicated that he was alive and well. Normally if a bird has died you would expect to see a large number of points from the same location and the tag’s activity meter would show no movement. In the absence of evidence to the contrary we therefore remain hopeful that Blue 44 is alive and continuing his journey. It is not unknown for ospreys’ (and other species) tags to stop transmitting for weeks or even months before suddenly restarting. What’s to say this couldn’t be the case with Blue 44? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Ainoa will be posting an update on Blue YD’s movements later today.