Two male ospreys from Rutland Water have been fitted with satellite transmitters so bird experts can track their amazing global journeys.
The two high flyers were fitted with mini GPS trackers to help the Rutland Osprey Project track their movements. The units weigh only 30g; they work on solar power and allow location, altitude and speed to be recorded. The units are fitted to the birds like a small rucksack, allowing them to continue their normal activities.
The data is providing valuable information on their movements locally too. Reserve Officer at the Trust’s Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Lloyd Park said, “The transmitters provide highly accurate data that allows us to plot the birds’ exact movements both day and night. This is giving us an incredible insight into a range of different behaviours, including where and when they are fishing.”
The two male birds (known as S1 and 4K) were tagged under the guidance of world-renowned osprey expert, Roy Dennis, and colleague Dr Tim Mackrill, from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation. They are working with Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s Rutland Osprey Project, to shed new light on the annual marathon migration flights the birds make; flying to the west coast of Africa to over winter, and returning to Rutland each spring to nest and raise chicks. The epic 3,000-mile journey sees young birds, which fly independently from their parents, battle strong winds that can carry them off track; only 30% or so survive that first migration flight. They usually fly 200-300 miles a day.
Tim Mackrill said, “We are very excited that we will be able to follow the birds to their wintering grounds. As adult ospreys they will already have established wintering sites, so it will be fascinating to find out exactly where they go. Some European ospreys winter in Spain or Portugal, but most fly to the west coast of Africa, into countries such as Senegal and the Gambia.
“A third Rutland osprey, known as 30(05), has been tracked since 2013 and migrates to the coast of Senegal each winter. In the past she has completed the 3,000 mile journey in as little as 11 days, so it will be interesting to see how the two young males compare.”
Anya Wicikowski Rutland Osprey Project Officer said, “Aside from the scientific and conservation value of the tagging, the data provides an incredible educational resource and helps us to link young people along the osprey migration flyway. These latest tagged birds will form a key part of that work.”
The Rutland Osprey Project is a partnership between Anglian Water and Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.
Photograph: S1 shortly after he was fitted with his satellite transmitter (Lloyd Park/LRWT)
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