Migration

I’ve always found the distances and navigational skill of bird migration fascinating, and recently found this website where it’s posssible to track the migratory journeys of a tagged osprey named Nimrod that spends his summers at a site near Rothes, in northeast Scotland.  In the last 36 hours he has completed an astonishing leg of  this year’s migration to winter haunts in Africa.

He began the journey south towards the end of September and by 8 October was near the Gironde estuary in southwest France. Then, in the following 35 hours he an incredible 2300 kilometres, non-stop, at an average speed of 68 kilometres per hour.

This male osprey was oiginally ringed on 5th July 2001 in a nest on Forestry Commission land near Rothes. There were two rather small male chicks in the nest and this one was ringed with a red/white 7J colour ring on his left leg – he was the larger chick:

As I went to take him from my trap, a RAF Nimrod aircraft flew low over my head as it went in to land at the nearby RAF Kinloss airbase. The ospreys know these planes very well and do not even look up, when they are hunting flounders in the bay, even though the massive plane is just a few hundred feet above them. I decided Nimrod would be a good name for red/white 7J – it conveys the meaning “a mighty hunter”.

He was not identified back in Scotland until August 2005, when he was photographed on the salt marsh at Findhorn Bay (above). In 2007, he was found rebuilding an old osprey eyrie in a very tall Douglas fir which had not been used for breeding since 2002. By the end of last summer, he had built a substantial nest and also attracted a mate. He bred for the first time in 2008 and is a regular hunter in Findhorn bay. This year, he was sighted first on 1st April.

Update: on 18th October Nimrod roosted in mangrove swamps along an estuary in Guinea-Bisseau: he had reached his wintering site.