Osprey Tracking Update – 4th February 2016


It’s been business as usual over the past week for FR3, who shows no inclination to travel beyond the immediate vicinity of Bulok (The red points and orange lines indicate new activity while the purple lines are historic data).

FR3's activity from 29th January-3rd February 2016 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s activity from 29th January-3rd February 2016 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

My internet searches up till now had failed to provide me with much information about Bulok, except that it is a small town in the Brikama Division of south-western Gambia.

However this morning I came across this video on YouTube, relating to an agricultural and environmental development project that Bulok has apparently benefited from.

The “Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project” (or PIWAMP for short), ran initially from 2005-2010 (later extended to 2014) and was funded by the Government of the Gambia, the Nigeria Trust Fund and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The project’s aims were to address the challenges of low agricultural productivity and environmental degradation such as: loss of soils through wind and water erosion, declining soil fertility, loss of vegetation cover and increasing vulnerability to drought. By developing community watershed management plans in collaboration with villages, they hoped to increase the income of poor rural communities whilst ensuring better management and development of the natural resources.

The video shows a drainage dyke in Bulok, created by PIWAMP to divert water away from the village and into a tributary of the Gambia river. Prior to the construction of the dyke a road which runs through the village was being badly eroded, villagers homes undercut and adjacent land routinely flooded.


As much as I would like to be able to give you some positive news about FR4 unfortunately I can’t. We have received no data now for over a month and realistically this isn’t likely to change. Tim Mackrill from the Rutland Osprey Project was kind enough to put us in touch with a ranger contact of his who works in Senegal. The remoteness of FR4’s last location makes mounting a search difficult, but they have said they will do what they can and let us know if they have any information.

We will let you know if and when there is anything to report, good or bad.



Posted in Diary 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , |

Fancy working at Loch of the Lowes this summer?

We are looking for an enthusiastic individual to provide a first class wildlife experience for visitors to Loch of the Lowes throughout our busy osprey breeding season.

Assisting in the day-to-day running of the centre’s reception and osprey/wildlife exhibition areas, our Visitor Centre Assistant will also focus on promoting conservation the work of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and wider conservation, increasing support for our work and assisting with the planning and running of our busy events programme.

If you have excellent communication skills, have worked in the retail/tourism/not-for-profit sector, and have an aptitude for enthusing others about nature conservation then we’d love to hear from you.

The post is for 7 months from 1st April to 31st October, working 4 days April-August and 3 days in September/October. The salary is £14,040 pro rata.

For more details including how to apply visit the ‘Jobs’ page on the Scottish Wildlife Trust website.

The closing date for applications is noon on Monday 15th February.

We look forward to receiving your application.

All three chicks successfully ringed © Scottish Wildlife Trust

All three chicks successfully ringed in 2015 © Scottish Wildlife Trust

Posted in Diary 2016 | Tagged , , , |

Winter Weather

If you are planning to come up to the Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre today, please call ahead first (01350 727337) to ensure we are open.

The weather is closing in and reports of heavy snow and strong winds are forecast for this afternoon.

I may well close up early and hope Storm Gertrude blows herself out tonight.

Keep warm and safe everyone!


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Unexpected news from Senegal!

As many of you will no doubt be aware, staff and volunteers from the Rutland Osprey Project have recently returned from a trip to the Gambia and Senegal. Since 2011 the Rutland team have made an annual visit to West Africa as part of their Osprey Flyways Project – a groundbreaking education project working with schools in the Gambia, based around the incredible story of osprey migration.

During the latter part of this year’s trip staff members Paul Stammers, John Wright and Kayleigh Brookes travelled to Lompoul sur Mer in western Senegal – an area they had visited on a previous visit to locate 30(05), a satellite tagged female bird from Rutland who overwinters there. They were successful in relocating 30(05) amongst many other ospreys, including a bird very well know to us… Blue YD!

For those of you who don’t know or remember the story of Blue YD here’s a quick summary… Blue YD is a 3-year old male bird who was ringed and tagged in July 2012 at one of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s reserves near Forfar in Angus. He successfully migrated to West Africa that autumn and we were able to follow his movements over the following 18 months. Unfortunately his tag stopped transmitting in May 2014 at which point he was in North Yorkshire, having undertaken his first return migration to the UK.

Despite a number of subsequent possible sightings of a blue ringed, tagged bird in the area, we didn’t know what had happened to him. That is until August 2015 when he was spotted alive and well on the Eden estuary near St Andrews! So when Tim Mackrill from the Rutland Osprey Project contacted us with the news that Blue YD had been sighted on 18th January near Lompoul we were overjoyed.

John Wright has very kindly agreed to us sharing the following account and photos of Blue YD and Lompoul with you.

Lompoul sur Mer ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Lompoul beach ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

“It is the second visit I have made to Lompoul sur Mer as one of our sat tagged females also winters on the same beach. Both times I have counted around 100 Ospreys along a 30km stretch of beach, consisting of many German and Scottish birds. It is hard work as you have to drive along the tide line in a 4X4 at low tide and run the risk of seriously getting stuck in the sand or engulfed by the sea…

4x4 on the beach at Lompoul ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

4×4 on the beach at Lompoul ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Many of the Ospreys spend the day perched on drift wood along the beach and then night roost in coastal woodland and scrub. The local people grow vegetables within the coastal woodland and use the shoreline as their road to local markets in nearby villages…

Local vegetables sellers ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Local vegetables sellers ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Many Ospreys are quite flighty so I end up reading most colour rings from photos that I take from the (often moving) vehicle.”

Blue YD perched on driftwood ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Blue YD perched on driftwood on Lompoul beach ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

As you can see Blue YD’s tag is still clearly attached despite no longer transmitting. The tags are held in place by a biodegradable cotton thread which is sown through the two straps that harness the tag to the bird. This thread will eventually break so at some point in the next few years the tag will fall off.

Blue YD in flight ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Blue YD in flight ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

At three years of age Blue YD will by now have established an annual winter roost site which it appears must be in the Lompoul area. It is wonderful to learn more about the life of a bird that we had followed from a fledgling and shows the value of ringing in allowing us to track the life history of individual birds. Perhaps he will be spotted back near St Andrews this summer, hopefully breeding and helping the continued recovery of the osprey population in Scotland.

Our heartfelt thanks go to John and the rest of the Rutland team for sharing this fantastic news with us.


Posted in Diary 2016 | Tagged , , , |

Osprey Tracking Update – 29th January 2016

There has been no change in FR3’s behaviour over the last couple of weeks with our young osprey remaining within the confines of the bolong (creek) to the north of Bulok in the Gambia.

FR3's activity between 10th & 28th January 2016 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s activity between 10th & 28th January 2016 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

As you can see from the close-up image below, our young ospreys appears to have two main roost sites and is making very localised journeys of no more than 1km from these locations.

FR3's core activity area ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s core activity area ©Scottish Wildlife Trust


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Osprey Tracking Update – 13th January 2016

Since last week’s worrying news of FR4’s disappearance we have all been waiting anxiously for any further information. Unfortunately none has been forthcoming – no new data has been received so it looks as if FR4’s tag has stopped transmitting. As to the reason for this it’s very difficult to say.

Although the last GPS data was for the 21st December, there was non-GPS data coming in up to 23rd December, which showed that FR4 was still in the same place.

The last data for FR4 from 19th-23rd December 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

The last data for FR4 from 19th-23rd December 2015 (red dots with orange lines represent GPS data, red squares with red lines are non-GPS data) ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

We asked Roy Dennis for his expert opinion and he kindly provided the following analysis…

“There was GPS data missing on most days between 17th & 21st, indicating that the transmitter was not working perfectly, despite fact that the battery was fully charged and GPS readings should have been excellent in such an open area. The engineering file information suggests that FR4 was alive on 17th and 23rd but there was only a small difference in activity readings and these could be due to wind rocking a dead bird. So in summary, transmitter failure is a possible explanation but there is no definitive evidence as to whether FR4 is alive or dead.”

As many of you will be aware the team from Rutland Osprey Project are currently in Senegal and have spent several days exploring the Saloum Delta (Sine-Saloum). However the delta covers a vast area (73,000ha), most of which is inaccessible apart from by boat, making a search for FR4 very difficult in the limited time they were there. You can find out more about their West African adventure on the Rutland Osprey Project blog.

So not the news any of us wanted but sadly this is where we find ourselves. If FR4 is still alive and well then it is possible (although improbable) that the tag could begin transmitting again at some point in the future, or our young osprey may be spotted in the years to come as was the case with Blue YD.

If not then this serves to remind us how perilous an existence the first year of life is for young ospreys, not only on the migration but also on their wintering grounds. We’ll keep you posted if there are any developments.

Meanwhile, there’s been no change to FR3’s behaviour over the past week who remains settled in the bolons (creeks) north of Bulok in the Gambia.

FR3's activity between 3rd & 9th January 2016 © Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s activity between 3rd & 9th January 2016 © Scottish Wildlife Trust

A closer view © Scottish Wildlife Trust

A closer view © Scottish Wildlife Trust

You can view the latest tracking data for yourself visit on our Osprey Tracking page or in Google Earth.


Posted in Diary 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , |