We can now confirm the sad news that Blue YZ, the osprey chick born at Loch of the Lowes in summer 2013, has died in Guinea Bissau as her bones and the satellite tag have now been recovered. We have suspected this was her fate, but this is the first concrete proof we have been able to ascertain.
As many of you will remember Blue YZ made a successful first migration to Guinea Bissau last autumn, and her journey held us all enthralled and produced some fascinating insights. In November, her satellite tracking data showed a very worrying trend with the bird slowing down and eventually stopping in a rice field. We strongly suspected that the bird had died and the transmitter then stopped sending any new data. Unfortunately we were unable at the time get anyone to the area to investigate.
A couple of weeks ago, the satellite tag started sending data again- but still from exactly the same place. We discussed this with experts like Roy Dennis, and came to the conclusion that it was most likely that the tag had recently been turned over and was now facing the sun and getting charge from its solar panel.
This exact up to date location information enabled us, through Roy to make contact with a colleague Luis Palmer who in turn contacted an anthropology fieldworker in the area Marina Temudo. Along with a local national park warden, she went to the area and enlisted the help of local children combing the fields.
“They took the whole afternoon searching in the hot sun, my colleague Marina, a National Park warden and kids from the village but finally found it. The local kids were persuaded to help with the promise of a new football ball. The osprey was only bones. She described the place as having salt pens and rice paddies where the bird was found dead”
It therefore looks most likely that our bird died of exhaustion, injury, or starvation in this field, and that her body lay amongst the vegetation and was scavenged by local predators. The tag only worked when the body was rolled over, either by an animal or by water washing over it, and its solar panel again faced the sun.
We cannot thank Marina and her local helpers enough for finding the bird for us, despite the sad outcome, and returning the satellite tag, which with some TLC should be able to be reused on another bird.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust will be reimbursing Marina her for her travel expenses in getting to such a remote area, and we would like to send the local warden and the village children some gifts to thank them too.
What a great story this bird has told- in her short but eventful life she has taught us all so much and is now the reason to build wonderful links between two distant countries.
By contrast, our other satellite tagged young osprey Blue YD has had an uneventful week on the sunny coast of Senegal- see his latest movements on our interactive map – follow the link on the top right of this page.