Monthly Archives: September 2017

Hello from Switzerland

2 Chalet in the mist 15sep17

Mist at the chalet near to Perky’s roost

3 Cow grazing in the mist 15sep17

Misty valley 15th Sept

In search of Perky

The young male osprey named Perky (PY2) migrated as far as Switzerland, halting his journey at the Lac de Joux. His tracking data revealed daily visits along the north shore of the lake, with occasional crossings to the far shore and to a roost site near a chalet beside a forested track. We received news from Wendy Strahm, the project coordinator responsible for the Osprey reintroduction project in Switzerland, that all of the reintroduced Swiss ospreys had left the area, so she was surprised that Perky was still around and generously offered have a look for him. Below is a report of her visit, including photographs of a healthy looking Perky flying above the Lake.

Wendy Strahm reports from Swiss expedition to spot Perky

Wendy wrote,

“Perky (PY2) let me discover a bit of forest in Switzerland (that was quite clearly Osprey heaven) that I had never been to before.

1Road and mist 15sep17

The expedition started at 8am on 15th September, when Stephan Rytz, Loïc Oswald and myself set off for the Vallée de Joux, armed with the latest GPS readings (sent to us by Tony Lightley and Diane Bennett) of where Perky had spent the night, and where he had been fishing during the past few days. When we arrived we were greeted by cool temperatures (4°) and cloud, with a thick layer of mist covering the lake and lower forested slopes. Far from ideal conditions to see any bird, much less a Scottish Osprey that was making a break in his migration in our Swiss lake.

I thought that I knew the Vallée pretty well, but I had never walked in the beautiful forest where apparently he had spent the last two nights. However, GPS is amazing and from Google Earth we were pretty sure that we had found the actual tree where Perky had roosted—a nice dead pine on a slope near a forest clearing. Thank you Forestry Service for leaving dead trees!

We then retired to the “Hotel de la Truite” (appropriately named after Osprey food) for a coffee, as it was hopeless looking for anything. There we were joined by Olivier Jean-Petit-Matile, an excellent naturalist and photographer who knows the Vallée de Joux better than almost anyone.

After we finished our coffee at 10am, the fog was beginning to lift so we returned to the lake shore where PY2 had been recorded a lot, and were suddenly greeted by brilliant sunshine and clear views over the lake. We took a few real postcard photos, but still no Osprey…

12 Lac de Joux 15sep17

8Lac de Joux facing Dent de Vaulion 15sep17

When the mist cleared.

9Loïc Stephan and Olivier looking hard for PY2 15sep17

The search for Perky.

Suddenly, at 10:55, we spotted Perky flying towards us. He then dived twice into the shallow water by the edge of the lake but both times his fishing trip was unsuccessful. So, we had seen PY2 and were delighted, even though he had been too far away to take a decent photo. He then disappeared around a bend and out of sight.

We walked a little closer to where he had been fishing, hoping that he would return. And we were lucky, since at 11:45, he again flew into sight, and then perched in a tree. Again too far away for a decent photo, but we got one through the telescope.

10Perky in tree Lac de Joux 15sep17 (1)

Perky in the tree (Wendy’s Photo)

Suddenly at 12:10, he soared up high over our heads and Olivier managed to take a great photo—you can even see his blue ring on the left leg.

11 Perky PY2 OJPM (2)

Perky flying over Lac de Joux (photo by Olivier Jean-Petit-Matile)

He then proceeded to fly to the southern end of the lake, where we saw him hovering over the little nature reserve located here, but it was a long way away. We jumped in the car to get to the end of the lake, but by the time we got there he had gone, so we don’t know if he had managed to catch a fish or not.

We hope that Perky heads off soon as it is definitely getting colder”.

14 Alpenhorn on ice 22jan16 (2)

Lac de Joux in January

13 People on ice 22jan16

Wendy’s photos of the Lac de Joux in January

We are really grateful to Wendy and her friends for looking for Perky and reporting the fantastic news back to us. The pictures of the area that Perky has made his temporary home really are wonderful. It is great to actually see photos of him on his first big adventure. We are most grateful to Valerie for making the connection with Wendy in Switzerland so that we could follow Perky’s journey so closely.

A trip to Geneva

Since Wendy and her friends spotted Perky, he has taken a day-long tour all the way down to Geneva where he was spotted spiralling high above the town with two buzzards. He didn’t stay long, doubling back to the Lac de Joux, He is still in this region and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to move on south just yet.

Pinky does a U turn

Pinky, (PY1) is still in Spain and – like Perky – she has ventured south only to double back north to the Rio Agueda where she is making the most of a rich habitat and good fishing.

Follow the tracked ospreys progress ‘live’

You can now follow all of the tracked Scottish ospreys from 2017 on the Movetech website which is updated every 30 minutes to show their progress as they migrate. The Tweed Valley birds are numbers 631 (Perky) and 632 (Pinky). Please follow this link

FK8 news

We still have no news of FK8 since her tracker stopped transmitting data. An expedition to search her usual haunts in Portugal will take place on 23rd September – we hope she’s there, even if her tracking device isn’t! (Mistakenly reported as 23rd March in previous blog – sorry).

Not moved on yet

> You can now track the ospreys’ movements live at this online map.

both journeys PY1 and PY2

PY1 (Pinky) in Spain and PY2 (Perky) in Switzerland

Pinky discovers river systems in Spain

The young female osprey, Pinky (PY1), has not resumed her full migration journey since finding her way to the Rio Huebra close to the border of Portugal in northwest Spain. After spending a couple of days along the river, hunting and building her strength, she began to widen her exploration of the area and on 8th September made a circular tour of 36km before returning to the familiar river. The next day she began to enjoy the Rio Aqueda river system and spent the night close to the dam over the river.  On 9th and 10th September Pinky moved on to another river, the Rio Yeltes; a beautiful area and a shallow river which looks to be good fishing for a young hungry osprey still honing her skills. Not bad, considering that just a few weeks ago she was relying solely on her parents to find food for her. Independence has certainly led to a steep learning for Pinky, but at least she has discovered an area of Spain that is rich in riverine habitat.

On 12th September Pinky pushed further on south, crossing the large lake called Borbollon before continuing further south to Coria and the Rio Alagon. She reached the river and made a sharp easterly turn towards the town on the south bank, where she once again crossed over a busy wide road at a dangerously low height. She then made an abrupt turn, heading back to the safety of the river.
Coria 12th Sept

Pinky crosses road and turns back to river

dangerous road crossing

Low flight across busy road in Coria

She is doing well, is in good surroundings and finding many river systems to exploit on her journey through Spain, so it’s not surprising that she doesn’t appear to be in much of a hurry. She has flown much further south than her brother even though she left a week later than him to start her migration.

Perky still in Switzerland

Meanwhile, we are amazed to find that her brother Perky is still at the Lac de Joux in Switzerland. He has made the north shore his home and takes trips along the shore, occasionally journeying to the other side of the Lake and then back to rest in a tree. No need to hurry for this laid back Tweed Valley chap! What young osprey wants to travel on further south when they have discovered paradise? As the days progressively shorten and as temperatures reduce a notch, he will know doubt be driven further southwards. In fact we have received news directly from Switzerland that the weather has turned bad, with high winds and heavy rain; a proper squally autumn blast! So rather than having a fine time at the Lac de Joux, Perky is more likely being held back by the conditions and waiting for some improvement in the weather before pushing south. We are waiting for news from Wendy Strahm, who co-ordinates the Swiss osprey reintroduction programme, who has kindly offered to go and look for Perky if weather permits.

Perky Lac de Joux

PY2 (Perky) Lac de Joux

No news of FK8 but the search is on

There is still no further data from FK8, but we hope she is ok and has made it to her winter quarters in Portugal. We are very grateful to Valerie Webber who has organised a search party for FK8 at her known roost sites near to the Barragem de Morgavel in Portugal. Hopefully she will be spotted there, safe and well. The way the data stopped so abruptly, we think her tracking device may have dropped off? The search is due to take place from 23rd September when she is expected to be settled in her preferred over-wintering area in Portugal (should she have made it successfully).
> You can now track the ospreys’ movements live at this online map.

Tweed Valley osprey journeys

Pinkys night flight

py1 and py2

Pinky and Perky’s journeys

PY1 flight path from the Bay to Spain

PY1 (Pinky) journey across the sea and inland at Spain

Last week we were very concerned about osprey Pinky (PY1) the young female bird on her first ever migration south. She had set off on 26th August and was making good progress, but the data ended after flying a staggering 388km in one day on 30th August. It was early evening when she reached the coast of the Bay of Biscay and that meant she was committed to making the full crossing of this dangerous and stormy sea in an all-night flight. Thankfully, she made it safely across after twelve hours of flight with no rest and no breaks.  After 456km, she reached the coast of Spain, arriving at Pendueles at 5.53am where she had a well-deserved rest in a tree. She rested for two hours and then, driven by hunger, flew into the steep landscape, over a busy motorway (just a few metres above the roadway) and over the hill to find the River Cares-Diva and some good fishing.

the dangerous road crossing for tired PY1

the pink line is her flight path across the  busy road into the hillside

She restored her energy and rehydrated herself with some tasty fish, preparing for the onward journey. After a welcome rest on 31st August she proceeded inland along the steep-sided valley of the River Diva and high over the mountains; possibly a ploy to use the upward thermals to ease her journey along and make flying less arduous. She then changed direction towards the south-west from the town of Cabuerniga. She spent the night at the River Carrion, where she made good use of the waters, fishing and resting. She then pressed on, in a south-westerly direction, until she reached the River Huebra and has since spent five days there in beautiful surroundings with a wide open river and good fishing.

Rio Huebra

Rio Huebra

River Huebra Spain PY1 location 5th Sept

Rio Huebra


Perky in Paradise

PY2 lac de joux

Lac de Joux

Pinkys brother, Perky (PY2), has made it down to Switzerland. It seems he likes this osprey paradise so much, that he has decided to stay. He has moved to Lac de Joux, a huge lake (the largest in the Jura massif) with a tiny rivulet leading to the smaller Lac Brenet – a place he has visited frequently. He has made home on the north shore and is moving north of the lake in the evening to roost in forests. The area is stunningly beautiful and perfect for a young osprey. Don’t get your hopes up though, young Perky… that lake freezes over so fast in the winter that people can skate across it! There will be no fishing for ospreys when this happens, so once he has built up his reserves he needs to travel on south to find some safe and bountiful winter quarters.

Lac do Joux summer

Lac de Joux – summer

Lac de joux winter frozen

Frozen Lac de Joux in winter


FK8 tragedy feared

It seems really empty without ospreys gracing the Tweeddale countryside now and there’s a real sense that autumn is here and summer has gone. The wheel of time turns and another summer rolls on, taking our lovely summer visitors with it. The forests are becoming quieter without the descending fluted notes of the willow warblers and repetitive chiffchaffs. The swallows are gathering on the telephone wires in chattering groups, just gearing up to go, while their close cousins, the swifts and sand martins, have mostly left our shores along with most of the house martins. It is on this rather morose line of thought, that the sad demise of FK8 comes to mind. After following every step of her life since hatching in Tweed Valley in 2014 – following her journeys to Portugal for wintering and her summer explorations of the north of Scotland, and high hopes that she would nest at Loch Slethill next summer – we now think it is most probable that something bad has happened to her. We have received no further data since she was last tracked flying beside the River Laita in Brittany on her way to the Bay of Biscay. We can only hope that the reason is due to equipment failure and that she too made a safe crossing over the sea to Spain and on to Portugal.

fk8 final journey

Last known flight of FK8 along River Laita in Brittany

Search for FK8

We are very grateful to Valerie who is asking her friend in Portugal to search the known roosting and fishing areas of FK8 in Portugal near to Sines to see if she has in fact made it and is safe and well. It could be that her tracking device has ceased working and she has made the journey back. We are keeping fingers crossed and remaining hopeful!

Tweed Valley birds are away

Cheerio SS and Mrs. O

Migration is underway for all the ospreys by now. So far in the Tweed Valley Project area we know that SS and Mrs. O have left. The last time SS was seen was Sunday 20th August and it was a very noticeably quiet Mrs. O on the main nest on Monday 21st. Was she aware that he had left? Normally she would be calling repeatedly in the hopes that he would bring a fish back and share it with her but she was uncharacteristically quiet, and spent a lot of time preening her feathers. The next day she was gone too. There have been no further sightings at the nest site of either of them since, so they must have gone south.

Worries about FK8

last point in france next to bay of Biscay

Last tracked point next to Bay of Biscay in Brittany

Last point for FK8 Frances

Last point close up flying strong along the river

We are really worried about FK8, her journey was going brilliantly and she was making great progress; she left the UK and reached Brittany where she then headed overland in a southerly direction towards the shore near to the Bay of Biscay and this is where her data has ceased. We have had no further data updates since 22nd August.

She has been tagged for the past three years and her data returns have always been reliably sent through about twice per day, so it is alarming that this should have stopped right at this crucial point in her journey. It could be equipment failure but the last readings were showing good battery and signal strength. She was so close to the Bay of Biscay, she may have started the crossing and hit trouble. The Bay is notoriously stormy as it is a bottleneck for the Atlantic Ocean weather systems. Hurricane Harvey was occurring on the opposite side of the ocean but could this have affected weather conditions on the other side of the ocean?

A Loch Garten bird, Seasca vanished in the Bay of Biscay close to where she was heading to, back in 2014 due to stormy conditions. This is quite ominous but we will keep fingers crossed and hope it’s a data blip.

Atlantic ocean hurricane position pic

Could weather be affecting the Bay of Biscay from across the Atlantic Ocean?

Pinky (PY1) heads south

PY1, (Pinky), the sister of PY2, (Perky), has finally started her journey too. She left on Saturday 26th August at 11.11am and headed over towards Ettrickbridge and Hawick and then to Haltwhistle. A male osprey from Stirlingshire set off on the same morning and their paths crossed near to Gilsland by Haltwhistle between 2pm and 3pm. Did they see each other? He then continued to the east of the UK, whereas PY1 headed westerly to Wales and looked set to follow a similar route that her half- sister, FK8 took on her first journey from the UK back in 2014.

She roosted overnight near to Bolton at Two Brooks Valley having covered 224km since leaving Peeblesshire. The next day she flew a further 165km to Mid Wales where she spent the night by Lyn Clywedog Reservoir before continuing on 27th August to cross the Bristol Channel and to the south coast of England. She took a final nights stopover near to Bishops Cross in Devon before heading down to the estuary at Plymouth and out to sea. Will she cross to France or chance a crossing straight over the Bay of Biscay? It’s a nerve wracking time! Knowing that something may have happened to FK8 in the same area just a few days ago is worrying. Fingers crossed for PY1 and a safe onward journey.

PY1 and Stirlingdshire bird cross paths he goes east she goes west

PY1 goes west across Wales and Stirlingshire osprey goes east. Travelling at the same time.

Lyn Clywedog Wales

An overnight roost at Lyn Clywedog

will she cross Bay of Biscay PY1

Will she cross the channel to France or head out to the Bay of Biscay?

Perky (PY2) enjoying France and Switzerland along the border

PY2 is having an amazing journey; he has travelled down through Germany and has now reached Switzerland. He has spent the past couple of days enjoying the beautiful Doubs River Valley which crosses through France and Switzerland and is the 10th longest river in France. He went south along the river and then had a restless night on the French side of the border, where he moved at 11pm, then again at 2.14am and then at 5am. He then doubled back up the river to an area previously visited in Switzerland and he spent the day and night there before continuing his journey.

He moved on to take a slightly south westerly course across the border into France to spend the night on 28th August at another idyllic setting beside the L’Orbe River in France. He is definitely fishing along the way as his data shows visits and rests to coincide with fishing trips and time to feed.

PY2 Journey to 29th August

PY2 travelling between France and Switzerland along the border and along River Doubs


The beautiful River Doubs

The Doubs reflections

Can you imagine why PY2 is reluctant to leave this area along the Doubs?

Thank you to all our volunteers

The osprey centres are closed from the end of August and we thank the volunteers who have staffed them over the summer for all their hard work and effort. They make the project so enjoyable for visitors and gather all the information about what is happening on the live cameras during the week.