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Windy weather thwarts osprey ringing attempt

15/07/2010 07:42:38

For the first time in four decades tagging has not been possible

July 2010: Unseasonably windy weather has meant for the first time in almost four decades no young ospreys have been ringed at RSPB Scotland's Loch Garten Osprey Centre.

TRACKING PROGRESS: Tags provide valuable
information, but inclement weather has made it
impossible to fit any this year at Loch Garten

Staff had been hoping to ring all three of this year's young, as well as fit satellite tags to two of them, so their migratory movements could be monitored. However, the task was deemed too dangerous after high winds prevented the trained team from accessing the nest safely via ladder.

Ospreys can be ringed about four weeks after hatching. Tagging has to wait until the birds are more developed and closer to fledging. Each method is used to allow experts to identify a bird and monitor its progress.

Health and safety had to take priority
After several attempts were called off due to the conditions, staff made the difficult decision that there would be no tagging or ringing completed in 2010. Instead, the satellite tags will be kept and used next year.

Thaxton, site manager at RSPB Scotland Loch Garten OspreyCentre, said: ‘Naturally, we are all hugely disappointed by what's happened but the health and safety of our staff and the ospreys had to take priority. Heavy winds meant it was just too risky to try, and as the chicks get closer to fledging, the window of opportunity closes until finally at the weekend we had to make the final decision not to go ahead.

‘No sooner had we made that decision, than the eldest chick fledged, so it was the right choice. The two remaining chicks are expected to also fledge in the coming days. The young ospreys will then remain in the nest area for another six weeks or so, before starting their first and epic migration to West Africa at the end of August.

‘Ringing is a key milestone of our season here at Loch Garten. This is the first time we haven't at least ringed our birds since ringing began here back in the Seventies, while tagging is a lovely way for our staff and visitors to follow these birds after they leave the reserve. However, it's important to remember we have three bouncy, seemingly healthy osprey chicks who are about to join our Scottish population and that, above all else, is what's most important.'

Loch Garten Osprey Centre is open daily from 10am until 6pm until the end of August when the season ends.

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