Osprey hatched in Highlands found dead in Spain

The Osprey chick had been expected to return to Loch Garten. Picture: Richard Thaxton
The Osprey chick had been expected to return to Loch Garten. Picture: Richard Thaxton
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A YOUNG osprey which hatched in the Scottish Highlands – and was named Caledonia by local schoolchildren – has been found dead at a Spanish convent.

The death of the 18-month-old bird of prey is all the more tragic as she was expected to return to her birthplace at Loch Garten in the spring.

Ironically, experts believed Caledonia’s departure from following other ospreys to their normal migration destination in West Africa, where many have actually perished, had actually saved her life.

But, sadly, the raptor, which was satellite-tagged and had been eagerly followed by enthusiast, was killed in a freak accident in Seville, where she had spent the last year and was apparently thriving.

Richard Thaxton, RSPB site manager at Loch Garten, confirmed Caledonia had been found in the cloisters of the convent of San Clement in the city, close to the channel of the Guadalquivir river where she regularly used to hunt for fish.

It would appear that, under foggy conditions, she collided with a tension cable of the lightning rod of the convent, though a post mortem is still to confirm actual cause of death.

Pupils of Deshar and Abernethy primary schools, which are near the RSPB reserve have been informed of the tragedy.

Mr Thaxton said: “It is very sad news. Caledonia was one of the two chicks fledged from Loch Garten in July 2012.

“At 18 months of age, it was hoped that this spring, in just six or seven weeks time, she might make her first return journey to Scotland.

“It is all the more unfortunate because she has been a particularly interesting osprey to track because she has shown some unusual behaviour.

“She did not make the anticipated migration through southern Europe and on the West Africa. Instead, on reaching Spain, she decided to stay there, and has been in the same area ever since.”

She has been living an urban existence in Seville, which is also unusual for the species, fishing canals and rivers near motorways.

Mr Thaxton said Caledonia’s sister, Alba, sadly perished in West Africa, where many other ospreys have died because of poor feeding.

Caledonia had become a particular favourite among enthusiasts, with a number travelling to Seville last year to catch a glimpse of her.

He added: “Given other osprey losses in West Africa, we hoped that remaining in Spain might prove a safer option for her, but sadly her death appears to have been due to a collision in thick fog with wires supporting a lightning rod, an unfortunate urban hazard.

“It is sad for the children attending school in Boat of Garten and Nethy Bridge to have lost their osprey.”

Howard Edge, head teacher of the two schools, said the children had enjoyed naming the two ospreys and tracking them online.

He added: “The pupils involved with the osprey project have moved on to secondary school now, but we told the current pupils and they were disappointed.”