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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Satellite tracks 'lost' buzzard
Fears are growing for the safety of a rare bird of prey which got lost at sea while making a migration from Scotland to Africa.

The young honey buzzard, which only learned to fly a month ago, went off course after it was caught in difficult weather conditions over the Atlantic.

A satellite tracking system estimates that it has made the longest flight ever recorded by a bird of prey and was in the air for more than 100 hours during a journey in excess of 5,000 kilometres.

However, concern about the fate of the bird is growing among conservationists and enthusiasts who have been following its progress over the internet.


We are all hanging on to hope that the next signal from the young honey buzzard will indicate it has survived

David Jardine
Forestry Commission
Two honey buzzards were being tracked as part of an attempt to learn the mysteries of their migration south.

The Forestry Commission and the Highland Foundation for Wildlife teamed up to follow their journey.

Devices were fitted to an adult bird and single chick from a nest at a secret location in the Scottish Highlands earlier this year.

The adult male left its nest 26 days ago and is now somewhere over the Ivory Coast after travelling more than 5,000 km.

However, the younger bird ended up off course after it was caught in difficult weather systems.

Unbelievable distances

David Jardine, forest district manager for the Inverness area, said contact was lost while the bird was about 300 km from the Portuguese island of Madeira.

"We are all hanging on to hope that the next signal from the young honey buzzard will indicate it has survived," he said.

"It has been on the wing for days and covered unbelievable distances in all kinds of weather conditions.

"Through tracking the birds we have gathered a wealth of information which will help us secure the future of these spectacular birds in Scotland."


This young one has gone west of south and went off from Cardiff trying to get to France, got into strong easterly winds and in the end it ended up on the other side of the Azores in the central Atlantic ocean

Roy Dennis
wildlife foundation
The progress of the two birds has been followed by enthusiasts through a special website run by Roy Dennis of the foundation and other enthusiasts.

He said: "The old bird knows exactly where to go. He went straight down to the Isle of Wight, across into the Cherbourg peninsula and then straight down to Gibraltar and he's nearly in the Ivory Coast.

"This young one has gone west of south and went off from Cardiff trying to get to France, got into strong easterly winds and in the end it ended up on the other side of the Azores in the central Atlantic ocean.

"He then came round the bottom of the low pressure and nearly got to Madeira and now sadly I think he's either on a fishing boat or he's on something floating in the sea."

Honey buzzards were given their name because they eat wasp grubs and larvae.

Thought to have initially come to Scotland from Scandinavia, they migrate to equatorial Africa every winter.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Laura Maxwell
"Roy Dennis has been tracking the buzzard's progress"
See also:

20 Aug 02 | Scotland
04 Apr 02 | England
22 Jun 01 | Scotland
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