31 December 2019 – A Scottish Short-eared Owl near Oualidia

A female Short-eared Owl, fitted with a satellite tag while breeding in Scotland, has been tracked to Morocco.

She was tagged at her nest site on Arran on June 11 this year, and is currently wintering near Oualidia. The bird left Arran to visit Bute and Kintyre in July, returned to Arran for 10 days and then moving to mainland Ayrshire. She remained near Dalmellington until the end of October, then moved to Devon, where she was stayed til early November, then with the help of a strong tail wind, travelled 495 km into France in just six hours, then continued south, crossing the Pyrenees and the Strait of Gibraltar to reach Morocco.

BTO research ecologist, John Calladine, who is leading the project, commented: « This is only the second UK Short-eared Owl to be reported from Morocco, and what makes this record all the more amazing is that it involves a breeding female. Our tracking work has revealed the huge distances these birds can cover; in addition to this bird wintering in Morocco, we have had birds move to Norway, with some individuals seemingly making two breeding attempts in one season, one in Scotland and one in Norway. »

(photo K. Laïdi, 21 November 2017, Oued Souss)

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