A short-eared owl from Scotland followed all the way to Morocco

Short-eared owl. / DR
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A short-eared owl, which had a satellite tag attached to it when it was reproducing in Scotland, was followed all the way to Morocco, revealing important new information for researchers, The Scottish Farmer reports.

Researchers at the British Trust for Ornithology Scotland have conducted research to develop methods of studying these short-eared owls in their breeding areas and tracking their movements throughout the year. While a handful of birds have so far been equipped with tracking devices - the goal is to track 20 individuals across their breeding grounds in the UK - the researchers have, however, already recorded some astonishing movements.

Among these individuals, a breeding female, tagged at its nesting site on the Isle of Arran (Scotland) on June 11, is currently hibernating near Oualidia. The bird left Arran to head for the Isle of Bute and the Kintyre Peninsula in July, then returned to Arran for 10 days and before moving to Ayrshire. The specimen studied stayed near the town of Dalmellington until the end of October, then flew to Devon, England, where it stayed until the beginning of November.

Finally, the bird covered a distance of 495 km in France in just six hours, headed south, crossing the Pyrenees and the Strait of Gibraltar all the way to Morocco.

«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», BTO ecologist John Calladine said.

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