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Young osprey from NH has safe arrival in South America

Union Leader Correspondent

October 01. 2012 11:16PM
The pink line and markers indicate Jill's travel path across the Caribbean and safely into South America. The perilous journey over water took the juvenile osprey only 24 hours last week. 

A young female osprey named Jill has arrived safely in South America after crossing the Caribbean in 24 hours and clearing a mountain range with 18,000-foot peaks.

Jill, who was tagged and outfitted with a GPS transmitter by researchers at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness, beat the 50/50 odds for survival by successfully crossing the sea and mountains and surviving this, her first, maiden migration voyage to South America.

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center Executive Director Iain MacLeod reported the successful landing in a mapping update Friday. MacLeod, who has studied the once-endangered osprey species for three decades, said Jill arrived on the cost of Colombia near Santa Marta, according to transmitter data on Sept. 26. By 11 a.m. the same morning, she climbed 3,600 feet up and headed over the Cordillera Oriental Mountains in the northern end of the Andes in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park. MacLeod said the highest peak there is 18,000 feet.

'So she had some work to do,' he posted on the update.

By the next morning, after spending the night on a high ridge, Jill headed south again at 11,600 feet. She cleared the mountains and was coasted south over the foothills, ending the day close to the Venezuelan border. Jill's safe landing was cause for celebration at the Science Center. Last year, a tagged young female named Saco perished in bad weather while crossing the Caribbean.

MacLeod said Jill may decide to settle in this area, or she may go as far as central Brazil. In a recent interview, MacLeod said young ospreys tend to stay in South America for two years before returning close to their original nesting places in New Hampshire.

Jill is one of three New Hampshire-born ospreys tagged for the Osprey Project. Her brother, Chip, is stalled in Rhode Island, where it appears he is enjoying the fishing. The third travel partner, an adult named Art, appears to be following Jill's route. He arrived in Cuba last week.

The Osprey Project is part of a larger New England-wide study spearheaded by Professor Richard Bierregaard, a visiting research professor art the Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina. The three New Hampshire birds will join eight others tagged by Bierregaard in Massachusetts, Delaware and New York. Key project partners include Conservation Biologist Chris Martin from New Hampshire Audubon, and Public Service of New Hampshire, which provided logistical support and access to nesting areas that the company monitors with an osprey cam.

More information on the Osprey Project, and frequent satellite tracking updates, are available through the science center website.

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