Ship boat

A Scottish osprey on its first migration catches a ship from Cornwall

A young Scottish osprey attempting its first migration has arrived in Cornwall only to disappear for two days – before a very cunning reason emerges.

It would seem that Glen, equipped with a GPS beacon, and who had already taken a long time to flee his nest at Glentress in the Scottish Borders, then decided he was not too keen on flying the whole trip.

Instead, researchers found he had hitchhiked on two boats.

Arrived at the tip of Cornwall, the bird of prey disappeared for two days and was presumed dead.

However, around 10 p.m. on Tuesday, his beacon rang at a location on a rocky outcrop off the northwestern tip of Spain.

Sacha Dench, nicknamed the “human swan” for his expeditions tracking bird migrations, is part of a team of people tracking the osprey to learn more about the species’ migratory behaviors.

The Australian-born conservationist uploaded a map of Glen’s mysterious disappearance, which showed unusually straight lines and 90-degree angles during part of his flight.

She found the bird had stopped on what was initially thought to be a fishing vessel in the Bay of Biscay for several miles, first heading southwest, then northeast.

Ms Dench said on board Glen seemed to realize he was traveling in the wrong direction, so he then took off for Spain, before making landfall.

She found that when the bird set off from Cornwall the wind was blowing against it and it is likely that it landed on the ship due to exhaustion.

Glen’s migration route reveals he took some unusual straight lines and 90-degree angles Photo: Conservation Without Borders/PA

Fascinated by this information, Ms. Dench set out to find the crew to thank them.

After speaking with boat company VesselFinder, she discovered that Glen had actually hitchhiked on a second vessel before flying to Spain.

One was the bulk carrier Agia Triada, heading south to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and the other the Eco Nical, an LGP tanker heading from Morocco to Immingham in the UK.

Charts from VesselFinder show that Glen was on the first vessel for about 80-90 nautical miles and the second for about 50 before realizing he was going the wrong direction and taking off.

Ms Dench said a representative for the owners of the Eco Nical said they considered Glen landing on their vessel as good luck.

She said: “I would especially like to thank Alexander Tonev of VesselFinder for all his help in solving the mystery.

“It’s a good thing that the internal ‘GPS’ in Glen’s brain realized he was going in the wrong direction – otherwise he would have ended up not so far from where he started.”

Ms Dench said she had been in touch with the owners of both boats to see if any of the crew had noticed Glen – and if so she hoped to thank them for giving her a elevator because she thinks it saved her life.

She added: “Glen has now started heading south into Spain and we have all our fingers crossed for the next stages of his journey.”


Ms Dench, who was dubbed the ‘human swan’ for traveling 4,300 miles on a paramotor across Russia and Europe in 2016 to track Bewick’s swan, is currently on the Flight of the Osprey expedition, a conservation project in collaboration with UN agencies, scientists, media and governments.

Although she is still recovering from a mid-air collision in September last year, which claimed the life of her cameraman Dan Burton, Ms Dench leads a team of nine people to follow the osprey migration route, over 6,200 miles from the coast of Moray to Ghana through 14 countries – a journey that will take around four months.

She said around 70% of juveniles don’t return to breed, and the team wants to know more about why.

Glen is tracked with his two brothers; Tweed, who has been in Portugal and seems to be enjoying it, and Kirk, who was in Ireland in early September but is now feared to lose.