£100 reward offered for return of bird tracker to Orkney which has ended up in Ealing

Image above: an oystercatcher

Bird tracker went to a campsite, then a pizza restaurant

A bird tag which tracked an oystercatcher’s flight from Dublin to Orkney appears to have wound up in a home in west London.

The GPS device recorded the bird’s migration from Ireland before falling off on the island of Sanday.

Despite this it continued to transmit a signal and it started travelling again, first to a campsite, then a pizza restaurant and then a residential street in Ealing.

Researchers believe it was found by a holidaymaker who took it home, and are offering a £100 reward for the return of the device, which is worth about £1,000.

PhD student Steph Trapp, who is researching how best to conserve oystercatchers at the College of Life and Environment at the University of Exeter, is appealing to find the person who may have picked up the device.

The trackers are resemble tiny plastic bricks complete with a mini solar panel.

Image above: PhD researcher Steph Trapp with an oystercatcher, the distance the tag travelled (Photos BBC)

Trackers put on birds to help with their conservation

The trackers are superglued on to oystercatchers as part of a scheme to study the birds within the Dublin Bay Biosphere and are designed to fall off in the spring.

This tracker lay on a beach in Sanday until the end of May when it started moving again, finally ending up in west London.

“The bird obviously hasn’t gone all the way down there”, Ms Trapp told the BBC, “So we think someone must have found the tag whilst on holiday in Sanday, and taken it down with them.”

“It feels a little bit strange being able to track their whole holiday, but the tags are programmed to record a pretty accurate GPS location every couple of hours.”

There’s no suggestion that whoever picked up the tag has done anything wrong. In fact, Ms Trapp says she’d have done the same thing if she’d found something like it on a beach. But, she said:

“If we do get it back, we can re-deploy it on another bird over the winter next season, and get a bigger sample size.”

If you or anyone you know picked up the tracker the the department’s contact details are here.

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