10-27 Sept 2012 -
Cutch is all business. He has had great weather
for migrating and made the most of the favorable
tail winds. His biggest move was on the 13th,
when he covered 286 miles (460 km) from North to
Cutch was our second bird across the Caribbean, just a
day behind our New Hampshire juvenile, Jill.
Sadly, the day after he made the crossing, his
transmitter stopped moving, which means he
either lost it (unlikely), or he died.
As expected, we discovered that Cutch did indeed die.
The rather remarkable details are revealed at
the end of this page.
After a year of missed communication, it appears
we're about to get the transmitter back [Nov.
Scroll down for all his maps, or...
Skip to the start of migration.
31 July-4 Aug 2012 -
Cutch spent the first 5 days after we trapped
him wandering around the North Fork. On the 4th
he flew across Long Island Sound. Our last
locations for him show that he's working his way
up the Connecticut River.
This looks to me like a young male just back on the
breeding grounds after his 18 months down south.
And maybe these weren't even his breeding
4-18 Aug 2012 -
Cutch has settled down for a spell on the
Connecticut River near Middletown, CT.
And if anyone's curious about why Cutch's little balloon now
has a 'U,' blame it on "Chip" up in New
Hampshire. I didn't want two 'U' symbols--so
just look at Cutch's balloons sideways ;-).
5-18 Aug 2012 -
Cutch was really focused on one small stretch of
the river for 2 weeks.
4-22 Aug 2012 -
Cutch is back on Long Island, which makes me
think that this was where he was born.
20-22 Aug 2012 -
And now I'm thinking he's actually a young from
the North Fork Golf Club nest on Downs Creek,
probably born there two years ago. This behavior
looks like what we saw Buck do down in South
Carolina. When Buck finally (after 109 days and
over 8,900 miles of wandering around the eastern
U.S.) got back to his natal territory, he often
foraged close to his old nest.
The orange/N balloons are North Fork Bob's locations.
23 Aug-4 Sept 2012 -
Cutch and North Fork Bob are doing a lot of
fishing out in Peconic Bay.
23 Aug-4 Sept 2012 -
Cutch and North Fork Bob were both caught with
their talons in the cookie jar, as it were,
trying to take a fish from under our noose
carpet set on the nest at the North Fork Golf
Course nest on Downs Creek.
One thing that caught my attention in this map is the
series of GPS locations in the north of this map
sort of out in the middle of nowhere,
Osprey-wise. What's that all about? No ponds
nearby. When you zoom in, you see that there's a
power line going through there. Cutch seems to
like the view from the towers on that line.
5-10 Sept 2012 -
Cutch is hanging around, fishing a lot in
Peconic Bay, getting ready to head south.
10 Sept 2012 -
He's off! I'm pretty sure he's a 3-yr old, so
this will be his second trip south (if I'm
right). In any case, he knows where he's going.
We get to follow him down to someplace in South
America, most likely.
He spent his first night just west of Asbury Park.
10-12 Sept 2012 -
Cutch covered 509 miles (820 km) in three days,
averaging about 170 miles/day, which is about
average for a migrating Osprey.
He crossed Delaware Bay west of the Cape May Hawk
Count, which may make up for all the times
Thatch is getting counted as he yings around
Cape May ;-).
12 Sept 2012 -
Cutch crossed Chesapeake Bay in a little over an
hour. Remember that each point is 1 hour after
the previous one. The long stretch across the
Bay is 25 miles, and that's smack on the average
for an Osprey on migration. The next two points
are only 5 miles apart, and no Osprey flies 5
miles an hour, so we can infer that he spent
some time fishing once he hit the west side of
the Bay, between the York and James Rivers.
12-18 Sept 2012 -
Cutch covered some ground on the 13th and 14th,
but then slowed down a bit as he moseyed his way
south through Florida.
18-21 Sept 2012 -
Cutch got a late start heading out over the
Florida Strait, leaving the Keys behind about
1PM. About 6.5 hours and 160 miles later he made
landfall on Cuba's north shore. He averaged 24
MPH over the water, which is pretty typical.
21-25 Sept 2012 -
Cutch made it through Cuba without stopping at a
fish farm, which is always good news. That's the
first of the threats faced by southbound Ospreys
through the Caribbean. Next he has to avoid
Dominican farmers who think he might take their
chickens, and then he has to dodge any passing
hurricanes or other big weather crossing from
Hispaniola to South America. It looks like he's
headed straight to Cabo Beata (ever want to see
a lot of Ospreys some fall, go down there!),
which would keep him out of the Dominican danger
24-26 Sept 2012 -
Cutch buzzed right through Hispaniola--again the
way we like it. And he headed out over the
Caribbean into good weather. So far this has
been a really good season for us.
We have three more birds coming right behind Cutch and
it looks like the weather will be good for them,
too, if they get a move on.
On the 26th he started out around 9:30 AM and flew
about 8 miles before he found a small lake. It
seems like he spent a half hour there--maybe
grabbing one for the road--before kicking into
full migration mode.
26-27 Sept 2012 -
Cutch left Cabo Beata behind around 12:30 and
flew 115 miles in the next five hours, averaging
a pretty typical 23 mph.
As usual, we don't know exactly what path he took over
the Caribbean between the last GPS fix on 26 Sep
and his arrival in Colombia--it certainly wasn't the dead
straight line indicated here, but it probably
was more of a gentle arc (the red track)
southwest and then southeast before making
landfall in Colombia southwest of the Guajira
Peninsula. (Anyone who's been following these
maps for a few years is bound to get the Trivial
Pursuits geography question on what's South
America's northernmost point of land!)
Cutch flew at least 300 more miles from the last fix on
the 26th at 9 PM before getting to Colombia.
Assuming he kept flying the same speed, he would
have arrived in S.A. about 13 hours later. Given
that he would have taken a slightly longer
route, he probably got to Colombia around 10 AM.
(Hard as it is to believe, the red track is only about
20 miles longer than the straight blue track
connecting the last fix for the 26th and his
roost on the 27th!)
27-29 Sept 2012 -
Cutch's signals stopped moving in Colombia.
Frustratingly, the last signals are in a region
for which Google Earth has a very low resolution
image, so we can't get much of a clue as to what
happened to him. Is he by the side of the road
(that would be too coincidental, given that this
transmitter was taken off Tucker when he flew
into a bus up in Long Island last summer), or at
a fish farm, or just a farmyard with a small
pond, like Meadow's last location? We can see
that the area is under pretty intensive
agriculture, so the most likely cause of death
would be some interaction with one of our
conspecifics--i.e. a human.
I hate to lose any bird, but Cutch's return was
going to be interesting, as he would have been
just getting ready to find a mate, assuming my
speculation that he was a 3-yr old on his first
return to this natal territory this spring. This
period in the lives of Ospreys is really poorly
understood and one of the reasons we're tagging
juveniles. North Fork Bob seems to be in this
class of young birds trying to find a breeding
29 Sept 2012 -
One mystery solved, one generated. The new
mystery (of interest only to me) is why my laptop won't download the
Google Earth photography that includes the town
of El Barrial, Colombia--Cutch's final resting
place--while my desktop will? Much more
importantly, the mystery solved [or so we
thought! Keep scrolling...] is what happened
to Cutch. All the evidence and past experience
to his having been shot. The transmitter is now
at the spot indicated in this aerial photo.
... we see that the
transmitter is now in this house at the
outskirts of El Barrial.
As of about 3 hours ago, I was still convinced that
Cutch had been shot.
But, the plot has another twist, of course...
Less than 2 hours after
posting an email to the Neotropical Raptor
Group, I received several emails with not only
offers to help, but also an alternative solution
to the mystery, including the forensic
post-mortem photos. The first story was that poor Cutch
got tangled in a fishing net and drowned. In the
next batch of emails the story changed to he was
diving into the water and was impaled on a stick
and bled to death.
I must say the story of the fishing net didn't really
fit the picture. This isn't a bird that
spent time struggling in a net underwater.
I'm hoping to get more details on the impaling story.
The good news that the transmitter is safely in the
hands of the local authorities and we'll get it back.
[Once I convince them that they can't use it to
study flamingos!] Hopefully the next bird to wear
it will have better luck than Tucker or Cutch!
(What did we do without the Internet? We did a lot of
stuff, but we certainly didn't have a picture of
a bird lost in the northeastern corner of
Colombia 2 hours after asking if anyone could
help me recover the transmitter!)
I confess that the impaling
story sounded a bit, well, fishy. But I'm now a
believer. Here's the small pond where Cutch died
on the "Chivo Mono" finca (ranch). When the pond
was made, lots of trees died, some of which
still protrude above the water. Clearly there
are plenty more snags below the water surface,
making this a dangerous place to hit the water
at high speed, the way an Osprey does.
Another view of the pond with
a TV crew working on the story of Cutch's
demise, which aired on national TV!
The caption reads " 'Unitedstatesian'
eagle died in Guajira fishing..." Below this,
the story reports that the death was originally
thought to be an assassination but it turned out
to be an "accidental suicide." Here's a link to
the story on Uno:
http://bit.ly/X0KeT6 (not sure how long it
will stay up.)