Holidaymakers are not the only north-east residents off to warmer climes this month – four osprey chicks are also off to sunny Spain.
The birds have been dispatched to the Mediterranean nation as part of a breeding programme to help restore the species in that area.
Forest Enterprise Scotland’s Aberdeenshire team has been involved in a five year project working with the foundation run by renowned conservationist Roy Dennis.
Mr Dennis has been collecting chicks under an SNH licence to transfer to the Basque country, where no ospreys have bred for a century or more.
The release site, the Urdaibai Estuary near Bilbao, is used by the birds during their passage to and from Scotland so was considered a suitable site for a re-introduction by the Basque osprey group.
As well as providing a gene pool for re-introductions to other countries, this partnership has also protected existing nests and so helped ospreys consolidate their numbers and spread in Scotland.
Alan Campbell, environment ranger with FES, said: “This has been a great project to be involved in.
“It feels really good to know that we have helped reintroduce these magnificent birds to another part of the world where they have been struggling to hold on.
“Roy has been weighing, measuring and ringing osprey chicks on the national forest estate for many years, but over the past five years, when there has been more than one chick in a nest, the larger chick has been selected for translocation.
“Three nests in Moray and Aberdeenshire supplied four chicks this year, a great improvement on last year, when all nests failed due to bad weather.
“The project has improved Scotland’s osprey numbers too because each of the smaller chicks left in the nests – with no competitive siblings – will have received all the food brought to the nest and so would have fledged in really good condition.”
The birds are given rings inscribed with identifying markings that make it easier to track their migration – and spot any that return to Scotland in the future.
To date Mr Dennis has relocated 60 ospreys to Spain in the five years the project has been running.