Either the bird has gone on vacation, or scientists need a tourist to return their equipment

A bird tracking device is being sought, which, instead of recording the bird’s movements, probably tracks the travels of an involuntary tourist. Researchers are asking for public help to retrieve the tracker so that it can be used again to study birds.

An oyster hunter, a black-and-white bird with a long red-orange beak for piercing mussels, originally brought the tracker from Dublin, Ireland, to Orkney, an archipelago of islands north of Scotland.

The bird appears to have lost its tracker on a beach on one of the islands, Sunday, on April 7. It remained there until the end of May, when the device began tracking unusual bird movements.

“It’s a bit like a tour of Tiki,” said Steph Trapp, a PhD student at the University of Exeter who is leading a research project that is deploying trackers in BBC video. He went to a campsite and stayed the night before visiting a pizza shop. Eventually, the tracker caught a flight down from Edinburgh, Scotland, to London, England. Researchers now believe the tracker found a home on a residential street in Ealing in West London.

The GPS device, which looks like a flash drive with a small solar panel attached, sends signals about its location every few hours. This is how the researchers were able to map out what they thought was a trip with a tourist from Orkney back to London.

“We assume that someone was on holiday in the Orkney Islands and came across this label lying on the beach without knowing what it was, picked it up, maybe put it in his pocket and forgot about it,” Trapp told BBC. “I’m sure they don’t realize that we’ve been able to trace where they’ve been for most of their vacation and almost to the exact house we think he should be in.”

Trapp and her colleagues hope the man realizes what he has taken and sends it back to them. They are offering a £ 100 reward for his return, The BBC reports. The tracker is reported to cost around £ 1000. The tracker’s new host can contact College of Life and Environmental Studies at the University of Exeter to return the device. And there is no resentment – Trapp told the BBC that he would probably do the same if he came across such a device on the beach.

Researchers have placed trackers on several species of birds that typically pass through shallow waters along northern Dublin, ITV reports. Birds move inland to places such as public parks when the tides flood the places where they usually feed. While much of the typical coastal bird habitat around Dublin Bay is protected as recognized by UNESCO Biosphere, these protections do not necessarily extend to more urban areas in the interior of the country. Trapp works with Dublin County to find out which urban areas are most important for birds in a efforts to protect them betteraccording to ITV.

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