SS: Super Stud

Cheerio Mrs.O, hello FS2

FS2 and SS 18th May 2017

FS2 and SS

Just when we thought things had settled in to domestic bliss at the main nest with SS and Mrs. O, a dramatic return of a visitor from last year has changed the turn of events. FS2, a female with the blue darvic ring who appeared at the end of last summer and began mock incubating the dud egg in the nest, has turned up while Mrs.O was away and she is now also a new partner for SS.

We never realised his leg ring letters meant super stud, but he now has a choice of the ladies and has mated with both of them! What a difference a day makes as the song goes, 24 little hours and two female ospreys vying for the attentions of dear old SS.

SS – Super Stud

This is a real surprise for all those doubters out there who questioned his breeding credentials this year because of his age or his modus operandi for finding a mate. He is quite a bird.

Mrs.O it would seem has not given up yet, and she returned to the nest once FS2 was away. Who will stay with SS? We shall have to wait and see.

Watch the latest videos of the nest here:

A Mate for SS at Last

new Mrs O for SS 14th May 4.40pm

Mrs. O. joins SS at the nest but he is not thrilled at first

 SS Finds a Partner

We are absolutely thrilled that SS has found a partner at last. On Sunday 14th May, white leg SS was sitting at his nest site alone again where he has spent the past month waiting for a female osprey to join him this season. He was seen to be restless and looking skyward frequently and the volunteers on duty could hear an osprey calling in the background.

David, the volunteer on duty at Glentress felt sure that something was about to happen and thankfully remained later than usual, which was just as well, as the female bird, Mrs.O. dropped into the nest site to join SS.

Don’t play hard to get SS

SS mantles and moves away from new mate mrs.O best

SS keeps away from Mrs. O

We would expect that he would be really pleased to be joined by a single female at last but no, he was mantling his wings and creeping around the nest to get away from her in alarm. Osprey courtship is a curious thing – she is available and wanting to breed and so is he. He has an impressive eyrie in which to raise a family, a territory in which he is Lord over and no other osprey has managed to usurp him from his position. So we wonder why he displays such coy behaviour. It is obviously a big draw for the female ospreys because Mrs. O has been quite undeterred by his behaviour and has continued to pursue him with tenacity.

Hang in there Mrs. O.

Mrs O flashes her tail up but SS too coy

Mrs. O flies off and returns to land next to SS. Flashes tail up

After weighing each other up and SS showing his back to Mrs. O, dropping his wings and giving off distress vibes with head bent down and looking away from her, she took a bit of a hint and flew off. Well that changed his attitude alright. He dropped the distress mantling immediately after she left the nest and looked around, staring after her.

Did she watch for his reaction as she flew above the nest? Perhaps, because she immediately returned and landed right next to him, fluffing her tail right up as she did so. Although he then moved away from her again, perhaps there was enough spark of interest there to encourage her to stay? Eventually, SS took off and the female Mrs.O. did not give up, she watched him go, fluffed up her feathers and followed that bird.

Mrs O is undeterred and follows that SS bird

Follow that bird Mrs.O. Don’t let him get away.

 

What a looker but no Darvic

New Mrs.O with BTO ring only

SS gets off some first date poor Mrs O!

No Darvic just a BTO ring for Mrs.O

She is a stunning female with dark sleek feathers on her back and a rich patterned chestnut coloured necklace of feathering around her neck to her chest. Her head crest is well defined with dark markings to her forehead and back of the otherwise white head with characteristic dark eye-stripe. She is magnificent and seems in great condition.

We have no way of knowing where she is from as she has no Darvic ring on her leg with coloured letters but she does have a BTO ring (metal ring with serial number) on her right leg.  This is interesting as it could be that she has somehow lost the Darvic ring from her left leg or could it be that she never had one? We will try to find out some information about how long Darvics have been in use for.

SS keeps a distance

SS sits as far from Mrs.O as possible

Please don’t be so coy SS. He moves to the end of the branch as far away as possible

On Monday morning both ospreys were together again at the nest site, where courtship between the two seemed to be very slow indeed, but then the weather was a particular passion killer with teeming rain. Mrs.O had a fish in her talons and SS was trying his best to keep as far from her as possible. He flew on to the perch and then teetered to the very end of it just to make sure he had put the maximum distance between him and her.

Once again, Mrs.O was undeterred. We do not know if he brought the fish in for her, but it did seem a little unlikely given his anti-social stance towards her presence. After a couple of hours sitting at the nest site largely ignoring one another, she moved up on to the perch to the right and ate her fish while he remained on the left hand perch.

The SS way of finding a partner

SS not thrilled by new Mrs.O yet

So far SS is to be admired; we were slating his tactics of sitting at the nest waiting for a female last week but it has paid off. They literally fall from the sky for him and drop into his lair of main nest TVOP. He would not win any courtship contests that’s for sure, but he definitely has appeal for this female who has dropped in and seems to be about to stay.

Mating at last for the new pairing

Things have become more intimate between the two and mating has since occurred at the nest site between them, although he never hung around afterwards and took off.

Mrs.O. began moving nesting material around and this is a sure sign that we can at last be optimistic that all things osprey are indeed looking up at this nest location. We hope that they are a fertile pair and that she produces viable eggs. For now though we are very content that at last SS has found a partner.

Good luck for the rest of the season as it will be unique for this project to have a pairing take place as late in the year as this. This will prove to be another interesting insight into the lives of ospreys, as we may find out if such late parings can lead to successful rearing of offspring. Fingers crossed.

FK8 returns to the UK

FK8 back in north scotland

FK8 has safely returned to Forsinard Flows.

We know that birds are still arriving as we have just had superb news that FK8 (the female osprey being satellite tracked) has only just come back to the UK. She made a staggering crossing of the Bay of Biscay being battered by bad weather before turning back to rest on an island just off the point of Brittany. She then spent from 21st April to 24th April recuperating on the mainland before crossing the English Channel to arrive at Plymouth on 24th April at 14.17pm.

She stopped at some fish ponds north of Collaton Cross and presumably fed and took an overnight roost nearby. From here she headed to the Bristol Channel and made the crossing from 9.23am to 10.15am on 26th April, arriving at Rest Bay north of Porthcawl in South Wales and continuing north.

FK8 celebrity reality TV star

FK8 at Dyfi birds nest courtesy of Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust

FK8 Visiting Dyfi birds. Photo courtesy of Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust.

Being the celebrity that she is, she couldn’t resist starring on the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust ‘live’ camera briefly, disturbing the resident pair of nesting ospreys. The ospreys were not in the least pleased to see her and she hovered over the nest and then headed off.

The spike from her route to the nest gives us an insight into just how good osprey eyesight is. She must have been at least 4km away to spot that nest and veer across to the west to visit, before moving northerly again to roost overnight in trees outside of Machynlleth. She set off through the north of Wales on 27th April and on reaching Conway turned inland following the line of the land over to Chester were she spent the night.

FK8 flies high through Peebles

Fly past Peebles 29th April FK8

An eight minute flight at over 1000m altitude and FK8 has gone through Peebles.

She flew north again on 28th April, roosting overnight north of Blackburn and then on to Carlisle without stopping on 29th April and then to home territory in Peeblesshire! How very exciting and yet no phone calls or photos from anyone spotting her coming through. Well not surprising really, as she sped past at a height of between 900m and over 1031m in altitude, arriving at 11.47am and within 8 minutes she had gone! Lonely SS might have welcomed her for a visit.

FK8 back up north at the Forsinard Flows

She has set her sights on moving north now. She has since travelled across the north east of Scotland, crossed the Dornoch Estuary and is back up at the Forsinard Flows RSPB Reserve fishing at Loch Slethill and settling in. This is her second summer to return to the UK and although late in spring, she could have her mind set on breeding this year. She is now three years old and in fantastic condition. We wish her the best of luck.

The full journey will be put on the screens at the osprey centres and also will be made into a film clip for the osprey blog soon.

No wife for SS yet

30th April SS looks skyward

No partner yet for SS

At the main nest, a lonely SS remains waiting for his partner. He is ever the optimistic soul, building up nesting material, and moving moss around. He is defending the territory against any incoming ospreys but he remains a single occupant. If he is still waiting for his partner from last year, blue leg ring AS6, then it is so disappointing, as it would seem that she has moved on.

However, spring is still unfurling and many migrants are still only just arriving, so we have not given up hope for SS yet.

Heron family life on camera

heron and three young.jpg

Back at the centres there are now herons on camera at Kailzie, with a nest of three very lively, somewhat prehistoric looking heron chicks. They differ in size greatly and the smallest is having a hard time to survive the cruelty meted out by its siblings attacking it in the nest. This is raw nature and often the smallest will not survive but so far it’s holding on.

The blue tit nest box camera has revealed that there are six eggs which are covered in moss while the bird is out. She will not start to incubate them until she has laid the full clutch which could be as many as thirteen eggs.

Otters and fox cameras

otter eating fish 11th April 2017

The stealth camera has been recording otters and foxes. The otters obligingly eat the fish left out for them and so there is a great view of it and the fox with the bent tail had a good feast on fish too.

Bees are back

The bees have been re-instated at Glentress Wildwatch, which are great to watch. They pass the time bringing packed pollen sacs back to the viewing hive after feasting on the flowers outside.

SS needs a wife

SS on nest 22nd April

A lonely SS needs a wife

The male osprey, white ring SS, is still alone at the nest site. It is now becoming quite worrying as although we had assumed his partner from last year had returned, we have not witnessed the pair together yet. A blue ringed bird thought to be her (AS6), arrived on 11th April and has not been seen since. SS didn’t arrive until 15th April and so maybe, as she is so inexperienced and after their failed breeding season last year, she didn’t wait for him and moved on.

It does seem unusual, as the birds usually try to stay on territory and within the same partnership but she is definitely not with SS yet. He has been seen sitting for hours at the nest like a lonely bachelor eating his fish supper for one.

We may need to send out an urgent SOS to find SS a wife, as the season is getting late with only a narrow window of opportunity in which to breed. However, this has been such a strange spring weather-wise that maybe there are still a few surprises to come and we could have a record late pairing of ospreys and young for this year. We cannot predict nature no matter how hard we try.

SS does a spring clean of the nest

SS enthusiastic nest tidy20170422_14-55-14

SS making a  nest scrape

Optimistic that he will have a partner and eggs soon, SS tidies the nest and makes a scrape in the moss. He tidies the sticks too.

SS has remained optimistic as he has been doing the nest up, removing grass that was growing and adding new material and moving sticks around. He has even been making a scrape in the middle of the nest where eggs should be laid but it is all in vain without a partner so far.

An unwelcome visit

He has not been totally without company, as two ospreys invaded the nest on 22nd April. Both birds were not ringed and they caused alarm for SS, who was towered over by the big female bird (big Bertha).

SS with 2 unwanted guests20170422_12-30-19

Two unwelcome unringed birds distress SS

SS and bertha stare 20170422_12-31-04

Big Bertha stares at SS

He was distressed, mantling his wings and calling and flicking his wings and tail in agitation and adopting defensive posture during their visit. One of the birds flew off leaving him alone with Bertha. If she is an available female, he clearly was not interested. She is similar to the female that he partnered with the year his original partner died and she was a bit intimidating towards him.

SS gets towered over by bog bertha20170422_12-30-39

Big Bertha and SS

This could be a bid for taking over the nest, or it could be the beginning of a new pairing. So far SS has held strong and holds the territory, but a storm is brewing as this nest is hot property and needs to be occupied soon. We just hope that it will be SS. Come back soon please AS6 (his partner from last year)!

SS not pleased to see bertha20170422_12-31-16

Unringed and SS

Snow

Since the excitement of intruder ospreys at the nest on 22nd April things have been very quiet again. A lonesome SS has been sitting in the nest during awful weather, as sleet and hailstones bounce off his back and no sign of a female for company.

Tweed Valley bird at Kielder

Over in Kielder Forest a Tweed Valley female osprey (white ring EB) is nesting for the second year with her partner ringed as 37. They have three eggs currently and the season looks set to be a good one for them.

FK8 blown off course

20th April map 2017

FK8 blown off course in the Bay of Biscay

FK8, the satellite tagged female from Tweed Valley, is making her migration back to the UK. We would have predicted that she would have arrived sooner but her journey which was quite straightforward until northern Spain then took a crooked path over the Bay of Biscay, looping across to Brittany.

It would seem that during the crossing strong north to north east winds sent her struggling off course to the east where she has thankfully reached land. She has covered a distance of 880 km on her journey so far since leaving Portugal on 15th April. The last data received was for 20th April.

There has been a report that she has been spotted in Wales, and we look forward to seeing how her journey progresses.

 

Tweed Valley Ospreys return

SS 15th April 2017

White leg ring on the right leg of this male osprey leads us to presume that this is SS.

11th April blue ringed female AS6 poss

Blue ringed female 11th April. Hopefully it is AS6.

18th April news

A new season dawns for the Tweed Valley Ospreys, with nest sites renovated during the winter months by Forestry Commission Conservation team Tony Lightley and Eve Schulte beckoning to the returning birds to take up occupation. They have been slower to return and settle so far this spring, with bad weather fronts over Europe at critical migration times holding birds back.

A small flurry of migration would occur and then stop, followed by another, each time the weather broke. This was evident in the patchy movements of other migrants too, with an early passage of meadow pipits moving north and a very late arrival of chiffchaffs and sand martins. There are still no swallows to be seen in Tweed Valley yet.

The ‘back up’ nest ospreys were the first to return to Tweed Valley, with the main nest shortly after.  A blue ringed female, thought to be AS6, was spotted sitting in the main nest on a perch eating a fish on 11th April. The male bird (white leg SS) arrived on 15th April and has been seen coming and going from the site and eating fish there, to establish his presence on his territory. Other sites around the country have ospreys already sitting on eggs, while our Tweed birds are taking a leisurely start to their breeding period.

The pair have not yet been seen together at the site, although while SS was feeding on Saturday another osprey was calling in the background. His partner last year, AS6, was very vocal when she was hungry, so perhaps it was her but we have no way of knowing until they are both seen on camera at the nest together.

Hope for a good season

SS has suffered a tragic few years during the breeding season since the death of his original partner in 2014 and the loss of the chick again last year. He is now an eighteen year old bird, so we really hope that he has a good productive year with his partner AS6. She is only four years old and if they pair up this year it will be her second breeding season. We hope she has gained more experience and will be a good mum.

FK8 is coming home

Portugal to Spain April 15th to 17th 2017 FK8

FK8 leaves Portugal 15th April.

The satellite tagged female bird FK8 has started her journey to return to the UK. She set off from her Portuguese residence on 15th April at 11.56am and began the flight north through Portugal, where she roosted overnight near to Galveias. She stopped adjacent to the road N244 and had a rest before moving west to an overnight roost in a tree.

The landscape is open country with groves of trees, and taking the street level image from Google Earth we can see the trees where she spent the night. She settled there, leaving at around 7.30am the next morning, heading slightly east and was not in any particular hurry as she stopped again after 9am in another tree. By 9.30am she was on the move once more, heading in a general northerly direction at a speed of between 15 and 20 knots and altitude of between 200 and 300m.

She picked up her pace and headed north, crossing the border into Spain at 18.10 on 16th April at an altitude of 1484m, traveling at 39 knots. She found a roost site at 18.40 and spent the night there east of Celanova and Podentes. The last fix point of data was at 3.27am in her roost on 17th April.

More on tracking

We will be tracking her movements and waiting for her to return to UK. If anybody would like to follow the migration journey in more detail and see the maps and Google Earth images of the migration, there will be an opportunity to see them and hear more at Kailzie Osprey Watch on Sunday 23rd April at 3pm.

PX1 and PX2

PX1

PX1 Currently in Burkina Faso

There are two more satellite tagged ospreys from Tweed Valley Osprey project who featured on the Jeremy Paxman documentary, The River: PX1 and PX2. Sadly, PX2 ceased to transmit data on his journey south of Paris last autumn and we do not know what happened to him.

However, his brother PX1 made a superb migration through to Southern Mali in Africa and ventured as far south as Liberia before settling at some gold mines in Burkina Faso. His satellite transmits intermittently so there is a lag in data. It will be interesting to see if he moves over the summer period but he is only a one year old bird and so unlikely to migrate.

Catch up on the birds’ season last year here:

PX1 makes it

px1-journey-up-to-29th-september-2016

Good news for PX1!

After the data lag, we now have the recovered data which has revealed that PX1 has made an incredible 9 day journey through Algeria and Mali in desert and tough conditions, to a region in Southern Mali which looks more favourable next to water bodies. Hopefully here he can fish and get back into condition after his epic survival ordeal.

His full journey can be seen in the video below.

Tweed Valley Ospreys Migration

There are three satellite tagged ospreys from the Tweed Valley area who have migrated this autumn. The progress for each bird will be broken down separately for a full and detailed account of their journeys.

FK8 returns to winter in Portugal

FK8, tagged in 2014, spent her first winter away in Portugal and returned to do a grand tour of the UK in May 2016 where she spent much of the summer months in the northeast of Scotland. In her final days in the UK she seemed very settled at the RSPB Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve.

She began her migration journey from the UK on 7th September and has since made her way safely back to the exact same region of Portugal where she spent winter last year.

Sad news for PX2

PX2, tagged in 2016, was from the ‘back up nest no.2’ and began migration on 29th August. He reached France but sadly there has been no further data since 3rd September and it is presumed that this bird has died.

full-journey-px2-blog

PX1 makes a dangerous journey to Africa

PX1, from the same brood as PX2, was the larger of the two chicks and began his migration on 2nd September. He took a similar route to his brother to the south east but crossed the North Sea from Norwich into Holland, then into Belgium and down though France. He then began following the coastline of Spain to just east of Gibraltar where his data signals ceased from 14th September.

However, since then he has made it into Africa as there were a couple of signals suggesting he crossed the Sahara but due to signal coverage there was no data transmission.

Data resumed and on 22nd September the lagged data points could be accessed to reveal that PX1 has traveled into a very dangerous situation. He is deep in the Sahara Desert and the direction that he is heading looks pretty gloomy. Unless he changes course and gets out of the desert his chances are looking a bit grim.

journey-to-22nd-sept-africa-desert

A full report of their journeys will follow shortly.

Watch the journey

Watch PX2’s journey in the video below. Videos of the other birds’ journeys will be added once completed.