PX1 makes it

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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.

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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.

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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.

August movements

both 7th Aug

AS6 and SS with fish 7th Aug

SS gives a fish to AS6 on 7th August

Still here for now

The main nest ospreys were back at their nest to feed on the 7th August. The female AS6 was seen at the nest with a large trout in her talons from 1.30pm in the afternoon where she was enjoying eating her catch. She stayed around for quite a while and then at 3.50pm her partner, white leg SS, flew on to the nest with a half-eaten trout in his talons, which she demanded from him very vocally and he gave it to her. She took this fish and sat up on the perch and finished eating it, while SS stayed around for half an hour before finally leaving her there.

They both have long absences away from the nest and sometimes are not seen there for days, so it is unusual for them both to spend such a long time at the nest in one day. On the 8th August SS was back at the nest at 1.45pm eating a fish but with no sign of his partner AS6. When they are absent from the site for long periods we can only wonder whether they are still in contact with each other or whether they roam separately. They may well have regular eating habits together somewhere else in the vicinity of their territory around the nest.

No more sightings of FS2

It is a good sign that SS is still providing fish for her and that the intruding FS2 female has now moved on. Tony Lightley, Conservation and Heritage Manager at Forestry Commission Scotland, is still waiting to hear back from Roy Dennis from the Highland Foundation for Wildlife about FS2, to find out about where she came from and what age she is.

As we suspect that she is a young non breeding bird, she has probably continued exploring and checking out other sites.

FK8 stays at the Flows National Nature reserve

Forsinaird Flows National Nature Reserve FK8

FK8 explores the Flows lochs and River Halladale and Sleach Water

deer fence sitting

Deer fencing posts are a good place for an osprey to perch

FK8, the satellite tagged two year old Tweed Valley bird, has moved back to favoured haunts between Caithness and Sutherland. Looking at the data for this past week, she has been having a fine time in the RSPB National Nature Reserve The Flows. This is certainly a grand place for a young osprey and the tracking data has revealed that she is hunting across many of the lochs and roosting in forestry plantation areas.

The data also had a curious line of daytime roosts in a perfect line behind Loch Slethill. When we zoomed in on Google earth, nothing was revealed about what she could be perching on. However, we have checked with warden Paul Turner at the RSPB site and he instantly spotted that her data corresponds to the recently erected deer fence posts. Presumably she is finding these perches useful once she has made a catch in the loch.

The nature reserve is a real wildlife oasis of peatlands and bogs, with many amazing species of European importance for conservation breeding there. There are black throated diver and red throated diver breeding pairs on the loch which she is hunting from, which is stocked with brown trout. There are hen harriers and merlin nesting, and the area also holds 50% of the UK population of wood sandpipers.

Royally good fishing

FK8 has also enjoyed fishing at Loch Calum, which apparently was a favoured fishing area for the Queen Mother when she visited the castle in Caithness. So it would seem that FK8 has a knack for seeking out special places to visit and to fish in places fit for royalty.

When she is not searching lochs in the area she favours following two local rivers: the Sleach Water which flows from the east of the reserve into Loch More and on to the River Thurso, or heading from the west of the reserve following the Halladale River which flows to the north.

The wardens on the reserve will keep a look out for FK8 and let us know if they see her and how she is getting on.

Her very first migration journey leaving Tweed Valley after fledging began on 7th September in 2014 and by 15th September she had settled in Portugal where she remained until returning in May this year. She has not visited the Tweed Valley since her return, so with fingers crossed we are hoping she might pop in for a visit when she decides to head off on migration soon.

Watch the latest footage

 

Season round-up

FS2 about to sit on redundant egg

FS2 ties out incubation on the old egg in the nest of SS and AS6

The ospreys at the main Tweed Valley nest are still occupying the site and can regularly be seen resting and preening while they are there. They are regularly visited by an intruder bird, FS2, who has been around for approximately 20 days. The adult birds at the site seem less distressed by her presence and far more tolerant of her. We have not seen any evidence of her being chased away or the mantling of the male bird towards the new female recently. They seem to casually fly off and leave the newcomer to herself at the nest. This is quite unexpected behaviour as it is their territory but perhaps it is less threatening in the absence of any chicks being reared and therefore tolerated more.

FS2 sits on redundant egg

FS2 sitting comfortably on the egg

The female FS2 is still unknown to us at present as no-one as yet has confirmed records of her ringing and origin. She seems to be a young bird as her leg ring has three digits, and it is only in the last couple of years that three digit darvics have been in use. She seems to be practising her nesting skills and yesterday she began pecking at the unhatched egg from the main nest couple and rolling it. She nibbled at the surrounding nesting material with her beak, all the while emitting a soft peeping call, before bunching her talons up and squatting over the egg as though incubating. She sat on it for about a minute before lifting off and tidying the nest.

Perhaps she is trying motherhood out for when she experiences the real thing when she breeds. We estimate this to be next year if she finds a territory of her own and a partner. AS6 seems to have a good bond with SS and so it is unlikely that FS2 will usurp her and take her place with her mate SS.

Fishing now, not home building for FK8

Statc FK8

The static data from FK8 which led to the discovery of her building a nest

FK8 displayed similar nesting practise behaviour last week when we realised that the satellite data meant she had not moved out of a forest to feed for six days. We discovered that she was building a nest and that she must have been fed by a partner. However, after creating a crude nest structure, she has abandoned the site and moved back to her favoured haunts, further north in Caithness, where she is back to scouring the landscape exploring lochs and lochans and roosting in tree plantations. This means that she is fishing for herself once again, so it will be interesting to see whether the new nest site was a serious attempt ready for next season or whether she will continue to explore until she settles.

FK8 fishing at lochs and roosting again

FK8 back up north exploring and fishing

FK8 fishing trip at loch Slethill and a roost in the tree for 45 mins

A fishing trip at Loch Slethill followed by a 45 min roost in a tree

TVOP round up of the season so far

The Tweed Valley Osprey Project has grown over the years and is far more than just about what is happening with our main nest birds. The project area now has 12 occupied osprey nest sites and this year only eight of those sites were successful in rearing young. There were 16 ospreys raised in total and all were fitted with BTO rings and Darvic rings.

The main nest failed to produce young, which was thought to be due to human disturbance which led to the chick dying. The back-up nest young have been fitted with tracking devices and have ring numbers blue PX1 and PX2. Both have fledged successfully and have not yet ventured far from the nest site. Due to the need for site security, the data of their journeys won’t be released until they venture further afield, so as not to disclose the location of the nest. The fact that three other nest sites failed was thought to be due to weather related conditions.

Born in the Borders

New for this year has been the nest at Born in the Borders at Jedburgh where ospreys Samson and Dalilah raised three young females. They have now fledged and been fitted with darvic rings PW6, PW7 and PW8. For the first time this year their nest was live on camera and could be viewed from the visitor centre there.

More than 200 next year hopefully

In total, the Tweed Valley Osprey Project has seen a minimum of 193 young ospreys through to fledging since 1998 which is a proven success for this project. So, not only are there live cameras on the main nest but there are ongoing darvic studies of the distribution of the birds and research into their movements and migration due to the advanced technology in tracking devices.

Each year the research has increased and so goshawk studies will be included in the project and other raptor species in the future. The centres at both Glentress Forest and Kailzie Gardens provide an outlet to show the public this interesting research, with the latest films and slideshows of the ospreys and their lives on show.

Trail camera captures brock

New for Kailzie this week are the trail camera films recorded during last week, including the very curious badger taking a close up interest in the camera.

badger close

Nosey badger

The life of bees

At Glentress, you can watch the incredible life of bees through the glass fronted hive. Visitors can see the bees coming in with laden pollen sacks and pick out the queen, who is marked with a white spot on her back, being provisioned by the other bees.

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Pollen laden bee is followed by other bees as they remove the pollen

 Watch the latest footage

 

Osprey journeys

AS6 visits Kielder 24th July

Tweed Valley bird AS6 visits Kielder nest 1A. Photo courtesy of Kielder Osprey Project

On Sunday 24th July both ospreys were sitting at the main nest until 11am, then AS6 took off and SS left soon after. The nest remained empty for the rest of the afternoon until a lonely SS returned just before 4 pm with a fish, but there was no sign of AS6 to share it with.

A day trip to Kielder

The reason she was not around was because she had taken herself off on a day trip to Kielder! At just after 4pm she swooped into their ‘1A’, nest and made a brief touch down before a very disgruntled male YA, the resident bird, aggressively chased her off. The whole dramatic episode including the aerial chase was caught on camera at Kielder and can be seen on their blog site here.

We are very grateful to Joanna Dailey at Kielder for letting us know and fully expected an empty nest at Tweed Valley on Monday morning. It was a lovely surprise to see that both SS and AS6 were sitting peacefully up on their perches beside the nest at 11am on Monday.

FS2 visits the main nest pair

Hello stranger FS2

FS2 in the nest with SS and AS6 up on the perch

FS2

FS2 in the Tweed Valley main nest, making herself at home.

The peace didn’t last long as an intruding osprey startled the pair, landing in the middle of their nest while they were both sitting there on the perches. SS dropped down beside the bird and mantled his wings briefly before taking off, leaving a slightly upset AS6 squawking and dropping her wings in agitation on the perch, while the intruder bird took a good look around the nest. As she did so, we were able to capture a good image of her ring number from the live streaming: blue FS2. This is the same bird that appeared 10 days ago. We had originally thought the ring number was ES2 as we didn’t get a decent look at it then. We will definitely be able to find out who she is and where she has come from now that we know the number for sure.

Birds who have been  unsuccessful in breeding begin to roam at this time of year, and it is an exciting time, as they drop in and check out other nest sites. This is often the time when we get to hear of sightings of ringed birds and we can really appreciate their long ranging dispersal throughout the UK. We would consider a trip across to Kielder as quite a journey but to an osprey it is just a fairly effortless jaunt, an afternoon wander.

FK8 stops hunting for fish and gives us a fright

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Thanks to Derry for sending this image of FK8 alive and well. When zoomed in you can see the aerial sticking up on her satellite tag

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FK8’s blue ring can just about be made out in the shot.

Fears for FK8 were raised when the data from her satellite tag revealed that she had not strayed from roughly a 15 metre diameter within a forest plantation in the north east of Scotland for a number of days. The first worry was that if she was not leaving the forest, then how was she feeding? This caused concern because at first we thought she could have died or the tag had failed in some way and was only transmitting from the one spot.

Tony Lightley, Environment and Heritage Manager from Forestry Commission Scotland, got in touch with a local ranger who lives near to the area where she was last known to be. Thankfully, due to the accuracy of the device, the ranger managed to locate the spot and the good news is that he spotted her and was able to see the tag and blue ring on the bird, and in fact she has built a nest!

A preoccupation with nest building

It is far too late to have young this year and FK8 is too young to breed anyway but she must have a partner that is bringing fish to her, which is why she is not leaving the forest and is defending her new territory. Perhaps this is her investment for next season and it is interesting that courtship with ospreys occurs so far in advance. She may return with the same partner to this site next year when she is ready to breed, we will have to wait and see. It may just be a practice nest but she certainly has not done any fishing for herself for six days.

The osprey nest is such a big structure and takes time to be constructed, so getting a head start the season before is a good investment. Artificial nesting platforms are so attractive to ospreys because it too allows them that head start at the beginning of a season, when courtship and territory defending also have to be prioritised.

Flight for back up nest birds

Back up nest birds ringed and tagged

The back up nest birds PX1 and PX2.

PX1 best quality

PX1 from the back up nest

PX1 and PX2 tagged

PX1 and PX2 after they had been fitted with their satellite tags. Feathers hide PX1’s tag. PX2 will preen his feathers which will soon hide his tag too.

px1 alone

This years’ Tweed Valley back up nest birds have successfully fledged and will embark on their exploration of the area as soon as they can brave journeys further afield than the immediate nest area. They have been fitted with rings, blue PX1 and PX2, and we are waiting for their satellite tags to be activated so that we can begin to receive data to find out how far their early flying ventures take them, as they test their flight skills prior to their impending first migration.

 Watch the latest footage

Summertime for ospreys

side by side feeding

SS and AS6 side by side for dinner

The main nest pair of ospreys, SS and AS6, are enjoying a stress free summer without offspring to rear. They have held the territory without any drama, spending their time at the eyrie eating and preening their feathers. AS6 is still quite a demanding partner when it comes to food though and her shrill cries when she is hungry seems to fall on deaf ears, as SS doesn’t react but merely sits on until he flies off to fish when he feels that he wants to.

They have established a closer bond having been given this extra time to cement the relationship without the pressure of rearing young and can often be seen sitting together on the perch above the nest, sometimes both of them eating together.

An intruder osprey visits

blue ringed intruder

blue ringed intruder ES2 possibly

A blue ringed intruder with SS

intruder in nest with SS and AS6 on perch

On Saturday the male SS was sharing the left over portion of fish that AS6 was eating and they seemed very contented. Later their blissfulness was disrupted by the arrival of an intruder osprey that cheekily flew down into the nest. She was a blue ringed bird and the volunteer on duty managed to get a few photos from the live streaming. The lettering on the blue ring was not seen clearly enough but could possibly have been ES2 or FS2. We will try to get a clearer image and find out if this is the correct number and who this snoopy osprey is and where she has come from. The resident female stayed up on the perch while SS dealt with the situation by flying down into the nest and mantling his wings, posturing in a way to make the intruder certain that she was quite unwelcome.

Back-up birds are ringed and tagged

back up all at home

back- up nest family together

The back–up nest birds have had an eventful week as a team of experts from Forestry Commission Scotland, under conditions of the permitted licence, carried out the ringing of the nestlings and fitted them with satellite tagging devices. Both chicks are thought to be male even though one is much larger than the other. There was a few days between them at hatching stage and the oldest chick is clearly very well developed and a magnificent bird.

The satellite tagging devices are different to ones used previously: the aerial for the satellite is internal and therefore cannot be seen sticking up out of the back of the bird like the one which FK8 currently has. It makes for a more streamlined little back pack for the birds to carry and they were fitted just like a rucksack with Teflon tapes then sewn together to hold it in place and prevent it from falling off.

They are solar powered and will last up to four years hopefully before the batteries are spent and the cotton stitching falls away to release the tag from the bird. The data that the devices send back will mean we can follow their every movement once they fledge and keep tabs on their lives should they be lucky enough to survive. The time span will allow for us to gain information about where the birds migrate to and where they settle before returning to the UK to explore, eventually taking up territories of their own and becoming part of the breeding population of ospreys in the future.

Gruesome dinner habits

two buzzards one dinner vole

Not going to share that vole

The young buzzards are often seen flying over Glentress now they have successfully fledged and they pop back to the nest for an occasional feed which is brought in by mum or dad. We have superb footage of their family life at the centre at Glentress Wildwatch room and many clips of their antics at the nest and in particular the gruesome feeding times. The latest footage revealed the adult bird arrive onto the empty nest with a dead vole and within moments two greedy and hungry fledglings swooped down into the nest to take the prey. The most aggressive of the two, seized it and mantled its wings, to block its sibling from having any and proceeded to devour the vole in great torn off chunks.

More wildlife and things to see

otter looks to camera

Otter passing by

ish supper for black socks

Fish supper for black socks fox

More otter and fox antics can be seen at Kailzie Osprey and Nature Watch Centre which have been filmed on the motion activated camera, with a brief appearance of a stoat running up the tree.

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Blue female butterfly on yellow rattle outside the Wildwatch room at Glentress

The whole of the Glentress site is swathed in glorious wildflowers at the moment which is good news for the newly installed bee hive. It can be watched as the bees come in to the indoor viewing hive laden with pollen. The flowers are attracting many butterflies and day flying moth species too, such as cinnabar moth and common blue butterflies.

Holding their territory

 

red squirrel with main nest pair

A red squirrel visits AS6 and SS

The main nest birds are still very much together and are occupying their eyrie regularly. We did wonder if they may drift apart and stay absent from the nest site since losing their family but it is a very good sign that they are still there and holding the territory together.

The behaviour of the female bird AS6 is almost like that of a young bird begging for food from a parent rather than from a partner. She is so vocal and demanding, continuing persistently until SS flies off and goes fishing. We have not seen her bring fish into the nest alone, but we see her eating and SS sitting close by and have made the assumption that he is still giving the fish to her.

A red squirrel visit

red squirrel close up

Red squirrel visit

Both birds were relaxing on the nest on Sunday  when a surprise visitor popped up. A little red squirrel hopped onto the side of the nest and began to run around. The ospreys seemed oblivious to this at first, but as the little squirrel’s antics escalated to running up the side branch and swinging about, their attention was caught. The squirrel then ran around to the front of the nest and into the dense pine needles, watched by two pairs of curious yellow osprey eyes.

Some good news in Stirlingshire

Earlier this spring we received news that a Tweed Valley osprey, one of the birds from the main nest reared in 2007 by white leg SS and his original partner, has found a mate and was nesting in Stirlingshire. We received an update of news this week to say that the season had been successful and that they have reared three male chicks which have been ringed by the RSPB.

Back-up nest update

mum and two chicks back up nest 2016

Mum and two chicks

The Tweed Valley ‘back-up’ nest birds are thriving and the recorded footage which we are collecting is most revealing about their family life. It seems that yellow 8C spends very little time at the nest and merely delivers the fish, taking off immediately. We know that he doesn’t go far and is ever watchful and alert but it is his strategy to deliver fish and then sit as guard at close quarters and not involve himself in the domestic feeding scenes. The female bird is a most attentive mother and even though the young ospreys are well covered by true feathers, she has still stretched herself over them during some heavy downpours of rain to shield them.

They are clearly enjoying a bountiful supply of fish and she has been seen feeding the young chicks and still offering them food long after the point when they have had enough. Their crops were bulging full of food and they were looking sleepy eyed and ready to rest but mum was still seen offering little titbits of fish.

She is mostly always present on the nest with her young, even when the camera shows only the chicks in the nest. As clouds sweep by allowing the sun to appear, a large shadow of mum sitting on the perch above the chicks can be seen cast onto the nest. Each time she leaves the nest she stares straight into the camera as she flies straight at it onto the camera pole which has become her favourite perch, directly above her family. It provides a great view for us on film too!

the Shadow mum

The shadow

Lazy stretches

When they are not being fed, the chicks spend their time preening, stretching, resting and then wing flapping. Sometimes they appear so relaxed that they don’t bother to stand up for a stretch and just push out a wing across the nest. We can see that the shaft of their flight feathers is almost broken all the way down, releasing their newly created full feathers. This means they are almost ready for flight.

lazy wing stretch

Lazy wing stretch

All of the back-up nest film recordings have been added to the screen at Glentress Wildwatch and Kailzie Osprey & Nature Watch Centre for visitors to be able to watch the family.

FK8 happy up north

FK8 is still enjoying her time in the north of Scotland. She travelled down to the Firth of Durnoch between the 6th and 9th July and explored the area of estuary and over to Skibo castle lochs. She then headed back up north to her favourite area around the lochs near to Halkirk.

Eve Schulte talks to Friends of Kailzie Wildlife

eve  talks to FKW

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Eve with Jo from Peeblesshire News and Norma from Friends of Kailzie Wildlife at the buzzard ringing

Friends of Kailzie Wildlife were treated to an inspiring talk at the Osprey and Nature Watch centre at Kailzie Gardens by Forestry Commission Conservation and Heritage Manager Eve Schulte on Sunday. Eve’s enthusiasm talking about what her job entails was inspiring and it was fascinating to hear all about her work: monitoring species, ringing raptors and checking all the forest areas prior to harvesting works, licensing, habitat creation and so much more.

Buzzards all ready to go

buzzards ready to go

Buzzards ready to go

All three buzzards have now fledged successfully and have been filmed at their nest for the last month which can be seen when there is a volunteer on duty at Glentress Wildwatch.

Watch the new footage