Chicks once more!

We have watched in dismay at the sad sight of the main nest standing empty and although occasional visits have been made by white leg SS and the new female, it hasn’t made for riveting viewing. There’s no chance of any osprey chicks at this site this year now.

It was decided to use the camera in place at what we call the ‘back up’ nest for the rest of this season. The birds at this site have been faithful for many years, but to our surprise and disappointment, there are no ospreys present at this nest this season. We are very concerned as it looks like there haven’t even been ospreys checking the site out, as there has been no nesting material added this year. This is worrying because it’s such a good site and we are concerned that at the crucial early stage when the ospreys return from Africa (in April) something may have disturbed them and they abandoned the site.

A new family

A further Tweed Valley Osprey Project ‘back up’ nest was checked out and the team from Forestry Commission Scotland; Tony, Robin and Bill, were able to connect up a security camera system. The camera records bursts of footage and this can be downloaded and played back at the viewing centres. This means if all goes to plan and the system in operation works properly with the technology that we have, then we will be able to follow the family being raised at this nest site.

During a visit close by (although still at a safe distance away) great film footage of the parents flying in the area was recorded. This will be put together to display back at the centres. It’s not clear from the filming yet whether the parent birds are ringed, but as soon as we can download the recorded footage we’ll be able to check this out. It’ll be really good news if they are ringed and we can find out where they’ve come from. One of the chicks raised at this site a few years ago, was photographed in the Gambia later that winter.
Tony Lightley, the licensed ringer from Forestry Commission Scotland, checked the nest site out and found that there are two chicks plus an unhatched egg. Tony removed the dud egg for examination and we were amazed to discover that it was an egg within an egg shell. Somehow the empty egg shell of a hatched chick had become encased around the yet to hatch egg and completely enclosed it, so that the chick inside had been unable to break out of the shell.
outer shell removed to reveal egg egg1
It’s something that had never been seen before. The egg was broken open to reveal the dead chick had been fully formed and the egg tooth at the tip of the beak was clearly visible, it had been prevented from hatching by the outer egg layer. A terrible freak thing to have happened and we hope that this is the final tragedy for this year’s osprey season. The two chicks in the nest are about four weeks old and appear to be in good health. Hopefully we will be able to harvest film footage at regular intervals to watch their progress through to fledging.

The camera can be accessed to get footage from a good distance away from the site so that the birds are not disturbed in any way.
This is great news for the project and we will look forward to watching this families’ progress. The footage hopefully will be ready to watch in the centres from Monday onwards.

Thanks for reading!
Diane Bennett
Tweed Valley Project Officer

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