Monthly Archives: April 2015

An egg appears!

sitting 26th april (2)

Just a very quick post to let everyone know the ospreys have an egg. We don’t know how many, but the female has definitely started to incubate. She started on 26th April, but it’s difficult to see into the nest due to moss and sticks they have added around the outside for shelter. Can’t really blame them for wanting to stay cosy, it’s snowing up here today!

Will update again soon.


FK8 Spanish trip and a return to Portugal April 2015

In March FK8 took a long journey from her winter site in Portimao in Portugal along the coastline of the Gulf of Cadiz into Spain. She spent some time on 1st and 2nd March exploring the Donana National Park and ventured further south along the coast and then took the return journey back to her familiar grounds.

The picture below shows her activities along the coast, each fix point is given as a red dot.

1 Spain and Portugal

Red dots show the zones occupied by FK8 in Portugal for the winter followed by a significant journey into Spain along the Gulf of Cadiz in March and towards the Strait of Gibraltar then back into the Gulf of Cadiz along the coast.
She travelled along the coast and from 10th to 13th April was back in the Portimao region of Portugal. She is covering a lot of haunts now familiar to her with good fishing and a rich terrain of riverine and estuarine habitats, teeming in wildlife and with plentiful fish.

2Gulf of Cadiz

Time spent in Donana National Park on 1st and 2nd March while on her travels in Spain.

3 Donana

Hunting , exploring good fishing grounds. Osprey heaven!

The image below, shows FK8’s extensive exploration of the Portimao region in Portugal where she has since returned to.

4 Portimao

5 Ribeira de Boina

A concentration of fix points along the Ribeira de Boina in Portimao with yellow lines showing flight paths as she extensively covers the area for hunting and finding good roosting places.

6 River photo

An image of the area of river which has become the home of FK8.

7 Street level River Arade

The River Arade near Portimao.
This is a street level view of the FK8 activity over the rivers in Portugal. The red dots in the sky are fix points where she has been recorded at various altitudes while fishing in the region. The large red dot shows the point on 12th April at 3.22pm where she is at an altitude of 39 metres above the water and travelling at 16 knots.

8 shoreline roost

Red dot roost on the shoreline on 13th April at 12.49. Yellow lines show the myriad flight paths FK8 has made over the time she has been in the area, fishing and flying over the land and the water.

9 ground level roost

Red dot roost 13th April at ground level looking across the water.

The Concentration of yellow lines are previous flight paths in this very well explored region.

10 Palheiros

Hunting over the reservoir and then movements around the river system in Palheiros, near to Portimao.

11 April river system tacking

Full set of tracked movements on 12th and 13th April and cluster of position points with the yellow circle as the point where FK8 roosted.

On the move again

The Tweed Valley juvenile osprey FK8 spent the whole winter in the Portamao region of Portugal. She explored this area extensively and made good use of the water courses and landscape to hunt and roost. She has not wandered far from the region since arriving there after her long migration journey in November 2014.

On 28th February and 1st March 2015, she had a change in behaviour and crossed into Spain and made a journey of about 120 miles to the east along the coast of the Gulf of Cadiz and took up a roost there overnight. The sudden change in behaviour was quite exciting as she was not far from the Strait of Gibraltar which is a known migration funnel for raptors as they journey north. Could it be that she witnessed movement of passage birds and became curious about taking a closer look? Was she herself deciding to take a trip further south and to cross the Strait and move on down into Africa to complete the migration typical of most ospreys, or would she get caught up in the general migration drift of other birds moving through and decide to move northwards as they will be doing?

It is interesting to speculate why she suddenly became motivated to leave the region where she overwintered and we will be watching closely to see where she travels to next.

1 Portimao

A days movement in November, hunting and fishing along the watercourses in the Portamao region of Portugal.

2 Donana

28th Feb to 2nd March 2015. On the coast of Spain and exploring the Rio Guadalquivir, Donana.

3 flamingoes

Flamingo’s on the Rio Guadalquivir. This is the habitat FK8 is investigating and some of the birds she may well be encountering on her journey.

4 Gulf of Cadiz

The red dots and yellow circles show the route and roosts of FK8 along the coast of Spain.
The yellow marker at Rio Tinto, Huelva shows the approximate area that Tweed Valley bird CL9 was photographed last summer (2014). This was a year old bird which had fledged from the Back up nest. We had assumed that it had made its way there from Africa but perhaps it had overwintered in Spain or Portugal just like FK8.

5 march2nd data

The data from 2nd March shows that FK8 is still on the move and has explored the region of the Parque Nacional de Donana.
Will she continue south or stay in the area?

6 Donana photo

Photo taken in the Parque Nacional de Donana – the area where FK8 was exploring on 2nd March.

Snatch and grab

The osprey pair
The main nest pair are settling in together and their relationship seems to be blossoming. They began the season by frequent mating and then separating to opposite sides of the nest but they seem to be getting more affectionate towards each other.
I think white leg SS must be trying to impress his new wife, as I received a fantastic report from Tom McAndrew who witnessed him bringing a huge trout for her.
Tom said. “I was just packing up when the new female bird set up the most raucous calling and SS brought in the biggest trout I have ever seen him deliver! This was not so much graciously received as grabbed and removed to perch: I’m not sure whether SS was scunnered but he was certainly peeved and retired to the opposite perch.”
Perhaps the new Mrs SS will perfect her manners by the end of the season.

A week later

Love is definitely in the air for our pair of ospreys at the main nest now though. The bond between them has strengthened since their return. They will often be seen sitting together on the same perch beside the nest. Mating has taken place frequently too but there is still no sign of an egg yet. Domestic duties seem to be on the agenda, which gives us hope that they are expecting eggs, as the male brought in a large clump of fresh moss for the nest and has been bringing the occasional stick to add to the sides too. The female jumped down into the base of the nest on Monday and nose-dived into the middle and was kicking out her legs to scrape out a scoop into the centre. This was a sure sign that she is preparing a cup shape to fill with a precious egg cargo and we felt sure that we would see an egg in there soon afterwards but still no sign yet.
We are unconcerned though as it is still early in the season and all the signs are good indicators that they will be productive soon.

Wandering Borders bird

We have received some lovely news from Emyr Evans, the Dyfi Projects manager for Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust that a Borders osprey with ring number blue CL1 has visited the Dyfi osprey nest site at 11.25am on the 15th April. This bird fledged from a nest site in the Borders in 2012 and successfully migrated. It took a trip to County Wicklow in Ireland and was spotted there for a few days in June 2014. It is great news that as a fully mature adult it is now back in the UK and hopefully on track for taking up a breeding territory. Will it prospect for a site in Wales or continue northwards to find a nest site in Scotland? I hope through more sightings that we may find out.

Spring is still springing

This spring has been a bit of a stop and start season which could account for the delay in egg laying. The weather seemed to encourage blue tits to begin to build a nest in one of the nest boxes on camera at Kailzie and then stop again, while another pair have continued to build their nest and it looks near to completion. These can be watched on the screens in the Kailzie Osprey and Nature Watch Centre.
The oystercatchers seen from the river camera were doing their superb sidestepping synchronised courtship dance with heads down and open beaks.

courting oystercatchers
Butterflies and bees seem to have emerged suddenly and the sunshine on early flowers such as coltsfoot and primroses are providing early nectar sources for them.
A few swallows have been seen and chiffchaffs and willow warblers are now coming through and taking up territories, singing loudly to announce their arrival.

Thanks for reading!

Diane Bennett

Borders bird visits Kielder

white EB in Kielder

photograph courtesy of Forestry Commission England

Quick update

News of a Borders raised osprey turning up at Kielder Forest was received this week. The ringed bird turned up at one of the nest sites at Kielder to cause a bit of upset with the established pair there. She did the same last year too and then disappeared for the rest of the season. Her leg ring was recognisable as white EB and she was fledged from the Scottish Borders in 2007. We wonder if she is trying to establish herself down at Kielder Water or whether it’s a dalliance on route to her territory further north. If she does have a nest site in the Borders, then it is strange that she would choose to try to occupy a site at Kielder and she even mated with the male there last year before leaving the area.


The return of White SS

Glentress ospreys

A slow start

The osprey season has been slow to get started this year. Low pressure weather over much of Europe in the period before Easter was considered to be hampering progress of the migrating birds. The sudden improvement in weather and a brief period of high pressure weather systems brought about the correct conditions for the birds to move north.

SS and unringed female move in

During this brief spell of good weather our very special osprey male returned with a new partner at his side.
It was such a lovely surprise to see the return of ‘white leg SS’ to the main nest on 9th April accompanied by an unringed female osprey. We really had been quite uncertain whether he would continue to hold the main nest territory or be usurped by other birds. There has been a shadowy presence at the site –  another osprey passing overhead and causing some upset, since the pair took up residence.

Pair bonding

All seems to bode well so far though, as SS brought a fish and presented it to his new partner which she accepted and began to eat. She was pecking at the fish and appeared to find the presence of another osprey in the vicinity quite alarming, whereas SS appeared to be unconcerned. The pair bonding over a gifted fish is a good sign that they will remain together. Mating between the pair has taken place frequently at the nest and we are convinced that there will be eggs laid very soon. He has been seen to be scraping a scoop shape into the bottom of the nest in readiness.

Apart from mating, the pair seem to spend time apart at either side of the nest on separate perches. Perhaps there will be a closer partnership observed once eggs are laid and incubation starts. This will be the time when they will need to cooperate more, to take turns to incubate the clutch and he will give her breaks to go and stretch her wings while he keeps the precious eggs warm and protected.

The unringed female

After losing his mate last season, an unringed female moved in to the main nest and seemed to follow SS around even though he was seemingly distressed by her presence. He was often seen turning his back to her and mantling his wings as she followed him around the nest. It earned her the nickname ‘stalker’ amongst the volunteers. However, we wonder if this is perhaps the same female and she has successfully won her male prize. He is the rightful territory holder of the main nest site and he needs a partner, as the urge to breed is instinctive. Whether she is another female or the same one, we cannot tell but they are certainly an item now!

FK8 moving on

The satellite tagged female bird (FK8) that fledged from the ‘back up nest’ number 2 has spent the whole winter down in the Algarve region of Portugal.
In March she took a long journey east into Spain and spent some time just north of the Strait of Gibraltar. She has since headed back across to the area of Spain called the Donana National Park.

It is often noted that during springtime, birds exhibit a ‘migration restlessness’, even though they are not ready to migrate themselves. So perhaps her jaunt across country was just such migratory excitement and so we will keep watching to see where she heads to next or if she settles for the summer period in Spain.

Thanks for reading