Monthly Archives: May 2015

Peaceful incubation

The long wait for the incubation period to come to an end seems tedious to us but for the resident ospreys at the main nest eyrie, life has become routine and fairly steady. If ospreys were thankful creatures I am sure that they would be grateful that they are not being harassed by other ospreys wanting a nest site. They seem to have been left to get on with their breeding season with little intrusion so far from other ospreys this year. Could this be because they are a new pairing and the female is strong and young, therefore presenting themselves as a force to be reckoned with? Do other ospreys intrude and cause bother only when they believe they are in with a chance to usurp a weaker individual? It is purely speculation but given that so many established pairs of long standing have had intruder birds and eggs kicked out of nests by rival males at other UK sites and the problems we had last year with our old female, it is a possible consideration.

Hatching time

There is not long to wait now for hatching time and we expect little osprey heads popping up in the nest sometime in the first week of June. This is an exciting time for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project to witness on screen the behaviour of the new mum with the very experienced older male. He has 11 years’ experience of being a successful father and rearing chicks to fledge. We are speculating that this is perhaps the females’ first brood.
Much of her time is spent preening her feathers while he is sitting on the eggs. The breeding season and the long wait for eggs to hatch is an opportunity to moult and grow some pristine new feathers.

A cheeky little female chaffinch took a wander across the top of the nest while the female osprey was incubating and she seemed to help herself to a bit of moss from the nest to take back to line her own nest presumably.

Blue tits

The blue tits on camera at Kailzie now seem to have a complete clutch of eggs at seven in the nest. This is less than most years and is also later than usual due to the cold delayed spring.

Return of the spotted flycatchers

We are delighted that spotted flycatchers have built a nest in the open fronted nest box with a camera on it. The last time they used this box was in 2007, we recently cleared some branches from the area in front of the box and it seems to have been just the right thing for the flycatchers. Flycatchers apparently like a completely clear flyway into their nest site because branches could become perches for predators to use to look into the nest.

Wild food at Kailzie

A Wild Food at Kailzie event will take place on Saturday 30th May from 11am to 4pm in the gardens, with a chance to discover what is edible and growing around us. There will be pond dipping to look at natural predators feeding in the ponds and song birds will be getting a treat as Lynn Walker will be building the Feasting Tree which we hope visitors will help to fill with delicious bird tucker. Come along and make some delicious pudding for birds to feast on and make a feeder of your own.

There will be children’s games and also some live bird ringing taking place in the osprey centre where there will be a chance to see songbirds close up before being fitted with a BTO ring and released unharmed. Donations collected on the day will be for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project.

On the move north

The satellite tagged osprey from Tweed Valley is on her travels again. Having spent what seems to have been an idyllic winter in Portimao in Portugal she briefly took a trip to Spain almost as far as the Strait of Gibraltar in March and then returned to her favourite haunts in Portugal where she has been settled ever since.

full journey of FK8 to May 11th 2015

However, with the onset of summer and the rising temperatures causing river and water levels in general to drop, the osprey, one year old female has begun to move in a northerly direction following the coastline of the Atlantic exploring water bodies in the form of reservoirs and the larger Portuguese rivers. She was last tracked at the Barragem de Morgavel near to the Rio Mira on 25th May.

Thanks for reading!

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Dad the incubator

The novelty of carrying out much of the incubation of her eggs by herself has worn off for our resident female osprey. We suspect that she is a young, possibly even first time breeder and she was so pleased with her fine clutch of eggs that initially, she was resistant to allowing white leg SS, to take a turn to incubate. Well a few weeks of the endless sitting and nothing much happening, must have played a part in changing her mind, as she is now taking extended breaks and leaving a bemused SS alone to incubate.

On Monday 18th, male SS was alone in the nest and sitting on the eggs for most of the day, he was there when the cameras came on and he did not get relieved from his duty until 3.15pm.

The next day, once again, white SS was on incubation duty for most of the morning until just before midday he flew off and she returned within a couple of minutes of him leaving and took over. She had just settled down after turning the eggs and rearranging some nesting material when an almighty hail shower burst. A very fed up looking osprey could be seen hunkered down low with hail stones literally bouncing off her back.

hailstones cropped

They have a few more weeks to go yet before hatching time. The earliest likely date for hatching would be from 3rd June to 7th June.

Intruder ospreys

Now that the pair are established this season, there seems to be a more settled atmosphere at the main nest site and although we have seen an occasional alarm calling and the shadow of an intruder bird flying over the nest, most of the time they seem to be left in peace.
It is thought that intruder birds played a part in the downfall of the previous female which led to her leaving the three young chicks to die in the nest last year, as there were certainly other birds about and the new female wasted no time to move into the nest site, the very next day after she had gone.

Other osprey sites around the country have not been so lucky this year with eggs being kicked out of the nest at Loch Garten by an intruder male bird and Kielder nest sites have had multiple intruder birds harassing the resident pairs. Luckily their eggs have not been damaged. One of the intruder birds causing mischief was a Kielder returning youngster.
When intruder ospreys check out nesting pairs they possibly assess the situation and size up the competition. They may be seizing upon the chance that one of the pair may be a weaker or aged bird that can be displaced to make way for them to move in on a nest site with a resident bird in breeding condition that holds a territory. It has certainly worked for our new Mrs osprey and it would seem that another bird is trying to push out Odin the male at Loch Garten in a similar fashion.

When ospreys fail to breed they often build another nest close by (known as a frustration nest), we do not really understand the purpose of this nest. Is it a ‘back up’ nest in case they lose the territory of the one they hold and they intend to use it themselves, or is it to perhaps distract intruders away from their site and hope that they may take that nest instead?

The number of intruder osprey incidents causing nest upsets and failures is perhaps a good argument for putting up some more artificial nesting platforms to provide an opportunity for a pair in breeding readiness to move straight in.

However, some healthy competition for nest sites may be of benefit to the breeding population too, in a way that osprey breeding success comes from the strongest and best birds in their prime, as the weaker ones are driven off site. Survival of the fittest ensures that the weaker, sickly birds do not get to breed and therefore the offspring are perhaps born to only the best of the osprey stock.

2012 brood

Tweed Valley returner

A Tweed Valley osprey has been reported to have been seen at Esthwaite Water in the Lake District this spring. It is a ringed bird, CK2 which is one of the birds which fledged from our main nest in 2012. Great news that CK2 has made it back to the UK successfully and has been seen and we are waiting to hear more news about whether the bird was just passing through or if it is nesting there.

Bird box news

Blue tits have had a slow spring due to the weather but the pair that have moved into the nest box at Kailzie now have seven eggs and another box which we had assumed had been abandoned had some new nesting material today, so it looks like a pair of late breeders are ready to move in.

Sparrows have moved into the sparrow box on the outside of the osprey centre building, these birds like to nest communally and at least two pairs have moved in.

At Glentress the house martins have been very busy near to the pond area outside the Wildlife Watch room and they are taking advantage of the rainy weather causing messy puddles where they are gathering beakfuls of mud to build their mud cup nests which must be in the houses below Glentress judging by the direction the birds are flying off to.

Thanks for reading,

Diane

Three eggs

a fine pair 11th May

We can now confirm that the main nest pair have three eggs and the long process of incubating them has begun. White leg SS and his previous partner of 11 years had the whole egg and nest ‘set up’ managed like a well-oiled machine. They took turns to incubate and the female would get long breaks away from the nest, while SS took his duty of sitting, in her absence. The new Mrs SS could possibly be a first time breeder, she is unringed, so we do not know her history but her behaviour sometimes suggests that this is quite a new experience to her. Certainly, he is a new husband but she seemed to be a little slow to take up her duties in the beginning when the eggs were first laid. However, now she is into the swing of things, she is at times reluctant to leave at all. White leg SS would drop down from the perch into the nest and was there to take a turn but she didn’t budge at first. Over the past few days though, hunger and perhaps a need to take a stretch, has forced her to allow him some incubation time and they seem to be getting more familiar with their new routine.

We already know that SS is a super dad and has previously raised 10 broods safely through to adulthood and we hope that the new partner will prove to be a really good mum too. Even if she is inexperienced, she will soon learn how to look after her chicks when they finally hatch, which will be in mid-June.

Traffic stopper

On my way to the osprey centre, travelling along the A72 on Tuesday 12th May at just before 9am, traffic flow was interrupted by road works and a convoy system, involving a long wait to get going again. While sitting in the queue of traffic at a standstill, I got a fantastic view of an osprey fishing along the River Tweed right in front of the Cardrona Village Store. The osprey was being mobbed by a pair of crows and three common gulls but was determined to carry on fishing. It continued along the river towards Peebles and I was disappointed when the convoy started off and I had to drive on!

Oystercatcher island

The tiny island roundabout at Cardrona is home to the nesting oystercatchers again this year. On a small scrape of shingle in the island, the bird is sitting on eggs and her partner often sits on the road bollard like a little black and white sentry guarding his mate. The same crows that were giving the osprey a hard time, unfortunately seem to be watching the oystercatchers too. They did this last year and after a long term of incubation,  the eggs and birds where gone, nobody saw them hatch or leave and so we were never sure if they hatched and were led quickly to safety by mum and dad or were gobbled up by the waiting mobsters. Perhaps they were successful, seeing as they have chosen the same nest site again.

A pair of oystercatchers have been checking out the ground in front of the Wildwatch room at Glentress and looked like they were prospecting for a nest site too.
First spotted flycatchers

On 12th May the first spotted flycatcher was back at Kailzie Gardens and had taken up its old hunting ground along the main drive. It likes to perch on the fence posts along the drive, taking acrobatic leaps into the air and giving an aerial chase after flies and then returning to its perch.

Osprey FK8

The Tweed Valley satellite tagged female osprey is still in Portugal, around the Portimao region of the Algarve. Her movements are concentrated in the area around the River Arade and the reservoir to the north of the region.

Penina golf course roost

In early May, she ventured across further to the west to check out and roost overnight in a large Penina golfing resort. As the Portuguese summer progresses many of the smaller river tributaries dry up and the estuarine waters become hard saltpans so we may find that FK8 will move on again. We will have to wait and see what happens. A full round up of FK8’s latest movements will be posted soon.

Thanks for reading!

Diane