Monthly Archives: May 2016

FK8’s European travels

UK whole journey with some times up to 22nd may 2016

The total journey from May 3rd to May 22nd 2016

FK8’s journey so far

FK8 has travelled far and wide across Scotland since her return to the UK in early May. After her northern Scottish exploration she ventured south to Loch Garten and Loch Insh, and it looked like she would head down to the Borders. However, she then turned north again, travelling as far up mainland Scotland as she could go. She ventured west of Wick, roaming remote valleys and lochs. There are no roads or human inhabitants, just moors and lochs and she spent her time exploring the landscape from 17th May to 22nd May.

Since she has been back, we have heard from people who have spotted her. As well as being a reality TV star at Loch Garten, she was seen being chased by herring gulls off Bardsey Island in Wales, and in the distance as she passed over Haddo House.

North Scotland FK8 17th to 22nd May 2016

FK8’s travels from 17th to 22nd May up in the far north of Scotland

We love to hear reports of any sightings of her and matching the tracking data to the sightings. It is really exciting when a fresh batch of data comes in and once opened up on Google Earth, the globe can be rotated and zoomed in to the exact tracker points. The detail is stunning and the world of FK8 is slowly revealed to us as we embark on the journey of her discovery almost alongside her (data delay means we are lagging a few days behind her)!

The journey begins in Portugal

Her travels began on 3rd May when she left her favourite two reservoirs in southern Portugal to begin the trip north. The first leg of the journey was 250km. She roosted in a plantation of trees east of the M503 road to Estreito. She set off early the next morning at 6.30am and continued northwards for a further 300km into Spain and spent a night roosting in another tree plantation beside a reservoir off the damned Rio Mino near Currelos in Lugo.

Crossing the Bay of Biscay 7th May

She then headed for the coast of Spain 100 km further north and spent a couple of days along the coast travelling eastwards, until she crossed the Bay of Biscay on 7th May.

Bay of Biscay times

Crossing the English Channel

The journey continued without a break as she crossed Brittany reaching the coast at 6.40pm on 7th May. She then crossed the English Channel, reaching the shores of Plymouth in the UK at approx. 9.00pm where she ventured further inland to find a roost for the night at a farm in Ivybridge, Plymouth. This leg of the journey was an incredible 920 km covered in one day.

no2 Fardell farm Ivybridge roost 1

First roost in the UK at Ivybridge in a small woodland copse.

Travelling across England and Wales

At first light on 8th May she was on the move again across Lee Moor and the China Clay works flying north west at an altitude of 202m averaging a speed of 35 knots. At 7am she crossed the Bristol Channel soaring high at 400m travelling at 40 knots and entering Swansea at 8am approximately. She carried on across the west tip of Wales reaching Cardigan Bay at 9.26am. She crossed the bay and passed the edge of Bardsey Island where she was spotted being chased by Herring Gulls by Steve Hinde at 10.40am. Undeterred, she pressed on past the coast of Anglesey, then over the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland.

no 14 Lyeyn Peninsula and Bardsey islandno 15 wales  and irish sea crossingno 6 Arriving northern Ireland 8th May at 15.03

A flying visit to Northern Ireland

She pressed on through Northern Ireland and crossed over the sea again into Scotland, where she eventually roosted for the night having travelled  another 700km during the day.

uk with times to Ireland

Exploring the Outer Hebrides

Her journey took her further north into the Outer Hebrides Islands of Lewis and Harris, an expedition which lasted a few days before returning to mainland Scotland and traversing the country west to east.

Across to Lewis and Harrisacross mainland Scotland

A brief appearance on camera

After exploring the north eastern tip of Scotland she crossed the sea and headed south west. She visited the famous Haddo House Estate and then put in an appearance on the live camera at Loch Garten where she delighted visitors by posing on camera.

Since then she has made an epic journey back to the north of Scotland where she is still roaming remote lochs up to the last data received on 22nd May.

Scotland allno 14 Loch garten satellite mapno 12 Loch Inshno 11 Loch GartenFK8 Haddo house visit 13th MayNorth Scotland FK8 17th to 22nd May 2016

Last data showed FK8 exploring remote Scottish Lochs in the north east of Scotland.

UK whole journey with some times up to 22nd may 2016

The total journey from May 3rd to May 22nd 2016

FK8 has made an incredible journey of migration of 2335km to reach Scotland from Portugal and she has flown a further 1500km during her exploration of the Scottish landscape.

Where will she go next?

We can’t wait to find out!

Watch FK8’s journey so far


It’s a wonderful osprey life

together 21st May


The main nest pair of ospreys have become a settled little unit of domesticity, with a sprinkling of soap opera drama! This week revealed scenes of the hungry female AS6 hinting with feigned subtlety to her mate SS, to get up off the eggs and get out and catch a fish for dinner. She trundled around her partner tidying and moving sticks, then dragged the moss about, seemingly contemplating placing it upon his back.

Eventually, the reluctant male got up and left and she took over the egg sitting duty. He was not away overly long when she began calling and it was the familiar beseeching call of the hungry bird that gave the tell-tale sign that SS was nearby with a fish. He likes to eat close by and take the head off the fish for himself before delivering it to his partner. Eventually he flew onto the nest and gave her a substantial portion which she took from him and flew away with it clutched in the talons of her right foot.

SS delivers a fish

SS delivers a fish


AS6 takes her fish away

AS6 and the take away fish in right foot talons

Unseasonal hail

The weather has been quite pleasant and warm but punctuated by a bout of unseasonal hail stones, which the poor incubating male had to withstand as he sat covering the eggs with the icy hail fiercely bouncing off his back on 22nd May. He is no stranger to Scottish weather eccentricity and carried on like there was nothing unusual happening, despite the clanging of the stones on the camera and the pummelling work-out they were giving his back.

Likely hatching date

The first egg was laid on 6th May and we assume the second was laid two days later. This means that after an incubation period of 37-40 days, the earliest hatching date likely for the first chick would be Sunday 12th June.

Proposed further tracking

Both chicks will be fitted with satellite transmitters this year, which will be the first time two of the Tweed Valley birds will be tracked from the same nest. Following the amazing success of the tracker on FK8, it will be really exciting to follow where the young ospreys travel to.

We look forward to seeing where the chicks will travel to when they’re all grown up!

The latest video footage

Two eggs complete the clutch

2 eggs 11th May

The ospreys on the main Tweed Valley nest now have two eggs. This is superb news as the first egg was laid on 6th May, followed by an interval of five days where it looked as though the female (blue AS6) was not going to lay another one.

On the 11th May after a spot of incubating the male stood away from the eggs and the volunteer on duty quickly switched camera to view into the nest and there was the second egg. The two eggs are very different from each other in colour. The first egg laid is a pale colour with mahogany speckles and the second egg is a much darker chocolate brown at the rounded end, looking like a chocolate egg. This completes their clutch now, and as it is her first time as a mum to be, she has done well. We hope that they are fertile and she hatches out two healthy chicks after incubation of 37 to 40 days.

Move over

AS6 has taken to her role well and is keen to take over incubation after a feed. The male was pushed out of the nest when she returned on Saturday. She then fussed and moved around the nesting material before re-settling.

FK8 journeys

no 16 total UK trip

The best news from Tweed Valley Ospreys is the return of FK8. The satellite tagged two-year-old returned to the UK on 7th May. She has been extensively exploring since her return and has spent two nights over on the Isle of Lewis and Harris before crossing back to the mainland north of Ullapool, on 11th May. She then headed east to Golspie and then north to Wick. After exploring the area she moved inland to roost overnight west of Loch Calder on 12th May where she hopefully tucked into a tasty trout.

FK8 guest stars on Loch Garten cameras

On 13th May she crossed the North Sea to Troup Head before heading south onto Haddo House. While there she roamed the landscape before roosting overnight in a forest plantation nearby. At approximately 4.30am she began to fly around the area before purposefully heading southwards again at 8.47am. She flew high over Tomintoul and arrived at the famous Loch Garten RSPB site at 15.07pm.

no 11 Loch Garten

There, she was photographed and seen on their live camera in the visitor centre looking resplendent. They sent over photographs of our bird and it is fantastic to see her.

The first we heard of her visit was via an email received from Julie Quirie at the RSPB Centre saying “we thought that you would like to know that your two year old satellite osprey FK8 paid us a visit here at Loch Garten! She spent around 15 mins on our camera tree and was good enough to pose and show off her leg ring so that we could identify her. There was a male osprey in the area at the same time with a white leg ring but we were unable to identify that one”.

IMG_4312 cropIMG_4310 crop

Has she paired up with this white ringed bird?

The last we saw of her was when she was ringed in 2014 as a six week old fledgling. She is now a magnificent and beautiful fully grown adult. Although she is not ready to breed this year, she is certainly checking out good places as likely territory for next year. She left the Loch Garten reserve and  her satellite data shows us that from there she headed further south to Loch Insh. We are now waiting for more data to see where she goes next, but my bet is that having checked out north, south, east and west, she is surely heading home to the beautiful Scottish Borders Tweed Valley!

A full report of her journey to date will be published shortly.

More news of FK8 sighting

I have just received an email from Steven Stansfield, warden on Bardsey Island off the Lleyn Peninsula in West Wales, to say that they had a sighting of an osprey which corresponded to our data .

This is what Steven reported to me on receiving the data:

“That was her! Steve Hinde saw her on 8 May at 10 40am!!! She was seen off the island by the local Herring Gulls. Fantastic record. I will publicise this and your blog etc via our blog and twitter account.”

How lovely to have been so lucky to spot her making her way home!!! She is a star!

Below is the satellite image of her passing the island at that time!!

no 14 Lyeyn Peninsula and Bardsey island



AS6 Lays her first egg

Sunshine banishes the snow

Last week, the ospreys were hopping about with cold talons on a nest carpeted with snow. What a difference a week can make! We now have glorious sunshine and rising temperatures and the female can be seen sitting down into her moss-lined, cosy nest cup, with her beak open as she pants in the heat.

panting in the heat incubating female

AS6 panting in the heat sitting on her egg

First egg for AS6

One egg was laid on Friday 6th May.  We are not sure what time AS6 laid her egg but the evidence was revealed with a clear view from nest camera 2, pointing directly into the nest. Proud Dad–to-be, was standing and looking down at the treasure in the nest, while his partner was away to stretch her wings and to get a bite to eat.

This is a first egg for this female and she has to realise how to take care of it and to incubate and hopefully to lay a couple more. AS6 refused the male’s advances to mate with her on a few occasions recently. This could be because she was getting ready to lay an egg…

males shadow  shades egg

Shadow of SS shields egg from the sun

mossy cosy

Cosy mossy nest

Sharing meals

SS has been bringing in fish to the nest and being a little bit selfish. He’s been eating the bigger portion before passing over the goods to her, despite her beseeching calls. On Thursday, he was eating his fish up on the camera scaffold, when a disgruntled female flew directly at him. The shadow of a bird could be seen launching into the air as she flew back on to the nest. He eventually flew over to her and let her have a less than generous tail end of fish. A bit like receiving a box of chocolates when the best ones have already been eaten!

Has SS gone from being a ‘new man’ to being a ‘grumpy old man’?

what are you looking at

What are you looking at?

Whose turn is it?

SS is always prepared to do his fair share of sitting on the egg to give her a break though, and his generosity in this department has been taken a little advantage of. He was the home alone sitter for a three and a half hour session while the female was away on Sunday. I hope they get their roles synchronised and harmoniously sorted out. They have a long stretch of between 37 to 40 days in which to master routines before this egg is due to hatch. The male was frequently seen standing over the egg and shielding it from the sunlight during the warm weather. It’s important to maintain a constant temperature for the egg, so that it doesn’t over heat or cool.

leaving so hubby can take a turn to sit on the egg

SS about to take his turn to sit on the egg

The latest video footage…

FK8 flies north

FK8, the two year old female that is satellite tagged, has spent almost a year at the same site in Portugal but suddenly on 3rd May at 7am approximately, she left the area. She took a northerly direction straight on through Portugal and across Spain, all the way to the shores of the Bay of Biscay. The last data received on 5th May at 15.11pm showed that she was still on the mainland teetering on the edge of the Bay.

It is so exciting that she has finally  moved north. She’s not old enough to breed this year but she will be ready next year. Her motivation for coming back may be to start to look at areas where she may wish to settle in the future and just to check out some sites.

fk8 heads north to Bay of Biscay

FK8 flies to the Bay of Biscay

FK8 is back in Scotland – welcome home!

Further news has just been received that FK8 has since crossed the Bay of Biscay on a gruelling flight. She left in the late afternoon and arrived in the Portsmouth area at approximately 9.30pm. She then flew across west Wales, across the Irish Sea and into the East of Ireland, then back over the sea to the west coast of Scotland, where she roosted overnight near Barra Bullin. We’re waiting to receive the satellite images for this part of the journey.

Eggs galore

All the birds seem to have swung into action now and have been laying eggs. The blue tit camera revealed the cutest blue tit being fed by her partner in the nest box. She then lifted out of the egg cup to reveal that she has been very busy and has laid seven eggs so far.

The great tit in the other camera box now has three eggs and a kamikaze oystercatcher has laid three eggs on the gravel, in the car park. A traffic cone and some tape have been positioned to prevent her being parked on!

spot the oystercatcher eggs

spot the oystercatcher eggs

Snow springs suprise

Home building

The ospreys on the main nest have bonded as a couple and they do make a handsome pair. They have been bringing in nesting material to complete their home for the summer. Lots of sticks have been used to build up the sides of the nest and the interior has some soft furnishings of fresh moss.

There is a big age difference between the male, SS, and female, AS6. He is a very experienced bird, now seventeen years old. His new bride is only three years old and this will be her first husband. She is a particularly striking looking bird with flawless dark plumage on her back and wings, and she seems to be in beautiful condition.

The lovely couple 25th April

The handsome couple SS and AS6

Making an egg cup

The male osprey has been dropping down into the centre of the nest, lunging forward and kicking his legs backwards, a comical looking antic but his method of digging out a small cup shape in readiness to hold precious eggs.

white SS the main man 2nd May

white leg SS surveys the nest

Snowstorm and jay visits

All of this homely business went on hold when a mighty snowstorm took them quite by surprise on Friday 29th April. Both birds could be seen sitting the storm out, while the nest became swathed in almost 15cm of snow.

best not get our feet cold

Sitting on the perch to avoid getting cold feet

On 30th April, the business of nest building began again, but this time material was being added on top of the snow. A bit of a fruitless task, as when the snow melted, the careful construction just became a heap of sticks.

All of this activity has been witnessed by the ospreys’ new pals, a pair of jays. The jays haven’t been bothered at all by the big predators that have taken up residence, and the ospreys seem to tolerate their presence without any reaction towards them at all. This has served to increase their boldness and they hop about like they own the place.

Dont mind me

Don’t mind me!

Once all the snow melted, domestic bliss resumed at the nest site with the continued construction work to get it ready.

Stick dispute

The birds had their first lovers tiff on Sunday 1st May, when the female, AS6, decided that the stick she brought in simply must take pride of place to the left of the nest but her husband had other ideas and insisted that it be put to the right of the nest. A squawky female struggled to pull the stick her way, while SS heaved it across to the other side. He won the battle by eventually just perching on the stick and it remained in a halfway position between their preferred targets. However, when he went fishing, I am sure she moved it to her goal.

spot of nest building AS6

Egg laying expected soon

We are expecting AS6 to lay her first egg any day now. Ospreys are capable of raising broods of up to 4 chicks but usually they have 2 to 3. A first time breeding bird such as AS6 may possibly only have a small brood. That is just speculation though and we will just have to wait and see!

Video footage of the story so far…

Tweed Valley bird in England

Finally, an update on EB, the Borders osprey nesting at Kielder. She has had a testing time keeping her three eggs warm in all the snow, whilst at the same time dealing with intruder ospreys harassing her. She’s determined to keep the clutch safe – even when her partner 37 returned and offered a chance for her to leave while he took his turn to mind the eggs, she displayed true grit, refusing to leave and sitting tight.