The main nest pair of ospreys in Tweed Valley have established a domestic regime, whereby he goes fishing and returns to eat his catch nearby, certainly close enough for his partner to know he is about. She squawks, pips and generally makes a fair bit of noise to let him know that she is hungry. He then delivers the leftover fish to her, after he has taken off the head and a good portion of the body depending on how hungry he is, or how generous he is feeling towards his partner. As soon as he brings the fish in to the nest, she raises herself up off the eggs and takes the fish from him. There is little or no exchange between them as she flies off with it, sometimes to the perch above the nest or away from the nest entirely. Once she is away and feeding, he takes his turn to sit on the eggs.
This morning, the female was sitting on the right hand perch above the nest and was busy preening when he began to call excitedly to her as he sat in the nest. She flew down beside him and he took off. There didn’t appear to be any intruder birds about but he certainly left in a hurry. She did not appear concerned and gently began to rearrange the soft bedding material to hunker down onto the eggs again.
Handle with care
It is good that she is now showing considerable care and attention when moving around the nest so that her razor sharp talons do not pierce the eggs. She very carefully curls her talons away from the eggs and bunches up her knuckles. She uses her knuckles and beak to turn them carefully so that they incubate evenly and don’t addle. She has learnt to do this recently as initially she was a bit rough and when moving nest material around on 15th May, she was so intent on moving the stick that was annoying her she nearly squashed her eggs. Thankfully, she is most probably learning to be more careful by the example that her partner ‘white leg SS’ has shown. He has raised a total of 27 chicks in his lifetime with his previous partners, so hopefully his experience will help her to become a good parent.
The waiting game
All we can do now is wait for those eggs to hatch! There is at least another two weeks to go for this pair. There is good news for other hatching ospreys around the country: the Tweed Valley osprey white EB has just become a mum in Kielder. Her first chick hatched on 29th May and the proud parents can be seen on camera there. She was raised in Tweeddale and nested here originally, but for some reason has chosen to move to Kielder this year and take over a nest there with the resident male 37.
The Tweed Valley ‘back up’ nest birds will have also hatched by now, and we hope to retrieve the footage from their camera soon. It will be interesting to find out which birds are the parents at this site now. Did yellow 8C hold the territory after his partner green DN died last year or have another pair moved in?
Yellow 8C is FK8’s father, who has delighted us so far with her travels this spring as her satellite tracker has been transmitting data detailing her every journey. She has travelled far and wide and for the past couple of weeks, seems to have found a spot that she likes up in the far north of Scotland. She is spending her days leisurely visiting the myriad moorland lochs and then roosting in a local forest plantation in the evenings. It will be interesting to see if she remains in that area for the rest of the summer. Has she taken up territory or even met a likely future partner? Whatever the reason, she seems to like it there and has stopped further exploration for a while.
Birds and badgers
With incubation lasting so long and a sitting osprey not always doing anything very entertaining to watch, we aim to make the visitor centres’ wildlife offering more diverse by including other wildlife too. At Glentress there is some fantastic footage of badgers playing outside their artificial sett complete with a good supply of food left for them. There are also cameras on the bird feeders to watch the forest birds close up.
At Kailzie osprey watch, there are cameras in the blue tit and great tit boxes and both birds have hatched out all of their nestlings. They are delightful to watch as they grow at a phenomenally fast rate. They were little squirming, bald, reptilian creatures last week but now they are cute, open beaked and spikey feathered; proper little birds. Their parents are working hard to bring in caterpillars and flies to give them their protein building blocks to ensure that they develop swiftly into adulthood.
The trail camera at Kailzie has picked up fantastic footage of otters, foxes, a badger, rabbits, heron and much more. The camera was set up over the fishing ponds and there was an awesome emergence of mayflies which in turn attracted bats. The camera perspective means it is hard at times to judge the distance and size of creatures, so we captured some images which look like fairies flying over the water. While Kailzie has always been described as a magical place perhaps we now have proof, or are they merely mayflies?
Have a look at the recent wildlife footage