On Sunday 24th July both ospreys were sitting at the main nest until 11am, then AS6 took off and SS left soon after. The nest remained empty for the rest of the afternoon until a lonely SS returned just before 4 pm with a fish, but there was no sign of AS6 to share it with.
A day trip to Kielder
The reason she was not around was because she had taken herself off on a day trip to Kielder! At just after 4pm she swooped into their ‘1A’, nest and made a brief touch down before a very disgruntled male YA, the resident bird, aggressively chased her off. The whole dramatic episode including the aerial chase was caught on camera at Kielder and can be seen on their blog site here.
We are very grateful to Joanna Dailey at Kielder for letting us know and fully expected an empty nest at Tweed Valley on Monday morning. It was a lovely surprise to see that both SS and AS6 were sitting peacefully up on their perches beside the nest at 11am on Monday.
FS2 visits the main nest pair
The peace didn’t last long as an intruding osprey startled the pair, landing in the middle of their nest while they were both sitting there on the perches. SS dropped down beside the bird and mantled his wings briefly before taking off, leaving a slightly upset AS6 squawking and dropping her wings in agitation on the perch, while the intruder bird took a good look around the nest. As she did so, we were able to capture a good image of her ring number from the live streaming: blue FS2. This is the same bird that appeared 10 days ago. We had originally thought the ring number was ES2 as we didn’t get a decent look at it then. We will definitely be able to find out who she is and where she has come from now that we know the number for sure.
Birds who have been unsuccessful in breeding begin to roam at this time of year, and it is an exciting time, as they drop in and check out other nest sites. This is often the time when we get to hear of sightings of ringed birds and we can really appreciate their long ranging dispersal throughout the UK. We would consider a trip across to Kielder as quite a journey but to an osprey it is just a fairly effortless jaunt, an afternoon wander.
FK8 stops hunting for fish and gives us a fright
Fears for FK8 were raised when the data from her satellite tag revealed that she had not strayed from roughly a 15 metre diameter within a forest plantation in the north east of Scotland for a number of days. The first worry was that if she was not leaving the forest, then how was she feeding? This caused concern because at first we thought she could have died or the tag had failed in some way and was only transmitting from the one spot.
Tony Lightley, Environment and Heritage Manager from Forestry Commission Scotland, got in touch with a local ranger who lives near to the area where she was last known to be. Thankfully, due to the accuracy of the device, the ranger managed to locate the spot and the good news is that he spotted her and was able to see the tag and blue ring on the bird, and in fact she has built a nest!
A preoccupation with nest building
It is far too late to have young this year and FK8 is too young to breed anyway but she must have a partner that is bringing fish to her, which is why she is not leaving the forest and is defending her new territory. Perhaps this is her investment for next season and it is interesting that courtship with ospreys occurs so far in advance. She may return with the same partner to this site next year when she is ready to breed, we will have to wait and see. It may just be a practice nest but she certainly has not done any fishing for herself for six days.
The osprey nest is such a big structure and takes time to be constructed, so getting a head start the season before is a good investment. Artificial nesting platforms are so attractive to ospreys because it too allows them that head start at the beginning of a season, when courtship and territory defending also have to be prioritised.
Flight for back up nest birds
This years’ Tweed Valley back up nest birds have successfully fledged and will embark on their exploration of the area as soon as they can brave journeys further afield than the immediate nest area. They have been fitted with rings, blue PX1 and PX2, and we are waiting for their satellite tags to be activated so that we can begin to receive data to find out how far their early flying ventures take them, as they test their flight skills prior to their impending first migration.
Watch the latest footage