Monthly Archives: August 2016

August movements

both 7th Aug

AS6 and SS with fish 7th Aug

SS gives a fish to AS6 on 7th August

Still here for now

The main nest ospreys were back at their nest to feed on the 7th August. The female AS6 was seen at the nest with a large trout in her talons from 1.30pm in the afternoon where she was enjoying eating her catch. She stayed around for quite a while and then at 3.50pm her partner, white leg SS, flew on to the nest with a half-eaten trout in his talons, which she demanded from him very vocally and he gave it to her. She took this fish and sat up on the perch and finished eating it, while SS stayed around for half an hour before finally leaving her there.

They both have long absences away from the nest and sometimes are not seen there for days, so it is unusual for them both to spend such a long time at the nest in one day. On the 8th August SS was back at the nest at 1.45pm eating a fish but with no sign of his partner AS6. When they are absent from the site for long periods we can only wonder whether they are still in contact with each other or whether they roam separately. They may well have regular eating habits together somewhere else in the vicinity of their territory around the nest.

No more sightings of FS2

It is a good sign that SS is still providing fish for her and that the intruding FS2 female has now moved on. Tony Lightley, Conservation and Heritage Manager at Forestry Commission Scotland, is still waiting to hear back from Roy Dennis from the Highland Foundation for Wildlife about FS2, to find out about where she came from and what age she is.

As we suspect that she is a young non breeding bird, she has probably continued exploring and checking out other sites.

FK8 stays at the Flows National Nature reserve

Forsinaird Flows National Nature Reserve FK8

FK8 explores the Flows lochs and River Halladale and Sleach Water

deer fence sitting

Deer fencing posts are a good place for an osprey to perch

FK8, the satellite tagged two year old Tweed Valley bird, has moved back to favoured haunts between Caithness and Sutherland. Looking at the data for this past week, she has been having a fine time in the RSPB National Nature Reserve The Flows. This is certainly a grand place for a young osprey and the tracking data has revealed that she is hunting across many of the lochs and roosting in forestry plantation areas.

The data also had a curious line of daytime roosts in a perfect line behind Loch Slethill. When we zoomed in on Google earth, nothing was revealed about what she could be perching on. However, we have checked with warden Paul Turner at the RSPB site and he instantly spotted that her data corresponds to the recently erected deer fence posts. Presumably she is finding these perches useful once she has made a catch in the loch.

The nature reserve is a real wildlife oasis of peatlands and bogs, with many amazing species of European importance for conservation breeding there. There are black throated diver and red throated diver breeding pairs on the loch which she is hunting from, which is stocked with brown trout. There are hen harriers and merlin nesting, and the area also holds 50% of the UK population of wood sandpipers.

Royally good fishing

FK8 has also enjoyed fishing at Loch Calum, which apparently was a favoured fishing area for the Queen Mother when she visited the castle in Caithness. So it would seem that FK8 has a knack for seeking out special places to visit and to fish in places fit for royalty.

When she is not searching lochs in the area she favours following two local rivers: the Sleach Water which flows from the east of the reserve into Loch More and on to the River Thurso, or heading from the west of the reserve following the Halladale River which flows to the north.

The wardens on the reserve will keep a look out for FK8 and let us know if they see her and how she is getting on.

Her very first migration journey leaving Tweed Valley after fledging began on 7th September in 2014 and by 15th September she had settled in Portugal where she remained until returning in May this year. She has not visited the Tweed Valley since her return, so with fingers crossed we are hoping she might pop in for a visit when she decides to head off on migration soon.

Watch the latest footage


Season round-up

FS2 about to sit on redundant egg

FS2 ties out incubation on the old egg in the nest of SS and AS6

The ospreys at the main Tweed Valley nest are still occupying the site and can regularly be seen resting and preening while they are there. They are regularly visited by an intruder bird, FS2, who has been around for approximately 20 days. The adult birds at the site seem less distressed by her presence and far more tolerant of her. We have not seen any evidence of her being chased away or the mantling of the male bird towards the new female recently. They seem to casually fly off and leave the newcomer to herself at the nest. This is quite unexpected behaviour as it is their territory but perhaps it is less threatening in the absence of any chicks being reared and therefore tolerated more.

FS2 sits on redundant egg

FS2 sitting comfortably on the egg

The female FS2 is still unknown to us at present as no-one as yet has confirmed records of her ringing and origin. She seems to be a young bird as her leg ring has three digits, and it is only in the last couple of years that three digit darvics have been in use. She seems to be practising her nesting skills and yesterday she began pecking at the unhatched egg from the main nest couple and rolling it. She nibbled at the surrounding nesting material with her beak, all the while emitting a soft peeping call, before bunching her talons up and squatting over the egg as though incubating. She sat on it for about a minute before lifting off and tidying the nest.

Perhaps she is trying motherhood out for when she experiences the real thing when she breeds. We estimate this to be next year if she finds a territory of her own and a partner. AS6 seems to have a good bond with SS and so it is unlikely that FS2 will usurp her and take her place with her mate SS.

Fishing now, not home building for FK8

Statc FK8

The static data from FK8 which led to the discovery of her building a nest

FK8 displayed similar nesting practise behaviour last week when we realised that the satellite data meant she had not moved out of a forest to feed for six days. We discovered that she was building a nest and that she must have been fed by a partner. However, after creating a crude nest structure, she has abandoned the site and moved back to her favoured haunts, further north in Caithness, where she is back to scouring the landscape exploring lochs and lochans and roosting in tree plantations. This means that she is fishing for herself once again, so it will be interesting to see whether the new nest site was a serious attempt ready for next season or whether she will continue to explore until she settles.

FK8 fishing at lochs and roosting again

FK8 back up north exploring and fishing

FK8 fishing trip at loch Slethill and a roost in the tree for 45 mins

A fishing trip at Loch Slethill followed by a 45 min roost in a tree

TVOP round up of the season so far

The Tweed Valley Osprey Project has grown over the years and is far more than just about what is happening with our main nest birds. The project area now has 12 occupied osprey nest sites and this year only eight of those sites were successful in rearing young. There were 16 ospreys raised in total and all were fitted with BTO rings and Darvic rings.

The main nest failed to produce young, which was thought to be due to human disturbance which led to the chick dying. The back-up nest young have been fitted with tracking devices and have ring numbers blue PX1 and PX2. Both have fledged successfully and have not yet ventured far from the nest site. Due to the need for site security, the data of their journeys won’t be released until they venture further afield, so as not to disclose the location of the nest. The fact that three other nest sites failed was thought to be due to weather related conditions.

Born in the Borders

New for this year has been the nest at Born in the Borders at Jedburgh where ospreys Samson and Dalilah raised three young females. They have now fledged and been fitted with darvic rings PW6, PW7 and PW8. For the first time this year their nest was live on camera and could be viewed from the visitor centre there.

More than 200 next year hopefully

In total, the Tweed Valley Osprey Project has seen a minimum of 193 young ospreys through to fledging since 1998 which is a proven success for this project. So, not only are there live cameras on the main nest but there are ongoing darvic studies of the distribution of the birds and research into their movements and migration due to the advanced technology in tracking devices.

Each year the research has increased and so goshawk studies will be included in the project and other raptor species in the future. The centres at both Glentress Forest and Kailzie Gardens provide an outlet to show the public this interesting research, with the latest films and slideshows of the ospreys and their lives on show.

Trail camera captures brock

New for Kailzie this week are the trail camera films recorded during last week, including the very curious badger taking a close up interest in the camera.

badger close

Nosey badger

The life of bees

At Glentress, you can watch the incredible life of bees through the glass fronted hive. Visitors can see the bees coming in with laden pollen sacks and pick out the queen, who is marked with a white spot on her back, being provisioned by the other bees.

bees pollen 1

Pollen laden bee is followed by other bees as they remove the pollen

 Watch the latest footage