Monthly Archives: April 2017

SS needs a wife

SS on nest 22nd April

A lonely SS needs a wife

The male osprey, white ring SS, is still alone at the nest site. It is now becoming quite worrying as although we had assumed his partner from last year had returned, we have not witnessed the pair together yet. A blue ringed bird thought to be her (AS6), arrived on 11th April and has not been seen since. SS didn’t arrive until 15th April and so maybe, as she is so inexperienced and after their failed breeding season last year, she didn’t wait for him and moved on.

It does seem unusual, as the birds usually try to stay on territory and within the same partnership but she is definitely not with SS yet. He has been seen sitting for hours at the nest like a lonely bachelor eating his fish supper for one.

We may need to send out an urgent SOS to find SS a wife, as the season is getting late with only a narrow window of opportunity in which to breed. However, this has been such a strange spring weather-wise that maybe there are still a few surprises to come and we could have a record late pairing of ospreys and young for this year. We cannot predict nature no matter how hard we try.

SS does a spring clean of the nest

SS enthusiastic nest tidy20170422_14-55-14

SS making a  nest scrape

Optimistic that he will have a partner and eggs soon, SS tidies the nest and makes a scrape in the moss. He tidies the sticks too.

SS has remained optimistic as he has been doing the nest up, removing grass that was growing and adding new material and moving sticks around. He has even been making a scrape in the middle of the nest where eggs should be laid but it is all in vain without a partner so far.

An unwelcome visit

He has not been totally without company, as two ospreys invaded the nest on 22nd April. Both birds were not ringed and they caused alarm for SS, who was towered over by the big female bird (big Bertha).

SS with 2 unwanted guests20170422_12-30-19

Two unwelcome unringed birds distress SS

SS and bertha stare 20170422_12-31-04

Big Bertha stares at SS

He was distressed, mantling his wings and calling and flicking his wings and tail in agitation and adopting defensive posture during their visit. One of the birds flew off leaving him alone with Bertha. If she is an available female, he clearly was not interested. She is similar to the female that he partnered with the year his original partner died and she was a bit intimidating towards him.

SS gets towered over by bog bertha20170422_12-30-39

Big Bertha and SS

This could be a bid for taking over the nest, or it could be the beginning of a new pairing. So far SS has held strong and holds the territory, but a storm is brewing as this nest is hot property and needs to be occupied soon. We just hope that it will be SS. Come back soon please AS6 (his partner from last year)!

SS not pleased to see bertha20170422_12-31-16

Unringed and SS

Snow

Since the excitement of intruder ospreys at the nest on 22nd April things have been very quiet again. A lonesome SS has been sitting in the nest during awful weather, as sleet and hailstones bounce off his back and no sign of a female for company.

Tweed Valley bird at Kielder

Over in Kielder Forest a Tweed Valley female osprey (white ring EB) is nesting for the second year with her partner ringed as 37. They have three eggs currently and the season looks set to be a good one for them.

FK8 blown off course

20th April map 2017

FK8 blown off course in the Bay of Biscay

FK8, the satellite tagged female from Tweed Valley, is making her migration back to the UK. We would have predicted that she would have arrived sooner but her journey which was quite straightforward until northern Spain then took a crooked path over the Bay of Biscay, looping across to Brittany.

It would seem that during the crossing strong north to north east winds sent her struggling off course to the east where she has thankfully reached land. She has covered a distance of 880 km on her journey so far since leaving Portugal on 15th April. The last data received was for 20th April.

There has been a report that she has been spotted in Wales, and we look forward to seeing how her journey progresses.

 

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Tweed Valley Ospreys return

SS 15th April 2017

White leg ring on the right leg of this male osprey leads us to presume that this is SS.

11th April blue ringed female AS6 poss

Blue ringed female 11th April. Hopefully it is AS6.

18th April news

A new season dawns for the Tweed Valley Ospreys, with nest sites renovated during the winter months by Forestry Commission Conservation team Tony Lightley and Eve Schulte beckoning to the returning birds to take up occupation. They have been slower to return and settle so far this spring, with bad weather fronts over Europe at critical migration times holding birds back.

A small flurry of migration would occur and then stop, followed by another, each time the weather broke. This was evident in the patchy movements of other migrants too, with an early passage of meadow pipits moving north and a very late arrival of chiffchaffs and sand martins. There are still no swallows to be seen in Tweed Valley yet.

The ‘back up’ nest ospreys were the first to return to Tweed Valley, with the main nest shortly after.  A blue ringed female, thought to be AS6, was spotted sitting in the main nest on a perch eating a fish on 11th April. The male bird (white leg SS) arrived on 15th April and has been seen coming and going from the site and eating fish there, to establish his presence on his territory. Other sites around the country have ospreys already sitting on eggs, while our Tweed birds are taking a leisurely start to their breeding period.

The pair have not yet been seen together at the site, although while SS was feeding on Saturday another osprey was calling in the background. His partner last year, AS6, was very vocal when she was hungry, so perhaps it was her but we have no way of knowing until they are both seen on camera at the nest together.

Hope for a good season

SS has suffered a tragic few years during the breeding season since the death of his original partner in 2014 and the loss of the chick again last year. He is now an eighteen year old bird, so we really hope that he has a good productive year with his partner AS6. She is only four years old and if they pair up this year it will be her second breeding season. We hope she has gained more experience and will be a good mum.

FK8 is coming home

Portugal to Spain April 15th to 17th 2017 FK8

FK8 leaves Portugal 15th April.

The satellite tagged female bird FK8 has started her journey to return to the UK. She set off from her Portuguese residence on 15th April at 11.56am and began the flight north through Portugal, where she roosted overnight near to Galveias. She stopped adjacent to the road N244 and had a rest before moving west to an overnight roost in a tree.

The landscape is open country with groves of trees, and taking the street level image from Google Earth we can see the trees where she spent the night. She settled there, leaving at around 7.30am the next morning, heading slightly east and was not in any particular hurry as she stopped again after 9am in another tree. By 9.30am she was on the move once more, heading in a general northerly direction at a speed of between 15 and 20 knots and altitude of between 200 and 300m.

She picked up her pace and headed north, crossing the border into Spain at 18.10 on 16th April at an altitude of 1484m, traveling at 39 knots. She found a roost site at 18.40 and spent the night there east of Celanova and Podentes. The last fix point of data was at 3.27am in her roost on 17th April.

More on tracking

We will be tracking her movements and waiting for her to return to UK. If anybody would like to follow the migration journey in more detail and see the maps and Google Earth images of the migration, there will be an opportunity to see them and hear more at Kailzie Osprey Watch on Sunday 23rd April at 3pm.

PX1 and PX2

PX1

PX1 Currently in Burkina Faso

There are two more satellite tagged ospreys from Tweed Valley Osprey project who featured on the Jeremy Paxman documentary, The River: PX1 and PX2. Sadly, PX2 ceased to transmit data on his journey south of Paris last autumn and we do not know what happened to him.

However, his brother PX1 made a superb migration through to Southern Mali in Africa and ventured as far south as Liberia before settling at some gold mines in Burkina Faso. His satellite transmits intermittently so there is a lag in data. It will be interesting to see if he moves over the summer period but he is only a one year old bird and so unlikely to migrate.

Catch up on the birds’ season last year here: