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
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
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: