Back up no. 2 nest
Volunteers and guests were invited to join the team to watch the ringing and satellite tagging of the two osprey chicks in back up nest no. 2 this week. It was a real privilege for all those involved to see these magnificent wild birds up close for the first time and watch them as they were fitted with their identification rings and satellite tagging devices.
Ringing PY1 and PY2
Tony Lightley, the Forest Enterprise Scotland Environment and Heritage Manager for Dumfries & Borders forest district who holds the licence for all the osprey nests in the project area, led the team and guests up to the nest site. He then had the arduous task of scaling to the top of the tall larch tree and taking the ropes up to the nest for lowering the chicks down to the forest floor. BTO licenced ringers Ronnie Graham and Malcolm Henderson then carried out the bird health checks, measurements, weighed them, and fitted them with BTO unique identity rings on their right legs and blue alpha numeric darvic rings on their left legs, indicating that they are Scottish bred birds.
The darvic ring identities for these birds are PY1 a female and PY2 a male. Both chicks were found to be healthy and robust which is a good indication that they are being provided with a plentiful food supply from mum and dad and bodes well for their survival.
Fitting their trackers
After all the ringing and measurements were taken, the birds were then carefully fitted with the satellite tracking devices. These small solar powered back packs were attached to their backs, one at a time and then the teflon straps made by NASA were connected across a plastic template on the chest, while the straps were stitched together with hemp thread to hold the back pack securely and comfortably in place.
After the stitching was done they were checked for a good fit all the way around the bird and under the wings. This is to make sure there was enough room for growth and movement and to allow for a full crop of fish once the bird would be fishing for itself. The straps are made from state of the art material which is incredibly smooth and slippery, so that the feathers just groom over the top of them and there would be no chafing or rubbing against the skin.
The devices are so well designed so that they do not impede the osprey way of life in any way and flying and fishing are unaffected. Once all the checks were carried out the template was removed and the ends of the tapes cut off neatly and some glue applied to the ends to prevent fraying.
The birds were then ready to go back into their nest and await the return of mum and dad. They were hauled back up individually in a rucksack to a patiently waiting Tony, who was up in the top of the tree, so that he could release them and settle them back down into their cosy home.
More work for the dedicated team
For the volunteers and guests at the site it was time to leave and everybody was so pleased to have been able to witness this great event. For the team it was back to work and onto the next site, with twelve nests in the total project area now.
This time of year involves working seven days a week to make sure all the sites are monitored and ringed at the correct time. We are so grateful to them for all the hard work and effort involved to ensure this vital conservation work is done for the magnificent ospreys. The satellite tags will provide superb research data about their migration and distribution.
Home life at the main nest
Meanwhile back at the main nest, Mrs. O holds the crown as the female most tolerated by SS. He still shares fish with her despite their chick-less state, even though the portions he saves her could be said to be on the side of miserly!
However, FS2 came in for a brief visit and was given a frosty reception and chased off by SS. So, could it be that he and Mrs. O have now bonded enough to come back next year and try again? SS regularly sits on the nest and tidies sticks and rearranges the interior while Mrs. O keeps up her loud squawks. Maybe her behaviour proves dominance over the territory that has made SS stay with her instead of FS2.
Best nest photo of the season was taken by a volunteer on duty when Mrs. O didn’t get any fish from SS on his return; the expression on her face speaks volumes!! Any suitable witty captions will be gratefully received.
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