Monthly Archives: August 2017

Migration for PY2 too

Migration is in full swing now for ospreys as many are leaving the UK during August. FK8 made it down to good fishing grounds at Chew Valley Lake in England on 15th August, and has resumed her journey south and left the area, having spent two days there. She made the most of the opportunity to fish at the lake, rest and to build her strength ready for the next leg of her journey. She then left the area heading south to Wareham Forest, Poole Harbour and Arne Nature Reserve down in Dorset, where she spent a further three days, no doubt taking advantage of good fishing at the harbour there. She then followed the coastline along to Weymouth, then roosted overnight near to Exmouth close to the estuary.

 

Last place Soar UK for FK8

FK8 leaves UK from Soar in Plymouth at 14.24pm on 21st August

On 21st August, she headed further along the south coast to Soar near Plymouth, having covered another 266km since leaving Chew Valley Lake. She left UK shores near to the cliffs at Soar at 14.24pm on 21st August, to cross the channel to France. She arrived at Plouescat in France and continued travelling on to Lochrist near to Coray having covered 268 km since leaving the UK. We will receive the rest of her data from the journey as she continues south.

It is interesting to see that she didn’t cross the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay in a single journey this year. She is gaining in experience and since her return journey in the spring, which took her off course to France on her northern migration due to bad weather, it has given her knowledge that breaking her journey by coming through France is more favourable than a grueling long distance sea crossing.

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FK8 route down through Dorset and along the south coast before heading out to sea

PY1 (Pinky) stays behind

The ‘back up’ nest number 2, young male Perky (PY2), has also started his migration, leaving his sister Pinky (PY1) behind. She has been seen on the nest via satellite camera eating a trout most mornings but we have not seen her parents. Her tagging data doesn’t show her visiting any water, so presumably she is getting fed by her parents. Although, it is quite likely to be her dad that is still around and her mum could have left by now.

PY2 (Perky) heads off to Germany

Perky away to Germany 19th August

Perky (PY2) headed out to the Northumberland coast and across the North Sea to Germany on 19th August

Perky reaches the coatof germany19th August

He took a rest overnight on reaching the coast of Germany in a moorland region west of Sahlenburg

Perky journey through Germany

On 20th August PY2 continued south through Germany

The more adventurous of the two siblings, PY2, has made amazing progress, leaving the nest and migrating at 6.36am on 19th August. He took a south easterly route out of Tweed Valley across the UK towards Alnwick where he left the UK shores from the coastal village of Boulmer at approximately 9.30am. He went straight over the North Sea to Germany, arriving at moorland north of Hamburg, 1.69 km from the town of Sahlenburg where he spent the night, before heading on in a south easterly direction at 5.10am.

He passed Hamburg, then on past Hanover, a further 102km since his overnight roost on 19th, to a place  to rest overnight on 20th August. The next morning, he was on the move again flying on to Brunswick then to Mühlhausen, for another stopover before setting off to an area beside a lake, near to the town of Niederdorla, having covered a distance of 249km since his previous roost.

It looks as though his journey is set to follow the flyway taken by the Swedish ospreys, so it will be interesting to see at which point he alters his course to a south westerly route. Weather conditions so far are favourable for our migrating birds. His sister is likely to set off any day now too, unless she is still being fed by her dad, in which case she might take advantage of that for a little longer, which is good, as she will be in tip top condition for the journey.

Last stop Perky at lake at Niederdorla, Germany

Perky finds a good lake to stop by near to the town of Niederdorla

SS and Mrs. O

The main nest has had the resident pair spending time there over the weekend, with SS bringing a fish in for the ever so loud Mrs. O. She spent most of Sunday keeping up a deafening din but was uncharacteristically quiet on Monday, with no sign of SS around. Could he have left on Monday? We shall keep watching the nest to see if he is still around and keep an eye on Mrs. O until she leaves.

Tweed Valley Osprey Project birds further afield

There have been more sightings of Tweed Valley Project birds, FXO, the bird that was seen at the River Severn has also been spotted back at Venus ponds in Shropshire where he was photographed back in the spring. He is a two year old male bird and maybe he has hopes to nest somewhere in the Shropshire region next summer, as he certainly likes to frequent the area.

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FX0 at Venus ponds in Shropshire. Photos courtesy of Helen Griffiths taken by J.P.Martin

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FX0

Another osprey of Tweed Valley origin is three year old male FK4, who has nested at Loch of Doon in Galloway this year.

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Migration has started

Leaving Scotland FK8 12th AugFK8 in Redditch 15th Aug

The migration of the ospreys has begun! Tweed Valley born female FK8, who has spent the summer up in the Forsinard Flows region near Loch Slethill, left the area and headed south on 12th August, leaving Lochan na Saughe Glaise at 9.51am and flying 400km to roost overnight just south of Rochester near Otterburn. She stopped her journey at 18.55 having been flying at an average of 44.4km/hr.

At 7.30am on 13th August she headed off again, this time steering her course slightly westerly into the central English belt over Leeds and Birmingham, reaching heights of over 1500m in high density city areas and dropping back down to around 400m to 500m in more rural areas. She dropped down to about 160m altitude while scouting out a roost site, which she found in a stand of trees just outside of Redditch, having covered another 340km during the days flight.

After a good night’s rest she was away again at 7.12am the next morning and covered just 118km to south of the Bristol Channel to Bishop Sutton where she discovered Chew Valley Lake at 2pm and it would seem she caught herself a fish, as she left the water and headed into trees where she spent about an hour. She stayed in the area and roosted in a group of trees to the east of the Lake and moved during the early hours to another stand of trees nearby. Maybe she was disturbed or mobbed by birds for being the outsider raptor in the area and deemed a threat.

At 6am she flew back across to the lake and potentially was successful in catching a fish straight away because she flew back to the east and roosted in a ploughed field on top of a telegraph pole, presumably to eat her breakfast from 6.52am to 8.39am.

Her journey of over 890km so far seems to have slowed from here and she has stayed in the area during the 15th August, covering ground and traversing across the area but no direct movement further to the south. It is just a short distance from where she is to the English Channel.

When she has migrated previously, she has crossed the channel and then the Bay of Biscay to Spain in one crossing. She can afford to stay in the area and take her time to wait for the perfect weather conditions before making the crossing. We wish her all the very best for a continued safe journey and will follow her progress as she heads further south and hopefully back to Portugal where she has enjoyed the past three winters.

The full migration journey can seen below as a video.

Main nest Mrs. O and SS

a cheeky peck Mrs O

Mrs. O moves in for a cheeky peck of SS tail

Meanwhile, back at the main nest site in Tweed Valley, Mrs. O and SS are still there. With no young this year, we wonder why they are still hanging around. There is really no reason to stay any longer this season. However, perhaps like most animals they have their routines and if they are used to staying later then regardless of their lack of young, they will go at the time they are used to leaving and according to their own life clock.

Mrs. O predictably is still squawking away and she was not pleased to see SS fly onto the nest with no fish in his talons. He looked so fed up, he turned his back on her and she even had the audacity to have a little tug at his feathers on his back with her beak. Just a subtle reminder that she was there and was hungry in case his ears were deceiving him!

Eventually he turned around and started nest tidying. I hope he does realise the season is at an end; that nest looks ready for action and his mating attempts this week seem to suggest that he is hopeful that the bond between them will bring about results buoyed by this osprey optimism we can be sure to be saying farewell to them when they migrate shortly.

We will miss the dulcet tones of Mrs. O who is quite a character and has bonded with SS. They have remained a somewhat odd couple and hugely entertaining this summer with their antics and unusual behaviour.

Tweed Bird visits the River Severn

Birds which haven’t raised young are mostly making their way out of the country now, so we can expect birds form the Highlands to be passing through the area. One of the birds ringed at a nest site in the Tweed Valley project area in 2015 with leg ring blue FX0 was spotted at the River Severn near Build was on 30th July at 10.40am. This bird was from a brood of two and from the nest site where three adults were regularly seen and the third adult seen to bring fish in to the nest site. This has happened for two years running and is most unusual.

Watch FK8’s migration and other nest videos

8th August – stranger danger

Mrs. O and SS

On the main nest the regular pair SS and Mrs. O have been making use of their time there to do a spot of tidying up of the twigs and sticks and the occasional nest scraping into the bottom of the nest by SS too. SS is still bringing fish for a persistent Mrs. O and their partnership has held well.

A stranger visits

SS and unringed 3rd Aug

A visiting osprey with a fish

There was a nest visit from a strange bird on 3rd August. SS was at the nest and video recording showed that he began to mantle and show distress as another bird landed on the nest. The second bird was a female with no leg rings and a quite streaky brown head markings in her crest.

She perched on the edge of the nest staring out across the valley and didn’t settle, while SS turned his back on her and mantled his wings.  It was thought that the bird was Mrs. O at first but it was only when examining the footage closely and zooming in on freeze frame that it was obvious that this female had no leg rings at all, whereas Mrs. O has a silver BTO ring on her right leg. The head markings on Mrs. O are quite distinctive too as she has a thick chocolate coloured stripe down the back of the head and also a pale edging to her dark plumage.

The visiting female appeared to be on edge and watchful into the distance. She had the tail end of a trout in her right talons and she didn’t stay for long. After an alert and a watchful few minutes she took off from the nest leaving SS behind. She seemed to have no interest in him at all and paid him no attention, keeping her back to him as she watched out. His body language of dropped wings and mantling behaviour, turning his back to her and walking away from her showed that the disinterest in each other was mutual.

SS delivers a fish

Mrs O head markings

Mrs. O head markings

SS gives Mrs O fish on 6th Aug

SS gives a fish to Mrs. O

Mrs O with big fish 6th Aug best

Mrs .O eats her fish and SS tidies the nest

In contrast to this behaviour, a loud squawking Mrs. O was at the nest on 6th August when SS flew down to join her with a really big trout  in his talons, which an excited Mrs. O rushed forward to take from him. He let her take it from him straight away and it could be seen that he had made a meal of the head end of the fish but had left most of the body and tail for her. She took her generous portion up to the right hand perch and began to feed hungrily while SS busied himself cleaning his beak in the nest material before eventually leaving a contented Mrs. O to feed alone.

She didn’t stay quiet for long though and before she had even finished the meal her usual loud calling began again in earnest between chunks of fish being pulled off with her hooked beak and devoured.

A fishery treat for a visiting osprey

An osprey has twice visited Kailzie Gardens Fishery this week, witnessed by Jane who lives in the Lodge house at the gates to the Gardens. The first visit from an osprey which she describes as being quite small (so probably male) was at 8pm in the evening, when she saw a bird repeatedly dive into the pond and a big splash. It then tried to fly off with a really big fish in its talons but it was too big to haul away and it dropped it and flew off along the river towards her house.

The second visit was from the same smaller osprey but this time with success as she watched him flying past her house at 6am with a struggling fish securely in his talons. Don’t tell Jimmy at the Fishery! Only kidding! He was as pleased as we were but did say he would send a bill for the fish at the end of the season, I hope he was only kidding too!!

Bolder flights

At the back up nest 2, the two satellite tagged young ospreys Pinky (PY1) and Perky(PY2) have been getting bolder in their flights away from their nest site. Both birds discovered the River Tweed on 2nd August; Pinky got there first at 8am while Perky checked out the river later that day. They never actually went over the river but flanked the edges of it over higher ground. So far both birds have taken short flights North , South , East and West of their home nest while they familiarise themselves with their territory and wait for parents to bring fish for them.

Most journeys stayed within 0-800m from the nest. The longest trip for Pinky so far took her on a journey over the valleys and forests to Kirkhouse forest edge as she flew adjacent to the B709 at 7.47am on 7th August, later in the day at 11am she was flying along the River Tweed near to Walkerburn, that has been her longest flight so far, a distance of 16 km in total.

Her brother Perky (PY2) has not been a slacker on the exploration front either, as he has not only discovered the Tweed but he has also crossed over a couple of hills to check out a neighbouring osprey pairs nest site. He didn’t stop but continued on past for a further kilometre before heading back to familiar territory and wait for mum or dad to bring food.

PY2 visits pondsPY1 finds Cardrona Forest

It’s good to see their confidence levels growing and to know that these flights are contributing to them gaining strength and fitness ready for migration which is not long away now.

Watch the latest nest videos

Late summer amorous SS

Mrs. O keeps up the squawks

Mrs O and SS

Mrs. O squawks and SS sits on the post

July has seen the main nest occupied by SS and Mrs. O, with both birds regularly visiting during the last part of the month. Although they have no offspring, the pair have remained faithful to the nest site and have held the territory. The blue ringed female, FS2, has not been seen for weeks now and so life has settled for SS and he seems to have bonded with Mrs. O. This partnership has been unusual in the behaviour traits that Mrs. O has exhibited with her constant demanding squawks like that of a hungry chick rather than a partner.

A later summer mating for SS and Mrs. O

mating Mrs O and SS 27th July

Mating 27th July and also on 1st August

Mrs O and SS after mating 27th July

The pair have been seen mating at the nest site this week too which is really late in the season and it is presumed that hormone levels will be such that a chance of an egg is not likely, so the reason must be to strengthen the bond between the pair to secure a partnership for next season.

They first paired up on 18th May and this was over a month later than usual for white leg SS to find a mate and to attempt to breed, the resulting absence of any egg production was deemed to be because falling hormone levels would have brought a decrease in the ability to produce an egg. They have bonded as a pair and SS has succumbed to her demands to be fed and throughout the summer he has brought in fish and whenever they have met at the nest, he has let her take the fish from him to feed.

The constant calling from Mrs. O has not abated and this must serve a purpose for her to advertise that she is the resident female and that the site is not vacant. It could also be to compel SS to bring fish for her too and this definitely works, she would surely not expend so much energy squawking if it didn’t serve a purpose. We have never before witnessed any osprey making as much noise as this bird and she can be heard from a good way off from the site.

A typical SS and Mrs. O encounter

Mrs O and SS 27th July

She lands into the nest and begins to call loudly, this can sometimes last for a considerably long time until eventually white leg SS joins her, sometimes with a fish and sometimes without. If he does have a fish, she snatches it from his talons and takes it up to the perch where she begins to feed but she also continues to squawk between beakfuls of food.

A nest tidy and a beak clean is usually practiced by SS once she begins to feed but he doesn’t stay for the duration of her feeding and flies off leaving her to feed and squawk all the while. With only a matter of weeks to go before they will migrate, hopefully they have suitably made enough impression on each other to return early next season and be successful to raise a family. If this happens it will be interesting to see if Mrs. O adopts different behaviour once there are chicks.

Nest 2 young explore close to their nest

PY2 cropped

PY2 makes short trips to and from the nest as he tries his wings out.

PY1 cropped

PY1 has made a few longer trips away from the nest over the hill and back

The nest 2 young birds are gaining confidence to fly further from the nest site. So far it is the larger female that has been the most adventurous with a total distance of 2.11 km flown from the nest across the top of the hill to the next hill before returning to the nest. Each trip begins and ends at the nest and this typically coincides with fish brought back by a parent bird. The male chick has ventured 600m as the furthest distance from the nest site so far and his journeys conclude with a trip back to the nest presumably to feed also.

So far no attempts have been made to follow parents on a trip to any water courses or ponds, so they are definitely not ready to hunt yet, although once at the nest, they do not rely on a parent to feed them any longer as they can confidently handle whole fish to feed themselves. The parents deliver the fish and allow the young birds to handle the prey for themselves.

Attempt to contact Sanso community

PX1 in Sanso

PX 1 at the Sanso gold mines, has anyone seen him? Please get in touch

PX1, the one year old male from the same parents and nest site as PY1 and PY2 (affectionately nicknamed Pinky and Perky), is still at the gold mines in Sanso, southern Mali. The mines are operational open cast pits and we are trying to make contact with anyone from the local community there who may be interested to correspond about PX1, and if they could give some information about what it is like in the locality where he has taken up residence. It would be really nice to hear how he is getting on from someone that lives there and who has seen him.