Mrs O keeps options open

20180430_10-56-20 Mrs O and SS

Mrs O and SS at the main nest

Hedging her bets

The intriguing antics of the ospreys at the main nest and the back- up nest no.2  continue this week. No pairs have settled down yet, as we would have expected by now. Mrs O is merrily stringing along two male ospreys, visiting both nest sites and being fed by both males. There have been multiple mating attempts by SS with Mrs O at the main nest site and most of the time she appears unreceptive. Since last weekend, she seems to have accepted the advances of SS, and if this has been a successful pairing, we could expect an egg to be laid any day now.

Mrs O is hedging her bets though, as she was over at the back up nest no.2 on Sunday when an eager male bird (FK0) flew down on to the nest. He was so keen to mate with her that he dropped his fish. She dipped down into the nest, making his attempt futile, so he flew off leaving the fish behind. Mrs O was not one to be ungrateful, immediately tucked in.

Hopeful homemaker FK0

FKo drops fish to attempt mating

Mrs O not receptive to mating with FK0 – he drops his fish.

FK0 gives up and leaves

Unsuccessful FK0 leaves Mrs O

Might as well have the fish Mrs O

No point in wasting that fish, Mrs O!

Mrs O leaves with fish

Mrs O leaves the back up nest with the fish

Throughout the rest of the week Mrs O has spent more of her time at the main nest site with SS. The ‘back up’ nest has been frequently visited by FK0, who has been nest-tidying and removing moss from the centre, perhaps hopeful that his home-making will show his readiness to a potential partner for egg laying. If he is expecting Mrs O to be his settled partner, it’s likely he has been duped. Her infrequent visits to the nest with him amount to far less than the time she spends at the main nest with SS. She did not raise young with SS last year, and is keeping her options open for a fertile pairing. By flitting between nests and partners, she has the option of laying an egg in either nest, and pairing up in a summer partnership with either bird. It would take a Mystic Meg prediction to foresee which nest and male she will choose.

The third male, CL1, who was also seen with Mrs O on the back up nest has not been seen since, so perhaps he has moved on. Both CL1 and FK0 are Borders-bred ospreys, and it is good to see them both back on home turf and eager to breed in this area.

Tweed birds elsewhere

Further afield we have news of other Tweed Valley ospreys starting a successful breeding season for this year. FK4 has taken up residence with a female bird called Angel at Loch Doon and he has become known by the name Frankie.

White ringed EB (another Tweed Valley female) has returned to Kielder again this year and is back at her nest site with her partner. She has already settled down to incubate her eggs.

With settled pairings and news of eggs from Tweed Valley birds further afield, we are eagerly anticipating some domestic settlement with the nesting birds presently in Tweed Valley this year. While Mrs O is holding court and driving other females away, we could have to wait a little longer.

Migration journey’s end for FK8

FK8 map Loch Slethill 25th April

25th April FK8 at Loch Slethill North Scotland

We have good news of the migrating bird FK8, a four year old female. She has returned from Portugal and migrated to the far north of Scotland, taking up residence in the area near to Loch Slethill where she has spent the past two summers. This is part of the RSPB reserve on the Forsinard Flows, and we did send a request to the RSPB that they might assist her by putting up a nesting platform in a suitable location, but sadly they declined. She is old enough to breed this year and should she find a mate in the area – they would have to build a nest themselves, and often fail at their first attempt due to poorly constructed nests blowing out, or due to picking unsuitable locations.

Paxman osprey ‘en vacances’

PX1 River Isle Dordogne France

PX1 on the River Isle roosted in a riverside tree and last tracked moving north on 26th April

The Paxman osprey, PX1, has remained in France – which was unexpected because his migration journey from Southern Mali and up through Spain and across into France looked to be typical of a bird making its way back to the UK. He landed in the Bordeaux region on 14 April and has remained there since.

The whole area where he is residing forms part of the Aquitaine basin, which drains via the Dordogne and Garonne to the Atlantic Ocean. He is currently staying on the tributary of the Dordogne, the River Isle – a 255km river which is tree-lined and in lush countryside, offering perfect fishing conditions for a young osprey. He doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to come to the UK any time soon. He is exploring the region, fishing in good rivers and roosting in trees along the river system. Seems pretty good for a non-breeding osprey to be ’en vacances’ in such an inviting environment.

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