Main nest now home to 3 eggs
The happy osprey couple at the main nest, Mrs O and SS, are now very settled and content with a clutch of three prize eggs having been laid. The first was laid on 3rd May, the second on 7th May and the third egg was laid on 11th May.
With a full clutch in the nest, the two birds have quickly settled into the routine of incubating and swapping over duties. There is no guarantee that all of the eggs are fertilised by SS though, as Mrs O was up to her old tricks, frequently popping along to the back -up nest where attempted mating was witnessed with another male bird, FK0. She had mated with at least both of the males and then eggs were laid in the main nest.
Choosing the main nest and the very experienced SS is a good call for Mrs O, as he has raised 26 chicks in total and knows all there is to know about fatherhood. He will be more than able to provide food for his hungry partner and the chicks when they come. FK0, on the other hand, is an inexperienced young male, and potentially has not raised a family before. FK0 may have found himself a vacant nest site, but he hasn’t found a wife to occupy his nest with him and raise a family, and so now nest 2 sits empty. Time is running out for a female osprey to join him at this late stage in spring, so sadly this nest looks likely to remain unproductive this year.
In the Tweed Valley this year, all of our hopes are pinned on Mrs O and SS for success. Thankfully, we are seeing a reformed character in Mrs O. The demanding and squawking has stopped, and she seems so much more relaxed and settled, her sole focus now being the incubation of the eggs, which will take up to 42 days.
It will be an interesting brood, as the time gaps between the egg laying means that the chicks will be born a few days apart, and there should be quite noticeable size differences between them as they begin to grow. Fish are plentiful and SS is highly skilled as a hunter, so he will surely be able to provide fish enough for all of his family. We at the Tweed Valley Osprey Project are hoping for an uneventful incubation period and safe hatching when the time comes.
Has FK8 found a partner?
Our satellite-tracked female bird FK8 is 4 years old now. She left Portugal, her winter roost, in the spring and returned to Scotland. She went to Forsinard Flows and Loch Slethill, her favoured summer haunt from the past two summers, but has since left the area and moved further south to the Dornoch area, where she has been staying in the same locality consistently. We are hoping that this means that she has found a partner and is going to nest. Tony Lightley has friends in the area who are looking out for her, and we are keeping fingers crossed for happy news.
The Paxman wild rover
Meanwhile, Jeremy Paxman’s bird is living the life of Riley up north! This young, free and single male osprey, PX1 made it up to Findhorn Bay on 8 May but has continued his travels across to the west coast of Scotland, along to Ullapool, and then to the top of the landscape at Durness, moving right across the top of Scotland from west to east before coming inland to investigate the River Borgie and the River Halladale.
On 10 May he completed his tour of the top of Scotland, taking in Wick, but he eventually made the decision to return back to the Halladale River and River Dyke near to Forsinain. This is an area which has beautiful, fish-filled rivers and plenty of lochans for fishing in, plus a few conifer plantations nearby in which to roost and rest.
As he travels he will be making a mental map of the landscape and storing information about fishing spots, roost sites, other ospreys in the area and their nest sites. He now knows the limit of the landscape bounded by the sea, and he can choose to either find a place to have a restful summer, or continue to explore.
He has no responsibilities yet, with no chicks to raise or fish for, so life really is a breeze for him at the moment. It is astonishing the way he has been so active, touring widely throughout Britain. When he arrived in Africa, he found the gold mines at Sanso, but never moved from the area for nearly 18 months. It seems he is making up for his extended rest period.