Changing fortunes

Struggling to find fish

The early part of last week was a difficult time for the osprey family at the main nest, as the aftermath of the wild and stormy weather had left the rivers in spate. SS had clearly been struggling to fish for his family. On Wednesday 20 May there were no fish brought in for the family to feed on. Mrs O seemed distressed, with the chicks were begging for food she could not provide. The chicks, at not much more than a week old, were feeble looking and weak. They had little in the way of down covering on their bodies, and their progress seemed to be in jeopardy.

Just in time

By Thursday morning (21 June), the weather had taken a turn for the better, with the start of the heat wave which has affected much of the UK over the past week or so. Here in the Tweed Valley, the rivers had begun to clear again, and ponds were settling after so much silt laden water had washed into them from the feeder burns. This gave SS the opening that he needed to get back on top of his game, and he did his family proud, returning to the nest with a large, gleaming trout at 10.47am.

Feeding time

Mrs O took the trout from SS and began to feed. In between mouthfuls for herself, she tore off strips to feed the stronger and larger of the two chicks. She fed this little one until it was full and sleepy, and then with still so much fish left, she turned her attention to the smaller chick and began to feed it. Eventually both chicks were full and restful.

SS took his portion of fish after his family were fed and satisfied. Later that same day, SS returned with more fish, and he was certainly making up for lost time – he began to feed the youngsters himself, while Mrs O took time out for some preening. The chicks were visibly stronger and more energised than the day before. After the first chick was full, it lay down on its side. The other chick fed and when it had had enough to eat, chick number one got up and come back over for seconds.

Don’t do it!

The week progressed into warm weather and scorching sunshine. The chicks ranged from being sleepy and still, to being far too adventurous – toddling about the nest using their budding wings as little stilts to enable them to clamber around. These little excursions led them to venture far too close to the edges on occasion. The doting parents had to use fish for a distraction, tempting the chicks back to safer footing. The mature birds began to pay more attention to their nest construction, moving sticks around and building up the edges into little safety barriers to prevent anybody toppling over the edge.

A sad loss

Sadly, for one osprey family in the Borders, two chicks did fall from the nest during the recent high winds. Thankfully, Mrs O and SS seem to have metaphorically ‘red taped’ the danger zone.

By the end of last week, the young ospreys had grown stronger. Their fluffy down coats are forming, with the onset of fully-fledged feathers not too distant. They no longer look feeble and weak, and their fortunes have rapidly turned around since the fish supply has picked up.

The journey’s end for PX1

We finally have news of PX1 whose satellite tracker alerted us to the fact that he had died in the north of Scotland near to the Helmsdale River. The carcass and tag have been recovered and it seems that his neck was broken. We believe this happened when he collided with newly erected deer fencing along the side of a new forestry plantation.

It is such a terrible shame to lose this wonderful, healthy, two year old male osprey. Jeremy Paxman was very saddened to hear of the loss of his bird, and we are very grateful to him for his interest and support for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project. Paxman has agreed that his involvement will continue in the future, hopefully through the tracking of further ospreys.

Volunteers watch goshawks being ringed

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Photo taken by Rhona Anderson. Goshawk male chick before ringing.

The volunteers for the osprey project were invited to attend the ringing of goshawk chicks this week in Tweed Valley Forest Park. They were privileged to witness them being fitted with red darvic rings with white letters of JP and PL by Tony Lightley, after Eve Schulte climbed the fir tree to lower them to the forest floor.

Delightful pine marten family in the Borders

Rhona Anderson took some great photos of these magnificent birds and she has also been continuing to film the pine martens in the forest. The captured footage of the whole pine marten family together and the antics of the three little kits with their mum and dad can be viewed at the following link:

1 thought on “Changing fortunes

  1. Lisa Kennedy

    Thanks so much for this heartening update, Diane. Very interesting to see the goshawk and pine martens as well.


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