Main nest chicks
This week has seen rapid development of the chicks in the main nest as they become more like little ospreys. Their plumage is now covering them in gorgeous spangled brown and white feathers over much of the body, head and wings. They have white bellies, whilst their head crest is white with brown streaks, and a ginger patch at the back, with a distinctive dark eye-stripe. Their plumage is really beautiful and much more attractive than the adult birds with their plainer colouration.
The chicks are noticeably stronger and can fully stand up on their sturdier legs, stretching their wings and flexing their muscles as they sit in the nest. Their parents have definitely done a good job rearing them so far! They will be six weeks old this week and will be capable of flight in another two-or-so weeks’ time.
The parents have protected them well, including from repeated intrusion by a nosey osprey. Mrs O called out in alarm and held her wings outstretched across her young offspring, while SS stood behind her also calling out in high pitched alarm. SS didn’t feel the need to give chase though, choosing to stand his ground and join in the slanging match between family and intruder. This was enough to send the invader packing and shows the experience of the older bird SS, who knew not to waste energy on an aerial attack – especially on a bird who was probably just being nosey!
A so – so year
Further afield in the Tweed Valley Project Area, at least three nest sites have been unproductive, with birds not returning this year and others not finding a new partner.
Ringing the chicks at a Tweed Valley nest site
The successful sites which have produced chicks have been visited under license and the birds have been ringed with the unique BTO identification ring on the right leg and the large coloured Darvic ring with letters and numbers on the left leg. Volunteers from the osprey project were lucky enough to be invited to see the ringing take place at a nest site deep in the Tweed Valley Forest Park on 12 July.
The osprey parents have chosen to build their own nest and not use the artificial platform which was installed for them. They chose a really windswept and spindly larch tree for their home, and have built a substantial structure on the top, commanding a lovely clear view across the valley. Eve Schulte from Forest Enterprise had the daunting task of climbing the tree to lower the chicks to the ground to the waiting Tony Lightley and Malcolm Henderson, who hold the licence to ring birds and train the new members of the team for ringing in the future.
Trio of Females
There were three superb large juveniles in the nest; all females. They were an impressive size and really beautiful birds. They were fitted with blue Darvic rings on their left legs, the fitted rings for each bird were LL0, LK7 and LK9. The birds were weighed and their wing lengths measured and recorded. This data is collected and used as an indicator of the sex of the birds.
Females tend to be over 1500 grammes with a wing length of more than 300mm, while the males are smaller and lighter. These females were a really good size and weight, with one being 1850 grammes, with a wing length of 340 mm. The other two were very similar. They were returned to their nest and soon settled back down. During the ringing procedure one of the parents had flown close by the site and would have returned to the young once the team left.
It will be a very short time before all three of these magnificent lady ospreys take to the skies. It was a privilege and a joy to see them.