The osprey centres may have closed for the season but the Tweed Valley osprey saga continues, with the start of migration journeys, families parting company, and plenty of drama, with a helping hand for one of the main nest chicks.
Tweedledum rescued and taken to SSPCA
The Environment team for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project continued to monitor the main nest after the season closed. They were alarmed to discover that one of the main nest chicks, Tweedledum (LL7), was spending far too much time back at the nest site, was not feeding properly, and eventually was weakened to the state of being flightless. The decision was made to recover the bird and take him to the SSPCA at Fishcross for assessment and treatment. There, he was examined by a vet and given a full health scan. He was found to be underweight, with a few broken tail feathers. After a short period of TLC, and after being fed with lots of fish to gain strength and aid recovery, Tweedledum was released back at the nest site.
Tweedledum begins to migrate
He has since got his mojo back, and on 10 September left the nest area and moved over to Yarrow Valley to begin his migration. He spent the night there, before flying further across the Borders to Minto. He then roosted overnight in farmland before heading eastwards to the coast.
He spent 3 days in the area between Craster and Long Houghton and took a circular flight out to sea, then returned inland to roost on 14 September. Then on 15 September he headed south to Warkworth on the River Coquet, where he settled and seemed to have found a good fishing and roosting spot. He doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to leave the Northumberland area and progress his migration journey just yet.
Tragedy for Tweedledee
His sister, Tweedledee, also migrated. What was so surprising is that she set off on a very similar route, starting on 8 September with a journey to the same area of Northumberland coast. She also spent 4 days in the area, and did not progress further south. The data has been scrutinised and there appears to have been no contact between them. They were never in the same place at the same time, but considering they did not leave together, the similarities in behaviour are interesting. She ventured quite a distance out into the north Sea, only to double back up to Bamburgh, and then back inland. The last data showed that she was at a business park in North Berwick at Windmill Way on 15 September. However, on 17 September we received the tragic news that she had been found dead and her carcass had been recovered in Wooler. She was emaciated and so had not been feeding. This perhaps explains why migration never progressed further once she reached the coast.
LK8’s strong migration journey
In contrast to the journeys made so far by the siblings from the main nest, LK8, another fledged bird from Tweed Valley Project area from a nest site just a few kilometres away from the main nest, has also migrated. His route couldn’t be more different to the other birds.
He left his nest area on 12 September and headed straight overland in a south easterly direction to Barnard Castle in County Durham, where he roosted overnight before continuing his journey to Yorkshire, then Bury St. Edmunds, and on to the coast of southern England, crossing Southend on Sea, and continuing down to finally roost near to Hastings on 15 September. In just four days, he reached the English Channel and was ready to make a crossing, whereas the main nest birds spent four days in Northumberland. It doesn’t seem that the journeys are distinct from each other due to any atmospheric conditions, but as we now know that Tweedledee has died, the delay in migration was likely due to the birds being in poor condition. Hopefully Tweedledum will do better beside the River Coquet in Warkworth before continuing his journey.
LK8 continued migration on 17 September and the last data received showed that he had almost reached the coast of France. Hopefully will have made it there in safety by now.
FK8 and Doros
Our final satellite tagged bird for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project this season is now known as Doros. It stands for Dornoch osprey, and the apt name was created by one of our volunteers, Marjorie. Doros is the daughter of FK8, one of the tracked ospreys from the back up nest in 2014. This is her first offspring but she will not be winning any great accolades for mother of the year.
Doros fledged on August 14 and after making her first flight, her mum left her at the nest and returned to her favourite hunting grounds in the Forsinard Flows. She made a 180km round trip for three consecutive days, popping back to check on her daughter, and then left for Portugal. She is now back on her territory at Sines in Portugal, yet her daughter, Doros, is still in Dornoch at the nest site and hasn’t ventured much further than the estuary or the forestry plantations nearby. Presumably her dad stayed with her to provide the final stages of parenting and hopefully any day now she will also make a move south.