Monthly Archives: April 2019

An Easter surprise…

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Mrs O. with her “Easter egg”

Towards the end of last week, it was becoming clear that Mrs O was due to lay an egg at the main nest. Since her arrival back to the territory, she had been with her partner, regularly mating in the nest. A concerted team effort saw them build the nest up in readiness for the new arrivals, and then line it with copious, comfortable-looking, soft, dried moss.

Come Easter Sunday, the obliging Mrs O decided to make Easter Sunday memorable this year, and laid her first egg of 2019. Needless to say, this was a very happy day in the osprey watch hut for volunteers and visitors. Mrs O and SS sat in the nest with their prize egg just as crowds of children were running around Kailzie Gardens, indulging in their own egg hunts.

Mrs Oand SS plumage contrast20190420_12-04-15

Fish fight!

Prior to the egg being laid, the happy couple had been having a few spats over the quantity of fish being brought in. SS had arrived on Saturday with a fish. but did not want to share it. The expectant mother was not pleased, and was eventually quite forceful. She took it from him and went up onto the perch to eat. After tucking in for about half an hour, she flew back down onto the nest with it. A disgruntled SS tussled with her to take it back and then flew off with it.

SS brings fish for Mrs O 20190421_13-34-17

It was a different story on Easter Sunday, however. A very relaxed Mrs O was sitting on her newly laid egg when SS came in with a fish. They were not even fazed when a cheeky little jay popped into the site and hung about looking for scraps for a while before flying away.

mrs O takes the fish 20190421_14-59-44

SS sat up on the perch eating the fish, until he decided to drop back down into the nest. Mrs O took her turn to take the remaining fish up on to the perch, while SS took up position sitting on the egg, carefully curling his talons so that he didn’t accidentally pierce it.

Mrs O eating with jay below her 20190421_16-06-45

The jay returned and took a position below Mrs O, where she was feeding on the perch. He was probably hoping that she would be a messy eater, but every morsel torn from the fish was devoured by Mrs O, and the jay soon left, disappointed.

startled 20190420_13-33-30

Also on Sunday, SS fell asleep while he was sitting in the nest. It is a rare sight to see the ospreys completely asleep, as they remain alert to danger or disturbance, but SS had his eyes tight shut, showing his feathered lower eyelid. Perhaps it was the warm weather inducing fatigue.

Update: A second egg arrives

Mrs O and egg

Since this blog post was written, on the afternoon of 24 April, Mrs O. has laid one more egg, bringing the grand total to two so far. We are hoping for at least one more! We have still not seen any birds return to the back up nest yet but remain hopeful, as there is still time.

FK8’s incredible journey

FK8 explores north before heading back to nest area

FK8, the 5-year old Tweed Valley female who is satellite tagged, arrived at her nest in Dornoch on 7 April at 14.18pm. It looks likely that her male partner has not arrived there yet, as she didn’t stay long before returning to her favourite fishing grounds up in the far north at Forsinard and Loch Slethill.

She has been fishing and roosting there, which is good as she will be getting into breeding condition and replenishing her reserves after her migration from Portugal. On 17 April she returned to Dornoch and was still there on 18 April , so perhaps her partner has since arrived and she is at the nest with him. We do not know anything about her partner as he is not tagged. The next set of data will indicate whether she is staying at the nest or not.

FK8s journey through the UK with stopovers marked

Her spring migration was swift and direct. She left Sines in Portugal on 30 March, headed northwards, and stopped overnight in Sarzedo in a clump of trees before continuing her journey into Spain. Her next stopping point was near to Ocero, on 31 March.

She took off the next morning and headed to the Spanish coastline, then out into the Bay of Biscay. She continued her journey, flying throughout the night to make the sea crossing, and reaching the shores of Brittany on 2 April after a 760km non- stop flight with no sleep. She spent a couple of nights on the mainland before crossing the English Channel, reaching UK shores at 10.30am. She flew north through Wales and stopped over near to Penant after flying for 525km.

She left Wales from the coast, not far from Colwyn bay by St Cynbryd Church, and flew directly over the Irish Sea to Dumfriesshire, arriving in Southern Scotland at 13.16pm on 5 April at Auchencairn. She flew over the Balcary Bay Hotel at a height of 92 m above sea level and a speed of 4 knots.

It took her one more stop to complete her journey near to the Rannoch Moor Hotel in the Highlands on 6 April. The next day she was safely back to her nest site from last year, near Dornoch. We hope that she meets her mate and has a successful breeding season.

Volunteer with us

If anybody would like to be a volunteer at the osprey centres at Glentress Forest WildWatch Room and Kailzie Gardens, Nature and Osprey Watch, then please get in touch by email at tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com, or you can phone Diane on 07908098026.

We really do need some more volunteers for this season to monitor the cameras and to keep a log diary of osprey activity, and to chat to visitors to tell them what is happening at the nest sites which are live on camera. Volunteers also play a vital role in recording footage from the live camera. Training will be given, so no previous experience is needed.

A note about our live camera feed

Unfortunately, the live camera feed hosted by Forestry and Land Scotland is currently down due to ongoing technical issues. They have people in the field working on a solution, and they apologise for the inconvenience. We’ll have it back up and running as soon as possible – and will share some videos from the feed here on the blog. Thanks for your understanding.

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Mrs O. and SS – feathering their nest…

togetherness

Mrs O. and SS are displaying real signs of togetherness and pair bonding in 2019

Since arriving last week, our main nest pair have settled in at their familiar territory and begun the serious business of making their nest secure and structurally tight. On Wednesday 10 April, SS brought in a large, lichen-covered stick for the nest. He placed it up at the top end but was clearly not happy with it, and kept trying to move it further down, but didn’t like the lichen coming off and sticking to his beak. He kept shaking his head and dropping the stick.

Mrs O came to the rescue and in a rare act of teamwork, she got hold of the stick’s underside, which didn’t have lichen on, and pulled it. SS got hold of the other end and they worked together to ensure their nest felt secure and sturdy to their satisfaction.

Mrs O stick moving.jpg

Mrs O. lends a hand. Well, a beak…

This is progress in their relationship. Mrs O seems contented and relaxed, and there has been less squawking from her than in previous years. This is her third year with SS, so she must feel more secure and confident that their partnership is strong.

The first year that she came, she fought off another ringed female bird and claimed the territory and the right to be on the nest site with SS, who has been at the same site since 2004 with his first partner (who sadly died in 2014). Mrs O and SS spent the first season holding the territory, but didn’t breed as they were too late pairing up for mating to produce viable eggs.

Teamwork SS and Mrs O

Working together to make the nest secure

Last year when Mrs O arrived, she hadn’t quite made her mind up and flitted between the back up nest and the main nest, until finally settling and choosing SS as her mate. They successfully raised their first family together. This year she arrived back at the nest on the same day as SS, and they are now an established couple. They have been sharing nest building tasks between them, and homemaking and togetherness is evident in their teamwork. Their bond will grow stronger the longer they are together, and this bodes well for raising a family again this year.

Eggs on the way for Easter?

The pair have been mating regularly, and we can expect eggs over the Easter weekend with a bit of luck. This week Mrs O was trying the nest out for sitting purposes after a spot of stick moving, and she squatted down in the centre and sat. No eggs are laid yet but she must be getting ready.

getting ready to lay

Mrs O. gets comfy and ready to lay

SS brought a fish in after a hunting trip on Wednesday and gave it to Mrs O. She went up onto the perch and ate it, and SS looked very tired after his exertion. He sat in the nest relaxing and resting with his eyes closed. We have not witnessed him sleeping at the nest before, but he is a 20 year old bird now and has just arrived back from his long migration. He will need to build up some strength for the summer, to provide for a family of hungry young, and a partner, as well as feeding himself.

Hopes for a brighter 2019 season

There are still no ospreys at the back up nest yet, but another pair at one of the sites have returned safely already, and others will be taking up their territories too. Last year was the worst year since 2007 for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project area birds. Out of a potential 15 nest sites, only 5 were productive with only 10 osprey chicks fledged. Six of the nest sites were occupied by single birds only and they paired up later in the season, but were too late to breed. At least there was pair bonding, which will hopefully develop into breeding success for this year.

Storm Desmond was responsible for blowing out two of the nest sites, with the contents lost. These sites have been re- built up for the 2019 season by the environment team, ready for returning birds.

A nesting platform was constructed on a telegraph pole and erected by Scottish Power at one of the osprey sites last year, where an old nest tree had been storm damaged and had subsequently collapsed. The male bird returned to this site, but the female failed to return. A second female did arrive, but too late in the season. Hopefully they will pair up for 2019. New platforms and nesting locations will be established to encourage more ospreys to breed for the 2019 season, so we are optimistic that this could be a better year.

Volunteer with us

If anybody would like to be a volunteer at the osprey centres at Glentress Forest WildWatch Room and Kailzie Gardens, Nature and Osprey Watch, then please get in touch by email at tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com, or you can phone Diane on 07908098026.

We really do need some more volunteers for this season to monitor the cameras and to keep a log diary of osprey activity, and to chat to visitors to tell them what is happening at the nest sites which are live on camera. Volunteers also play a vital role in recording footage from the live camera. Training will be given, so no previous experience is needed.

A note about our live camera feed

Unfortunately, the live camera feed hosted by Forestry and Land Scotland is currently down due to ongoing technical issues. They have people in the field working on a solution, and they apologise for the inconvenience. We’ll have it back up and running as soon as possible – and will share some videos from the feed here on the blog. Thanks for your understanding.

The 2019 Osprey season begins: SS & Mrs O. return

SS in the misty rain Mrs O on perch with fish

SS in the mist, back at the main nest…

The Tweed Valley Osprey Project has had a very happy start to the 2019 season. Both the distinctive white leg of SS and his partner Mrs O have been spotted, and they have safely returned from their migration to their nest site.

Both arrived on Saturday 6 April, and by Sunday, they had begun mating. They seem to be ready for a season together again. SS has been seen digging out a scrape in the centre of the nest, which makes a cup shape for eggs, but they have not added much in the way of new nesting material yet.

SS has brought a few sticks back for the nest and some clumps of moss, which he places carefully onto the nest. Mrs O, ever the interior decorator, rearranges the adornments and takes charge of the exact positioning. Home furnishings it would seem are firmly Mrs O’s domain! He provides and she decides.

Mrs O takes the fish from SS

Same goes for feeding time. SS arrived at the nest with a beauty of a big brown trout on Sunday, and Mrs O needed no encouragement, she pounced upon the prize, took it from him and flew up to the branch with the fresh trout still flapping in her talons. We hope we can expect eggs at their nest very soon.

Birthday party for SS!

Mrs O taking fish close up

SS will be 20 years old this year and we are hoping to have a birthday celebration at the osprey centre at Kailzie Gardens, with volunteers and visitors, on 8 June. We would like any past volunteers or supporters of Tweed Valley Osprey Project to get in touch and come along too. More details will follow in future news reports and blogs.

Ospreys have not yet returned to other sites in Tweed Valley, or to the back-up nest, but we are hopeful that they will all return soon.

FK8 completes a long journey

FK8's return 2019

One of the Tweed Valley birds, FK8, which has been satellite tracked for the past 5 years has returned to breed again in the Dornoch area. She left her wintering grounds in Portugal on 1 April, then spent a couple of days held up in France as the weather turned adverse before she crossed the channel to Britain and flew up the west of the country. She did not pass through Peeblesshire this time on her migration, but headed straight for Dornoch where her nest site is located. She arrived safely on 7 April at 3.57pm.

Doros journey 2018

FK8’s daughter, from last year’s successful breeding in Dornoch, was named Doros. She migrated almost one month later than her mother in the autumn of 2018. She completed an incredible journey of 3255km with only 4 overnight roosts in 6 days, with a continuous journey from UK shores out over the Atlantic Ocean to Morocco. She settled near to the town of Takabout and discovered a shallow reservoir Sidi Abderrahmane which she made her home residence until she was last tracked on 31 October. It could be that her tracker has ceased to work and she is still there and doing well, but we don’t have any further data.

RIP Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Tweedledum last point

Last year’s main nest young, named as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, didn’t fare as well. Tweedledee was picked up at Wooler. She was emaciated and subsequently died on the way to the vets. Her brother, after a brief spell at Fishcross SSPCA, was released and followed his sisters path to the Northumbrian coast but was never tracked beyond the River Coquet at Warkworth on 16 September 2018.

LK8 last track point 25th October 2018

LK8, another of the tracked juveniles from last year in upper Tweed Valley, sadly never made it either. He was tracked as far as the south coast of Spain to a mountainous region above the Alboran Sea. The data indicates that he most likely died there, as the data points didn’t continue and returned a static location.

Volunteer with us

If anybody would like to be a volunteer at the osprey centres at Glentress Forest WildWatch Room and Kailzie Gardens, Nature and Osprey Watch, then please get in touch by email at tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com, or you can phone Diane on 07908098026.

We really do need some more volunteers for this season to monitor the cameras and to keep a log diary of osprey activity, and to chat to visitors to tell them what is happening at the nest sites which are live on camera. Volunteers also play a vital role in recording footage from the live camera. Training will be given, so no previous experience is needed.

A note about our live camera feed

Unfortunately, the live camera feed hosted by Forestry and Land Scotland is currently down due to ongoing technical issues. They have people in the field working on a solution, and they apologise for the inconvenience. We’ll have it back up and running as soon as possible – and will share some videos from the feed here on the blog. Thanks for your understanding.