Monthly Archives: May 2019

We’ve hatched!

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Proud parents watch their first chick hatch 29th May 4pm.

SS and Mrs O hatched their first chick on Wednesday 29 May at 4pm. Volunteer Lorna Corley Jackson was lucky enough to be on duty in the Wild Watch Room at Glentress Forest, where she was able to record the little one hatching as the proud parents stood by.

“I’m so thrilled, it was one of the most special events of my life,” says Lorna. “It will live with me forever… I feel blessed.”

We are indeed very lucky to be able to witness such a beautiful event taking place, thanks to the remote cameras, technology and our viewing centres. This would otherwise remain a hidden wonder, taking place deep in the forest, and unnoticed by anyone.

Now we have two chicks; but no great footage of them yet, apart from SS trying to feed them as mum preened her soaking feathers. The weather has turned awful in Tweed Valley, with high winds and torrential rain. Mrs O is doing a great job of keeping her newly hatched chicks warm and dry so far, as you can see on this week’s video feed highlights.

We’ll be back next week with more news from the nest!

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This week’s highlights from the nest – now with added chick!

Any day now…

Waiting for hatch time

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This will be an exciting week for our main nest birds, White leg SS and his partner Mrs O, because their chicks are due to hatch.

The first egg was laid on Easter Sunday, and then a second on 24 and a third on 26 April. Osprey incubation is for a period of between 37 to 40 days, so on 28 May it was officially 37 days since the laying of the first egg. There is no delay to start incubation, and chicks generally hatch out on consecutive days. We’ve been keeping a close eye on the brooding couple, but so far, none of the eggs have hatched. Here are this week’s highlights from the live feed:

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This week’s highlights from the nest – click to play

A rainy day

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Looking at the nest on Tuesday morning, we could see Mrs O settling down into the nest in the rain, but there was no indication of any little arrivals. She was quite relaxed and just bearing the damp weather, keeping the eggs warm beneath her, but she must have been aware that they were due to hatch.

Feeding time

20190526_14-35-42 preparing for SS to arrive with fish

In the lead up to hatching time during the week, Mrs O was seen standing up from the eggs abruptly and moving away to the side of the nest to make way for SS, as he swept in on a rush of wings to deliver a half-eaten fish to his hungry partner.

20190526_14-35-53 SS delivers fish to Mrs O

She took it from him and carried it up to the branch to the side of the nest, and began to feed, while SS took his turn to sit on the eggs. He rolled them gently and kept his talons curled in to avoid a puncture. The developing eggs would no doubt feel different now. They have almost fully developed chicks inside of them, and he was very careful and deliberate in his movements to ensure that they were kept safe.

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Prior to hatching, the chicks begin to ‘pip’ and tap with the little extension on their bill called the ‘egg tooth.’ This is a tool they use to break through the shell and into the outside world. Parent birds can hear this, and will wait expectantly for the young to hatch. The egg tooth is lost a few days after hatching. The chicks can no longer absorb oxygen through the egg at this stage, and need to break out to breathe air, and to begin to feed. It takes a great deal of exertion by the chick to break out of the eggshell, and they are weak and wobbly when they first hatch.

Searching the skies

We are expecting to have the new arrivals at the nest, and with a bit of luck they should be ready to see on the camera screens by the weekend. Fingers crossed all goes well for the family! There is still the occasional bout of alarmed sky-watching from the parent birds, but hopefully it is not a real threat. Perhaps just another nosey osprey taking an interest in the site, and having a fly by on occasion.

Our live camera feed is back up!

The live camera feed hosted by Forestry and Land Scotland is currently back up and running. The feed suffers from slow broadband issues, but we have people in the field working on a solution. Although intermittent at times, the feed is back. You can still see videos from the feed, updated every week, on our Osprey Playlist.

Volunteer with us

If you 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.

The story of SS

Our live camera feed is back up!

The live camera feed hosted by Forestry and Land Scotland is currently back up and running. The feed suffers from slow broadband issues, but we have people in the field working on a solution. Although intermittent at times, the feed is back. You can still see videos from the feed, updated every week, on our Osprey Playlist. Here are the highlights from this week!

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This week’s osprey highlights from the Tweed Valley. Click to play.

Where is SS?

20190519_14-01-37 Mrs O and SS with fish

SS returned with a fish for Mrs O

The main nest remains a place of quiet domesticity again this week. The pair are waiting for the eggs to incubate, but the process is a long wait. Mrs O also had a long wait for her partner, SS, to return to the nest at the weekend. Volunteers were concerned that SS had not been seen at the nest for two days during volunteer shifts, so it was with a sigh of relief that they saw SS finally fly in with a good-sized fish on Sunday.

Fish are messy meals

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A messy fish meal leaves sticky feathers on his beak

Judging by Mrs O’s attitude, he must have been back at other times with fish because her actions were not that of a ravenous, abandoned, damsel in distress, but rather a ‘lady who lunches’. She rose from her egg-sitting spot and took the headless trout from SS, carried it in her talons up to the perch above the nest and tucked in, devouring every morsel including the tail in a leisurely fashion.

The whole meal took 35 minutes, and she was a very contented, well-fed mother to be. Meanwhile, SS took a turn to keep the eggs warm while she was eating. The spoils of his catch, in the form of sections of fish head, were clearly sticking to his beak. The sticky blood caused some downy feathers to stick to his bill. He was most in need of a napkin to save his stately demeanour but needs must and a good scrub against some nest sticks brought him back to his usual well- groomed look.

The life story of SS

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A handsome SS photo taken in 2012 by Tony Lightley

Because white leg SS is 20 years old this year, a check back through the records to look at his life history and that of his offspring proved to be quite revealing.

SS fledged from a nest in Aberfoyle in 1999 and was fitted with his white leg ring, SS, on the right leg. He moved to Tweed Valley in 2004, and it has been his summer residence ever since. He was with his original partner until she died in 2014. They successfully raised 26 chicks between them.

We do not know where he spends his winters. Every year he leaves Tweed Valley in September and does not return until the following year in March or early April. We presume he goes to Senegal or Gambia, a popular osprey winter haunt, but he has never been spotted there or anywhere on his journey north or south.  An international bird of mystery, a regular James Bond hero, or just plain SS, an ordinary migrating bird doing what he does best.

When his partner died in 2014 we witnessed it all from the live camera and it was heart breaking to see the desolate figure of SS, at the nest and his 3 dead chicks. They died because they had not had a mum to keep them warm while SS went out to hunt.

We were absolutely thrilled when he returned in 2015 and found a new mate, and they raised one chick (FX9), which sadly disappeared a week after fledging. In 2016, another new partner arrived for SS. This was a young female from the Muir of Ord, but again the summer ended tragically with one egg unhatched. The one chick that did hatch died in the nest. AS6, the young female, never returned to nest with SS again.

Then, in 2017, the indomitable Mrs O arrived and they became a pair. They were too late in the season that year, and didn’t produce any eggs. Mrs O squawked her way through the summer and was quite aggressive towards SS at times. But in 2018, they cemented their partnership and raised Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Sadly, tragedy again struck, the two chicks never made it out of the UK on migration.

This year, Mrs O and SS have three eggs and we are hoping that they will have a happy season. We are looking forward to 3 little chicks soon.

The Offspring of SS

In total, SS, had 29 offspring which fledged from the main nest. We know that at least 4 of those successfully went on to breed. His son from 2006, yellow 80, nested at Caerlaverock in 2013 and 2014, and returned again this year. One of his daughters from 2007, white HA, nested in Stirlingshire from 2012 to 2016.

A daughter, CK2 , from the main nest in 2012 began to nest in Esthwaite in 2015. One of SS’s sons from 2013, CL6, moved to the Highlands and took up a nest site with a 25 year-old female bird.

One of his daughters from the 2010 nest, HF, was seen in Wales at the Dyfi nest in 2012. Another of his offspring , CL4, that fledged in 2013 visited her natal nest site in August 2015 while her father was not there, and was seen again in the Algarve in 2016.

SS birthday Party – you’re invited!

Another reminder for past volunteers to get in touch if they would like to celebrate SS being 20 years old this year on 8 June.

Contact Diane on  Tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com to confirm your attendance. We would love to celebrate with all past and present volunteers and project supporters, and share a few stories. There’ll be a chance to show off your osprey-themed talents too, be they arty, crafty, wordy, ‘techy’, musical or just plain daft!

Volunteer with us

If you 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.

 

SS and Mrs O. enjoy domestic bliss

All is quiet

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It has been a quiet and uneventful week on the main osprey nest, which is a good thing, as both birds are quite settled. Mrs O is sitting on her three eggs, while SS continues to brings fish for her. If she leaves her eggs to feed on the perch beside the nest, SS takes a turn looking after the eggs. It’s domestic bliss, for now at least! Have a look at the latest videos from the nest – click the image below to play.

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This week’s video from the nest – click to play in a new window.

 

Not bothered

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One day this week, SS and Mrs O were sitting together, both staring up into the sky, as if watching another bird flying over. They did not appear to be alarmed, and displayed no signs of anxious behaviour or distress, although the posture of SS could be considered protective; perched slightly above her with his tail over her back.

SS out on the loch

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Our 20 year-old male SS was spotted on a fishing trip to St. Mary’s Loch on the evening of 12 May by John Wright, the Golden Eagle Officer for the South of Scotland Eagle Project. He managed to take a fantastic photograph of him as he flew by. This is the first time that he has ever been spotted and photographed flying and fishing at the loch, and we were delighted to receive the photograph of him. John also spotted another couple of ospreys in the area. One was un-ringed, but the other was PX5, a 3 year old male from the Solway area.

Moving house

We have news about the ‘back up nest no. 2’ birds, which is somewhat bittersweet. We were very disappointed that the birds that were holding the territory at the end of last summer hadn’t returned to the nest. Considering the remoteness of the area, Tony and Graham managed to set up a live camera viewing system via satellite, via masts running over numerous hills to beam into the Glentress Wildwatch Room and Kailzie Gardens Osprey Watch. We were convinced that this pair would return this spring, and when they failed to take up residence on the nest, we were left wondering why.

This week, one of the wildlife rangers spotted them, not at the camera nest (which has been occupied for about 10years) but at a new nest site that they have built for themselves nearby. The area that they have chosen is near to clear felled trees, where birds tried to nest previously. A nesting platform was put up to lure them away from tree harvesting areas about 10 years ago, and this became our ‘back up nest 2’.

Sadly, the original ‘back up no. 2’ nest birds have died. The good news is that we think the late partner of 8C, an un-ringed bird, is potentially with the new male from the end of last season at this new site. We may not find out, in the absence of a camera, but in terms of osprey nest sites, they have certainly chosen well for panoramic, elevated scenic views. We just have to hope they have selected a good enough tree to withstand the test of time.

New site

More very exciting news came from a former volunteer for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project this week. He got in touch to say that a pair of ospreys have built a nest about a mile from his house, and they can see the birds from their home. They are able to zoom in with good binoculars and cameras from a safe distance, without disturbing the nest. This is a brand new nest site, and great news. We think potentially it could be the birds that left the original back up nest site, or it could even be new birds that have taken to the area.

More raptor news

We have news that other raptors are also doing well and we now have 2 nesting pairs of red kites in the Scottish Borders, one pair in the Tweeddale area and worth looking out for and a pair of peregrines that have struggled to breed in their location previously, are now on a nest with eggs.

Goshawks that have been satellite tracked in the area of Tweeddale continue to be monitored, and data has revealed their regular haunts, showing where the mature birds which are ready to breed are taking up territory.

Golden eagles which were released as juveniles are thriving and ranging to explore the south of Scotland, and a sub-adult bird has also moved into the region too. It is hoped that territories will be established in the future, and that they will start to breed here.

SS birthday Party – you’re invited!

Another reminder for past volunteers to get in touch if they would like to celebrate SS being 20 years old this year on 8 June.

Contact Diane on  Tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com to confirm your attendance. We would love to celebrate with all past and present volunteers and project supporters, and share a few stories. There’ll be a chance to show off your osprey-themed talents too, be they arty, crafty, wordy, ‘techy’, musical or just plain daft!

Volunteer with us

If you 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.

20190510_14-09-26 SS returns to Mrs O

Our live camera feed is still down, but we are working on a solution

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 you can see videos from the feed, updated every week, on our Osprey Playlist. Thanks for your understanding.

SS is 20, and we are celebrating!

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SS drops in with a fish for Mrs O

Birthday Celebration for SS 20th

The Friends of Kailzie Wildlife has successfully been awarded a grant for Tweed Valley Osprey Project to hold a celebration to mark the 20th birthday of white leg SS, the male osprey on the main nest since 2004.  To mark the occasion we are holding a celebration in the Osprey Centre at Kailzie Gardens on 8 June, and will be having a large sculpture cake of the birthday bird. Join us if you can!

Past and Present Volunteers and supporters of Tweed Valley Osprey Project Invited

We would like to invite all past and present volunteers and supporters of the Tweed Valley Osprey Project to come along. We will have some refreshments and cut the osprey cake and share it.

We would also like to invite volunteers and supporters to help celebrate by sharing memories, artwork, photos, or poems, and to showcase any osprey-related talents they might have, to display on the day. Any contributions will be photographed or digitised and used for the proposed production of a souvenir booklet about the life of SS, our most celebrated osprey.

Many volunteers have been contacted by email but many addresses are no longer in use, so please get in touch if you would like to come along and visitors will be most welcome also.

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This week’s YouTube playlist – click to play!

News from the nest

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Mrs O sitting on the eggs with SS looking on

This has been a good week at the main nest site for Mrs O and SS. They are proving to be a very settled couple. Fish are being delivered regularly by SS, and he is dutifully giving them to Mrs O. She moves up to the perch to feed, and he takes over for a stint of egg sitting. She then briefly leaves the nest site and has a stretch of her flight muscles, and a chance to excrete away from the nest.

Decorating the nest

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Mrs O moves that bark about

Time passes slowly for Mrs O, sitting on eggs for long periods of time. Focusing on something to occupy herself relieves the monotony. This week, the point of interest for Mrs O was a squared off piece of bark. She moved it about and fussed over it, and at one point even had it balanced above the eggs, before giving it a heave, along with a clump of moss that had attached itself. She positioned it towards the back of the nest, from where we can view it on the camera. A contemporary home often does have a feature wall, so we applaud Mrs O’s thoroughly modern take on the traditional osprey nest.

Scary appendage on SS

Film footage taken of the pair on the nest on 3 May gave a bit of a scare. It appeared that something was sticking up out of SS’ back. It looked like a twig, but it was perpendicular to his wing and we were worried that it was sticking into him. Footage from the next couple of days has been analysed since and it has gone, so presumably SS will have removed it from his feathers when preening.

All is well SS 20190505_10-34-36

All is well for SS

Son of SS success

One of the offspring of SS is a male bird with yellow leg ring 8O. He was fledged from the main Tweed Valley nest in 2006 when SS was with his original un-ringed partner. We know that he has been breeding and doing well over at the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust Reserve of Caerlaverock in Dumfriesshire, because the nest site had a camera to view the nest back in the visitor centre.

He first took up the territory in 2012 with an un-ringed female, but had no young. However, he bred successfully with his un-ringed partner in 2014 and 2015, rearing two chicks per year – two females, FK2 and FK3; and then the following year two more female chicks ringed as CN0 and CN1.

From 2016 to 2018 another two ospreys occupied the site, and 😯 didn’t return until this spring, when he paired up at the nest site again with an un-ringed partner. All looked good for breeding again. Sadly, the pair have abandoned the site and moved to a nearby nest site instead of the camera site, and although they are settled and hopefully with eggs, they cannot be viewed on the live screen.

We are certain that the other offspring of SS will be breeding and successful too, but we do not know anything about them as they will be on territory where there are no cameras.

FK8 update

26th and 27th April FK8

Another Tweed Valley favourite is FK8, the female osprey who nested up in the Dornoch area for the first time last year. She has a tracker and we know that she returned safely but didn’t directly settle down to nest. She was flitting back and forth to favourite hunting grounds further north to Loch Slethill and Forsinard area.

The last data that we have received shows that as late as 24 April she was staying overnight in forest land near to Loch an Cloiche, but returned to her nest site and spent two nights there on 25 and 26 April, showing the last tracked point on 27 April. Hopefully this means that she has paired up with her partner and is now on eggs, but we will wait to see if more data is returned.

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.

Time to incubate

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It has been a very busy week on the main osprey nest in the Tweed Valley. The resident pair, Mrs O and SS have settled down together for the season. After laying an egg on Easter Sunday, Mrs O then went on to lay two more over the next few days. Egg number 2 arrived on Wednesday 24 April, and the volunteer on duty on Friday 26 April  got a lovely surprise when she found a third egg that morning.

Now, the serious duty of incubation has begun, and it’s time for SS to prove his worth as a mate by providing fish for her when she is hungry, and looking after the eggs while she feeds.

So far, all seems to be going well for them. Mrs O, known for her demanding squawks when she wants something, is a changed bird. She has dropped the attitude, and serenity has descended the nest site as a contented Mrs O sits on her clutch of 3 eggs. SS is bringing plenty of fish to support her.

Unwelcome visitors and home defence

A few visitors to the nest site have broken the monotony watching Mrs O sitting still on her eggs. The cheeky jay visitor returned and took a bolder approach by sitting on the top of the nest while Mrs O was sitting on her eggs. Perhaps he feels safe while she is sitting on her eggs? We somehow get the feeling that his visits will be repeated throughout the summer. Another little visitor was a chaffinch that popped onto the lower side of the nest, and helped herself to a bit of nice moss for her own nest while a docile Mrs O looked on.

Not all visitors are welcome though… while SS was away fishing on Sunday 28 April a very startled and upset Mrs O became agitated as the shadow of a large bird flew over the nest. She rose from the eggs and mantled her wings over them for protection and with an open beak and a fierce expression. As she glared up at the sky, an intruder male osprey dropped in. His legs could just be seen as he dropped down towards the nest as though to land.

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We got a clear view, and could see that this bird had no leg rings, and has not been seen here before. He overflew the nest itself and had the audacity to land on the left hand perch above Mrs O, who was not happy at all. She drew herself up into a magnificent posture of aggression and launched herself into the air towards the perch, to topple the unwelcome visitor and drive him away.

He flew off and she gave chase. This was a very scary time for her, as she had to leave her eggs unattended to deal with the imposter. She returned as quickly as possible and thankfully the eggs were unharmed. She settled back down to shield them and keep them warm.

Tag-team parenting

When both birds are present at the nest it, would usually be the male that would have dealt with the intruder. Because she was alone, Mrs O had no option but to deal with the threatening situation herself.  It is always a dangerous situation leaving precious eggs exposed. Our friend the Jay, or even crows and pine martens would all appreciate a free meal if they had the opportunity.

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SS returned about 45 minutes later with a fish and Mrs O was pleased to see him. She rose from the eggs and took the fish immediately, moving up on to the right hand perch to feed while SS busied himself tidying the nest and moving moss and sticks around, before settling down onto the eggs and having an afternoon nap.

Backup nests still empty

No ospreys have taken up residence at the back up no.2 nest this year. The male bird 8C (FK8’s father) died last year, and his un-ringed female partner never made a secure partnership with any of the incoming male birds. At the end of the season, birds were at the site and building the nest up, which led us to be hopeful that they would occupy the site this year. Thus far, both the original back up nest and no.2 nests are unoccupied this season.

The nestbox camera at Kailzie Gardens osprey watch centre has a pair of great tits in residence, and they now have a clutch of seven eggs. They will incubate for the next couple of weeks and then we should be able to watch them rearing their young family.

Volunteers – please step forward!

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.

If anybody would like to be a volunteer, please get in touch by email at tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com, or you can phone Diane on 07908098026.

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.