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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.


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.


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, 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.

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, 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.

Mrs O. and SS – feathering their nest…


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, 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, 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.




Osprey Update: We have hatchlings!


A very quick update from the nest here in the Tweed Valley – Mrs O’s brood have broken free of their shells! We now have two young Osprey hatchlings in the nest. Although not visible on the picture above, at the time of writing Mrs O is still grooming the new-born chicks, while her partner stands sentry on the edge of the nest.

The birth of new chicks in the Tweed Valley is always something to celebrate – head over to the live camera feed now and see if you can catch a glimpse. We will be back soon with a full update and more pictures!

The osprey waiting game is finally over!

It’s been a very slow start to the Tweed Valley Osprey story this year because we’ve been waiting for the arrival of our main nest birds.

At just about the point when we believed that white leg SS was not going to return this year, he amazed us all, by returning with a stunning new partner. The new female is a blue ringed bird with the letters AS6. We now know – courtesy of the Kielder Osprey project and some keen osprey followers, Ann and Paula – that this bird originated in Ross-shire from a site at Muir of Ord in 2013. She made a stopover at Kielder on 17th April where she checked out the nest site there. We wonder where did white leg SS meet her? Did they pair up when she arrived at the Borders or had they already met beforehand? They both appeared together at the nest site for the first time on Wednesday 20th April and then were both firmly established by 21st April when the female was first identified by Tom who was on duty at the Wild Watch room at Glentress.

The pair managed to eliminate all of the competitors for the nest very quickly and have taken their place on the nest site. We can expect eggs soon and for the first time, we will have late chicks in the Tweed Valley Osprey Project, so this will be a long season. Any chicks will be hatched almost a month later than usual for this site and so it will be interesting to see if this has an impact on the survival rate of the young birds. Fingers crossed for some good weather and plentiful fish.

White leg SS with a fish

White leg SS photographed by Angus Blackburn

Contenders for the throne

Prior to the return of White leg SS and his new female partner blue AS6, ospreys had been visiting the nest and one bird was thought to be the female from last year. This was an unringed bird that sat on the perch next to the nest and seemed to be expecting that her partner may return. We are not sure if she is still around or whether she has moved on.

A blue ringed bird seemed to have taken up residence for a while and was coming in to feed there each afternoon and he was spotted early in the day too.

Paula, a follower of the Tweed Valley Ospreys made some keen observations on the live streaming camera and took some great photos for the project, of the birds seen at the nest from the internet. We have no clear image of the ring number of this bird but we think it could be CJ1.

Another visitor to the site while it was still vacant was a blue ringed bird and the lettering appeared to be CL7, this was one of the chicks that was ringed at the original back up nest in 2013 with the children from St. Ronan’s School as they took part in the 10th anniversary project to produce the Tweed Valley osprey book, Time Flies.

Nest visitor taken from the internet camera

Nest visitor taken from the internet camera, thanks to Paula

News of Tweed Valley ospreys further afield

One of the Tweed Valley Osprey Project birds has returned to Kielder where she has finally overthrown the partner of the male bird there and has settled in. She is White leg EB and came from a Tweed Valley nest in 2007 and was one of a brood of two. She has been popping in to Kielder for a few years now and had a fling with the male bird ‘37’ in 2014 before the resident female returned and sent her packing! This year though she seems to have won her prize and remains at nest number 2 with male 37. EB is now sitting on eggs.

EB at Kielder courtesy of Joanna Dailey

EB at Kielder courtesy of Joanna Dailey

FK8 satellite tagged

FK8 is the young Tweed Valley female bird that flew to Portugal on migration when she left Peebles and she is still there. She has settled into an area in the west of Portugal near Sines and she has a leisurely life, spending her time between two reservoirs but mostly at the Barragem da Morgavel.

The mother of FK8 was found dead at the end of last season, she was a green ringed bird DN and her partner was yellow 8C. However, the good news is that there are reports that birds have settled on their nest site this season. More ospreys moving into the area mean that vacant nests do not remain vacant for long usually. We have checked our remote camera and can now reveal that the new female at this site appears to be a white ringed bird but we cannot read the letters yet. She is sitting on three eggs.

Satellite map of FK8 home in Portugal

Satellite map of FK8 home in Portugal

Portugal visit

We are delighted to have received reports that another Tweed Valley bird, blue ringed CK4 has also been spotted in Portugal. On February 11th Georg Schreier photographed CK4 with another unringed osprey, flying over the salt pans and channels just west of Faro airport in the Park National da Ria Farmosa. He reported that there have been about 10 ospreys overwintering in that area within a 30km stretch and along the coast.

CK4 in flight in Portugal

CK4 in Portugal photographed by Georg Schreier

A Spanish Visitor

We have just received news that another Scottish bird from the Tweed Valley back up nest no.2 has been overwintering in northwest Spain. Antonio Sandoval Rey sent in a video link to see a blue ringed osprey ( PV0) being mobbed by crows at the Abegondo-Cecebre Reservoir near A Caruna City.

This bird is from a brood of two in 2015, a third egg was found in the nest at ringing time with a fully formed chick inside it but it had a double shell and the chick had been unable to break out.

What has happened to FX9?

Concerns are growing for the juvenile osprey (FX9), that fledged a few weeks ago from the main nest. The bird took off and there have not been any confirmed sightings of him at the nest site since. The camera on the nest is live and is watched by volunteers while on duty. Some activity is obviously missed, as it is not watched constantly but even so the pattern of behaviour is so very different from previous years when offspring repeatedly return to their nest site after fledging and mum and dad brought food back there.  Added to the concern about the bird, is the fact that it is fitted with a satellite transmitter and the last data we received is from 2nd August when all was well and he was roosting in trees near to the nest site.
We are still waiting to hear from Roy Dennis (Highland Foundation for Wildlife), as he receives the data and then passes it on to Tony Lightley for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project. We have not given up hope yet as there could be reasons, such as technical issues with a faulty transmitter or the bird may have not returned to the nest because there was no need being an only chick but until we have some data we cannot be certain.

Return of CL4 from the 10th brood of SS in 2013

Some good news though, is that the film footage of the two birds that were briefly visiting the nest on the 10th August, recorded by David Allan, the volunteer on duty, has been analysed frame by frame and the still image of the blue ringed male bird shows the leg ring number to be CL and the third digit we believe to be 4 (CL4). This is very exciting news as this is one of the ospreys ringed as a chick in the main nest in 2013 while the children of St. Ronan’s Primary school watched. This bird was from the final brood of white leg SS and his original partner in their 10th year together and the children had worked on a project to produce the ‘Osprey Time Flies’ book to celebrate the success of the Tweed Valley Osprey Project and 10th anniversary of the parent birds at the main nest.

This is a two year old bird and yet again the advantage of ringing birds in order to identify and find out more about them has paid off. We previously believed that birds did not return until at least three years old, when ready to breed but we have had quite a few two year olds returning and being spotted back in the UK.

Juvenile goshawk checks out osprey nest

Once again David Allan was on duty in the centre and was vigilant enough to spot a very special visitor on the main osprey nest. This time he recorded a juvenile goshawk on the nest, on Sunday 16th August. The young bird hopped about on the right hand perch above the nest, then sidled down the branch, had a good look around then hopped back up to the perch and then hopped away into higher foliage never to be seen again.

goshawk edited main nest 16th august 2015

It was such an impressive raptor with a fierce gaze accentuated by the pale eye-stripe. It had the streaking brown colouring on the breast feathers of a juvenile as opposed to the adult birds horizontal stripes, bright yellow sturdy legs and feet and the resemblance of a sparrowhawk but much bigger.

Migration has begun

The ospreys will be making their migrations soon and the parent birds have not been seen for a while, the female has probably already left. It is worth watching out for ospreys all around the area just now because there will be not only the birds that have bred successfully here in the Tweed Valley and their offspring but other birds from further north will be likely to be passing through on their way south.

Thanks for reading,

FX9 has fledged

The main nest young male bird has fledged successfully and after giving us all quite a worry last week when he hadn’t been seen for five days. We were pleased to receive the first of the satellite data from his transmitter and find out what he has been up to.

It would seem that he took a few earlier flights than we had originally thought and had left the nest and perched in some nearby trees from 20th July onwards. The rest of the data shows that the bird was mostly sitting in trees close by but not on the actual nest, he has spent time flitting from tree to tree and then he became a little bolder and moved along to a further row of conifers opposite his nest site. On 2nd August he took his most daring excursion and flew across the forest and along the front edge of a plantation and roosted in conifers above the burn.

Return to the nest

On Monday 10th August both of his parents were back at the nest and could be seen on the live camera. White leg SS kept himself busy by moving sticks around and having a general tidy up, while his partner sat on the left hand perch squawking. She kept this up for a good while and SS ignored her. She seemed to be begging for food but he didn’t have any. When we receive the next batch of satellite data from FX9, their son, it will be interesting to find out if he was close by when the parents were there. Perhaps his dad had given him a fish which he was eating nearby and this was why his mum was so clearly put out.

There are long periods when the nest is empty now and with only one youngster, there seems to be less need to use the nest for dining now that he is capable of flight.

Osprey visitors

David (one of the volunteers on duty on Monday) reported that two intruder ospreys came on to the nest site at about 4.10pm and stayed until after 5pm. He was able to record some film footage of the birds and it was interesting, as there was an un-ringed adult female with very distinct white markings on the wings with a blue ringed adult male. The female was beseeching food from the male bird. The male had a half-eaten fish in his talons and was on the perch to the left of the nest. She was sitting in the nest and calling repeatedly to him. Unfortunately his blue leg ring could only be seen from the join and couldn’t be read but it had three digits. It was definitely not this year’s juvenile male though.

Migration time

As the summer draws to an end the ospreys will be starting to get ready for their long migration flight. The female adult is usually the first to go, breaking up the family unit and leaving her young behind and the male will stay with the young adult a while longer until he too will take off for his solo journey.

A summary of FK8’s migration last year

Last year the satellite tagged young female stayed in the Tweed Valley area until 7th September. She had made a few bolder excursions out of the valley to get her bearings and then just after 9.30am on 7th September she took off and flew directly to Carlisle. She went south over the Lake District, reaching the Duddon Estuary by 1.30pm, then she crossed the Irish Sea into Liverpool Bay and flew up the Dee Estuary, where she continued into North Wales and stopped to roost overnight at 17.52pm near Llanidloes. She set off the next morning at 6.56am, flew across Wales, crossed the Bristol Channel and roosted in Plymouth overnight. She left the UK mainland the next day and flew through the day and all night to cross the Bay of Biscay and reached Spain at just after 3am. The final part of that flight was slow and at just 1 metre above sea level. She must have been so tired and hungry. She continued on through Spain on shorter flights through the day and roosting at night until reaching Portugal on 14th September. After exploring the whole of the coastal area of the Algarve, she finally settled for the winter around the River Arade in the Portimao area of Portugal. She has spent the whole of the summer of this year in Portugal too.

FX9’s migration journey will be followed soon

We are looking forward to receiving the full data from this year’s satellite tagged bird from the main nest and it will be interesting to find out whether he will go to Africa, as we believe most migrating birds do, or whether he will choose Portugal as his wintering quarters.

sat nav chick main nest FX9 2015

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Chick fitted with satellite tag

The main nest osprey chick is very settled and growing quickly. It will only be a matter of time before this chick will fledge from the nest and begin to explore the area around the Tweed Valley. This will be a very exciting time for all those interested in following the osprey’s story, as for the very first time, the main nest chick has been fitted with a satellite transmitter. This was carried out on the 9th July by Tony Lightley and Dave Anderson from Forestry Commission for Scotland under a special licence. During the process of fitting the transmitter, this 34 day old chick was also weighed and fitted with a darvic ring, (blue FX9) and BTO ring on the legs.

sat nav chick main nest FX9 2015

Telling the sexes apart

It was found that this chick weighed 1420g – meaning it’s a male chick. When determining the sex of the osprey chick, the bird is measured along the wing length and weighed. The smaller male weighs up to 1450g and the females can weigh in excess of 1600g. The female is the larger of the sexes but this is difficult to tell at a distance and in the field, and is only really noticeable when you have both side by side. Another pointer to tell them apart is by the colouring of the feathers around the neck. The male is very pale, but the female has a dark band of feathering for a necklace. The male also has a higher pitched call than the softer pitch of the female but again this is only obvious when both are together.

female chick brown necklace


male chick no necklaceFollowing FX9’s journey

The satellite transmitter will enable us to follow the movements of this male chick and track his whereabouts for approximately the next four years of his life. Last year a ‘back up’ nest, female chick (FK8) was fitted with a transmitter and she is in Portugal. She is basing her summer months travelling between reservoirs and rivers in the region south of Sines.

New sites for the project area

Although there was some disappointment that a couple of osprey nest sites were unoccupied this year, it is encouraging to report that there are a couple of new sites within the Tweed Valley Project area. So overall, the population in this region is still promising to expand.

Feeding at the nest

Daily life at the main nest revolves around feeding, preening and resting it would seem. The male bird, white leg SS, brought in a fish to the nest on Monday which was still clearly gaping its jaws and gills. He looked as though he was about to tuck into a good meal for himself when his partner made a grab for it and removed it, somewhat ungraciously from his talons and began to feed herself and her bonnie young boy.

Fledging fun

The osprey chicks fledge when they are between 40 and 50 days old and the period leading up to this first flight from the nest is spent building up the flight muscles in readiness. Regular wing stretching and flapping will occupy the chicks’ time and the frequency of this activity will increase as the chick nears the time to try out his wings for real. Sometimes a gust of wind can take a young bird by surprise and they can be uplifted on outstretched wings before they have actually made the decision to take flight. Watching the main nest live on camera has revealed some fairly comedic moments as the young birds in the past have tried to master their landing techniques when they return to the nest. However, life will be simpler for this chick – being an only offspring – as he won’t have to negotiate landing in amongst any siblings.

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‘Back up’ nest ringing with volunteers

The ‘back up’ nest birds were ringed this week and some of the osprey volunteers were invited to attend to watch. This is something which those involved in the project really enjoy and it is an opportunity for them to see the young osprey chicks and their parents close up for the first time, having studied them on camera throughout the season and helped visitors to understand a little more about these amazing birds. The volunteers for Tweed Valley Osprey Project do a fantastic job meeting visitors and telling the Tweed Valley Osprey story and going along to see the ringing is a thank you for the work that they do and all the time that they give to this project.

forestry commission osprey ringing (1)

photo courtesy of Kathy Henry

forestry commission osprey ringing















It was found that two chicks had been raised this year in the back up nest and a third egg was found unhatched in the nest. This was similar to last year when FK7 and FK8 were ringed, there was an unhatched egg with a double eggshell. The chick had not managed to break out of the double thickness of shell. This year however, the egg shell was of normal thickness but sadly the fully developed osprey chick had not broken the egg open with its egg-tooth and had died inside the shell. It seems a shame that having reached the full size that it didn’t make it to hatch but we have no idea why this would happen and have no way of finding out.

The birds were fitted with blue Darvic rings on their left legs with the lettering PV0 and PV4. The chicks were a good size but still about three weeks away from fledging as their flight feathers and tail feathers still had to completely break through the shaft.

Disappointingly, a couple of other sites where ospreys had previously been successful in the Tweed Valley project area had been found to have either not occupied this year or to have failed. We do not know why this has happened, adult birds had been seen earlier at the sites but they have for some reason not gone on to successfully breed.


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