Category Archives: Journey south

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.

DSCF6405
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,
Diane

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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

Thanks for reading,

Diane

 

 

 

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.

Thanks for reading,

Diane

Flight of Tweed Valley Osprey FK8 during May and June 2015

FK8 has remained in Portugal but has extended her range from Portimao to an area further north.
9th /10th May. An overnight roost in the Penina Golf Course trees. This is 5km to the west of the usual haunts, along the River Arade near Portimao.

Penina golf course

Penina golf course

11th May, further exploration of the region, casting much further afield into a wide band north and west. After leaving the golf resort FK8 explored some of the artificial lakes in the countryside. This could be due to the summer drop in water levels in the rivers and streams.

pic 2 wider north to lake 2

The image above shows FK8’s journey from the River Arade across to the west to the Penina golf resort and then a long northerly exploration of water bodies to the north and back across to the River Arade.

Storks nesting on pylons and rooftops in the area of Portugal where FK8 has explored and their huge nests on the tops of the artificial poles may be a familiar sight reminding her of the treetop eyrie that she fledged from in the Tweed Valley last summer 2014.

pic 3 lake pic

This is a photo of the artificial lake that FK8  checked out on 11th May.

Dropping water levels on the same lake.

pic 5 storks

A storks nest on top of a telegraph pole.

The image above shows the journey on 22nd May. FK8 moved to the north and west of Portimao region and explored the artificial water bodies (reservoirs ) above the Rio Mira.

On 24th May FK8  made a steady journey to visit the artificial reservoir called Barragem de Morgavel. The west coastline of Portugal on the Atlantic Ocean can be seen to the left of the image above. A roost point on the lakeside is marked with a yellow ring.

The trend of movement seems to be generally northwards and seeking out large water bodies as the spring weather warmed up. If river levels were dropping then fishing may have become more difficult and hence the move to deeper water bodies with better fishing prospects.

The image below shows an overnight roost at the Barragem de Morgavel.

pic 7 Barragem de Morgavel

 

pic 9 journey Dec to May

This image shows the journey of FK8 since December 2014, showing the residency in Portimao and the trip to Spain in March, returning to Portugal to the Portimao area and then  the northerly  journey that has taken place in May, ending with the roost site on 25th May.

The image below shows a trip taken by FK8 over the period  28th-31st May, travelling north then south to explore the area.

pic 10 journey May 28th -31st

The image below shows a roost site on the edge of the reservoir and flight paths showing some movement through the day for fishing forays.

pic 11 close up shoreline roost

 

pic 12 travelling between two reservoirs

The image above shows FK8’s  journey flying between the two reservoirs of Barragem de Morgvel and Barragem de Camphilas.

The landscape in Portugal will consist of native species of Carob tree, Common Alder, Holm Oak, Kermes Oak, Portuguese Oak, Pyranean Oak, English Oak, Sweet Chestnut, Wild cherry, narrow leafed ash, strawberry tree, maritime pine, stone pine, alder buckthorn and cork oak and eucalyptus.

Familiar fish species will include, salmon, brown trout, sea trout and pike with the addition of native species of Iberian Barbel and soft mouthed bass plus the introduced rainbow trout.

An image of FK8’s whole journey so far to the end of June is shown below.

pic 13 full journey of FK8

Peaceful incubation

The long wait for the incubation period to come to an end seems tedious to us but for the resident ospreys at the main nest eyrie, life has become routine and fairly steady. If ospreys were thankful creatures I am sure that they would be grateful that they are not being harassed by other ospreys wanting a nest site. They seem to have been left to get on with their breeding season with little intrusion so far from other ospreys this year. Could this be because they are a new pairing and the female is strong and young, therefore presenting themselves as a force to be reckoned with? Do other ospreys intrude and cause bother only when they believe they are in with a chance to usurp a weaker individual? It is purely speculation but given that so many established pairs of long standing have had intruder birds and eggs kicked out of nests by rival males at other UK sites and the problems we had last year with our old female, it is a possible consideration.

Hatching time

There is not long to wait now for hatching time and we expect little osprey heads popping up in the nest sometime in the first week of June. This is an exciting time for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project to witness on screen the behaviour of the new mum with the very experienced older male. He has 11 years’ experience of being a successful father and rearing chicks to fledge. We are speculating that this is perhaps the females’ first brood.
Much of her time is spent preening her feathers while he is sitting on the eggs. The breeding season and the long wait for eggs to hatch is an opportunity to moult and grow some pristine new feathers.

A cheeky little female chaffinch took a wander across the top of the nest while the female osprey was incubating and she seemed to help herself to a bit of moss from the nest to take back to line her own nest presumably.

Blue tits

The blue tits on camera at Kailzie now seem to have a complete clutch of eggs at seven in the nest. This is less than most years and is also later than usual due to the cold delayed spring.

Return of the spotted flycatchers

We are delighted that spotted flycatchers have built a nest in the open fronted nest box with a camera on it. The last time they used this box was in 2007, we recently cleared some branches from the area in front of the box and it seems to have been just the right thing for the flycatchers. Flycatchers apparently like a completely clear flyway into their nest site because branches could become perches for predators to use to look into the nest.

Wild food at Kailzie

A Wild Food at Kailzie event will take place on Saturday 30th May from 11am to 4pm in the gardens, with a chance to discover what is edible and growing around us. There will be pond dipping to look at natural predators feeding in the ponds and song birds will be getting a treat as Lynn Walker will be building the Feasting Tree which we hope visitors will help to fill with delicious bird tucker. Come along and make some delicious pudding for birds to feast on and make a feeder of your own.

There will be children’s games and also some live bird ringing taking place in the osprey centre where there will be a chance to see songbirds close up before being fitted with a BTO ring and released unharmed. Donations collected on the day will be for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project.

On the move north

The satellite tagged osprey from Tweed Valley is on her travels again. Having spent what seems to have been an idyllic winter in Portimao in Portugal she briefly took a trip to Spain almost as far as the Strait of Gibraltar in March and then returned to her favourite haunts in Portugal where she has been settled ever since.

full journey of FK8 to May 11th 2015

However, with the onset of summer and the rising temperatures causing river and water levels in general to drop, the osprey, one year old female has begun to move in a northerly direction following the coastline of the Atlantic exploring water bodies in the form of reservoirs and the larger Portuguese rivers. She was last tracked at the Barragem de Morgavel near to the Rio Mira on 25th May.

Thanks for reading!

FK8 Spanish trip and a return to Portugal April 2015

In March FK8 took a long journey from her winter site in Portimao in Portugal along the coastline of the Gulf of Cadiz into Spain. She spent some time on 1st and 2nd March exploring the Donana National Park and ventured further south along the coast and then took the return journey back to her familiar grounds.

The picture below shows her activities along the coast, each fix point is given as a red dot.

1 Spain and Portugal

Red dots show the zones occupied by FK8 in Portugal for the winter followed by a significant journey into Spain along the Gulf of Cadiz in March and towards the Strait of Gibraltar then back into the Gulf of Cadiz along the coast.
She travelled along the coast and from 10th to 13th April was back in the Portimao region of Portugal. She is covering a lot of haunts now familiar to her with good fishing and a rich terrain of riverine and estuarine habitats, teeming in wildlife and with plentiful fish.

2Gulf of Cadiz

Time spent in Donana National Park on 1st and 2nd March while on her travels in Spain.

3 Donana

Hunting , exploring good fishing grounds. Osprey heaven!

The image below, shows FK8’s extensive exploration of the Portimao region in Portugal where she has since returned to.

4 Portimao

5 Ribeira de Boina

A concentration of fix points along the Ribeira de Boina in Portimao with yellow lines showing flight paths as she extensively covers the area for hunting and finding good roosting places.

6 River photo

An image of the area of river which has become the home of FK8.

7 Street level River Arade

The River Arade near Portimao.
This is a street level view of the FK8 activity over the rivers in Portugal. The red dots in the sky are fix points where she has been recorded at various altitudes while fishing in the region. The large red dot shows the point on 12th April at 3.22pm where she is at an altitude of 39 metres above the water and travelling at 16 knots.

8 shoreline roost

Red dot roost on the shoreline on 13th April at 12.49. Yellow lines show the myriad flight paths FK8 has made over the time she has been in the area, fishing and flying over the land and the water.

9 ground level roost

Red dot roost 13th April at ground level looking across the water.

The Concentration of yellow lines are previous flight paths in this very well explored region.

10 Palheiros

Hunting over the reservoir and then movements around the river system in Palheiros, near to Portimao.

11 April river system tacking

Full set of tracked movements on 12th and 13th April and cluster of position points with the yellow circle as the point where FK8 roosted.

On the move again

The Tweed Valley juvenile osprey FK8 spent the whole winter in the Portamao region of Portugal. She explored this area extensively and made good use of the water courses and landscape to hunt and roost. She has not wandered far from the region since arriving there after her long migration journey in November 2014.

On 28th February and 1st March 2015, she had a change in behaviour and crossed into Spain and made a journey of about 120 miles to the east along the coast of the Gulf of Cadiz and took up a roost there overnight. The sudden change in behaviour was quite exciting as she was not far from the Strait of Gibraltar which is a known migration funnel for raptors as they journey north. Could it be that she witnessed movement of passage birds and became curious about taking a closer look? Was she herself deciding to take a trip further south and to cross the Strait and move on down into Africa to complete the migration typical of most ospreys, or would she get caught up in the general migration drift of other birds moving through and decide to move northwards as they will be doing?

It is interesting to speculate why she suddenly became motivated to leave the region where she overwintered and we will be watching closely to see where she travels to next.

1 Portimao

A days movement in November, hunting and fishing along the watercourses in the Portamao region of Portugal.

2 Donana

28th Feb to 2nd March 2015. On the coast of Spain and exploring the Rio Guadalquivir, Donana.

3 flamingoes

Flamingo’s on the Rio Guadalquivir. This is the habitat FK8 is investigating and some of the birds she may well be encountering on her journey.

4 Gulf of Cadiz

The red dots and yellow circles show the route and roosts of FK8 along the coast of Spain.
The yellow marker at Rio Tinto, Huelva shows the approximate area that Tweed Valley bird CL9 was photographed last summer (2014). This was a year old bird which had fledged from the Back up nest. We had assumed that it had made its way there from Africa but perhaps it had overwintered in Spain or Portugal just like FK8.

5 march2nd data

The data from 2nd March shows that FK8 is still on the move and has explored the region of the Parque Nacional de Donana.
Will she continue south or stay in the area?

6 Donana photo

Photo taken in the Parque Nacional de Donana – the area where FK8 was exploring on 2nd March.