Category Archives: Ospreys

Hatching expectations

swap over main nest

We are expecting the osprey chicks to hatch this week, after a long incubation period of 35 to 40 days, little chicks should break their way out of the eggs were they have developed. They have a small tip on their beaks called the egg tooth; this is a tool that they use to chip the eggshell open from inside of the egg. They lose the egg tooth soon after hatching and begin to feed on raw strips of fish presented to them by their mother.

Intruder alarm

There was a bit of a shock this week as there was the unexpected appearance of a third osprey at the nest on Monday, this cheeky intruder briefly flew down into the nest, next to the incubating female but thankfully, white leg SS, was close by and immediately did his job and came straight down into the nest and then chased off the intruder. It happened so fast that we couldn’t see if it was a male or female bird. SS was away for about 10 minutes and for the whole time, the female looked very unsettled and alarmed. She was very alert and with her head up, looking skyward – presumably there was a bit of sky chasing above her that we were unable to see.

He returned to the nest and landed beside her and then was quickly off again and the female was alarm calling once more. He must have been successful in chasing the intruder away, as he returned and things settled again. Later he left the nest once more but the female looked content and so he had presumably gone off to hunt for fish.

Vulnerable chicks

Being so close to hatching, this week and the first couple of weeks after the chicks have hatched, is the very worst time for upsets, such as intruder birds, as the chicks will be at their most vulnerable stage. When they first hatch they can barely hold their heads up and are very wobbly until their muscles begin to develop and they gain in strength as they quickly grow on the protein rich diet of fish.
We are apparently due a bit of warm weather which will be a help for the young family, so that feeding can take place. The female has to stand up and away to the side of the chicks to feed them, which would be an impossible task in the high winds and torrential downpours of late.

CL6 after ringing

Return of anniversary young osprey

In 2013, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the main nest pairing between white leg SS and the unringed female. As part of that celebration we worked with the children of St. Ronan’s Primary School in Innerleithen, to produce the book ‘Time Flies’, to tell the story of the Tweed Valley Ospreys.

The children were treated to a visit to the main nest site to see the young ospreys being fitted with their Darvic rings and the ringed birds were CL4, CL5 and CL6. The rings were chosen to correspond to their class name P4/5 and the following term they were to move to P6

This week we received a report from Joanna Dailey from Kielder Osprey Project that CL6 was photographed at Bothal Pond in Northumberland on 30th May 2015. Here is a photo of the bird taken by Frank Golding and published on Bird Guides.
The bird was watched for about 10 minutes, getting mobbed by crows and oystercatchers and then headed off to the east.
The school has been informed about the birds progress and hopefully the children will be really pleased to know that this bird that they saw as a young fledgling, is now a migrating adult and is fit, looking good and back in the UK.

CK2curtesy osprey safari

CK2 Esthwaite safari

More news has been received from Dave Coleman about the Tweed Valley bird CK2, at Esthwaite in the Lake District. She is in fact breeding and a photograph of her with a male ringed bird was sent to us. The picture is not clear enough to make out the identity of the male but more news about the birds there can be found on the Osprey Safari Facebook page.

FK8 is scouting in Portugal

FK8, the year old Tweed Valley satellite tagged osprey, has moved from her winter quarters in Portimao in Portugal, to a more northerly part of Portugal close to Sines. She is ranging across long distances and scouting and exploring the area. With summer well on its way, the Portuguese river levels will have dropped significantly and fish will have moved to deeper waters and maybe it is this reason that she is now seemingly fishing reservoirs and deeper waters.

Blue tits hatch

The blue tits in the camera box have hatched at Kailzie and the tiny bald nestlings are simply gorgeous. Mum and dad are working hard and delivering green caterpillars to them.
The mystery, slowest nest builder ever, seems to be adding a bit of moss regularly to the other nest box camera but it may be too late in the season for it to be a viable nest for raising a family.

Goshawk family

Fantastic new footage of a goshawk family has been added to the Glentress viewing facilities in the Wildwatch Room. This is a real treat to observe this shy and impressive rare predator.

Thanks for reading!

Diane

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!

Dad the incubator

The novelty of carrying out much of the incubation of her eggs by herself has worn off for our resident female osprey. We suspect that she is a young, possibly even first time breeder and she was so pleased with her fine clutch of eggs that initially, she was resistant to allowing white leg SS, to take a turn to incubate. Well a few weeks of the endless sitting and nothing much happening, must have played a part in changing her mind, as she is now taking extended breaks and leaving a bemused SS alone to incubate.

On Monday 18th, male SS was alone in the nest and sitting on the eggs for most of the day, he was there when the cameras came on and he did not get relieved from his duty until 3.15pm.

The next day, once again, white SS was on incubation duty for most of the morning until just before midday he flew off and she returned within a couple of minutes of him leaving and took over. She had just settled down after turning the eggs and rearranging some nesting material when an almighty hail shower burst. A very fed up looking osprey could be seen hunkered down low with hail stones literally bouncing off her back.

hailstones cropped

They have a few more weeks to go yet before hatching time. The earliest likely date for hatching would be from 3rd June to 7th June.

Intruder ospreys

Now that the pair are established this season, there seems to be a more settled atmosphere at the main nest site and although we have seen an occasional alarm calling and the shadow of an intruder bird flying over the nest, most of the time they seem to be left in peace.
It is thought that intruder birds played a part in the downfall of the previous female which led to her leaving the three young chicks to die in the nest last year, as there were certainly other birds about and the new female wasted no time to move into the nest site, the very next day after she had gone.

Other osprey sites around the country have not been so lucky this year with eggs being kicked out of the nest at Loch Garten by an intruder male bird and Kielder nest sites have had multiple intruder birds harassing the resident pairs. Luckily their eggs have not been damaged. One of the intruder birds causing mischief was a Kielder returning youngster.
When intruder ospreys check out nesting pairs they possibly assess the situation and size up the competition. They may be seizing upon the chance that one of the pair may be a weaker or aged bird that can be displaced to make way for them to move in on a nest site with a resident bird in breeding condition that holds a territory. It has certainly worked for our new Mrs osprey and it would seem that another bird is trying to push out Odin the male at Loch Garten in a similar fashion.

When ospreys fail to breed they often build another nest close by (known as a frustration nest), we do not really understand the purpose of this nest. Is it a ‘back up’ nest in case they lose the territory of the one they hold and they intend to use it themselves, or is it to perhaps distract intruders away from their site and hope that they may take that nest instead?

The number of intruder osprey incidents causing nest upsets and failures is perhaps a good argument for putting up some more artificial nesting platforms to provide an opportunity for a pair in breeding readiness to move straight in.

However, some healthy competition for nest sites may be of benefit to the breeding population too, in a way that osprey breeding success comes from the strongest and best birds in their prime, as the weaker ones are driven off site. Survival of the fittest ensures that the weaker, sickly birds do not get to breed and therefore the offspring are perhaps born to only the best of the osprey stock.

2012 brood

Tweed Valley returner

A Tweed Valley osprey has been reported to have been seen at Esthwaite Water in the Lake District this spring. It is a ringed bird, CK2 which is one of the birds which fledged from our main nest in 2012. Great news that CK2 has made it back to the UK successfully and has been seen and we are waiting to hear more news about whether the bird was just passing through or if it is nesting there.

Bird box news

Blue tits have had a slow spring due to the weather but the pair that have moved into the nest box at Kailzie now have seven eggs and another box which we had assumed had been abandoned had some new nesting material today, so it looks like a pair of late breeders are ready to move in.

Sparrows have moved into the sparrow box on the outside of the osprey centre building, these birds like to nest communally and at least two pairs have moved in.

At Glentress the house martins have been very busy near to the pond area outside the Wildlife Watch room and they are taking advantage of the rainy weather causing messy puddles where they are gathering beakfuls of mud to build their mud cup nests which must be in the houses below Glentress judging by the direction the birds are flying off to.

Thanks for reading,

Diane

Three eggs

a fine pair 11th May

We can now confirm that the main nest pair have three eggs and the long process of incubating them has begun. White leg SS and his previous partner of 11 years had the whole egg and nest ‘set up’ managed like a well-oiled machine. They took turns to incubate and the female would get long breaks away from the nest, while SS took his duty of sitting, in her absence. The new Mrs SS could possibly be a first time breeder, she is unringed, so we do not know her history but her behaviour sometimes suggests that this is quite a new experience to her. Certainly, he is a new husband but she seemed to be a little slow to take up her duties in the beginning when the eggs were first laid. However, now she is into the swing of things, she is at times reluctant to leave at all. White leg SS would drop down from the perch into the nest and was there to take a turn but she didn’t budge at first. Over the past few days though, hunger and perhaps a need to take a stretch, has forced her to allow him some incubation time and they seem to be getting more familiar with their new routine.

We already know that SS is a super dad and has previously raised 10 broods safely through to adulthood and we hope that the new partner will prove to be a really good mum too. Even if she is inexperienced, she will soon learn how to look after her chicks when they finally hatch, which will be in mid-June.

Traffic stopper

On my way to the osprey centre, travelling along the A72 on Tuesday 12th May at just before 9am, traffic flow was interrupted by road works and a convoy system, involving a long wait to get going again. While sitting in the queue of traffic at a standstill, I got a fantastic view of an osprey fishing along the River Tweed right in front of the Cardrona Village Store. The osprey was being mobbed by a pair of crows and three common gulls but was determined to carry on fishing. It continued along the river towards Peebles and I was disappointed when the convoy started off and I had to drive on!

Oystercatcher island

The tiny island roundabout at Cardrona is home to the nesting oystercatchers again this year. On a small scrape of shingle in the island, the bird is sitting on eggs and her partner often sits on the road bollard like a little black and white sentry guarding his mate. The same crows that were giving the osprey a hard time, unfortunately seem to be watching the oystercatchers too. They did this last year and after a long term of incubation,  the eggs and birds where gone, nobody saw them hatch or leave and so we were never sure if they hatched and were led quickly to safety by mum and dad or were gobbled up by the waiting mobsters. Perhaps they were successful, seeing as they have chosen the same nest site again.

A pair of oystercatchers have been checking out the ground in front of the Wildwatch room at Glentress and looked like they were prospecting for a nest site too.
First spotted flycatchers

On 12th May the first spotted flycatcher was back at Kailzie Gardens and had taken up its old hunting ground along the main drive. It likes to perch on the fence posts along the drive, taking acrobatic leaps into the air and giving an aerial chase after flies and then returning to its perch.

Osprey FK8

The Tweed Valley satellite tagged female osprey is still in Portugal, around the Portimao region of the Algarve. Her movements are concentrated in the area around the River Arade and the reservoir to the north of the region.

Penina golf course roost

In early May, she ventured across further to the west to check out and roost overnight in a large Penina golfing resort. As the Portuguese summer progresses many of the smaller river tributaries dry up and the estuarine waters become hard saltpans so we may find that FK8 will move on again. We will have to wait and see what happens. A full round up of FK8’s latest movements will be posted soon.

Thanks for reading!

Diane

An egg appears!

sitting 26th april (2)

Just a very quick post to let everyone know the ospreys have an egg. We don’t know how many, but the female has definitely started to incubate. She started on 26th April, but it’s difficult to see into the nest due to moss and sticks they have added around the outside for shelter. Can’t really blame them for wanting to stay cosy, it’s snowing up here today!

Will update again soon.

Diane

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.