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Two pairs for the nests

Celebrating good news

Mrs O looks up and SS

SS keeps his back to Mrs O

So many things can change in just a matter of a week within the Tweed Valley Osprey Project. This week is all about celebration, as we have good news from both of the osprey nests with live cameras.

The unlikely couple SS and Mrs.O

SS and Mrs O squawks

Mrs O squawking and SS looks defensive

On the main nest, Tweed Valley’s star of the osprey show for the past 14 years, male osprey white leg SS, has returned. His partner Mrs O has also returned. Mrs O does not have a Darvic ring, but she has a silver BTO ring on her right leg, and her distinctive squawking could be heard long before she was spotted actually flying down onto the nest. It is an odd pairing for this couple as they met last season but didn’t have time to raise a family, but she ensured that SS fed her and they remained together. He adopts a defensive posture on the nest whenever she is around and she repeatedly calls loudly, following him around the nest. They have mated, and hopefully they will grow a more relaxed and gentle connection over the course of the summer, especially if they have chicks. There have been signs of another osprey dive bombing the nest too, but we can’t see who the raider is.

A Borders bird takes the place of 8C

CL1 and female

Blue CL1 and unringed female at nest 2

The recently widowed unringed osprey partner of 8C has paired up with a new male. This is superb news, as this is a very productive nest site and the female is an experienced bird, mother to PX1 and PY1. The new male bird is one of the Borders’ own – he is a blue ringed bird, CL1, from a nest in 2012. As one of a brood of two, his sister was a large bird, about 200g heavier than he was as a fledgling. He has come to our attention a few times previously in his six years of life so far, because as a young fledgling he travelled to Ireland, to County Wicklow, where he was spotted. He has also been photographed in Senegal, and made a brief appearance to visit the Dyfed ospreys on camera a few years ago too. Perhaps he enjoys the notoriety and fame, because the nest site he has claimed as his own this year has live camera viewing too!

Technical glitches

This is going to be an exciting time to watch two pairs of ospreys at their nest sites in Tweed Valley at the same time and be able to compare their progress simultaneously.

We have had a few teething problems with the technology to begin with but this is about to be rectified shortly and the birds will be able to be seen on the live webcam too on the Tweed Valley Osprey official blog site for Forestry Commission. They are also on camera seven days a week at the Glentress Wildwatch room and at Kailzie Gardens Osprey and Wildlife Watch centre.

It is an incredible feat of technical wizardry that allows us to view these birds, involving large distances of wireless data transmission over hills and valleys. Several masts on the hilltops need to be aligned to send signals point to point, while a power supply using solar and wind, because of the remoteness of the nest sites, adds to the difficulty of maintaining constant images. So, occasionally technical hitches require us to be patient until they can be resolved. But thankfully, we can have the pleasure of viewing these osprey nests and seeing their lives pan out as they raise their families this season.

Satellite tracked birds

FK8 and PX1 17th April

We have news of satellite tracked bird FK8 and are thrilled that she has safely made it on migration back from Portugal to Scotland. For now, she has settled in the area around the Dornoch Estuary.

flight through Scotland

FK8’s flight through Scotland to reach Dornoch


The Paxman osprey, PX1, has travelled safely to France and is having a break from his journey along the Garonne River in Bordeax . He has been there since 12 April and was still there on 17 April, fishing the river and roosting in nearby trees north of the river. Once the weather changes to high pressure in the next few days, that should allow him to push on further north and hopefully into the UK.

Bordeaux PX1

PX1 in Bordeaux from 12th April to 17th

PX1 17th April

PX1 Fishing and roosting  along the Garonne River in Bordeaux


Sad news about osprey 8C

A tragic start to the season…

Osprey fishing, Scottish Borders.

8C with fish photographed by Angus Blackburn

We received very sad news that the adult male osprey from the ‘back up’ no. 2 nest was found dead at the weekend. It was a very tragic accident, as yellow 8C dived into a pond that was netted to prevent predators such as herons taking the fish. Unfortunately, he got caught up in the netting and drowned.

Prevent ospreys flying into netting

For any land owners that have ponds which are stocked with fish and have netting to protect them, please try to discourage any diving bird such as ospreys from attempting to make a dive by creating a visual deterrent, such as bright coloured netting and tapes or flags that flap in the wind, making movement which should deter the osprey from entering.

What next for 8C’s partner?

It is so sad to lose this magnificent male bird when only last week we were celebrating his return with his partner. They had taken up their old territory and had been filmed mating at the nest site. The nest had been scraped out in readiness for egg laying. This year for the first time we have cameras on this nest, relaying live streaming of images in real time back to the visitor centres at Glentress Wildwatch Room and Kailzie Gardens. His lonesome female partner has been seen sitting at the nest with a very uncertain future ahead of her.

Satellites tracked 8C’s Offspring

His legacy will live on through his satellite tagged offspring FK8, PY1 and Jeremy Paxman’s bird PX1, and thankfully we will be able to follow their progress.

Time to find a new partner

At least the tragedy has happened right at the start of the season before there were any chicks, and it does give his partner time to meet another male this season, as birds are still arriving. We hope that she finds a partner and that the nest site remains productive. It will be an interesting few weeks to watch the nest and hope for an arrival of a new suitable male. He will have a lot to live up to, as 8C was an awesome male, a large bird with a distinctive chocolate colour, patterned, with feathering on the neck which from a distance made him look like a female.

The main nest definitely has one occupant but the osprey has only been seen with his back to the camera so far. Although we are really hoping that it is white leg SS, we cannot say for certain at this point.

Web camera

We are sorry that the web camera is not yet up and running on the Tweed Valley Osprey Forestry Commission web site but we have been assured that all technical hitches will be sorted soon and there will be live pictures from both nests for the first time this year, which will be really exciting. So at this point in the season we have no idea how the ospreys pairings will turn out at the two nest sites on camera, but we just hope that they are both occupied and our birds find good partners.

Migration updates

We now know that FK8 has started her migration journey and the last data we had for her showed that she was on the move northwards through Portugal.

Paxmans osprey PX1’s migration progress


PX1 migration almost in france

PX1’s route this spring up to 10th April

The Paxman osprey, PX1, has made amazing progress. Since the data lag in March has now been resolved, we now have tracking points to show his journey north through Morocco. He then crossed the Alboran Sea, headed east of Gibraltar and onwards into mainland Spain. Next, he flew parallel to his original southward migration route, up into the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, making use of the uplift from the thermal air currents as he continued parallel to the Spanish coast, until finally veering off in a northwards direction. He was last tracked just south of the border of France, near to a small town in Spain called Cuarte at 11.56 am on 10 April. He will no doubt reach the UK very soon and it will be really exciting to see where 8C’s son, PX1, will explore.

10th April track point PX1

10th April close to the french Border at the Spanish town of Cuarte

Will he come to the Tweed Valley?

We sincerely hope so!


Jeremy Paxman’s osprey has started to head north – PX1

Close up of the head of an osprey chickTweed Valley birds are back

Great news from Tweed Valley Osprey Project in 2018 – birds have started to return to their territories. We have the cameras set up and ready for watching ospreys at the two centres at Glentress Forest Wildwatch Room and at Kailzie Gardens Osprey and Wildlife Watch Centre.

Has SS returned?

So far, we think that the ‘back up’ nest 2 pair (8C and unringed) have returned safe and well. Birds were seen up at the nest but we have no confirmation of ring numbers yet. Ospreys have been seen at the main nest but, we have no confirmation which birds they were. We are hoping that it is SS with his partner but will have to be patient to find out for certain.

If he is back, then this would bode well for him, as a good early return could signify better luck for a successful breeding season after his disastrous season last year. Poor weather over the Easter weekend and more snow has meant nests are covered in the white stuff yet again, and no birds were seen at either nest, presumably because of this.

Jeremy Paxman’s osprey – PX1 migrating north

PX1at ringing time 2016

We are delighted to find out that PX1 the bird that was filmed being ringed on Jeremy Paxman’s programme, ‘The River’ (and hence given the ring number PX1 as Paxmans bird) has started his northward migration and is on his way back to the UK. He has spent two winters in Southern Mali, near to the gold mines at Sanso. He has barely moved from the region in that time, finding all his needs met by the landscape, which provided good roosts and plentiful fish in the lagoons and river systems.

We have contacted Jeremy to let him know the good news that his bird is on his way to return to the UK, and Jeremy said:

How wonderful to have such an insight into the life of another creature. I’m thrilled. What magnificent birds they are!”

Jeremy will be following his bird’s progress closely, and we will send him the details of PX1’s journey as he progresses on his first return migration as a two year-old osprey.

He set off on 28 March at just after 10am and flew 271 km to roost in a remote and arid landscape with clumps of trees and bushes dotted about. He set off again just after 6am on 29 March and flew 10km further north, then he circled the area for a while before pressing on to cross the Mauritanian border and into a more lush vegetative landscape about 20km from Adel Bagrou.

We have not received any further data since then, but we can expect a lag due to there being few phone masts in the remote region from which to pick up signal. We are now very excited waiting for an update of data transmissions to find out how he is progressing.

journey 28th to 29th march leaving sanso fullmap

Leaving Sanso 28th March and heading North

last data 29th March map

An overnight roost on 28th and continues north on 29th March

Last tracked point 29th March near buildings

Last known area he was tracked at on 29th March

Waiting for news of FK8

We are also waiting for an update from FK8, the female osprey in Portugal, as we would expect her to be travelling to her summer grounds in the north of Scotland too. She will be 4 years old this year, and fingers crossed will find a mate and raise her first brood.

Tragedy for Perky but triumph for FK8

FK8 is in Portugal

We’ve had some very happy news and some very sad news about the Tweed Valley Ospreys this week.

Firstly, the good news is that after a six week absence of satellite data from the tag on FK8 (the three year old osprey female), we have suddenly received strong clear signals from Portugal! She is back in her winter territory and it would seem that she has been there since 26th August. We do not have the full details of her journey yet but will hopefully be able to report details of how she got there and where she has been in the near future.

Daniel Raposa, who lives in Portugal, very kindly went on an expedition to search for FK8 at her known haunts in the Sines area of Portugal at Barragem de Morgavel on 23rd September. He was not lucky enough to see her, but we will hopefully be able to find out exactly what happened on her journey once we sort through the backlog of data. We hope the data will continue to be transmitted and we can keep track of her once more.


Daniel Rapoza’s photo of Barragem de Morgavel


Daniels’ photo of Barragem de Morgavel

Perky has died in Switzerland

Now for the deeply sad news: We have lost Perky. He had been doing really well at the Lac de Joux in Switzerland and had even been spotted by Wendy Strahm (co-ordinator for the osprey reintroduction project in Switzerland) carrying a large fish on September 20th. He had arrived in the area on August 29th and was undertaking fishing trips of about 20km per day, apart from a huge tour on September 16th when he flew as far south as Geneva. We thought he was continuing his migration, but he then doubled back to return to the Lac de Joux. However, something clearly happened the night of September 23rd, after which he appeared to stop moving and the voltage and temperature on his satellite transmitter gradually declined until we lost his signal on the afternoon of September 25th.

Perky perch Lac de Joux 4oct17 (1) crop

Perkys’ final roost.

Fisher cabin Lac de Joux 4oct17 (1)

Perky feathers were found near to this cabin

Perky feathers with tag 4oct17

The feathers showing carnivore damage with the recovered tag.

Perky feathers in situ Lac de Joux 4oct17 (1)

The feathers on the ground. All photos taken by Wendy Strahm.

Phil Atkinson from Movetech Telemetry analysed the GPS transmitter data and sent what he estimated to be Perky’s last position, so Wendy returned to the site which was on a very steep slope overlooking the lake. Sadly, she only found a pile of feathers and the satellite transmitter, with its little solar panel lying face-down on the ground. There was no body to be found, and it looked as though a carnivore – probably a fox – had found or possibly dragged the carcass behind a little fisherman’s cabin and consumed it. With no carcass we will never know why he died, although as it appears he died at night, it is possible he may have been killed by the resident Eagle Owl in the area. A young osprey’s life is never easy.

Pinky in Spain

Perky’s sister, Pinky, is still in Spain at the Rio Agueda. She had briefly crossed the border into Portugal but returned to Spain where she appears to be doing very well exploring the river systems. It will be interesting to see if she moves further south with the onset of autumn well under way.

Pinky river trp Spain

Pinkys’ movements along the Rio Agueda.

Scottish osprey movement

Other Scottish satellite-tagged osprey journeys can be seen on the Google Earth map below. The winner of the race by far is the young female from Dumfries and Galloway, who reached Gambia by 1st October.

all movement scottish sat tag ospreys oct2017

8 ospreys on migration 2017

Of the eight ospreys shown, two are in Morocco, one in Gambia, two in Spain, one in Portugal, one in France and one (deceased – Perky) in Switzerland. The birds which are still in Europe are quite far north for overwintering, so there is likely to be further southerly movement before they final settle. It is expected that the ospreys in Morocco will continue further south too before they settle.

Hello from Switzerland

2 Chalet in the mist 15sep17

Mist at the chalet near to Perky’s roost

3 Cow grazing in the mist 15sep17

Misty valley 15th Sept

In search of Perky

The young male osprey named Perky (PY2) migrated as far as Switzerland, halting his journey at the Lac de Joux. His tracking data revealed daily visits along the north shore of the lake, with occasional crossings to the far shore and to a roost site near a chalet beside a forested track. We received news from Wendy Strahm, the project coordinator responsible for the Osprey reintroduction project in Switzerland, that all of the reintroduced Swiss ospreys had left the area, so she was surprised that Perky was still around and generously offered have a look for him. Below is a report of her visit, including photographs of a healthy looking Perky flying above the Lake.

Wendy Strahm reports from Swiss expedition to spot Perky

Wendy wrote,

“Perky (PY2) let me discover a bit of forest in Switzerland (that was quite clearly Osprey heaven) that I had never been to before.

1Road and mist 15sep17

The expedition started at 8am on 15th September, when Stephan Rytz, Loïc Oswald and myself set off for the Vallée de Joux, armed with the latest GPS readings (sent to us by Tony Lightley and Diane Bennett) of where Perky had spent the night, and where he had been fishing during the past few days. When we arrived we were greeted by cool temperatures (4°) and cloud, with a thick layer of mist covering the lake and lower forested slopes. Far from ideal conditions to see any bird, much less a Scottish Osprey that was making a break in his migration in our Swiss lake.

I thought that I knew the Vallée pretty well, but I had never walked in the beautiful forest where apparently he had spent the last two nights. However, GPS is amazing and from Google Earth we were pretty sure that we had found the actual tree where Perky had roosted—a nice dead pine on a slope near a forest clearing. Thank you Forestry Service for leaving dead trees!

We then retired to the “Hotel de la Truite” (appropriately named after Osprey food) for a coffee, as it was hopeless looking for anything. There we were joined by Olivier Jean-Petit-Matile, an excellent naturalist and photographer who knows the Vallée de Joux better than almost anyone.

After we finished our coffee at 10am, the fog was beginning to lift so we returned to the lake shore where PY2 had been recorded a lot, and were suddenly greeted by brilliant sunshine and clear views over the lake. We took a few real postcard photos, but still no Osprey…

12 Lac de Joux 15sep17

8Lac de Joux facing Dent de Vaulion 15sep17

When the mist cleared.

9Loïc Stephan and Olivier looking hard for PY2 15sep17

The search for Perky.

Suddenly, at 10:55, we spotted Perky flying towards us. He then dived twice into the shallow water by the edge of the lake but both times his fishing trip was unsuccessful. So, we had seen PY2 and were delighted, even though he had been too far away to take a decent photo. He then disappeared around a bend and out of sight.

We walked a little closer to where he had been fishing, hoping that he would return. And we were lucky, since at 11:45, he again flew into sight, and then perched in a tree. Again too far away for a decent photo, but we got one through the telescope.

10Perky in tree Lac de Joux 15sep17 (1)

Perky in the tree (Wendy’s Photo)

Suddenly at 12:10, he soared up high over our heads and Olivier managed to take a great photo—you can even see his blue ring on the left leg.

11 Perky PY2 OJPM (2)

Perky flying over Lac de Joux (photo by Olivier Jean-Petit-Matile)

He then proceeded to fly to the southern end of the lake, where we saw him hovering over the little nature reserve located here, but it was a long way away. We jumped in the car to get to the end of the lake, but by the time we got there he had gone, so we don’t know if he had managed to catch a fish or not.

We hope that Perky heads off soon as it is definitely getting colder”.

14 Alpenhorn on ice 22jan16 (2)

Lac de Joux in January

13 People on ice 22jan16

Wendy’s photos of the Lac de Joux in January

We are really grateful to Wendy and her friends for looking for Perky and reporting the fantastic news back to us. The pictures of the area that Perky has made his temporary home really are wonderful. It is great to actually see photos of him on his first big adventure. We are most grateful to Valerie for making the connection with Wendy in Switzerland so that we could follow Perky’s journey so closely.

A trip to Geneva

Since Wendy and her friends spotted Perky, he has taken a day-long tour all the way down to Geneva where he was spotted spiralling high above the town with two buzzards. He didn’t stay long, doubling back to the Lac de Joux, He is still in this region and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to move on south just yet.

Pinky does a U turn

Pinky, (PY1) is still in Spain and – like Perky – she has ventured south only to double back north to the Rio Agueda where she is making the most of a rich habitat and good fishing.

Follow the tracked ospreys progress ‘live’

You can now follow all of the tracked Scottish ospreys from 2017 on the Movetech website which is updated every 30 minutes to show their progress as they migrate. The Tweed Valley birds are numbers 631 (Perky) and 632 (Pinky). Please follow this link

FK8 news

We still have no news of FK8 since her tracker stopped transmitting data. An expedition to search her usual haunts in Portugal will take place on 23rd September – we hope she’s there, even if her tracking device isn’t! (Mistakenly reported as 23rd March in previous blog – sorry).

Not moved on yet

> You can now track the ospreys’ movements live at this online map.

both journeys PY1 and PY2

PY1 (Pinky) in Spain and PY2 (Perky) in Switzerland

Pinky discovers river systems in Spain

The young female osprey, Pinky (PY1), has not resumed her full migration journey since finding her way to the Rio Huebra close to the border of Portugal in northwest Spain. After spending a couple of days along the river, hunting and building her strength, she began to widen her exploration of the area and on 8th September made a circular tour of 36km before returning to the familiar river. The next day she began to enjoy the Rio Aqueda river system and spent the night close to the dam over the river.  On 9th and 10th September Pinky moved on to another river, the Rio Yeltes; a beautiful area and a shallow river which looks to be good fishing for a young hungry osprey still honing her skills. Not bad, considering that just a few weeks ago she was relying solely on her parents to find food for her. Independence has certainly led to a steep learning for Pinky, but at least she has discovered an area of Spain that is rich in riverine habitat.

On 12th September Pinky pushed further on south, crossing the large lake called Borbollon before continuing further south to Coria and the Rio Alagon. She reached the river and made a sharp easterly turn towards the town on the south bank, where she once again crossed over a busy wide road at a dangerously low height. She then made an abrupt turn, heading back to the safety of the river.
Coria 12th Sept

Pinky crosses road and turns back to river

dangerous road crossing

Low flight across busy road in Coria

She is doing well, is in good surroundings and finding many river systems to exploit on her journey through Spain, so it’s not surprising that she doesn’t appear to be in much of a hurry. She has flown much further south than her brother even though she left a week later than him to start her migration.

Perky still in Switzerland

Meanwhile, we are amazed to find that her brother Perky is still at the Lac de Joux in Switzerland. He has made the north shore his home and takes trips along the shore, occasionally journeying to the other side of the Lake and then back to rest in a tree. No need to hurry for this laid back Tweed Valley chap! What young osprey wants to travel on further south when they have discovered paradise? As the days progressively shorten and as temperatures reduce a notch, he will know doubt be driven further southwards. In fact we have received news directly from Switzerland that the weather has turned bad, with high winds and heavy rain; a proper squally autumn blast! So rather than having a fine time at the Lac de Joux, Perky is more likely being held back by the conditions and waiting for some improvement in the weather before pushing south. We are waiting for news from Wendy Strahm, who co-ordinates the Swiss osprey reintroduction programme, who has kindly offered to go and look for Perky if weather permits.

Perky Lac de Joux

PY2 (Perky) Lac de Joux

No news of FK8 but the search is on

There is still no further data from FK8, but we hope she is ok and has made it to her winter quarters in Portugal. We are very grateful to Valerie Webber who has organised a search party for FK8 at her known roost sites near to the Barragem de Morgavel in Portugal. Hopefully she will be spotted there, safe and well. The way the data stopped so abruptly, we think her tracking device may have dropped off? The search is due to take place from 23rd September when she is expected to be settled in her preferred over-wintering area in Portugal (should she have made it successfully).
> You can now track the ospreys’ movements live at this online map.

Tweed Valley osprey journeys

Pinkys night flight

py1 and py2

Pinky and Perky’s journeys

PY1 flight path from the Bay to Spain

PY1 (Pinky) journey across the sea and inland at Spain

Last week we were very concerned about osprey Pinky (PY1) the young female bird on her first ever migration south. She had set off on 26th August and was making good progress, but the data ended after flying a staggering 388km in one day on 30th August. It was early evening when she reached the coast of the Bay of Biscay and that meant she was committed to making the full crossing of this dangerous and stormy sea in an all-night flight. Thankfully, she made it safely across after twelve hours of flight with no rest and no breaks.  After 456km, she reached the coast of Spain, arriving at Pendueles at 5.53am where she had a well-deserved rest in a tree. She rested for two hours and then, driven by hunger, flew into the steep landscape, over a busy motorway (just a few metres above the roadway) and over the hill to find the River Cares-Diva and some good fishing.

the dangerous road crossing for tired PY1

the pink line is her flight path across the  busy road into the hillside

She restored her energy and rehydrated herself with some tasty fish, preparing for the onward journey. After a welcome rest on 31st August she proceeded inland along the steep-sided valley of the River Diva and high over the mountains; possibly a ploy to use the upward thermals to ease her journey along and make flying less arduous. She then changed direction towards the south-west from the town of Cabuerniga. She spent the night at the River Carrion, where she made good use of the waters, fishing and resting. She then pressed on, in a south-westerly direction, until she reached the River Huebra and has since spent five days there in beautiful surroundings with a wide open river and good fishing.

Rio Huebra

Rio Huebra

River Huebra Spain PY1 location 5th Sept

Rio Huebra


Perky in Paradise

PY2 lac de joux

Lac de Joux

Pinkys brother, Perky (PY2), has made it down to Switzerland. It seems he likes this osprey paradise so much, that he has decided to stay. He has moved to Lac de Joux, a huge lake (the largest in the Jura massif) with a tiny rivulet leading to the smaller Lac Brenet – a place he has visited frequently. He has made home on the north shore and is moving north of the lake in the evening to roost in forests. The area is stunningly beautiful and perfect for a young osprey. Don’t get your hopes up though, young Perky… that lake freezes over so fast in the winter that people can skate across it! There will be no fishing for ospreys when this happens, so once he has built up his reserves he needs to travel on south to find some safe and bountiful winter quarters.

Lac do Joux summer

Lac de Joux – summer

Lac de joux winter frozen

Frozen Lac de Joux in winter


FK8 tragedy feared

It seems really empty without ospreys gracing the Tweeddale countryside now and there’s a real sense that autumn is here and summer has gone. The wheel of time turns and another summer rolls on, taking our lovely summer visitors with it. The forests are becoming quieter without the descending fluted notes of the willow warblers and repetitive chiffchaffs. The swallows are gathering on the telephone wires in chattering groups, just gearing up to go, while their close cousins, the swifts and sand martins, have mostly left our shores along with most of the house martins. It is on this rather morose line of thought, that the sad demise of FK8 comes to mind. After following every step of her life since hatching in Tweed Valley in 2014 – following her journeys to Portugal for wintering and her summer explorations of the north of Scotland, and high hopes that she would nest at Loch Slethill next summer – we now think it is most probable that something bad has happened to her. We have received no further data since she was last tracked flying beside the River Laita in Brittany on her way to the Bay of Biscay. We can only hope that the reason is due to equipment failure and that she too made a safe crossing over the sea to Spain and on to Portugal.

fk8 final journey

Last known flight of FK8 along River Laita in Brittany

Search for FK8

We are very grateful to Valerie who is asking her friend in Portugal to search the known roosting and fishing areas of FK8 in Portugal near to Sines to see if she has in fact made it and is safe and well. It could be that her tracking device has ceased working and she has made the journey back. We are keeping fingers crossed and remaining hopeful!