Category Archives: Uncategorized

Migration Starts

Luna flies south

The migration of the main nest’s young ospreys has begun.

picture 1 leaving

Luna left Tweed Valley, and her first stop was Minto

On 19 August at 3.15pm approximately, Luna, one of the main nest young ospreys left Tweed Valley and set off in a south easterly direction.

Picture 2 Minto

Overnight in a tree north of Minto, in the Scottish Borders

The first part of her journey was a flight of 32.84 km to north of Minto in the Scottish Borders. She spent the night in a tree there, in a small woodland. She stopped at 18.23pm and stayed in the wood until the next morning, then began to move on again at 6.30am. She flew at a speed of between 5 and 20 knots, at a height of 580m above sea level. She flew continuously for four hours,  then at 10.30am on 19 August she rested briefly in a tree at 157m above sea level, before continuing her journey towards Newcastle.

Picture3 rest stop

A well-earned rest stop after 4 hours of flying

picture 4 newcastle out to sea

Out to sea beyond Newcastle

Luna flew out to sea leaving the mainland behind her, and traversed across the bay at Middlesbrough. She re-joined the mainland at 14.45 north of Goldsborough in East Yorkshire, and headed up a wooded valley above the coast to roost for the rest of the day and overnight. She had covered a distance of 168 km altogether on 19 August.

She stopped in the wooded area from about 15.46pm to 6am the following morning. From the image on Google Earth, the wood appears to flank a river where she may have fished as she moved around the area, before settling for the night.

Picture5 lythe roost

Luna re-joined the mainland and roosted in wooded riverline near Lythe

Her journey continued the next morning, and she had reached Newholm by 8am. She carried on going, heading steadily south east. The last GPS point for her migration received so far was on 20 August at 8.59am, north of Langdale End in Yorkshire.

Picture6 newholm onwards

On to Newholm!

picture 7 full route so far

The full journey so far

The other tagged young osprey is Luna’s sister Hope. Her data has not updated since 16 August, when it showed that she was still at the nest site in Tweed Valley. By now she could well be on her way, but we will have to wait for the data lag to catch up. Buzz, their brother may well have left by now too.

Advertisements

Season finale!

Sadly, this week is my last week for the summer osprey season… but it has been a great year at the main nest, and the three young ospreys are doing really well. They give the impression of feistiness and strength, especially when compared with last years young ones.

20190807_13-41-39 young all together

The youngsters hanging out

There have been some superb name suggestions sent to us, and eventually, we decided on a lunar theme. Willie Mair and Rhona Young thought that it would be fitting to mark the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing anniversary, as we had already celebrated a 20th anniversary for SS this year.

We have chosen the name Luna for osprey 301, to mark the lunar landing. Hope will be the name for 303, from Lorna’s suggestion, while the male osprey 302 will be called Buzz, in honour of Buzz Aldrin (not Buzz Lightyear!). Thank you to all those who took the time to offer suggestions, as that was much appreciated!

20190808_14-31-55_Moment here comes dinner

Luna, Hope and Buzz

As the season draws to a close, we haven’t seen Mrs O for a few days. We think that she may have left for southern winter skies already. She has done an absolutely brilliant job raising three young with her partner, white leg SS. He is definitely still around, and his visits to the nest involve only the briefest touchdown to deposit a fish for one of his offspring, then he alights and is away again in the blink of an eye. We hope, very much, that we will see him back next year, partnered with Mrs O for another successful season.

20190807_12-38-50 Mrs O has go faster feather spoilers

Mrs O with feathers sticking up and Hope on the nest, both eating fish

20190807_12-34-49 Mrs O feather fashion close up

Mrs O shows off her feather spoilers

As for the three young ospreys, they are still hanging out at the nest to feed. The last view of Mrs O at the nest was 7 August, when she arrived with a fish. 303 (Hope) was already eating fish on the nest. They both sat there eating, Mrs O up on the perch and Hope on the nest. Mrs O had two feathers on either side sticking right up, looking like the spoilers on a sporty car. Is this the tail end of her summer moult before she takes flight?

Later that day, 302 (Buzz) was sitting alone on the post when a jay decided to visit. The little jay hopped about while Buzz watched, and then both sat at opposite sides of the nest on the perches quite contentedly.

20190808_14-31-25 302 has fish bu tthe girls looking up to mum or dad

Buzz has the fish, Hope  and Luna stare upwards, watching SS in case he has more fish.

On 8 August all three young birds were seen at the nest together, tracking a bird flying in the sky above them. They were dropping their wings and flicking them and calling excitedly. A fish was brought in and dropped off to them, we think by SS, but as it happened in a flash, it was hard to see and then he was gone again.

Buzz grabbed the fish, which was only small but very much still alive and flapping about. He was unsure what to do, and tried to hold it down to keep his sister Hope, from making a steal. The fish had smudge markings down its flanks and was possibly a parr. It looked golden in colour, as the light caught it. Buzz was definitely not up for sharing, especially when Luna made an appearance at the nest with a flying swoop as she dropped in.

Luna landing

Luna landing

Buzz kept walking around the edge of the nest, keeping the fish away from his sisters. His strategy was to hold it down in his talons until it weakened before he attempted to eat it.

The adult bird was flying around the nest above them, and they kept looking skyward, the sisters undecided as to whether they should keep watching dad in case he had some more fish, or to keep watch on their brother, in case he let go of his.

Buzz with trout parr

Buzz with the parr

The centres will remain open until the end of August, allowing visitors to catch a few last glimpses of the family before they leave. This week’s highlight from the nest are over on YouTube – click the image below to play.

Screenshot 2019-08-14 at 11.39.52

This week’s highlights

There is a lovely film which shows the whole summer season, from Mrs O and SS arriving in the spring, to the laying of the eggs, incubation, hatching, and the patient rearing of the three chicks, showing how they developed week by week until fledging.

Thank you to all the volunteers for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project, and our project supporters. The volunteers do a fantastic job keeping a watch on the nest and recording everything that is happening. They greet all the visitors to the centres, and make a visit so pleasant with tales of what the birds have been up to, always ready with a cheery smile and such enthusiasm.

Once the birds begin their migration, I will send in some updates to let everyone know how they are doing. We all wish them a safe journey and a long and happy life. Bye bye until next year!

– Diane Bennett

Tweed-Valley-Osprey-Celebration080619_0004 (1)

The  SS birthday cake by Emma’s Cakes of Kelso and left to right: Diane Bennett, Lady Angela Buchan Hepburn, Tony Lightley, Lynne Mitchell, Eve Schulte, Iain Coates and Norma Coates (Photo Courtesy of Peeblesshire news)

 

Tweed-Valley-Osprey-Celebration080619_0005 (1)

TVOP fabulous osprey volunteers and supporters (photo courtesy of Peeblesshire news)

 

All about survival…

best Mrs O and all 3

Mrs O and her three young but very grown up ospreys.

All three young ospreys from the main nest are now flying, and the good news is that they are returning to the nest to feed. Mrs O and SS are still here, and SS is still bringing fish back for the young offspring, but there is a definite shift in the attitudes and personalities of the three young birds. By far the most assertive is now 302, the young male. He was the underdog of the brood while growing up, but he is most certainly making up for lost time now.

SS looks to camera as his son takes the fish

302 takes the fish as SS looks straight into the camera, Mrs O is in the foreground with her back to camera and 301 is on the perch. 303 is not at the nest.

Each fish delivery from SS is swooped upon by his son, as he claims it for himself, mantling over the prey and turning his back on his sisters. The two sisters are very much at odds with each other as well, and the rivalry tips over into all-out battle at times, as we witnessed on 1 August.

Male osprey 302 had seized the advantage and was feeding on a fish, with his sisters in the background, when an almighty barney broke out between them all. It started when 303 made a move towards 302’s side of the nest. This ignited a furious reaction from 301, who flew at her and with wings outstretched and talons flying, as she tried to push her sister from the nest.

She fought back admirably and the two birds tussled back and forth, teetering on the edge of the nest for quite some time. Then 303 pushed the advantage and started to force her way back into the nest area, wings outstretched, jumping up as they pushed and shoved each other. Meanwhile young 302 kept his head down, stayed out of the trouble and ate the fish. Like father like son!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Most often, we see 302 and 301 sitting at the nest together waiting for food. Attempts to join them by 303 are thwarted with clumsy landings, aborted at the last minute, as she overflies the nest.

There is a very definite air of fighting for survival between the young birds. Time is drawing near for their mother to leave them, and soon they will be alone to fend for themselves. The feisty attitude of 302 and 301 stands them in good stead but 303 needs to up her game if she is to survive. She needs to deal with rivalry, defend herself and feed herself. With a little more experience, and the sharp edge of hunger gnawing at her core, she will no doubt learn fast as her survival instinct kicks in. She had it easy on the nest while growing up, with fish delivery by her dad, followed by Mrs O gently feeding her, but there is no such luxury now. If fish is brought in, it is a race to be the first to grab it. So far, 302 has used this to his advantage and 303 has been a bit slow.

All three birds are not always present on the nest together as they are flying and exploring their surroundings, so it was good to see that SS delivered a fish to the nest when 303 was the only young bird there on Monday 4 August. She got to handle the whole fish without competition as Mrs O sat up on the perch above her.

Each meal time is now a contest when all three are present, and there is an element of survival of the fittest. Overall they seem to be very feisty, fit and healthy, and hopefully will do well when the time comes for them to leave.

Encountering rivalry, competition and territory battles at this young stage is not a bad thing on their journey to adulthood, because all too soon, once they are adult birds, they will have to deal with contests to win a mate and nest sites, if they are to be successful and breed in future years.

20190802_13-11-47Mrs O and all waiting for dad and calling

Mrs O and her young chips off the old block – just look at those facial expressions! Reminiscent of Mrs O and her squawking days.

The satellite tags so far have illustrated that although both sisters have flown from the nest site, neither have ventured outside of the protective environs of their forest home. The greatest distance achieved from the nest so far has been 800m. But both have taken little forays in all directions around the area, not too far from the safety of the nest location.

A cheeky little jay popped onto Mrs O’s favourite perch on Sunday to see if there may be any scraps to eat, it was a short visit and he soon left.

The osprey nest tree is a Scots pine, and the pine needles have turned brown, with the crown showing signs of die back. The tree doesn’t look in very good condition, and it has held this nest for 22 years. At the end of this season the environment team will take a look at it to assess its condition for next year. It may require some struts and support but at some point, it looks like a new site may have to be created for the main nest pair.

dying nest tree

The pine needles on the nest tree are yellowed and it looks like the tree is dying.

We’ve made a short film of the highlights from the 2019 season. Take a look here, or click the image below. Thank you for following the journey of our young osprey family!

Screenshot 2019-08-09 at 17.44.29

Tweed Valley Ospreys 2019

 

We have lift off!

First flight

The first successful flights have been achieved by the main nest’s young ospreys this week, with the young male making his first flight, with his sisters following his lead over the next two days.

first flight lift off for 302

302 takes to the air for the first time from his elevated position on the branch

On a scorching day, the hottest day of the year, 25 July, the three young ospreys were on the nest without their parents. The male bird, 302, was wing stretching and flapping quite a lot. He used the branch leading from the right side of the nest to gain some elevation. The whole time he was looking about curiously, while below him on the nest platform, 301 was also trying out her flight muscles, hopping with short lifts from one side of the nest to the other, wings outstretched. The third youngster was less keen, and kept to the side, away from her siblings.

302 nearly flying from the branch

302 almost takes off

Feeling brave

At 15.50pm on Thursday afternoon, 302 took a step higher up onto the branch and made a tentative wing stretch, followed by some open-winged test stretches, and some left-to-right head sweeps as he scanned the area. All of a sudden he was airborne, flying straight across the nest to the left. In a second, he was gone.  301 gazed skywards as though tracking his movements, but 303, not feeling brave, hunkered down into the nest. It seems she does not fancy her chances of a successful flight just yet.

303 hunkers down and 301 watched her brother fly

The sisters watch their brother fly above the nest, 303 hunkers down but 301 looks on

Shortly after 301’s take off, Mrs O swooped in to see her two daughters at the nest. She was alert and watchful; perhaps she too was watching her son’s first flight.

The imitation game

301 follows in her brothers steps to first flight

301 follows her brother’s flight strategy the following day

The following day revealed 303, on camera, copying her brothers strategy and using the right hand branch to gain elevation. There was some energetic wing flapping, but eventually she retreated back down to the nest.

Mrs O returned to the nest with a large mossy stick, which the two sisters inspected with intense curiosity. Flying attempts were on hold for the time being. Finally, on Saturday at 4pm, 301 took to the air for the fist time, leaving only 303 behind in the nest. By Sunday morning she too had joined the ranks of the fully-fledged and flighted Young Osprey Air Team. SS and Mrs O have done a wonderful job raising their brood this year and now the final stage of their work is almost done for this season.

More successful flights

lift off 1 by Stuart Blaik

First liftoff for one of the new nest’s young ospreys. Photo by Stuart Blaik

We have more fantastic news! The new nest site where two chicks were ringed last week also has two successfully-flying young ospreys. Their amazing first take-offs and soaring arcs above the nest were caught on camera by Stuart, our (very lucky!) volunteer, who was viewing the whole scene from his home.

lift off 2 by Stuart Blaik

Flying higher and higher, while mum watches from the top of the tree, and the other young osprey watches from the nest. Photo by Stuart Blaik

Mixed blessings for the season

In all, this season has been one of mixed blessings. There have been a few disappointments at some of the sites we monitor. Out of a total of 14 osprey nesting sites checked this year, only 7 sites were found to be successful. A total of 15 young ospreys have been raised and successfully fledged. At three sites, the adult birds were present but they failed to raise young. At two of the sites, the ospreys had moved and left the site altogether.

Three of the nest sites had three chicks per nest, two sites had two per nest and two sites raised single chicks. One of the sites which has also been consistently productive, with two chicks for the first time 4 years ago, and then three chicks per year for the past 6 years, only raised one chick this year. This leads us to believe that there has been a change in one of the adult birds. The adult male bird from this site used to be a particularly feisty bird, which was not apparent at ringing time this year. Perhaps it is a new male bird, given that only one was chick raised, and different behaviour observed.

The birds which moved from backup nest no 2 to a new site of their own making were successful in raising two chicks. Unfortunately, we don’t have a camera on the new nest, so we cannot confirm the identity of the parents.

A sad failure

Sadly, one of the failures was the site where the ospreys chose the spindly larch tree to nest in, as opposed to the artificial platform built specially for them. The nest was found to be in a sorry state of disrepair, possibly due to storm damage, and egg fragments were found below. Three adult birds were present at the site. Most alarming, though, was the discovery of many tyre tracks from unauthorised motorised trial bikes, which undoubtedly would cause disturbance. This has been reported to both the local police and the SSPCA, but illegal motorbike riding remains an ongoing problem within our forests.

Names for the three main nest’s young ospreys

This is the final week for name suggestions for the main nest’s young ospreys, two females and one male. Please send your suggestions to tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com!

We will announce the names selected next week.

Take a look at the first flights from our terrific trio on this week’s highlights from the live camera feed. Click the image below to play, or follow this link.

Screenshot 2019-07-31 at 13.55.54

This week’s highlights from the live feed – click to watch

Pre-flight checks…

Wing-flapping exercises

wing flapping 302

The main nest osprey chicks are eight weeks old this week! This week, the fortunes of the young male osprey have turned about; he has been the underdog of the brood for much of his growing life. He was regularly last in the queue to be fed by Mrs O, so much so that he learned to hang back instead of lining up with his more powerful sisters.

This week started off with much the same pattern, but a change slowly began to unfold. The first and most notable behaviour change was how 302, the young male, became the most advanced at the art of wing-flapping. He became an ardent wing exerciser compared to the more laid-back sisters, and sometimes while they were being fed, he would be flapping and doing small bunny hops to lift off fractionally and then drop back down again.

301 Feeding herself

20190720_10-41-33 feeding herself 301

301 feeding herself on the right

On Saturday 20, the female chick 301 began feeding herself in the nest while the other two preened their feathers. This is a new development for the family as they hurtle towards independence, learning the crucial talent of handling a prey item, manoeuvring it with talons and stripping chunks off with the beak to eat. These are survival skills needed for adult life, when she begins to catch her own fish.

Alarming behaviour

20190721_13-47-19 play dead mum alarmed

Mrs O is alarmed and the three young play dead in the nest

On Sunday morning all three chicks were lying flat in the nest, playing dead, while a very agitated and distressed Mrs O was up on the post above them, sky watching and calling in alarm. She was dropping her wings and flicking them in a defensive pose and giving her piercing alarm call. Something overhead was intruding upon their home and she was not happy.

Luckily for them SS must have seen what was going on as he approached with a large fish in his talons, and landed on the nest. The young remained flat and Mrs O continued her distress call, crouched and ready to defend her young.

SS abruptly launched himself into the air again to deal with whatever the cause of alarm was. Having just caught a fish can have its drawbacks, when it comes to defence. It’s not so easy to just let go and put it down. The fish was hooked onto his talons and spicules, so any skirmish he may have involved himself in would have involved a large wet fish too.

Begone, you cad lest I strike you with wet fish!

SS arriving with big fish

SS bringing in the fish

SS returned quickly, but the threat had still not passed, and Mrs O remained on guard. Eventually, she dropped down into the nest to be with the young and once again, as SS took off into the air, fish still in his talons.

Assertive 302, the underdog no more

20190721_13-01-51 302 i'm having that thanks

302 shows his assertive side and seizes the fish from Mrs O

Once all the alarm was over, SS returned with the fish. Mrs O took it from him and was readying herself to begin the feeding regime for her young, when 302 decided to show his newfound assertiveness. He pushed himself forward, hooked a talon into the rear of the fish and proceeded to pull it away from his mum.

A brief tug of war ensued, until she backed off and he claimed his prize, mantling over it and defending his catch from the others. It took him a while to get a good handle on what to do, holding it in his talons and tearing small chunks off to eat. Mrs O left him to get on with it and retreated to the perch.

301 decided to have a go at taking it from her brother but received a good peck to warn her off. Persistence on her part paid off though and once he was full, she managed to take it from him. 303, the largest of the young, was the last to feed on this occasion, and it was mum that fed her once SS returned with a second, headless fish later on.

We’ll be flying soon

20190720_11-20-34 three lovely chicks

Three lovely youngsters

Sunday concluded with three happy, well-fed osprey young, all advancing towards their goal of independence rapidly. All three will likely be flying by next week.

New nest stars

ringed new nest onenew nest youngsternew nest two

The Environment team visited another nest in the Borders this week. A new nest built by an osprey pair this season, it is home to two very large and healthy looking young. The two young ospreys were ringed and found to be one female, which was fitted with Darvic ring 330, and a male, fitted with ring 331.

We do not know the identity of the adult birds. The nest that they have built was found to be robust and in a very tall and densely branched tree. An unhatched egg was found in the nest also which was removed for analysis by the raptor study group.

DSC01683Stuart Blaik volunteer with new nest young

Volunteer Stuart Blaik with one of the young birds at the new site that he has been helping to monitor for TVOP

Names for the chicks?

20190720_11-04-10 301 is full cropped close up

I need a name not a number!

We have had a few suggestions for names of the main nest osprey young, but not many! If anyone has any suggestions, please let us know. This year’s brood consists of two females and a male. It will be the two females that we will be tracking once they migrate, so it would be nice to refer to them by a name not a number.

Highlights from the nest this week:

All the action from the nest this week was caught on camera – take a look, click the image below!

Screenshot 2019-07-24 at 14.02.46

Click the image to watch this week’s highlights

Seven weeks old

A surprise visit

chaffinch visit

Tiny chaffinches on the tree above the right hand branch

The young ospreys on the main nest were treated to a surprise visit from a delightful family of chaffinches this week. At least seven young birds flocked into the branches to the side of the nest and were busy preening, unphased by the presence of three young but large predators sitting in the nest next to them. The ospreys seemed happy enough preening their own plumage too.

They soon moved on as a little roving forest party, chattering between themselves as they flit across the branches and disappeared from view.

Lazy day

wing stretch

Just a little stretch

staring at camera

Having a lazy me day

We have witnessed a few lazy days of the now seven-week-old ospreys lounging in the nest in the sunshine, occasionally stretched out to reveal the full length of those admirable and impressive wings which will soon be ready for flight. The parent birds are not always present in the nest with them anymore but, judging by the direct stares to camera, Mrs O likes to sit on top of the camera pole – her young looking up towards her.

looking up to mum

Looking up at the camera

hi there

Hi Mum

Exercising and stretches

wing flapping 302impressive wing stretch 3027 weeks old chick7 weeks old all

When the young birds do stand, it’s usually to exercise their wings. There’s lots of flapping, stretching and also a lot of feather preening. The nest is now covered with white, downy, fluffy feathers; particularly noticeable when Mrs O speedily flew in, wafting a storm of white over the nest. She was carrying a large stick as she clumsily landed, leaving it draped across the shoulders of her son 302. 302 had to wriggle from underneath and move across to the other side of the nest.

The young birds perform a stretch whenever they’ve finished resting – tilting their heads down and forward, sticking their rear into the air and opening their wings to their full extent, before bobbing back down into a standing position.

Pecking order

dinner time

Gather round trout delivery

waiting his turn

Two largest feed first with mum and the third stands alone

There is a clear pecking order in the feeding regime. The two females, 303 and 301 – the largest and most developed of the family – being fed first. The male chick, 302, doesn’t even bother pushing into the line-up anymore, now accepting he is always last to be fed. He always gets fed eventually but usually after the other two are finished. Only occasionally does he manage to squeeze in when one of the other chicks is done. His development is slower than that of the other two, but hopefully this will not hamper his chances of success once they are fledged.

Fish skin meal

here comes sunday dinner

A happy meal

When the hungry chicks were getting fidgety on the nest due to a lack of fresh fish, Mrs O plucked a dishevelled looking fish skin – the remains of a previous meal – and began to show the largest chick how to handle prey by tearing it. The chick took it and tugged at it with her bill for a brief few seconds before losing interest and giving up. None of the chicks seemed to appreciate the unappetising meal.

Naming the chicks

We are thinking of naming this year’s main nest young, particularly as it’s nicer to refer to them by a name rather than a number as we follow their eventual migration. Some names have already been suggested (such as Faith, Hope and Charity). Tony is a popular suggestion for the male chick, as one hatched on project leader Tony Lightley’s birthday. But if anyone has any more good suggestions please let us know and we will pick the favourites!

Returning Borders bird

It was lovely to receive news that one of the Borders Ospreys, hatched from the Born in the Borders nest site in 2017, has made it back to the UK safely. It briefly touched down at one of the Kielder Project nests on Friday 12th July. Osprey PYO made the surprise visit to resident bird, W6, making a return visit to the nest later when it was empty. This was one of the young from parents Samson and Delilah.

Videos

Watch the latest highlights from the nest below:

Ringed and Tagged

Its ringing time again

This time of year seems to come around so fast. It feels like only yesterday we were waiting for birds to arrive, then eggs, then hatching. Now we are six weeks into the young ospreys lives and it’s time to fit their leg rings and tracking devices.

Expedition main nest ringing

The team from Forestry and Land Scotland and raptor study group, consisting of Tony Lightley, Eve Schulte and Ronnie Graham, led the expedition to the nest site. This years lucky volunteers were invited to attend to see the birds along with representatives from Forest Holidays.

AA8Y6276 Forest Holiday rep by Rhona

Margaret Turner and Pauline Lynch from Forest Holidays Photo by Rhona Anderson

Forest Holidays sponsor tags

Forest holidays sponsored the satellite tags for the chicks last year, but both sadly died. However, one of the tags was recovered and refurbished for re-use on one of this year’s young.

Jess Robinson, Forest Holidays Ecological Co-Ordinator said about the tracking:

“The natural world is never predictable and whilst we were sad to learn that Tweedledee didn’t survive last season, we know that the data that was gathered during the tracking is invaluable to the project and the understanding of these birds. We’re also delighted that her tag could be refurbished and will now be used to monitor one of this years chicks. We very much look forward to watching the progress of all the birds and sharing updates with our guests as they fledge and leave the nest”.

eve meets chicks for the first time

Eve gently arrives at the nest and meets the chicks

The expert team and the ringing and tagging

Whilst the team prepared the equipment down on the ground and volunteers settled themselves to sit on the forest floor, Eve tackled the climbing of the nest tree to bring this years youngsters down from the nest. Once she reached the top, she put each of the chicks into the duffel bag and lowered them down on a pulley, one at a time, to Tony at the bottom of the tree. The chicks were then removed from the bag and allowed to settle themselves on the forest floor while Eve abseiled back down to the ground to carry out the task.

AA8Y6267 rhona Anderson

Three young from the main nest photo by Rhona Anderson

The chicks were assessed and given a health check and then weighed and measured, with the two largest and strongest chicks being selected to wear the satellite tags.

The first in line was a female osprey chick weighing a very healthy 1750g. Eve carried out the process of fitting the silver BTO leg ring to the right leg bearing the unique reference number. Then, on the left leg, a blue Darvic with white digits ‘301’ was fitted by Eve and Ronnie. A DNA swab was also taken from inside the bird’s cheek which will be sent off for analysis to determine DNA links between populations in Wales and Scotland.

BTO fititng

BTO ring being adjusted to fit comfortably

Next the satellite tag was attached to the young bird. The device, weighing just 23g, fits neatly between the shoulder blades with a solar back panel facing skywards to charge it. A foam backing ensures comfort for the bird. The tapes from the tag go over the back and shoulders, under the wings and meet in the middle of a central plastic disc on the bird’s chest where they are stitched together using hemp thread. This is designed to last up to 7 years and, when it rots, all four ends would be released together, freeing the bird from the device. The plastic disc, which holds the ends in place until the stitching is done, is cut away once the thread is in place.

tag demo

Tony demonstrates a tag fitting

Ronnie and Eve ringing thr chicks

Eve and Ronnie ringing the chicks

The next osprey to be ringed was number 302, the smallest of the three, weighing 1500g, and likely to be a male bird.

Finally, the third osprey was ringed with number 303. This was thought to be a female bird weighing 1620g; another good-sized healthy chick.

fitted tag crop

Satellite tag on one of the main nest ospreys

 

IMG_0745 three ospreysmain by Lorna

Three young from the main nest photo by Lorna Corley- Jackson

 

We wish you a long and happy life journey

Once all the processing was done it was time for a few photos and an opportunity for the volunteers get up close with the birds and admire them. It is quite an emotional moment to meet the chicks that you have been monitoring daily since hatching and especially from parents that are so fondly regarded. There were a few emotional murmurings from volunteers wishing the youngsters a safe and happy life before it was finally time for them to be put back up into their eyrie.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Volunteers Lorna Corley- Jackson and Val Barnes photo by Mirabel Lyons

Interestingly, during their time out of the nest, there were three adult ospreys flying above. Two would be Mrs O and SS, their mum and dad, but the other bird is possibly a first time migration returner.  Hearing the initial alarm call of the ospreys when the ringing party arrived may have drawn the curious onlooker to see what was happening!

SS went off to catch a fish in a nearby loch returning, just as the ringers were about to leave, with a fish in his talons. This was a good sign that there was to be a meal after the group left. But to make sure the family were well fed, a couple of fresh fish were left behind for them on the nest too, as a little thank you from the ringers.

Eve AA8Y6146

Eve climbs the nest tree

AA8Y6168 copy

waiting in turn

AA8Y6189 copy

Stunning looking chick

AA8Y6227 copy

The satellite tag fitted

AA8Y6267

Three beauties

 

(Thank you to Forest Holidays for sponsoring the satellite tags.  Earlier this year, planning was approved for the partnership between Forest Enterprise Scotland – now Forestry and Land Scotland – and Forest Holidays to create 56 secluded eco-cabins, new biking trails and a walking route at Glentress. The scheme will bring £11.3 million investment, with Forest Holidays providing private sector investment of £10 million for the project and the remaining £1.3 million from Forestry and Land Scotland).