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Time to incubate

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It has been a very busy week on the main osprey nest in the Tweed Valley. The resident pair, Mrs O and SS have settled down together for the season. After laying an egg on Easter Sunday, Mrs O then went on to lay two more over the next few days. Egg number 2 arrived on Wednesday 24 April, and the volunteer on duty on Friday 26 April  got a lovely surprise when she found a third egg that morning.

Now, the serious duty of incubation has begun, and it’s time for SS to prove his worth as a mate by providing fish for her when she is hungry, and looking after the eggs while she feeds.

So far, all seems to be going well for them. Mrs O, known for her demanding squawks when she wants something, is a changed bird. She has dropped the attitude, and serenity has descended the nest site as a contented Mrs O sits on her clutch of 3 eggs. SS is bringing plenty of fish to support her.

Unwelcome visitors and home defence

A few visitors to the nest site have broken the monotony watching Mrs O sitting still on her eggs. The cheeky jay visitor returned and took a bolder approach by sitting on the top of the nest while Mrs O was sitting on her eggs. Perhaps he feels safe while she is sitting on her eggs? We somehow get the feeling that his visits will be repeated throughout the summer. Another little visitor was a chaffinch that popped onto the lower side of the nest, and helped herself to a bit of nice moss for her own nest while a docile Mrs O looked on.

Not all visitors are welcome though… while SS was away fishing on Sunday 28 April a very startled and upset Mrs O became agitated as the shadow of a large bird flew over the nest. She rose from the eggs and mantled her wings over them for protection and with an open beak and a fierce expression. As she glared up at the sky, an intruder male osprey dropped in. His legs could just be seen as he dropped down towards the nest as though to land.

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We got a clear view, and could see that this bird had no leg rings, and has not been seen here before. He overflew the nest itself and had the audacity to land on the left hand perch above Mrs O, who was not happy at all. She drew herself up into a magnificent posture of aggression and launched herself into the air towards the perch, to topple the unwelcome visitor and drive him away.

He flew off and she gave chase. This was a very scary time for her, as she had to leave her eggs unattended to deal with the imposter. She returned as quickly as possible and thankfully the eggs were unharmed. She settled back down to shield them and keep them warm.

Tag-team parenting

When both birds are present at the nest it, would usually be the male that would have dealt with the intruder. Because she was alone, Mrs O had no option but to deal with the threatening situation herself.  It is always a dangerous situation leaving precious eggs exposed. Our friend the Jay, or even crows and pine martens would all appreciate a free meal if they had the opportunity.

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SS returned about 45 minutes later with a fish and Mrs O was pleased to see him. She rose from the eggs and took the fish immediately, moving up on to the right hand perch to feed while SS busied himself tidying the nest and moving moss and sticks around, before settling down onto the eggs and having an afternoon nap.

Backup nests still empty

No ospreys have taken up residence at the back up no.2 nest this year. The male bird 8C (FK8’s father) died last year, and his un-ringed female partner never made a secure partnership with any of the incoming male birds. At the end of the season, birds were at the site and building the nest up, which led us to be hopeful that they would occupy the site this year. Thus far, both the original back up nest and no.2 nests are unoccupied this season.

The nestbox camera at Kailzie Gardens osprey watch centre has a pair of great tits in residence, and they now have a clutch of seven eggs. They will incubate for the next couple of weeks and then we should be able to watch them rearing their young family.

Volunteers – please step forward!

We really do need some more volunteers for this season to monitor the cameras and to keep a log diary of osprey activity, and to chat to visitors to tell them what is happening at the nest sites which are live on camera. Volunteers also play a vital role in recording footage from the live camera. Training will be given, so no previous experience is needed.

If anybody would like to be a volunteer, please get in touch by email at tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com, or you can phone Diane on 07908098026.

A note about our live camera feed

Unfortunately, the live camera feed hosted by Forestry and Land Scotland is currently down due to ongoing technical issues. They have people in the field working on a solution, and they apologise for the inconvenience. We’ll have it back up and running as soon as possible – and will share some videos from the feed here on the blog. Thanks for your understanding.

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An Easter surprise…

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Mrs O. with her “Easter egg”

Towards the end of last week, it was becoming clear that Mrs O was due to lay an egg at the main nest. Since her arrival back to the territory, she had been with her partner, regularly mating in the nest. A concerted team effort saw them build the nest up in readiness for the new arrivals, and then line it with copious, comfortable-looking, soft, dried moss.

Come Easter Sunday, the obliging Mrs O decided to make Easter Sunday memorable this year, and laid her first egg of 2019. Needless to say, this was a very happy day in the osprey watch hut for volunteers and visitors. Mrs O and SS sat in the nest with their prize egg just as crowds of children were running around Kailzie Gardens, indulging in their own egg hunts.

Mrs Oand SS plumage contrast20190420_12-04-15

Fish fight!

Prior to the egg being laid, the happy couple had been having a few spats over the quantity of fish being brought in. SS had arrived on Saturday with a fish. but did not want to share it. The expectant mother was not pleased, and was eventually quite forceful. She took it from him and went up onto the perch to eat. After tucking in for about half an hour, she flew back down onto the nest with it. A disgruntled SS tussled with her to take it back and then flew off with it.

SS brings fish for Mrs O 20190421_13-34-17

It was a different story on Easter Sunday, however. A very relaxed Mrs O was sitting on her newly laid egg when SS came in with a fish. They were not even fazed when a cheeky little jay popped into the site and hung about looking for scraps for a while before flying away.

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SS sat up on the perch eating the fish, until he decided to drop back down into the nest. Mrs O took her turn to take the remaining fish up on to the perch, while SS took up position sitting on the egg, carefully curling his talons so that he didn’t accidentally pierce it.

Mrs O eating with jay below her 20190421_16-06-45

The jay returned and took a position below Mrs O, where she was feeding on the perch. He was probably hoping that she would be a messy eater, but every morsel torn from the fish was devoured by Mrs O, and the jay soon left, disappointed.

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Also on Sunday, SS fell asleep while he was sitting in the nest. It is a rare sight to see the ospreys completely asleep, as they remain alert to danger or disturbance, but SS had his eyes tight shut, showing his feathered lower eyelid. Perhaps it was the warm weather inducing fatigue.

Update: A second egg arrives

Mrs O and egg

Since this blog post was written, on the afternoon of 24 April, Mrs O. has laid one more egg, bringing the grand total to two so far. We are hoping for at least one more! We have still not seen any birds return to the back up nest yet but remain hopeful, as there is still time.

FK8’s incredible journey

FK8 explores north before heading back to nest area

FK8, the 5-year old Tweed Valley female who is satellite tagged, arrived at her nest in Dornoch on 7 April at 14.18pm. It looks likely that her male partner has not arrived there yet, as she didn’t stay long before returning to her favourite fishing grounds up in the far north at Forsinard and Loch Slethill.

She has been fishing and roosting there, which is good as she will be getting into breeding condition and replenishing her reserves after her migration from Portugal. On 17 April she returned to Dornoch and was still there on 18 April , so perhaps her partner has since arrived and she is at the nest with him. We do not know anything about her partner as he is not tagged. The next set of data will indicate whether she is staying at the nest or not.

FK8s journey through the UK with stopovers marked

Her spring migration was swift and direct. She left Sines in Portugal on 30 March, headed northwards, and stopped overnight in Sarzedo in a clump of trees before continuing her journey into Spain. Her next stopping point was near to Ocero, on 31 March.

She took off the next morning and headed to the Spanish coastline, then out into the Bay of Biscay. She continued her journey, flying throughout the night to make the sea crossing, and reaching the shores of Brittany on 2 April after a 760km non- stop flight with no sleep. She spent a couple of nights on the mainland before crossing the English Channel, reaching UK shores at 10.30am. She flew north through Wales and stopped over near to Penant after flying for 525km.

She left Wales from the coast, not far from Colwyn bay by St Cynbryd Church, and flew directly over the Irish Sea to Dumfriesshire, arriving in Southern Scotland at 13.16pm on 5 April at Auchencairn. She flew over the Balcary Bay Hotel at a height of 92 m above sea level and a speed of 4 knots.

It took her one more stop to complete her journey near to the Rannoch Moor Hotel in the Highlands on 6 April. The next day she was safely back to her nest site from last year, near Dornoch. We hope that she meets her mate and has a successful breeding season.

Volunteer with us

If anybody would like to be a volunteer at the osprey centres at Glentress Forest WildWatch Room and Kailzie Gardens, Nature and Osprey Watch, then please get in touch by email at tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com, or you can phone Diane on 07908098026.

We really do need some more volunteers for this season to monitor the cameras and to keep a log diary of osprey activity, and to chat to visitors to tell them what is happening at the nest sites which are live on camera. Volunteers also play a vital role in recording footage from the live camera. Training will be given, so no previous experience is needed.

A note about our live camera feed

Unfortunately, the live camera feed hosted by Forestry and Land Scotland is currently down due to ongoing technical issues. They have people in the field working on a solution, and they apologise for the inconvenience. We’ll have it back up and running as soon as possible – and will share some videos from the feed here on the blog. Thanks for your understanding.

Mrs O. and SS – feathering their nest…

togetherness

Mrs O. and SS are displaying real signs of togetherness and pair bonding in 2019

Since arriving last week, our main nest pair have settled in at their familiar territory and begun the serious business of making their nest secure and structurally tight. On Wednesday 10 April, SS brought in a large, lichen-covered stick for the nest. He placed it up at the top end but was clearly not happy with it, and kept trying to move it further down, but didn’t like the lichen coming off and sticking to his beak. He kept shaking his head and dropping the stick.

Mrs O came to the rescue and in a rare act of teamwork, she got hold of the stick’s underside, which didn’t have lichen on, and pulled it. SS got hold of the other end and they worked together to ensure their nest felt secure and sturdy to their satisfaction.

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Mrs O. lends a hand. Well, a beak…

This is progress in their relationship. Mrs O seems contented and relaxed, and there has been less squawking from her than in previous years. This is her third year with SS, so she must feel more secure and confident that their partnership is strong.

The first year that she came, she fought off another ringed female bird and claimed the territory and the right to be on the nest site with SS, who has been at the same site since 2004 with his first partner (who sadly died in 2014). Mrs O and SS spent the first season holding the territory, but didn’t breed as they were too late pairing up for mating to produce viable eggs.

Teamwork SS and Mrs O

Working together to make the nest secure

Last year when Mrs O arrived, she hadn’t quite made her mind up and flitted between the back up nest and the main nest, until finally settling and choosing SS as her mate. They successfully raised their first family together. This year she arrived back at the nest on the same day as SS, and they are now an established couple. They have been sharing nest building tasks between them, and homemaking and togetherness is evident in their teamwork. Their bond will grow stronger the longer they are together, and this bodes well for raising a family again this year.

Eggs on the way for Easter?

The pair have been mating regularly, and we can expect eggs over the Easter weekend with a bit of luck. This week Mrs O was trying the nest out for sitting purposes after a spot of stick moving, and she squatted down in the centre and sat. No eggs are laid yet but she must be getting ready.

getting ready to lay

Mrs O. gets comfy and ready to lay

SS brought a fish in after a hunting trip on Wednesday and gave it to Mrs O. She went up onto the perch and ate it, and SS looked very tired after his exertion. He sat in the nest relaxing and resting with his eyes closed. We have not witnessed him sleeping at the nest before, but he is a 20 year old bird now and has just arrived back from his long migration. He will need to build up some strength for the summer, to provide for a family of hungry young, and a partner, as well as feeding himself.

Hopes for a brighter 2019 season

There are still no ospreys at the back up nest yet, but another pair at one of the sites have returned safely already, and others will be taking up their territories too. Last year was the worst year since 2007 for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project area birds. Out of a potential 15 nest sites, only 5 were productive with only 10 osprey chicks fledged. Six of the nest sites were occupied by single birds only and they paired up later in the season, but were too late to breed. At least there was pair bonding, which will hopefully develop into breeding success for this year.

Storm Desmond was responsible for blowing out two of the nest sites, with the contents lost. These sites have been re- built up for the 2019 season by the environment team, ready for returning birds.

A nesting platform was constructed on a telegraph pole and erected by Scottish Power at one of the osprey sites last year, where an old nest tree had been storm damaged and had subsequently collapsed. The male bird returned to this site, but the female failed to return. A second female did arrive, but too late in the season. Hopefully they will pair up for 2019. New platforms and nesting locations will be established to encourage more ospreys to breed for the 2019 season, so we are optimistic that this could be a better year.

Volunteer with us

If anybody would like to be a volunteer at the osprey centres at Glentress Forest WildWatch Room and Kailzie Gardens, Nature and Osprey Watch, then please get in touch by email at tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com, or you can phone Diane on 07908098026.

We really do need some more volunteers for this season to monitor the cameras and to keep a log diary of osprey activity, and to chat to visitors to tell them what is happening at the nest sites which are live on camera. Volunteers also play a vital role in recording footage from the live camera. Training will be given, so no previous experience is needed.

A note about our live camera feed

Unfortunately, the live camera feed hosted by Forestry and Land Scotland is currently down due to ongoing technical issues. They have people in the field working on a solution, and they apologise for the inconvenience. We’ll have it back up and running as soon as possible – and will share some videos from the feed here on the blog. Thanks for your understanding.

The 2019 Osprey season begins: SS & Mrs O. return

SS in the misty rain Mrs O on perch with fish

SS in the mist, back at the main nest…

The Tweed Valley Osprey Project has had a very happy start to the 2019 season. Both the distinctive white leg of SS and his partner Mrs O have been spotted, and they have safely returned from their migration to their nest site.

Both arrived on Saturday 6 April, and by Sunday, they had begun mating. They seem to be ready for a season together again. SS has been seen digging out a scrape in the centre of the nest, which makes a cup shape for eggs, but they have not added much in the way of new nesting material yet.

SS has brought a few sticks back for the nest and some clumps of moss, which he places carefully onto the nest. Mrs O, ever the interior decorator, rearranges the adornments and takes charge of the exact positioning. Home furnishings it would seem are firmly Mrs O’s domain! He provides and she decides.

Mrs O takes the fish from SS

Same goes for feeding time. SS arrived at the nest with a beauty of a big brown trout on Sunday, and Mrs O needed no encouragement, she pounced upon the prize, took it from him and flew up to the branch with the fresh trout still flapping in her talons. We hope we can expect eggs at their nest very soon.

Birthday party for SS!

Mrs O taking fish close up

SS will be 20 years old this year and we are hoping to have a birthday celebration at the osprey centre at Kailzie Gardens, with volunteers and visitors, on 8 June. We would like any past volunteers or supporters of Tweed Valley Osprey Project to get in touch and come along too. More details will follow in future news reports and blogs.

Ospreys have not yet returned to other sites in Tweed Valley, or to the back-up nest, but we are hopeful that they will all return soon.

FK8 completes a long journey

FK8's return 2019

One of the Tweed Valley birds, FK8, which has been satellite tracked for the past 5 years has returned to breed again in the Dornoch area. She left her wintering grounds in Portugal on 1 April, then spent a couple of days held up in France as the weather turned adverse before she crossed the channel to Britain and flew up the west of the country. She did not pass through Peeblesshire this time on her migration, but headed straight for Dornoch where her nest site is located. She arrived safely on 7 April at 3.57pm.

Doros journey 2018

FK8’s daughter, from last year’s successful breeding in Dornoch, was named Doros. She migrated almost one month later than her mother in the autumn of 2018. She completed an incredible journey of 3255km with only 4 overnight roosts in 6 days, with a continuous journey from UK shores out over the Atlantic Ocean to Morocco. She settled near to the town of Takabout and discovered a shallow reservoir Sidi Abderrahmane which she made her home residence until she was last tracked on 31 October. It could be that her tracker has ceased to work and she is still there and doing well, but we don’t have any further data.

RIP Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Tweedledum last point

Last year’s main nest young, named as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, didn’t fare as well. Tweedledee was picked up at Wooler. She was emaciated and subsequently died on the way to the vets. Her brother, after a brief spell at Fishcross SSPCA, was released and followed his sisters path to the Northumbrian coast but was never tracked beyond the River Coquet at Warkworth on 16 September 2018.

LK8 last track point 25th October 2018

LK8, another of the tracked juveniles from last year in upper Tweed Valley, sadly never made it either. He was tracked as far as the south coast of Spain to a mountainous region above the Alboran Sea. The data indicates that he most likely died there, as the data points didn’t continue and returned a static location.

Volunteer with us

If anybody would like to be a volunteer at the osprey centres at Glentress Forest WildWatch Room and Kailzie Gardens, Nature and Osprey Watch, then please get in touch by email at tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com, or you can phone Diane on 07908098026.

We really do need some more volunteers for this season to monitor the cameras and to keep a log diary of osprey activity, and to chat to visitors to tell them what is happening at the nest sites which are live on camera. Volunteers also play a vital role in recording footage from the live camera. Training will be given, so no previous experience is needed.

A note about our live camera feed

Unfortunately, the live camera feed hosted by Forestry and Land Scotland is currently down due to ongoing technical issues. They have people in the field working on a solution, and they apologise for the inconvenience. We’ll have it back up and running as soon as possible – and will share some videos from the feed here on the blog. Thanks for your understanding.

 

 

 

Migration update

The osprey centres may have closed for the season but the Tweed Valley osprey saga continues, with the start of migration journeys, families parting company, and plenty of drama, with a helping hand for one of the main nest chicks.

Tweedledum rescued and taken to SSPCA

The Environment team for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project continued to monitor the main nest after the season closed. They were alarmed to discover that one of the main nest chicks, Tweedledum (LL7), was spending far too much time back at the nest site, was not feeding properly, and eventually was weakened to the state of being flightless. The decision was made to recover the bird and take him to the SSPCA at Fishcross for assessment and treatment. There, he was examined by a vet and given a full health scan. He was found to be underweight, with a few broken tail feathers. After a short period of TLC, and after being fed with lots of fish to gain strength and aid recovery, Tweedledum was released back at the nest site.

Tweedledum begins to migrate

He has since got his mojo back, and on 10 September left the nest area and moved over to Yarrow Valley to begin his migration. He spent the night there, before flying further across the Borders to Minto. He then roosted overnight in farmland before heading eastwards to the coast.

He spent 3 days in the area between Craster and Long Houghton and took a circular flight out to sea, then returned inland to roost on 14 September. Then on 15 September he headed south to Warkworth on the River Coquet, where he settled and seemed to have found a good fishing and roosting spot. He doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to leave the Northumberland area and progress his migration journey just yet.

LL6 and LL7 both routes together

Tweedledum and Tweedledee migrate as far as the east coast. Map shows roost sites for both

Tragedy for Tweedledee

His sister, Tweedledee, also migrated. What was so surprising is that she set off on a very similar route, starting on 8 September with a journey to the same area of Northumberland coast. She also spent 4 days in the area, and did not progress further south. The data has been scrutinised and there appears to have been no contact between them. They were never in the same place at the same time, but considering they did not leave together, the similarities in behaviour are interesting. She ventured quite a distance out into the north Sea, only to double back up to Bamburgh, and then back inland. The last data showed that she was at a business park in North Berwick at Windmill Way on 15 September. However, on 17 September we received the tragic news that she had been found dead and her carcass had been recovered in Wooler. She was emaciated and so had not been feeding. This perhaps explains why migration never progressed further once she reached the coast.

LK8’s strong migration journey

In contrast to the journeys made so far by the siblings from the main nest, LK8, another fledged bird from Tweed Valley Project area from a nest site just a few kilometres away from the main nest, has also migrated. His route couldn’t be more different to the other birds.

LK8 journey

LK8 ‘s migration route so far. He has almost made it to France on 17th Sept.

He left his nest area on 12 September and headed straight overland in a south easterly direction to Barnard Castle in County Durham, where he roosted overnight before continuing his journey to Yorkshire, then Bury St. Edmunds, and on to the coast of southern England, crossing Southend on Sea, and continuing down to finally roost near to Hastings on 15 September. In just four days, he reached the English Channel and was ready to make a crossing, whereas the main nest birds spent four days in Northumberland. It doesn’t seem that the journeys are distinct from each other due to any atmospheric conditions, but as we now know that Tweedledee has died, the delay in migration was likely due to the birds being in poor condition. Hopefully Tweedledum will do better beside the River Coquet in Warkworth before continuing his journey.

LK8 continued migration on 17 September and the last data received showed that he had almost reached the coast of France. Hopefully will have made it there in safety by now.

FK8 and Doros

Our final satellite tagged bird for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project this season is now known as Doros. It stands for Dornoch osprey, and the apt name was created by one of our volunteers, Marjorie. Doros is the daughter of FK8, one of the tracked ospreys from the back up nest in 2014. This is her first offspring but she will not be winning any great accolades for mother of the year.

Doros fledged on August 14 and after making her first flight, her mum left her at the nest and returned to her favourite hunting grounds in the Forsinard Flows. She made a 180km round trip for three consecutive days, popping back to check on her daughter, and then left for Portugal. She is now back on her territory at Sines in Portugal, yet her daughter, Doros, is still in Dornoch at the nest site and hasn’t ventured much further than the estuary or the forestry plantations nearby. Presumably her dad stayed with her to provide the final stages of parenting and hopefully any day now she will also make a move south.

Osprey season 2018

Families begin to break up

20180817_14-52-11SS and Tweedledee

SS and Tweedledee

The osprey breeding season is now drawing to a close. The birds that have successfully managed to rear young this year are beginning to separate as couples, with the females departing first from the family group, while the males tend to the offspring for the final stage.

The young have all fledged now and are at various stages of development. Most are still staying within close range of their natal sites, occasionally taking short jaunts to practice flight, following the adult male to fishing grounds, and maybe even attempting to hunt for themselves. Young ospreys will rely on their father to keep bringing fish until they are literally starved out of their comfort zone, and forced to move when the fish supply and visits from Dad cease.

Lonesome tweedledee

Tweedledee at the nest site alone

At the main nest, Mrs O has not been seen for quite a while but SS has still been bringing in fish to the nest. LL6 (Tweedledee) has been seen feeding herself, at one point consuming a whole trout that he has given to her.

FK8 takes a well-earned break

nothward trips for FK8

Further north in the Dornoch area, we have evidence of the female leaving the family early. FK8 (a female osprey raised in Tweed Valley from the back up nest in 2014) has successfully raised her first chick this year, and she has been fitted with a tracker just like her mum.  Although she fledged on 14 August, she has not moved far from the nest site, apart from a few trips along the edge of the estuary and into a forest plantation.

Her mother FK8 however took an amazing ‘motherhood away day’ on 16 August. She left her daughter and headed north, back to her previous summer haunts and her favourite lochs in the Flow Country.  She was away from the nest site for 8.5 hours and covered a distance of 180km.

She travelled fast on a northward-bound journey, riding the tail wind, then caught the southbound tailwind to return along the scenic coastal route back to Dornoch. She averaged a flight speed of 21km per hour, and flew at varying altitudes from as low as 25m to as high as 626m.

She visited two lochs, and then retreated to some higher ground where she stopped for an hour. Presumably she was feeding, and perhaps sitting on top of a fence, post because the google earth image showed no visible landscape features such as trees to perch on.  She then made the long, leisurely coastal flight home to her nest. She spent 17 August at home, and will have been able to see that her daughter was doing well on her own.

The next morning, 18 August, she was off again at 4.25am with the first light of dawn. She took a direct flight back to her northern haunts, arriving at Loch an Ruathair by 6.13am. This was followed by a trip across to the east coast, returning to Dornoch by 6pm. On 19 August, it looked like she was going to stay fairly close to her nest site, but she diverted by late morning to Loch Migdale, and then on to Invercharron Woods and the loch below.

By 2.30pm she had again ventured north to her old territories, going all the way up to Loch Tuim Ghlais, 82 km north from the Firth of Dornoch. Her daughter has not ventured far from the nest site in all that time, and FK8 is away all day, only to return in the evenings. It would seem that she is keeping brief contact with the nest site, partner and her daughter, but is not providing any other support for her offspring at all.

Soon, both of these birds will migrate. FK8 spends her winters in Portugal. It will be interesting to find out where her daughter ends up, and if they have any further interaction with each other.

north trip on 16th and return along the coast

FK8 leaves Dornoch to travel to favourite haunts up north

Tweed Valley Project Area Summary

This season has been reported as the worst year of the project since 2007, when only 9 chicks fledged in the Tweed Valley Osprey Project area. Three of the sites had birds arriving very late in the spring this year, and their partners didn’t arrive. Although later on in the season they were joined by new partners, they were too late to breed. In total, 15 nest sites were checked this year, with 11 sites occupied by 1 or more birds, but only 5 sites were successful in raising chicks, with a total of 10 chicks raised this year in the Borders.

At two of the sites, the nests and contents were blown out by Storm Desmond, and the chicks lost. One site was a constructed nest on a telegraph pole supplied and erected by Scottish Power to replace a fallen tree, but only the male returned. Later in the season he did meet a new mate, and hopefully they will breed next season.

Before the start of 2019’s season, there will be repairs made to nests damaged by storms, as well as some newly-erected nest platforms in suitable locations. Hopefully we can look forward to a better season next year.

The Darvic ring numbers that were used for this year’s osprey young for the Tweed Valley project area are LK7, LK8, LK9, LL0, LL4, LL5, LL6, LL7, LL8, and LL9. All are blue with white lettering. We will continue to update the news with details of the tracked ospreys once they start migration.

Last to go

Tweedledee fledges

20180806_11-20-32 LL6 with fish

Tweedledee with a fish

The main nest osprey juveniles have fledged. LL7 (Tweedledum) was the first to brave a flight attempt last week, while his sister was slower and more reluctant to go. The time leading up to her first flight was spent on her own in the nest, followed by a gentle feeding session with her dad SS, as he very carefully pulled off fish morsels and passed them from his beak to hers.

Once she was full, she stepped back. Mrs O quickly proclaimed her hunger and dropped down from the perch into the nest, calling loudly as she took the remaining fish from SS.  Then daughter and father pottered about for a while, cleaning their beaks by rubbing them on sticks in the nest. LL7 was absent, and missed out on a meal while the rest of his family dined. Once all the food was gone, SS left the nest and flew off, leaving LL6 at home with Mrs O.

For the rest of the afternoon LL6 (Tweedledee) undertook some serious wing flapping, with small hops and jumps across the nest. Mrs O called and squawked from the left hand perch, perhaps encouraging her to try to fly.  LL6 attempted a wing-flapping, side-stepping manoeuvre down the side branch of the perch, and a few moments later she took off at last, with mum following behind.

Mrs O is mean to Tweedledum

20180808_10-58-03 Mrs O attacks LL7

Mrs O attacks her son Tweedledum

Tweedledum (LL7) managed to return to the nest to feed, but his attempts can best be described as clumsy. On 8 August he was in the nest, with Mrs O on the left hand perch. She suddenly flew down and pecked at him, quite viciously and without warning.

He dropped down flat in defence and then she lunged at him, forcing him towards the edge of the nest. It seemed such an aggressive act towards her son, especially as up to now she has been such a good mum. Was she encouraging him to fly again? Or was he holding on to a bit of fish, while she was hungry too?

A visitor

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A red squirrel visitor

Just below the nest on a lower branch a sneaky red squirrel popped along to make a cameo appearance, but soon hopped off again when it realised who held the lofty upper tree abode!

Balancing act

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Tweedledum balances on his fish

The next day after his mean encounter with his mum, Tweedledum was seen in the nest with a fish in his talons but he was clearly not accustomed to dealing with prey by himself. He held onto it with both feet, while doing a balancing act like an amateur skateboarder, wobbling from side to side trying to maintain an upright position whilst bending his head forward and down to take bites with his beak.

He spread his wings and tail to help his balance and to protect his meal from having to be shared with mum. SS and Mrs O sat together on the left hand perch watching him while he ate and occasionally glancing skyward, as though watching something – not with alarm, or because they were unsettled. They just seemed watchful, so perhaps their daughter was close by, or flying overhead.

Fit to burst

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A bulging crop on Tweedledum

On Friday 10 August, Tweedledum was at the nest with his Dad. He was feeding himself, and when he had finished he looked a most peculiar shape as seen from the front, with a bulging crop like a twisted balloon made animal. We’re not quite sure what happened there!

Fk8’s daughter fledges

Firth of Dornoch

Firth of Dornoch

FK8, the Tweed Valley Osprey from 2014’s back up nest, nested in the Dornoch area this summer and her daughter fledged on 14 August. The young female osprey had been making a few movements locally around the nest site, and the tracking data indicated that there was some movement around the trees nearby. On 14 August she left the nest site at just after 9am and flew to the shore of the estuary. She stayed for an hour before making another short flight and another stop, then turned to the west along the shore, finally heading into the forest plantation, flying northwards. She stopped there at 4.15pm.

LK8 fledges

LK8
LK8, another osprey from the Tweed Valley Osprey Project Area has now fledged, his tracker shows that he has discovered Talla and Fruid Reservoirs so far and is doing very well.