Tag Archives: birds

The return of White SS

Glentress ospreys

A slow start

The osprey season has been slow to get started this year. Low pressure weather over much of Europe in the period before Easter was considered to be hampering progress of the migrating birds. The sudden improvement in weather and a brief period of high pressure weather systems brought about the correct conditions for the birds to move north.

SS and unringed female move in

During this brief spell of good weather our very special osprey male returned with a new partner at his side.
It was such a lovely surprise to see the return of ‘white leg SS’ to the main nest on 9th April accompanied by an unringed female osprey. We really had been quite uncertain whether he would continue to hold the main nest territory or be usurped by other birds. There has been a shadowy presence at the site –  another osprey passing overhead and causing some upset, since the pair took up residence.

Pair bonding

All seems to bode well so far though, as SS brought a fish and presented it to his new partner which she accepted and began to eat. She was pecking at the fish and appeared to find the presence of another osprey in the vicinity quite alarming, whereas SS appeared to be unconcerned. The pair bonding over a gifted fish is a good sign that they will remain together. Mating between the pair has taken place frequently at the nest and we are convinced that there will be eggs laid very soon. He has been seen to be scraping a scoop shape into the bottom of the nest in readiness.

Apart from mating, the pair seem to spend time apart at either side of the nest on separate perches. Perhaps there will be a closer partnership observed once eggs are laid and incubation starts. This will be the time when they will need to cooperate more, to take turns to incubate the clutch and he will give her breaks to go and stretch her wings while he keeps the precious eggs warm and protected.

The unringed female

After losing his mate last season, an unringed female moved in to the main nest and seemed to follow SS around even though he was seemingly distressed by her presence. He was often seen turning his back to her and mantling his wings as she followed him around the nest. It earned her the nickname ‘stalker’ amongst the volunteers. However, we wonder if this is perhaps the same female and she has successfully won her male prize. He is the rightful territory holder of the main nest site and he needs a partner, as the urge to breed is instinctive. Whether she is another female or the same one, we cannot tell but they are certainly an item now!

FK8 moving on

The satellite tagged female bird (FK8) that fledged from the ‘back up nest’ number 2 has spent the whole winter down in the Algarve region of Portugal.
In March she took a long journey east into Spain and spent some time just north of the Strait of Gibraltar. She has since headed back across to the area of Spain called the Donana National Park.

It is often noted that during springtime, birds exhibit a ‘migration restlessness’, even though they are not ready to migrate themselves. So perhaps her jaunt across country was just such migratory excitement and so we will keep watching to see where she heads to next or if she settles for the summer period in Spain.

Thanks for reading
Diane
tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com

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Adventurous osprey

The satellite tagged osprey FK8, has been stretching her wings and taking further adventurous flights as she explores her freedom since fledging from her Tweed Valley nest site. Most of her journeys have been trips around the locality of the nest site, but as she flexes her muscles and gains strength and stamina she is beginning to venture further afield.

Her most exciting journey so far took her north and she flew right out of the Borders and over to the Firth of Forth estuary where the transmitter picked her up in the bay, offshore from Leven. Her altitude was given as 1m above sea level so she must have been fishing.

satellite picture leven

The red dot on the satellite picture taken from Google earth shows the location of FK8 on her exploratory trip on the 22nd July at 14.38pm.

The next major excursion was on 25th July and took our bird across Elibank and Traquair Forest, crossing the Yarrow Valley and into the Ettrick Valley on the course of the Ettrick Water, a journey which seems to have taken only five minutes. Four minutes later she visited the Glen House Estate in Traquair.

eagle map central scotland
Picture of the Satellite map with red dots showing the two journeys south to Ettrick Bridge and North to Leven on 25th and 22nd July.

eagle satellite map
FK8 checks out the Ettrick Water on 25th July late in the morning.

The satellite tracker recorded that she was back at the nest site at 9pm but it is not known where or how she spent the rest of the day between then and her trip south.
Most of her other journeys are around the immediate location of the eyrie from which she fledged and she has explored that region extensively. She is returning to the nest site and receiving fish from her parents we presume.

Interestingly, the last recorded footage of her at the site was being fed by her mum which is very unusual at this stage in the young bird’s life, as usually dad takes over once they have fledged. We presume her brother is making similar safaris around the Borders and returning to the nest site too but he does not have a satellite tracker.

Migration

We don’t know if any of the Tweed Valley ospreys have begun their trip south yet.  Beatrice, which is an adult osprey up in Moray has left for her migration already. She is satellite tracked and she successfully raised three chicks this season. You can follow her story on the Highland Foundation for Wildlife website. She left on 6th August, leaving her young ospreys behind with their father to finish training them to be skilled hunters.

Thanks for reading.
Diane Bennett
Tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com

Chicks once more!

We have watched in dismay at the sad sight of the main nest standing empty and although occasional visits have been made by white leg SS and the new female, it hasn’t made for riveting viewing. There’s no chance of any osprey chicks at this site this year now.

It was decided to use the camera in place at what we call the ‘back up’ nest for the rest of this season. The birds at this site have been faithful for many years, but to our surprise and disappointment, there are no ospreys present at this nest this season. We are very concerned as it looks like there haven’t even been ospreys checking the site out, as there has been no nesting material added this year. This is worrying because it’s such a good site and we are concerned that at the crucial early stage when the ospreys return from Africa (in April) something may have disturbed them and they abandoned the site.

A new family

A further Tweed Valley Osprey Project ‘back up’ nest was checked out and the team from Forestry Commission Scotland; Tony, Robin and Bill, were able to connect up a security camera system. The camera records bursts of footage and this can be downloaded and played back at the viewing centres. This means if all goes to plan and the system in operation works properly with the technology that we have, then we will be able to follow the family being raised at this nest site.

During a visit close by (although still at a safe distance away) great film footage of the parents flying in the area was recorded. This will be put together to display back at the centres. It’s not clear from the filming yet whether the parent birds are ringed, but as soon as we can download the recorded footage we’ll be able to check this out. It’ll be really good news if they are ringed and we can find out where they’ve come from. One of the chicks raised at this site a few years ago, was photographed in the Gambia later that winter.
Tony Lightley, the licensed ringer from Forestry Commission Scotland, checked the nest site out and found that there are two chicks plus an unhatched egg. Tony removed the dud egg for examination and we were amazed to discover that it was an egg within an egg shell. Somehow the empty egg shell of a hatched chick had become encased around the yet to hatch egg and completely enclosed it, so that the chick inside had been unable to break out of the shell.
outer shell removed to reveal egg egg1
It’s something that had never been seen before. The egg was broken open to reveal the dead chick had been fully formed and the egg tooth at the tip of the beak was clearly visible, it had been prevented from hatching by the outer egg layer. A terrible freak thing to have happened and we hope that this is the final tragedy for this year’s osprey season. The two chicks in the nest are about four weeks old and appear to be in good health. Hopefully we will be able to harvest film footage at regular intervals to watch their progress through to fledging.

The camera can be accessed to get footage from a good distance away from the site so that the birds are not disturbed in any way.
This is great news for the project and we will look forward to watching this families’ progress. The footage hopefully will be ready to watch in the centres from Monday onwards.

Thanks for reading!
Diane Bennett
Tweed Valley Project Officer
Tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com

An unwelcome guest at the nest

The osprey eyrie is mostly a place of gentle activity at this time of year, with one of the parents undertaking incubation of the eggs and then swapping over to give the other bird a break. There was a bit of a drama witnessed on camera on Tuesday 13th at around 2pm though, when the peaceful scene was interrupted by the unwelcome presence of an intruder osprey.

intruder osprey

The female had been peacefully incubating the eggs and the male bird (white leg SS), was away from the territory, presumably hunting, when suddenly we could see a large shadow flying overhead. The female became quite agitated and began alarm calling and another osprey touched down briefly, before alighting away from the nest. This happened three times and the female was very upset. With her own partner away, she could not move from the eggs and just sat tight, calling out in alarm. We were able to record the action from the live camera and then take a still picture, capturing the briefest moment, when the intruder launched from the side perch on the nest. We can clearly see that this bird does not have a Darvic ring or BTO ring on its legs and so is not our male bird and is an unknown visitor. At this late stage into the incubation, we can speculate that it is a bird looking for a territory and nest site. It could even be a bird which has a nest site and is just being bold and mischievous checking out the neighbours!

female osprey on three eggs

We are looking forward to seeing the arrival of the chicks when they hatch at the end of May to the beginning of June.

The lonesome heron chick at Kailzie has grown so much that the parents are confident to leave it alone for longer periods. The youngster is big enough to hopefully defend itself against any predatory attack from crows.

heron chick

The blue tit continues to incubate nine eggs at Kailzie and at Glentress Wild Watch, the jackdaws have three chicks hatched and two eggs unhatched.

The bees are very settled into their new home at Glentress and they are, quite simply, fascinating to watch.