Tag Archives: glentress Forest

A sad loss

Another week has passed and still no sign of the original female osprey. The saga at the nest site has become, at times uncomfortable to watch. The male bird white leg SS, (a firm favourite of mine in the avian world) has always been described by me as such a fine bird, a devoted and loving partner to his female. For over ten years we have watched the calm and peaceful private life played out on our screens at the two centres between the pair of ospreys. We have tried to resist attributing human emotions to their behaviour traits but this has been hard to do when we have witnessed them cuddled up together, or we have seen the male feeding the female with all the same level of gentleness that would be used when feeding delicate and fragile chicks. We have witnessed the pair making joint decisions about the layout of the nest adornments of sticks and moss and watched them present a united front against any other intruder birds.

Now that she has gone and we think that she may have died, as she would not abandon her home and family by choice, we are witnessing scenes of passively aggressive take-over. Powerful and emotive words to describe wild animal behaviour and a little over the top some may think but we have a situation whereby the male seems to be being pushed into a new partnership, like it or not.

New female sets sights on SS

New female sets sights on SS

Moving on

All he has ever known is to hold this territory over the summer and raise a family with his partner. It is what he has done all of his adult life and he is now 16 years old.
The new female has moved herself in, uninvited, I might add! She has pursued the male despite his defensive posturing, and turning his back to her. She knows this is a great site, that he is a loyal partner, proficient provider of fish, has fathered many offspring successfully and holds the best territory in the valley. She wants the nest site and she wants him! Mr Blue Leg Ring that she had appeared to be with seems to have been dumped.
I feel so sorry for White leg SS, as he seems to have no option but to stick with her. He cannot lose his territory and his own partner has disappeared. His instincts will be to try to keep the site, he cannot keep it on his own and the new female is doing all she can to make her presence a permanent one. She beseechingly calls to him when they are both there. A reluctant truce seems to be taking place as he returns to the site and instead of the usual pattern of him delivering a fish to his partner, this new bird snatches it from him, leaving him looking a little bemused. She grabs the fish from him and then flies off and he usually takes off too. This is hardly the romantic fish pass, touching talons kind of moment…it’s more of a smash and grab.

What will happen next?

We have no idea how this will develop, it’s now probably too late for this season for any more eggs, so this female has missed her chance to breed most likely but by staying with SS a bond could develop and next season, if they both make it back to this nest site, the chances are that SS will breed with her. It is also equally likely that a new pair could force them off and take over the site as their own. So all we can do is watch and see what will happen.
We are hoping that maybe we can obtain recordings from the ‘back up’ osprey nest for the rest of this season to see how that family is getting on.

 SS turns back to new female

SS turns back to new female

Glentress Buzzards

We also have a live camera on a buzzard nest, with three chicks at Glentress and these are proving very interesting to watch. There is considerable size difference between the three chicks. The largest seems almost ready to take flight and has been seen exercising the soon to be tested pair of wings, while the two smaller chicks don’t appear to be ready yet.
One of the parents dropped in a black bird, possibly a jackdaw as food for the brood and they were seen tucking into a good meal. Buzzards do fairly well from road kills and scavenging as well as hunting and will eat a varied diet, often seen down on the ground hunting for earthworms. Not terribly raptor like or fierce really, it’s a bit of a wildlife let-down, a slight disappointment even, to see a buzzard hopping round a field looking for earthworms.

Heron takes to the skies

The heron chick at Kailzie has finally flown!  We were worried that it was going to stay at the nest indefinitely, that it was hoping mum and dad would continue to feed it. Hunger has probably driven the young bird to leave the nest and test out its wings. We watched the arrival of a young heron on the river camera checking out the slack water where the burn runs into the Tweed and we hope that this is the youngster from the nest that we have been watching.

Thanks for reading.

Diane Bennett,
Tweed Valley Osprey Project Officer.
Tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com

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A Trio of Chicks

We have fantastic news that all three eggs have hatched and there are now three very healthy looking chicks for the doting parents of this pair in their eleventh season together at the main nest site. The first two chicks hatched on the 29th May, hatching of the second chick was watched live on screen by the volunteer on duty mid-afternoon and then the third chick hatched out in spectacular style on 1st June. Part of the egg could be seen, although slightly obscured by the nesting material, movement was noticed, followed by the emergence of a chick who seemed to break free at lightning speed with a ‘ta dah,’ entrance into the world!

The parents were having a touching moment where the male was busy feeding his partner and both seemed to not even notice the arrival of number three, despite the flourishing birth scene.

After the female had eaten enough fish, she took the remaining portion from white leg SS and began to feed the young chicks. The two older chicks were very hungry but the new arrival did not seem too interested in feeding.

3 osprey chicks feeding

To play dead or not to play dead?

A fascinating scene played out a little later on where another bird was pestering the parents at the nest. The ospreys both positioned themselves into the nest with the chicks in the middle and we could see the shadow of a large bird repeatedly flying over the nest. The parents were extremely upset and were alarm calling and posturing but all the while they resisted the temptation to leave the site to deal with the intruder. They are very experienced parents and they instinctively defended their chicks by sticking with them and guarding them, as to leave and give chase would place the chicks in very real harm. Leaving the chicks would expose them to predation from any other lurking chancer such as a crow, squirrel, jay, buzzard or passing sparrowhawk.

We have witnessed scenes of intruder birds harassing the parents at the nest many times over the years, often it is a another harmless, nosey osprey checking out the territory but always we have noted the behaviour of the chicks to be the defensive ‘play dead’ position in the nest when there is danger. However, at just a couple of days old, these young chicks did not play dead but were sitting upright with necks outstretched as though mum and dad were about to feed them. This begs the question – is fear a learned behaviour? As the chicks grow, is it instinct or do the parents teach the young to play dead?
We are always learning more about these birds and their behaviour and each season brings new surprises.

Hapless Heron

At the heron nest site there remains one young heron, now adult sized but we have not seen any indication of fledging. The bird wanders around the nesting area through the branches of the trees but there has been no serious effort in wing stretching and developing those flight muscles. There has also been no sign of parent birds feeding the youngster either, although it may be that this happens before the cameras come on. Worryingly though, it does appear to be fairly lethargic and so we hope that it will be ok.

book kids

Osprey Time Flies

The much awaited celebration book, ‘Osprey Time Flies, 10 years of osprey in the Tweed Valley’ has now been launched and this has been part of a collaborative project with St. Ronan’s Primary School, The Tweed Valley Osprey Project and The Friends of Kailzie Wildlife, this was made possible with funding for its production from Awards 4All Scotland.

A Rarity Spotted

On visiting the school to take some photos of the children with the new book, I spotted a fantastic red kite flying over the school being mobbed by a jackdaw as I was on my way out of the school gates. It circled for several minutes and then took off in a westerly direction towards Peebles. That was a fantastic sighting and a real rarity for this area. My camera had no batteries, of course…

Thanks for reading!