Tag Archives: glentress

AS6 Lays her first egg

Sunshine banishes the snow

Last week, the ospreys were hopping about with cold talons on a nest carpeted with snow. What a difference a week can make! We now have glorious sunshine and rising temperatures and the female can be seen sitting down into her moss-lined, cosy nest cup, with her beak open as she pants in the heat.

panting in the heat incubating female

AS6 panting in the heat sitting on her egg

First egg for AS6

One egg was laid on Friday 6th May.  We are not sure what time AS6 laid her egg but the evidence was revealed with a clear view from nest camera 2, pointing directly into the nest. Proud Dad–to-be, was standing and looking down at the treasure in the nest, while his partner was away to stretch her wings and to get a bite to eat.

This is a first egg for this female and she has to realise how to take care of it and to incubate and hopefully to lay a couple more. AS6 refused the male’s advances to mate with her on a few occasions recently. This could be because she was getting ready to lay an egg…

males shadow  shades egg

Shadow of SS shields egg from the sun

mossy cosy

Cosy mossy nest

Sharing meals

SS has been bringing in fish to the nest and being a little bit selfish. He’s been eating the bigger portion before passing over the goods to her, despite her beseeching calls. On Thursday, he was eating his fish up on the camera scaffold, when a disgruntled female flew directly at him. The shadow of a bird could be seen launching into the air as she flew back on to the nest. He eventually flew over to her and let her have a less than generous tail end of fish. A bit like receiving a box of chocolates when the best ones have already been eaten!

Has SS gone from being a ‘new man’ to being a ‘grumpy old man’?

what are you looking at

What are you looking at?

Whose turn is it?

SS is always prepared to do his fair share of sitting on the egg to give her a break though, and his generosity in this department has been taken a little advantage of. He was the home alone sitter for a three and a half hour session while the female was away on Sunday. I hope they get their roles synchronised and harmoniously sorted out. They have a long stretch of between 37 to 40 days in which to master routines before this egg is due to hatch. The male was frequently seen standing over the egg and shielding it from the sunlight during the warm weather. It’s important to maintain a constant temperature for the egg, so that it doesn’t over heat or cool.

leaving so hubby can take a turn to sit on the egg

SS about to take his turn to sit on the egg

The latest video footage…

FK8 flies north

FK8, the two year old female that is satellite tagged, has spent almost a year at the same site in Portugal but suddenly on 3rd May at 7am approximately, she left the area. She took a northerly direction straight on through Portugal and across Spain, all the way to the shores of the Bay of Biscay. The last data received on 5th May at 15.11pm showed that she was still on the mainland teetering on the edge of the Bay.

It is so exciting that she has finally  moved north. She’s not old enough to breed this year but she will be ready next year. Her motivation for coming back may be to start to look at areas where she may wish to settle in the future and just to check out some sites.

fk8 heads north to Bay of Biscay

FK8 flies to the Bay of Biscay

FK8 is back in Scotland – welcome home!

Further news has just been received that FK8 has since crossed the Bay of Biscay on a gruelling flight. She left in the late afternoon and arrived in the Portsmouth area at approximately 9.30pm. She then flew across west Wales, across the Irish Sea and into the East of Ireland, then back over the sea to the west coast of Scotland, where she roosted overnight near Barra Bullin. We’re waiting to receive the satellite images for this part of the journey.

Eggs galore

All the birds seem to have swung into action now and have been laying eggs. The blue tit camera revealed the cutest blue tit being fed by her partner in the nest box. She then lifted out of the egg cup to reveal that she has been very busy and has laid seven eggs so far.

The great tit in the other camera box now has three eggs and a kamikaze oystercatcher has laid three eggs on the gravel, in the car park. A traffic cone and some tape have been positioned to prevent her being parked on!

spot the oystercatcher eggs

spot the oystercatcher eggs

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The osprey waiting game is finally over!

It’s been a very slow start to the Tweed Valley Osprey story this year because we’ve been waiting for the arrival of our main nest birds.

At just about the point when we believed that white leg SS was not going to return this year, he amazed us all, by returning with a stunning new partner. The new female is a blue ringed bird with the letters AS6. We now know – courtesy of the Kielder Osprey project and some keen osprey followers, Ann and Paula – that this bird originated in Ross-shire from a site at Muir of Ord in 2013. She made a stopover at Kielder on 17th April where she checked out the nest site there. We wonder where did white leg SS meet her? Did they pair up when she arrived at the Borders or had they already met beforehand? They both appeared together at the nest site for the first time on Wednesday 20th April and then were both firmly established by 21st April when the female was first identified by Tom who was on duty at the Wild Watch room at Glentress.

The pair managed to eliminate all of the competitors for the nest very quickly and have taken their place on the nest site. We can expect eggs soon and for the first time, we will have late chicks in the Tweed Valley Osprey Project, so this will be a long season. Any chicks will be hatched almost a month later than usual for this site and so it will be interesting to see if this has an impact on the survival rate of the young birds. Fingers crossed for some good weather and plentiful fish.

White leg SS with a fish

White leg SS photographed by Angus Blackburn

Contenders for the throne

Prior to the return of White leg SS and his new female partner blue AS6, ospreys had been visiting the nest and one bird was thought to be the female from last year. This was an unringed bird that sat on the perch next to the nest and seemed to be expecting that her partner may return. We are not sure if she is still around or whether she has moved on.

A blue ringed bird seemed to have taken up residence for a while and was coming in to feed there each afternoon and he was spotted early in the day too.

Paula, a follower of the Tweed Valley Ospreys made some keen observations on the live streaming camera and took some great photos for the project, of the birds seen at the nest from the internet. We have no clear image of the ring number of this bird but we think it could be CJ1.

Another visitor to the site while it was still vacant was a blue ringed bird and the lettering appeared to be CL7, this was one of the chicks that was ringed at the original back up nest in 2013 with the children from St. Ronan’s School as they took part in the 10th anniversary project to produce the Tweed Valley osprey book, Time Flies.

Nest visitor taken from the internet camera

Nest visitor taken from the internet camera, thanks to Paula

News of Tweed Valley ospreys further afield

One of the Tweed Valley Osprey Project birds has returned to Kielder where she has finally overthrown the partner of the male bird there and has settled in. She is White leg EB and came from a Tweed Valley nest in 2007 and was one of a brood of two. She has been popping in to Kielder for a few years now and had a fling with the male bird ‘37’ in 2014 before the resident female returned and sent her packing! This year though she seems to have won her prize and remains at nest number 2 with male 37. EB is now sitting on eggs.

EB at Kielder courtesy of Joanna Dailey

EB at Kielder courtesy of Joanna Dailey

FK8 satellite tagged

FK8 is the young Tweed Valley female bird that flew to Portugal on migration when she left Peebles and she is still there. She has settled into an area in the west of Portugal near Sines and she has a leisurely life, spending her time between two reservoirs but mostly at the Barragem da Morgavel.

The mother of FK8 was found dead at the end of last season, she was a green ringed bird DN and her partner was yellow 8C. However, the good news is that there are reports that birds have settled on their nest site this season. More ospreys moving into the area mean that vacant nests do not remain vacant for long usually. We have checked our remote camera and can now reveal that the new female at this site appears to be a white ringed bird but we cannot read the letters yet. She is sitting on three eggs.

Satellite map of FK8 home in Portugal

Satellite map of FK8 home in Portugal

Portugal visit

We are delighted to have received reports that another Tweed Valley bird, blue ringed CK4 has also been spotted in Portugal. On February 11th Georg Schreier photographed CK4 with another unringed osprey, flying over the salt pans and channels just west of Faro airport in the Park National da Ria Farmosa. He reported that there have been about 10 ospreys overwintering in that area within a 30km stretch and along the coast.

CK4 in flight in Portugal

CK4 in Portugal photographed by Georg Schreier

A Spanish Visitor

We have just received news that another Scottish bird from the Tweed Valley back up nest no.2 has been overwintering in northwest Spain. Antonio Sandoval Rey sent in a video link to see a blue ringed osprey ( PV0) being mobbed by crows at the Abegondo-Cecebre Reservoir near A Caruna City.

This bird is from a brood of two in 2015, a third egg was found in the nest at ringing time with a fully formed chick inside it but it had a double shell and the chick had been unable to break out.

Three eggs

a fine pair 11th May

We can now confirm that the main nest pair have three eggs and the long process of incubating them has begun. White leg SS and his previous partner of 11 years had the whole egg and nest ‘set up’ managed like a well-oiled machine. They took turns to incubate and the female would get long breaks away from the nest, while SS took his duty of sitting, in her absence. The new Mrs SS could possibly be a first time breeder, she is unringed, so we do not know her history but her behaviour sometimes suggests that this is quite a new experience to her. Certainly, he is a new husband but she seemed to be a little slow to take up her duties in the beginning when the eggs were first laid. However, now she is into the swing of things, she is at times reluctant to leave at all. White leg SS would drop down from the perch into the nest and was there to take a turn but she didn’t budge at first. Over the past few days though, hunger and perhaps a need to take a stretch, has forced her to allow him some incubation time and they seem to be getting more familiar with their new routine.

We already know that SS is a super dad and has previously raised 10 broods safely through to adulthood and we hope that the new partner will prove to be a really good mum too. Even if she is inexperienced, she will soon learn how to look after her chicks when they finally hatch, which will be in mid-June.

Traffic stopper

On my way to the osprey centre, travelling along the A72 on Tuesday 12th May at just before 9am, traffic flow was interrupted by road works and a convoy system, involving a long wait to get going again. While sitting in the queue of traffic at a standstill, I got a fantastic view of an osprey fishing along the River Tweed right in front of the Cardrona Village Store. The osprey was being mobbed by a pair of crows and three common gulls but was determined to carry on fishing. It continued along the river towards Peebles and I was disappointed when the convoy started off and I had to drive on!

Oystercatcher island

The tiny island roundabout at Cardrona is home to the nesting oystercatchers again this year. On a small scrape of shingle in the island, the bird is sitting on eggs and her partner often sits on the road bollard like a little black and white sentry guarding his mate. The same crows that were giving the osprey a hard time, unfortunately seem to be watching the oystercatchers too. They did this last year and after a long term of incubation,  the eggs and birds where gone, nobody saw them hatch or leave and so we were never sure if they hatched and were led quickly to safety by mum and dad or were gobbled up by the waiting mobsters. Perhaps they were successful, seeing as they have chosen the same nest site again.

A pair of oystercatchers have been checking out the ground in front of the Wildwatch room at Glentress and looked like they were prospecting for a nest site too.
First spotted flycatchers

On 12th May the first spotted flycatcher was back at Kailzie Gardens and had taken up its old hunting ground along the main drive. It likes to perch on the fence posts along the drive, taking acrobatic leaps into the air and giving an aerial chase after flies and then returning to its perch.

Osprey FK8

The Tweed Valley satellite tagged female osprey is still in Portugal, around the Portimao region of the Algarve. Her movements are concentrated in the area around the River Arade and the reservoir to the north of the region.

Penina golf course roost

In early May, she ventured across further to the west to check out and roost overnight in a large Penina golfing resort. As the Portuguese summer progresses many of the smaller river tributaries dry up and the estuarine waters become hard saltpans so we may find that FK8 will move on again. We will have to wait and see what happens. A full round up of FK8’s latest movements will be posted soon.

Thanks for reading!

Diane

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

Forming a new bond at the main osprey nest

The main osprey nest eyrie stands empty for most of the time which is a sad reminder as to the great loss to the project, of the osprey mum who had reared 26 osprey chicks from this site with her partner, white leg ring SS, during 10 successful years together.

Now that she has gone and the chicks from this season have perished we are witnessing the new female being quite determined to stick around with white leg SS. Things seemed to have settled down between the two birds and although there have been no signs of affection between them there does appear to be a growing bond. SS has been seen returning to the nest almost daily with a half-eaten fish in his talons. No sooner has he landed, when the new bird appears and takes the fish from him and then flies off with it. He flies away moments later too. He doesn’t exactly give the fish to her but he doesn’t try to prevent this happening either.

So what is happening here? Is a slow bond between them beginning to grow? He has no choice really at this stage in the season if he wants to hold the territory for next year. It seems likely that there will be a lot of territory bids next year when at the start of the season this nest site will be much in demand and the most dominant and strongest of the ospreys around will take it on. SS will be the victor if he has a strong partner and this new female could well be the bird for the job. If she is young and inexperienced she may be seen off and SS could find another partner, or an already bonded pair could potentially usurp SS. It will be interesting to watch and it is highly unlikely that this will remain a vacant nest site.

Buzzards

The buzzard family at Glentress are almost ready to fledge and we witnessed the female delivering a young rabbit for her 3 large nestlings and then she fed them. They are beautiful birds and will no doubt be heard from the Wildwatch room once they fledge as they are likely to roam the woodland area above the centre and call for food. After fledging they will depend on the parents to provide for them until they are forced to hunt for themselves, this will happen once the parents stop feeding them and leave them to get on with it. They will then have to seek out hunting territory of their own, as they do not migrate and will have to become proficient hunters and scavengers to make it through cold, long winters, here in the Borders.

Swarmed

The bees at Glentress in the viewing hive have swarmed. The queen for whatever reason led the whole colony from the hive and they left. We don’t know where they have gone to but hopefully they will have found a good old hollow tree to begin a new hive. Replacement bees are settling in to the viewing hive and it will be interesting to watch them setting up their new colony.

wildflower

Wildflowers

The wild flowers around the whole of the Glentress Peel site are absolutely stunning and are quite literally buzzing with bees and insect life. Big swathes of wildflower meadows such as this are so important for wildlife, a great nectar source and a great protein source for birds feeding on the insects too.

Herons

The heron chick fledged successfully from the nest and we have been delighted to see one of the adult birds popping into the nest site, as well as some return visits from the young heron. On the river camera, we have watched both the young heron and the adult, coming down to the Tweed to fish.

Visitor Centres

Both of the centres are open daily throughout the summer and at Kailzie there is recorded footage of all the 2014 tragedy and drama with the osprey family, as well short films from the osprey chick ringing from last year with the children of St. Ronan’s Primary School. There are highlights from happier times when the pair had young chicks and various film clips. Volunteers are on hand to give the latest news and show the clips to explain all of the bird behaviour too.

Volunteers at Glentress, when on duty are available to interpret what is happening on the wildlife cameras and there are great views to be had of the bird feeder cameras showing delightful antics of the siskins feeding on the niger seeds.
Osprey Time Flies

The ‘Osprey Time Flies’, Tweed Valley Osprey 10th anniversary book is available from the centres too, and we hope to raise money for the continuation of the Tweed Valley Osprey Project from donations for copies of the book. Thank you very much to those who have given so generously already.

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

Further drama unfolds at the osprey nest

On Sunday, after the disappearance of the female bird, there was plenty of osprey drama at the main nest. Volunteers reported that the female bird had returned to the nest and she seemed well. Although we had lost this years’ chicks, there was now hope for the slim chance that further egg laying and a very late brood could be a possibility.

New female moves in

However, on examining the footage taken over the past week the story seems to be unraveling further and we now believe that it is a second unringed female. She was on the nest with the male and his behaviour suggested a defensive posture, not the welcome homecoming for his partner that we would expect. This leads us to believe that this bird is a stranger. The male has appeared threatened by the bird’s presence at the nest site since Sunday and does not appear to welcome her at all. He was seen with wings dropped and moving away from her at each approach.

Nest usurpers

Over the past few days, the male has brought in sticks to tidy the nest, the dead chicks have gone and he is staying at the site. However, the new female is staying there too. There has been little interaction between them, both occupying perches either side of the nest. It almost looks like a stand-off, a non-contact contest over territory.

After a further few days at the nest, the female started calling repeatedly and the male SS has perched beside her but there is something about the way that they are, that seems to suggest that they are unfamiliar with each other.

A blue ringed bird has also been seen trying to come down onto the nest.

Three birds pictured at the next on the 8th of June

Has the original partner died?

Re-examining footage it would appear that perhaps the original female bird was not quite well. The male was seen feeding her repeatedly, during the really wet weather. On 4th June he fed her and she lay across the chicks and, at one point, looks exhausted. Her back looks sodden as the rain is bouncing down on her and yet he is dry, standing next to her, with the rain not penetrating his feathers. If she was out of condition and not preening effectively then she would have been getting cold and drawing on valuable energy reserves as she tried to shield the chicks.

Wet female shields while male feeds her on 4th June 2014

She flew off and the male fed the chicks and settled on them, which is very unusual at this early stage in the chicks life. The female looked in poor condition and we wonder if she has died.

The other birds hanging around the nest site have been waiting in the wings to usurp her position for this site, as it is a good site. So it is very likely that the new female is taking over now that there is a vacancy.

We will have to continue to watch to see how this drama unfolds. Will SS hold the territory and take her as a new partner or will he lose this site to new birds?

This is a sad time for the project and a cruel reminder of how vulnerable the chicks are at an early age. They can perish so easily if they get cold and wet. It seems likely we will have a season without chicks and we hope that SS will hold the territory and return next season. If our original female has perished, which seems likely, then that is a very sad loss. She has been a fantastic mum and a delight to watch for over 10 years and she will be so very sadly missed by all.

We will have to wait and see…

Tragedy strikes at the Tweed Valley Osprey nest

We are devastated to report that the osprey female failed to return to the nest on Thursday 5th June in the afternoon during a really wet, cold day. The male bird, white leg SS, did his best to keep the young chicks going by feeding them and attempting to keep them warm but he left them at around 3.30pm and the chicks have most likely succumbed to the cold conditions. The chicks were seen dead in the nest on Friday and there is still no sign of the female adult.

The male bird is still at the nest site and looks a very sorry figure, he seems to ignore the dead chicks and is just waiting with fish in his talons for the return of his mate.
The nest site area has been checked in case the female was close by and maybe on the ground injured but there is absolutely no sign of her.

Many people were very emotionally attached to this pair of ospreys, as we have watched them for the past 10 years and were looking forward to their 11th season together and all had appeared well. The female was not ringed, so we do not know anything of her origins and it may be that she was really old. The male bird was repeatedly seen feeding the female this season, so perhaps she was feeling unwell. We will never know.

The volunteers and staff are devastated at the loss of this remarkable and beautiful wild bird and their little family. We just hope that white SS recovers from his loss and maybe finds a new mate next year. We will keep the cameras going just now to see what he does and also just in case, as there is a slim chance that the female may return.

Note from the editor: Since this post was written we have had reports that the female has returned to the nest. More updates to follow soon.