Tag Archives: heron

Best fed osprey

osprey one chick fed 21st june

The osprey chick being fed

It has been a tense week watching the Tweed Valley Osprey main nest camera, as with only one remaining chick we have been worried that the inexperienced new mum may not give the young developing bird the attention and care needed to see it through this vulnerable stage of its development. Thankfully, the advantage this little one has is that when dad brings a fish in, the meal no longer has to be shared with two other siblings and that has made mealtimes a gorging fest! I don’t think we have ever seen an osprey chick fed to the point where food is hanging out of its beak before now. Struggling to swallow the last bits because its belly was just full up!

This is good news because lots of rich protein packed, raw fish will ensure growth and as the chick matures the grey fluffy down will be gradually covered by weatherproof feathers and this will help to give some protection from the elements. The female bird did protect her youngster from a torrential downpour at the weekend which was another good sign that she is doing her job properly now. She will hopefully shield her youngster from the midday sun should we ever see it again, through the veil of grey clouds that have appeared this week.

Blue tits starve

Sadly, the little family of blue tits have all perished. The cold wet weather has persisted long enough to cause a distinct lack of caterpillars which are needed to raise a brood of blue tits. Seven hatched out and one by one they have died as they have not had enough food and even one of the pretty little adult birds has died in the nest, probably worn out from its efforts to find food.

Heronry news

22nd june 2015 heron

An adult heron at Kailzie

The empty heron nest at Kailzie has been receiving visits from one of the adult herons and the bird has been doing some nest tidying. They will hold the territory until it is time to breed again but they will not attempt a second brood this year. They nest colonially in a heronry and this is a small one which consists of only five nest sites on this site.

Volunteers, buzzards and goshawks

On Tuesday 17th June, some of the volunteers were treated to a visit to watch the buzzard chicks being ringed and some impressive goshawk chicks, deep in the Tweed Valley Forest.
Licensed bird ringers from Forestry Commission Scotland, Tony Lightley and Eve Schulte carried out the task and were able to show the enthusiastic volunteers from the Tweed Valley Osprey Project these truly wonderful birds. It was an emotional experience to engage with these wild creatures of the forest and a real privilege.

The buzzard chicks were really vocal and super raptors to observe at close quarters but they were totally overshadowed by the far superior and impressive goshawk. These chicks were large, feisty and very vocal with reflexes in their talons of lightning speed. Their sturdy thick legs made the buzzard legs seem like matchsticks by comparison.

buzzard chicks

The buzzard chicks

The familiar buzzard is seen regularly throughout the Borders and feeds on carrion, earthworms, rabbits, mice, voles and birds while the goshawk which looks almost identical to a sparrowhawk but is as big as a buzzard, is a secretive, stealthy hunter which glides silently through the forest and can wheel and flip vertically in fast flight, to negotiate branches when giving chase to prey such as a woodpigeon.

goshawk chicks

The goshawk chicks

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New screen stars are a hit

The new osprey pair are proving to be a real hit with visitors to the centres, and footage from the new ‘back up’ nest site shows the two handsome chicks are growing up fast. The ringed adult birds are absolutely, stunningly beautiful. The male bird is a powerful and proficient hunter and he is bringing in good sized fish which he passes straight over to the female which she uses to feed the hungry young ospreys straight away.

Family of ospreys

Home grown borders boy

We now have confirmation about the leg ring on the male bird and have discovered that yellow 8C is a bird which fledged from our number 1 ‘back up nest’ in 2004, in the Tweed Valley Project Area.
This is great news to know that birds born in the Scottish Borders are returning to breed in the area, and another proven success for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project.
We are still waiting to hear where the green ringed partner of yellow 8C has come from. We believe that the green rings date from the year 2005, but records so far reveal that she is not a Borderer! Maybe she is a Highlander, an English or Welsh bird. It will be interesting to find out and also it’s a good thing to strengthen the gene pool, to have local birds breeding with birds from outside the area too.

Blue ringed osprey

Buenos dias

We ’ve had delightful news that one of the osprey chicks ringed at the ‘Back up 1’, nest site last year has been photographed on a sunny beach on the River Tinto, Huelva in Spain this summer.
The juvenile osprey has been fitted with a blue Darvic ring bearing the digits CL9 in white lettering. He is now a fully grown and magnificent looking adult, and – as can be seen from the photograph – is looking very fit and healthy while enjoying a summer break as a one year old bird. Next summer he may well look for territory for breeding and so it will be interesting to find out if he returns to Spain or heads back to the Borders.
Another Borders bred osprey has been spotted this summer over in County Wicklow in Ireland. This bird, bearing the blue Darvic ring CL1, was ringed in 2012 and his safe migration to Ireland really is very good news.

Egg science

A few weeks ago I reported that a failed egg on the ‘back up 2’ nest site had been analysed and revealed a second shell layer over the top of the egg which it would seem prevented the osprey chick from breaking out. We had never encountered anything like this before but one of the volunteers within the osprey project, John Savory, has a science background and revealed that research into egg abnormalities shows that eggs can sometimes have double layers due to prolonged delay in laying of the egg. This, as far as we know has not been encountered in wild birds before.

Heron siesta

The heron nest has become something of a sunny afternoon hammock for a sleepy heron taking afternoon siestas. It looks like it’s one of the adult birds as it has the distinct long, black head plumes and feathery chest finery which the young bird hasn’t grown yet.

Thanks for reading!
Diane Bennett
Tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com

An exciting new discovery

ospreyfishingangusblackburn

Photograph courtesy of Angus Blackburn

At last we have some exciting and happy news from the Tweed Valley Osprey Project. One of the monitored ‘back up’ nests within the project area has had its camera switched on and we are able to extract footage from it to check the progress of the family of ospreys at this nest site.

Ringed adult birds

Both of the adult birds at this site are ringed birds, the male has a yellow Darvic ring 8C and the female has a green ring with letters NO. The yellow Darvic ring is very clear from the filming but the green ring is harder to read, so the lettering will need to be confirmed once we have more footage from the site. There are two lovely healthy and large chicks, and the footage has been installed on the screens at the two centres of Kailzie Gardens and Glentress Wildwatch Room.

Yellow ringed osprey

Over the next few weeks we will be able to monitor the progress and bring regular updated film footage for the centres, until the chicks fledge. This is a very exciting twist for this year’s season, following the tragedy of losing our female and the chicks from the main nest. We now have some positive osprey breeding, a chance to watch this family and to find out where the parents originated from and how old they are.

Borders regulars

This pair of birds has been recorded in the Borders before, but it was not known that they were paired together or that they were the parents present at this nest site, so it’s fantastic information to find out. Yellow 8C was photographed fishing in the Yarrow Valley around five years ago by professional photographer Angus Blackburn. Angus took this remarkable photograph which was published in the Daily Mail, and we also used the photograph in the new Tweed Valley Osprey Book called Osprey Time Flies along with lots of other super photographs that he took for the osprey project. It’s great that we now know where yellow 8C is nesting and can confirm that he’s a successful breeding bird. The green ringed bird has also previously been photographed while fishing in the Yarrow Valley by Willie McCulloch in 2008 and this photograph was donated to the Tweed Valley Osprey Project . It’s framed for people to see it at Kailzie Osprey and Nature Watch Centre.

Green ringed osprey

Osprey Time Flies

The Osprey Time Flies book has been distributed to all of the primary schools in the Tweeddale area so that every child has a copy and can find out about the remarkable ospreys living in the Tweed Valley at secret nest locations.
Copies are available from Kailzie Gardens Osprey and Nature Watch and from Glentress Wildwatch, when there is a volunteer on duty. We would like to thank those that have so generously made donations to the Tweed Valley Osprey Project for a copy of the book. All money raised is used for the upkeep of this project, which is a not for profit partnership.
More wildlife news
The buzzards have now fledged at Glentress and are away from the nest site now. The herons at Kailzie are using the nest site as a base from time to time and we have seen both adults and the young bird loafing at the site and preening. A very delighted volunteer, Lynn Walker, witnessed a little red squirrel checking out the nest and then taking a snooze in the middle of the nest in the sunshine! It stayed for quite a while until a disgruntled heron trundled along and disturbed it.

Over the coming weeks more footage from the osprey ‘back up’ nest will be brought in to the centres and both centres will be open daily for viewing. We hope to see many visitors to come and enjoy viewing the new osprey family.

Thanks for reading!
Diane Bennett
Tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com

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

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.