Tag Archives: osprey

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

FX9 has fledged

The main nest young male bird has fledged successfully and after giving us all quite a worry last week when he hadn’t been seen for five days. We were pleased to receive the first of the satellite data from his transmitter and find out what he has been up to.

It would seem that he took a few earlier flights than we had originally thought and had left the nest and perched in some nearby trees from 20th July onwards. The rest of the data shows that the bird was mostly sitting in trees close by but not on the actual nest, he has spent time flitting from tree to tree and then he became a little bolder and moved along to a further row of conifers opposite his nest site. On 2nd August he took his most daring excursion and flew across the forest and along the front edge of a plantation and roosted in conifers above the burn.

Return to the nest

On Monday 10th August both of his parents were back at the nest and could be seen on the live camera. White leg SS kept himself busy by moving sticks around and having a general tidy up, while his partner sat on the left hand perch squawking. She kept this up for a good while and SS ignored her. She seemed to be begging for food but he didn’t have any. When we receive the next batch of satellite data from FX9, their son, it will be interesting to find out if he was close by when the parents were there. Perhaps his dad had given him a fish which he was eating nearby and this was why his mum was so clearly put out.

There are long periods when the nest is empty now and with only one youngster, there seems to be less need to use the nest for dining now that he is capable of flight.

Osprey visitors

David (one of the volunteers on duty on Monday) reported that two intruder ospreys came on to the nest site at about 4.10pm and stayed until after 5pm. He was able to record some film footage of the birds and it was interesting, as there was an un-ringed adult female with very distinct white markings on the wings with a blue ringed adult male. The female was beseeching food from the male bird. The male had a half-eaten fish in his talons and was on the perch to the left of the nest. She was sitting in the nest and calling repeatedly to him. Unfortunately his blue leg ring could only be seen from the join and couldn’t be read but it had three digits. It was definitely not this year’s juvenile male though.

Migration time

As the summer draws to an end the ospreys will be starting to get ready for their long migration flight. The female adult is usually the first to go, breaking up the family unit and leaving her young behind and the male will stay with the young adult a while longer until he too will take off for his solo journey.

A summary of FK8’s migration last year

Last year the satellite tagged young female stayed in the Tweed Valley area until 7th September. She had made a few bolder excursions out of the valley to get her bearings and then just after 9.30am on 7th September she took off and flew directly to Carlisle. She went south over the Lake District, reaching the Duddon Estuary by 1.30pm, then she crossed the Irish Sea into Liverpool Bay and flew up the Dee Estuary, where she continued into North Wales and stopped to roost overnight at 17.52pm near Llanidloes. She set off the next morning at 6.56am, flew across Wales, crossed the Bristol Channel and roosted in Plymouth overnight. She left the UK mainland the next day and flew through the day and all night to cross the Bay of Biscay and reached Spain at just after 3am. The final part of that flight was slow and at just 1 metre above sea level. She must have been so tired and hungry. She continued on through Spain on shorter flights through the day and roosting at night until reaching Portugal on 14th September. After exploring the whole of the coastal area of the Algarve, she finally settled for the winter around the River Arade in the Portimao area of Portugal. She has spent the whole of the summer of this year in Portugal too.

FX9’s migration journey will be followed soon

We are looking forward to receiving the full data from this year’s satellite tagged bird from the main nest and it will be interesting to find out whether he will go to Africa, as we believe most migrating birds do, or whether he will choose Portugal as his wintering quarters.

sat nav chick main nest FX9 2015

Thanks for reading,

Diane

 

 

 

Dad the incubator

The novelty of carrying out much of the incubation of her eggs by herself has worn off for our resident female osprey. We suspect that she is a young, possibly even first time breeder and she was so pleased with her fine clutch of eggs that initially, she was resistant to allowing white leg SS, to take a turn to incubate. Well a few weeks of the endless sitting and nothing much happening, must have played a part in changing her mind, as she is now taking extended breaks and leaving a bemused SS alone to incubate.

On Monday 18th, male SS was alone in the nest and sitting on the eggs for most of the day, he was there when the cameras came on and he did not get relieved from his duty until 3.15pm.

The next day, once again, white SS was on incubation duty for most of the morning until just before midday he flew off and she returned within a couple of minutes of him leaving and took over. She had just settled down after turning the eggs and rearranging some nesting material when an almighty hail shower burst. A very fed up looking osprey could be seen hunkered down low with hail stones literally bouncing off her back.

hailstones cropped

They have a few more weeks to go yet before hatching time. The earliest likely date for hatching would be from 3rd June to 7th June.

Intruder ospreys

Now that the pair are established this season, there seems to be a more settled atmosphere at the main nest site and although we have seen an occasional alarm calling and the shadow of an intruder bird flying over the nest, most of the time they seem to be left in peace.
It is thought that intruder birds played a part in the downfall of the previous female which led to her leaving the three young chicks to die in the nest last year, as there were certainly other birds about and the new female wasted no time to move into the nest site, the very next day after she had gone.

Other osprey sites around the country have not been so lucky this year with eggs being kicked out of the nest at Loch Garten by an intruder male bird and Kielder nest sites have had multiple intruder birds harassing the resident pairs. Luckily their eggs have not been damaged. One of the intruder birds causing mischief was a Kielder returning youngster.
When intruder ospreys check out nesting pairs they possibly assess the situation and size up the competition. They may be seizing upon the chance that one of the pair may be a weaker or aged bird that can be displaced to make way for them to move in on a nest site with a resident bird in breeding condition that holds a territory. It has certainly worked for our new Mrs osprey and it would seem that another bird is trying to push out Odin the male at Loch Garten in a similar fashion.

When ospreys fail to breed they often build another nest close by (known as a frustration nest), we do not really understand the purpose of this nest. Is it a ‘back up’ nest in case they lose the territory of the one they hold and they intend to use it themselves, or is it to perhaps distract intruders away from their site and hope that they may take that nest instead?

The number of intruder osprey incidents causing nest upsets and failures is perhaps a good argument for putting up some more artificial nesting platforms to provide an opportunity for a pair in breeding readiness to move straight in.

However, some healthy competition for nest sites may be of benefit to the breeding population too, in a way that osprey breeding success comes from the strongest and best birds in their prime, as the weaker ones are driven off site. Survival of the fittest ensures that the weaker, sickly birds do not get to breed and therefore the offspring are perhaps born to only the best of the osprey stock.

2012 brood

Tweed Valley returner

A Tweed Valley osprey has been reported to have been seen at Esthwaite Water in the Lake District this spring. It is a ringed bird, CK2 which is one of the birds which fledged from our main nest in 2012. Great news that CK2 has made it back to the UK successfully and has been seen and we are waiting to hear more news about whether the bird was just passing through or if it is nesting there.

Bird box news

Blue tits have had a slow spring due to the weather but the pair that have moved into the nest box at Kailzie now have seven eggs and another box which we had assumed had been abandoned had some new nesting material today, so it looks like a pair of late breeders are ready to move in.

Sparrows have moved into the sparrow box on the outside of the osprey centre building, these birds like to nest communally and at least two pairs have moved in.

At Glentress the house martins have been very busy near to the pond area outside the Wildlife Watch room and they are taking advantage of the rainy weather causing messy puddles where they are gathering beakfuls of mud to build their mud cup nests which must be in the houses below Glentress judging by the direction the birds are flying off to.

Thanks for reading,

Diane

Borders bird visits Kielder

white EB in Kielder

photograph courtesy of Forestry Commission England

Quick update

News of a Borders raised osprey turning up at Kielder Forest was received this week. The ringed bird turned up at one of the nest sites at Kielder to cause a bit of upset with the established pair there. She did the same last year too and then disappeared for the rest of the season. Her leg ring was recognisable as white EB and she was fledged from the Scottish Borders in 2007. We wonder if she is trying to establish herself down at Kielder Water or whether it’s a dalliance on route to her territory further north. If she does have a nest site in the Borders, then it is strange that she would choose to try to occupy a site at Kielder and she even mated with the male there last year before leaving the area.

Diane

Migration journey begins

FK8 begins her first migration journey on 7th September 2014

Tweed Valley Osprey Project this year was fortunate to have one of the osprey offspring
fitted with a satellite transmitter, so that we could track her journey on migration. For the
first time, we can find out exactly what happens and where she goes when she leaves the
Borders. The bird is also fitted with a blue Darvic ring on her leg with the letters FK8, so that
she can be identified at a distance.
At the end of the summer we have waited in anticipation for the bird to leave the area. We
have been receiving data which we can open on Google Earth, to see each tracker point for
the bird as she moves about anywhere on earth.
She seemed reluctant to leave during the last weeks of August and spent much of the time
not roaming too far from the nest site, apart from visiting some local ponds for fish. In hindsight, she must have been preparing herself and getting in good condition for the journey. Then on 7th September, at 9.30am, her journey began.

Leaving the Tweed Valley

She left her forest home in the Tweed Valley and took a south westerly course, taking her
down past Craik Forest and Eskdalemuir, she was travelling over the hilltops which would
give her a good view of the layout of the landscape. She flew over the farmland between
Gretna Green and Longtown in Dumfriesshire, down into England crossing the Esk River
and the Eden River and onwards to the Lake District where she flew high over the hills to the
coast reaching the Duddon Estuary at just after 1.30pm.
She continued on straight across the bay, past Barrow in Furness and out into the Irish Sea.
She continued her seaward journey until she reached Liverpool Bay where she then headed
up the Dee Estuary at the Wirral peninsular, crossing the tidal area between Hilbre Islands
and West Kirby at 15.27pm. She then headed up the River Dee and into North Wales.
She flew into Halkyn across the Clwydian Range and the Vale of Clwyd and proceeded
south westerly to reach Lake Vyrnwy at 17.04pm. She didn’t pause in her journey and
continued to Clyweddog Dam, on the Llyn Clyweddog, north of the town of Llanidloes, where
she finally took a rest at 17.52pm and made this area her first overnight roost stop.
Her journey for her first day of migration covered a distance of just over 350km.

Last day in the UK

The next day, 8th September, she made a bright start and was on the move again at 6.56am,
taking a steady south westerly direction again and reaching the Gower coast in Swansea at
12.18pm and continued onwards, crossing the Bristol Channel at 12.38pm. She crossed the
bay and came inland at Bideford and down to Plymouth where she made a second roost
stop, at the River Lyne, at 15.46pm. Hopefully she managed to catch a fish and feed and
take a rest. Her second leg of the journey was 229.62 km.

Across the sea

On 9th September she started her next stage of the journey at 9.27am, once more in a south
westerly direction and out to sea across the Bay of Biscay. She flew all day and throughout
the night. She was flying at a height of 89m above the sea to begin with at a speed of 20
knots. By midnight, she was flying low over the water at between 1 and 5 metres above the
surface until she reached the Spanish coastline in the early hours of the morning, reaching
Calunga, Asturias at 4.04am. Her view of the mainland as she crossed the bay must have
been a welcome sight of occasional trees along the clifftop of the Spanish mainland, just
south of Lastres.
This incredible crossing was a distance of 772.9km. This has been her longest flight in her
whole life. She must have been tired and took a brief rest close to the cliffs. Hopefully, she
fished and took a deserved meal. She rested for 2.5 hrs and then she took off again. She
explored the Calunga coastal area for a while and then at 8.43am proceeded to make her
way. She didn’t fly for long before pausing to take another rest for 20 minutes which was just
3.43km away from her first Spanish mainland stop.

Reaching Spain

After such a brief period of rest following her incredible journey, she made the decision to
press on down through Spain. She flew west of the Cantabrian mountains and over the
Parque Naturel de Redes, where familiar birdlife such as dippers, woodpeckers, sandpipers
and black grouse inhabit, and the less familiar golden eagle…and the totally unfamiliar bears!
The habitat is mountainous and with plentiful rivers and streams. She didn’t hang around
and continued her southward route until 15.18pm where she took a tree roost close to the
Rio Bernesga. The river, hopefully provided a good meal and we hope that she has reached
this part of the journey in good condition. She stayed overnight, leaving at 6.37am on 11th
September, following the river and generally southwards. At midday she went over Leon
Airport and continued flying, until making another roost near Santa Marta del Tera at a forest plantation with a number of lakes close by.
Next morning, 12th September, she was on the move again at 8.22am. She continued flying
through southern Spain until roosting overnight on farmland. On 13th September, she again
made an early start and began her journey at 7.10am and pushed on until she reached
Portugal, crossing the border at 15.30pm, at Portalegre. She made roost in a clump of trees
not far from an artificial, rectangular shaped water body. Again, she set off early in the
morning of the 14th September at 8.26am until she reached the Algarve region of Southern
Portugal at Faro. She spent the two weeks until the end of September
exploring the whole of the coastal area of the Algarve, favouring an area of wetland, on the
River Arade. This is a notable area distinguished for the large suspension road bridge across
the Arade water.
She is hopefully enjoying plentiful fishing and good weather. FK8 has completed an epic
journey in her first month away from the Tweed Valley and is having a well-deserved rest
period on the Algave before she will take the next formidable venture on to Africa.

Migration of FK8

journey1
The map above shows the whole journey during September of osprey FK8 from
Tweed Valley.

journey2
The journey begins. 9.30 am 7th September FK8 heads SW to the coast and reaches
the sea at Barrow in Furness and crosses the Irish Sea and on to Liverpool Bay.

journey3

FK8 leaves Liverpool Bay and heads down the Dee Estuary just off Hilbre Islands at
15.27pm on 7th September.

journey4

FK8 roosts north of Llanidloes on her fist migration day, 7th September, at 17.52pm.

She stopped overnight, leaving the next morning at 6.56am.

journey5

FK8 reached the Gower, Swansea at 12.18pm on 8th September.

journey6

FK8’s migration route through the UK, showing overnight roost stops.

journey7

FK8 migration route from UK to Spain.

journey8

FK8’s journey through Wales.

journey9

FK8’s overnight flight across the Bay of Biscay and roost stops shown.

journey10

FK8 leaves the coast of the UK and heads out to sea at Whitsand Bay in Plymouth.

journey11

Coastal path at the start of the Channel crossing. FK8’s last view of the UK.

Spanish roost for 2.5hrs. 10th Sept at 5.01am after all night flight across Bay of Biscay.

journey12

journey13

FK8 ‘s route coming in off the Bay in yellow lines. First landing in Spain, exploring the
coast then moving off inland. 10th Sept 2014.

journey14
Route across Spain 10th Sept, fishing off the Rio Bernesga and roosting presumably
to eat at 15.18pm.

journey15
Bernesga River

journey16
Bernesga River

journey17
Group of dots show the overnight route position on 11th Sept near to Santa Marta de
Tera and a few stops beside the water body where she hopefully fed. Followed by the
yellow route direction south, as FK8 goes on her way.

journey18
Tree roost overnight on 12th Sept. Southern Spain.

journey19
Continuing south to Portugal 12th September.

journey20
Overnight roost in Portugal 13th September, close to what appears to be an artificial
water body.

journey21
Southern Portugal, 14th Sept roost and the time spent from 14th to 30th September in
the Algarve. Most of the time has been spent along the Arade River and Estuary.

journey22
Route across Spain and Portugal up to 18th Sept. roosts shown up to 15th Sept.
Portugal

journey23
Rio de Arade, Portugal

journey24
FK8 is enjoying time spent at the River Arade in the Algarve region of Portugal and
the photo is the famous bridge over the river. The mouth of the river empties into the
Atlantic Ocean between the cities of Portimao and Lagoa on the Gulf of Cadiz.

journey25
River Arade

journey26
Praia do Castelejo – Vila do Bispo – Faro – Portugal. A postcard view of
the coastal region where FK8 has spent the last two weeks of September.

journey27
FK8 enjoying her stay on the Algarve and having a break in her journey. Fishing and
spending time exploring the area on the south coast of Portugal along the Arade river
and estuary with occasional ventures out to sea. One journey took her almost 40 km
out to sea and then she returned to the mainland. Hopefully she will be building up
her reserves and feeding well to complete the next stage of her journey. She has
spent the last two weeks of September in this area.

Thanks for reading!

Forest ventures

The Tweed Valley satellite tracked young osprey FK8, has expanded her home ranging to check out other forests in the Tweed Valley. Most of the time she wanders not too far from her eyrie but every now and then she takes herself off for a trip further afield.
On 14th August she visited the Kirkhouse Forest and was tracked there at 7.53am, then she ventured across to Cardrona Forest where her transmitter recorded her as being there at 8.50am.

eagle's journey

On 15th August she went on a big circular loop, east of Walkerburn, at 11.32am venturing across the River Tweed and then north to north east almost as far as Windlestraw Law in the Moorfoot hills, before taking a south westerly direction across the top of Caberston Forest, returning to cross the Tweed again just west of Walkerburn at 11.55am. The next data record gives her as being up in the hills above Yarrow Kirk at 13.24pm which is south of the River Tweed and into the next valley.

map of eagle's journey

It’s interesting to consider her motivation for these trips. She doesn’t apparently seem to be seeking out water courses or lochs from what the data is showing. So is she sitting at the eyrie feeling rather hungry and in the absence of her parents, deciding to wander around and explore her surroundings to familiarise herself with the terrain? Does she go looking for her Dad when he is off hunting and has her mum left already? We just don’t know.

Tough love

Tough love is the order of the day for motivating the young ospreys to move beyond the home zone as fish are brought in less frequently by the male and hunger will drive them off the nest. However, it seems that she has not found St Mary’s Loch or Megget Water in the Yarrow Valley yet. There have been no significant trips along the River Tweed. Does this mean that she is not following Dad to learn how to hunt as we always have considered in the past and she is still relying on free dinners being brought in from him at the moment? So when will she begin learning the necessary skills for life in hunting and catching fish at big water bodies and rivers?

For the first time ever, we are getting an insight into how a young osprey in the Tweed Valley behaves once she has fledged. We will be able to establish the exact date that she begins her journey south to migrate to Africa and we will be able to follow her across the world for the next 4 years providing she survives the hazardous migration that she will soon embark upon.

main eagle nest site

Main nest site

Our usual Tweed Valley osprey star, white leg ring SS, has remained in the area all summer and has regularly been spotted on the main nest site where tragically he lost his three young chicks and his lifelong mate this year.

Hot property

This site has become hot property and there have been siting’s of other prospecting ospreys throughout the summer. The most exciting visit was the blue ringed male osprey with letters LT. He was hatched from the nest we call the ‘back up’ nest in 2009 and sadly, for the first time in over 10 years, his parents did not return.

injured eagle

LT returned from Africa in 2011 and got into difficulty, which resulted in a visit to Two Rivers vets in Peebles followed by a fortnight in South of Scotland Wildlife Hospital, and was released from his original nest site in September 2011. He has returned this year and although he hasn’t got a territory of his own yet, he seems to have made the Scottish Borders his preferred summer residence.

Frustration nest

Another osprey nest has been built within 2km of the main nest site. This has been built by birds in the area and it could either be what is known as a ‘frustration nest’ built by white leg SS or a new site built by LT. It has not been used for raising a family as the season was far too late by the time it was built, but it will be interesting to see what happens next year.

Thanks for reading!
Diane Bennett
Tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com

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