Tag Archives: satellite transmitters

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

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First Borders osprey satellite tagged

This week’s been a very special one for the ospreys of Tweed Valley. The female chick on the back up nest being monitored on camera has been fitted with a GPS satellite transmitter. Roy Dennis from the Highland Foundation for Wildlife and Dave Anderson from Forestry Commission Scotland, based at Aberfoyle, travelled to the Borders to carry out the task of fitting this specialised tracking kit to the young bird.

Tony Lightley, the Heritage and Conservation Manager for FCS, South of Scotland District had organised for this to be carried out, as well as for fitting the young birds with the alpha numeric Darvic rings for identification in the field.

satellite tagging the female osprey

Follow the bird

The small transmitter was fitted like a small back pack to be carried between her shoulders. The device is held in place by webbing stitched together by cotton which should hold for the length of the satellite transmitter battery lifetime of 4 years. The battery itself is solar powered and transmits a GPS location of the bird anywhere in the world. Roy Dennis, the leading authority on ospreys in the UK, will receive the details of all of the bird’s movements and present the findings in regular updates on his Highland Foundation for Wildlife website, where we will all be able to follow this very special bird’s journey.

The website also has details of all the other satellite tagged birds currently being monitored, including a Golden Eagle named Roxy that originated in Galloway but has chosen territory in the Borders to range in for the past few years, but has not successfully bred yet.

Colour Darvics

The ‘back up’ nest chicks have been fitted with the BTO rings on their right legs and Darvic rings on their left legs. The female with the satellite tag has leg ring FK8 and the male is leg ring FK7 in white lettering on a blue background.

fk 8 again

Fledged and exploring

The chicks have fledged but are still using the nest site to feed. The latest footage retrieved from the camera revealed the male chick doing comedy bounces and wing flaps prior to his first trip from the nest. The most amazing information has been transmitted back from FK8’s transmitter that she’s made a maiden flight trip to check out the River Tweed.

It‘ll be fascinating to follow her journey and to find out for the first time ever, exactly where an osprey from Tweed Valley goes to on her migration and the route that she takes. We’ll find out where she stops over for breaks and fishing trips and how long it takes for her to reach her over-wintering destination.

Migration

It’ll be a few weeks yet before the ospreys migrate to Africa for the winter. In the meantime it’ll be interesting to see just how far the young female osprey goes to explore her surroundings and to learn to hunt before the big trip.

Holding on

The camera link to the main nest is still live and is being checked regularly for any signs of osprey activity there. This has revealed that white leg SS is still around and the new female is still sticking close by him. Both where briefly at the nest on Monday, he was in the nest and she was on the perch. He was still displaying mantling behaviour and seems very unsettled by her presence but undeterred, when he flew off, she followed him in hot pursuit!

The visitor centres

Both centres at Glentress Forest and Kailzie Gardens have the latest footage from the new ‘back up’ nest on the screens so that visitors can see the chicks before they fledged and being fed by mum (green ring N0) after Dad, (yellow ring 8C) drops in a good sized fish.

Close observation will reveal the small aerial sticking up from the satellite transmitter back pack on the female chick. This is a very fine and flexible wire which bends and flips back into place so that it cannot become snagged on anything as the bird dives into water and flies about.

Thanks for reading!

Diane Bennett

tweedvalleyospreys@gmail.com