Tag Archives: tweed valley ospreys

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

Chick fitted with satellite tag

The main nest osprey chick is very settled and growing quickly. It will only be a matter of time before this chick will fledge from the nest and begin to explore the area around the Tweed Valley. This will be a very exciting time for all those interested in following the osprey’s story, as for the very first time, the main nest chick has been fitted with a satellite transmitter. This was carried out on the 9th July by Tony Lightley and Dave Anderson from Forestry Commission for Scotland under a special licence. During the process of fitting the transmitter, this 34 day old chick was also weighed and fitted with a darvic ring, (blue FX9) and BTO ring on the legs.

sat nav chick main nest FX9 2015

Telling the sexes apart

It was found that this chick weighed 1420g – meaning it’s a male chick. When determining the sex of the osprey chick, the bird is measured along the wing length and weighed. The smaller male weighs up to 1450g and the females can weigh in excess of 1600g. The female is the larger of the sexes but this is difficult to tell at a distance and in the field, and is only really noticeable when you have both side by side. Another pointer to tell them apart is by the colouring of the feathers around the neck. The male is very pale, but the female has a dark band of feathering for a necklace. The male also has a higher pitched call than the softer pitch of the female but again this is only obvious when both are together.

female chick brown necklace


male chick no necklaceFollowing FX9’s journey

The satellite transmitter will enable us to follow the movements of this male chick and track his whereabouts for approximately the next four years of his life. Last year a ‘back up’ nest, female chick (FK8) was fitted with a transmitter and she is in Portugal. She is basing her summer months travelling between reservoirs and rivers in the region south of Sines.

New sites for the project area

Although there was some disappointment that a couple of osprey nest sites were unoccupied this year, it is encouraging to report that there are a couple of new sites within the Tweed Valley Project area. So overall, the population in this region is still promising to expand.

Feeding at the nest

Daily life at the main nest revolves around feeding, preening and resting it would seem. The male bird, white leg SS, brought in a fish to the nest on Monday which was still clearly gaping its jaws and gills. He looked as though he was about to tuck into a good meal for himself when his partner made a grab for it and removed it, somewhat ungraciously from his talons and began to feed herself and her bonnie young boy.

Fledging fun

The osprey chicks fledge when they are between 40 and 50 days old and the period leading up to this first flight from the nest is spent building up the flight muscles in readiness. Regular wing stretching and flapping will occupy the chicks’ time and the frequency of this activity will increase as the chick nears the time to try out his wings for real. Sometimes a gust of wind can take a young bird by surprise and they can be uplifted on outstretched wings before they have actually made the decision to take flight. Watching the main nest live on camera has revealed some fairly comedic moments as the young birds in the past have tried to master their landing techniques when they return to the nest. However, life will be simpler for this chick – being an only offspring – as he won’t have to negotiate landing in amongst any siblings.

Thanks for reading,


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

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

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

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.


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


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.


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


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


FK8 migration route from UK to Spain.


FK8’s journey through Wales.


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


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


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.



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.

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

Bernesga River

Bernesga River

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.

Tree roost overnight on 12th Sept. Southern Spain.

Continuing south to Portugal 12th September.

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

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.

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

Rio de Arade, Portugal

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.

River Arade

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.

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

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.


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

Mother and daughter bonding


Both of the chicks at ‘Back up nest 2’ have now fledged and are exploring the area around their eyrie home, and venturing further afield as they become emboldened and more experienced at mastering their flying technique.

The birds will use the nest site as a waiting point and feeding area, as they’re not fully independent yet and rely on their parents for fish to be brought in.

The latest downloaded footage taken from the nest camera brought delightful images of the female chick FK8, with the satellite tag, at the nest site with her mum. Mum (green ring NO) had a fish and was gently tearing off strips and feeding the oversized youngster as though she was still a tiny nestling. It was a stark contrast to the main nest family that we’ve watched for the past ten years. Usually, at the main nest site, once the chicks were fully fledged we witnessed their mum retreating from feeding times and their dad doing most of the work.

So far at this site we’ve only ever seen a quick visit from dad as he drops off a fish and then mum proceeds to feed the brood. It was nice to see a spot of mother and daughter bonding. Once the young adult was full, mum ate the rest of the fish herself – she will be building her reserves up ready for her impending migration.

Housework and nest tidying

Once both birds were full and satisfied, a spot of housework seemed to preoccupy them. The nest is a masterpiece of artwork, a patchwork of meadow grasses, moss, bark, sticks and lichens on top of the platform of flattened sticks. FK8 followed her mum around the nest and appeared to mirror her behaviour, learning nest skills which she will one day hopefully put into good practice when she has a brood of her own.

Readiness for migration

Mum eventually began to get restless and took to the sky leaving FK8 behind. After she had gone, FK8 seemed to grow tired and took a nap. It was a short period to catch up on a bit of rest, since life is now very tiring as she flies around the territory, using her muscles and building up her strength. Her fitness levels must increase as she does more exercise, having spent eight flightless weeks in the nest being fed and rapidly growing. The ‘puppy fat’ will turn to muscle and she will reach her peak condition to make her first migration journey. It’s going to be an exciting time for this project to be able to follow her journey as her transmitter relays signals which we can follow on Google Earth.

She soon became restless and began wing stretching and hopping around the nest and then she took off in the direction of the camera, giving a lovely view of just how magnificent she has become. She is a beautiful bird with an impressive head crest, bright yellow eyes, dark eye stripe and white head streaked with brown markings.

Injured osprey returns

While on duty at the osprey centre in Kailzie, volunteer Robert Jamieson checked out the camera on the main nest on 16th July. This camera was still live, although there have not been birds there much since the tragic loss of the female and the three small chicks earlier this season.


He witnessed two ospreys dropping in to the site, one was ringed and the other was an unringed female. The ringed bird had a blue leg ring, LT and this was fantastic news, as this is the injured osprey that was rescued in 2011 and spent two weeks in rehabilitation at South of Scotland Wildlife Hospital. He was released later that season from the nest site where he had been raised back in 2009 and he took off with purposeful flight across the valley. It was a lump in the throat moment to see him fully recovered. He obviously, successfully made it to Africa at the end of that year and he is now back in the Borders and paired with a female bird. We do not know if he has a nest site or whether he is trying to take over the main nest site now that it is vacant.

The new pair were not there long when a very disgruntled white leg SS returned and began his mantling and defensive behaviour to display his displeasure at their presence. A third osprey appeared and proceeded to dive bomb SS with aerial swoops. Poor SS is not having a good year at all.

Diane Bennett

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.


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


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

An exciting new discovery


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