Is it really migration time?

In the once lawless borderlands around Kielder, dominated centuries ago by Border Reivers from North and South of the border, the ospreys are not behaving according to the rule books! Although the Nest 2 and 3 females have not been seen for a couple of weeks all the other ospreys are very much present and there are few signs of imminent departure.

This is not totally surprising because although UK osprey migration is well underway the Kielder young usually hatch late in the season and this year was no exception. But the fish deliveries by the males have still not tailed off significantly and the young are showing little indication of growing independence.

The juveniles still squabble on most occasions a fish arrives on the nest. Sometimes minor injuries result. Blue VV tried to take a fish off Blue VT on 23 August just off camera and when she returned she seemed to have blood (not trout!) on her nostril.

Blue VV appears to have a minor injury to her nostril  (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VV appears to have a minor injury to her nostril
(c) Forestry Commission England

The adults still aren’t safe, as 37 found out when his toe was grabbed by Blue 9H today.

Blue 9H gets 37's toe not the fish (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 9H gets 37’s toe not the fish
(c) Forestry Commission England

Despite her enthusiasm Blue 9H missed out to Blue 8H and not for the first time.

Blue 8H has grabbed the fish from Blue 9H (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 8H has grabbed the fish from Blue 9H
(c) Forestry Commission England

Sometimes when YA brings a fish in to Nest 1 it isn’t a juvenile who is waiting.

Mrs YA takes the trout (c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs YA takes the trout
(c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs YA is an infrequent visitor to Nest 1 now as she prepares to leave, but sometimes brings a fish herself. This delivery from her was on 24 August.

Mrs YA lands with a part fish (c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs YA lands with a part fish
(c) Forestry Commission England

But she is also keen to collect uneaten remains; this image is from today.

Mrs YA collects the rather large 'scrap' left by her young (c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs YA collects the rather large ‘scrap’ left by her young
(c) Forestry Commission England

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Well done the boys!

Yesterday an intruding juvenile male landed on Nest 2 at 14.05. None other than Blue VK from Nest 3. Unfortunately he stood at the very top of the nest, so although that allowed his Darvic ring to be identified, there is no full image of him.

Blue VK from Nest 3 pays a visit to Nest 2 (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VK from Nest 3 pays a visit to Nest 2
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 7H flew onto the nest and mantled initially. But Blue VK stayed on the edge for 3 minutes, and Blue 7H sat near him after about half that time. As she was half out of view too it isn’t possible to say if she was shouting at him, but she definitely wasn’t mantling. It is between 7 and 8 miles as the osprey flies between the two nests; none of the tracked juveniles has gone half that distance, yet they fledged at least 3 days before Blue VK.

A morning visit to Nest 3 failed to spot a juvenile, but that doesn’t seem surprising now! The adult male was present on the nest or a tree, but there was no sign of the female. It is almost a week since she was seen so it is likely she has migrated.

Mrs YA was still around yesterday evening, although she hasn’t been to her nest much in the past few days. And she only stayed long enough to leave the stick and interrupt a meal for Blue VT (on the left behind her). As he looked up from eating to see who had landed Blue VV snatched the fish!

At 18.38 Mrs YA lands on Nest 1 with a stick (c) Forestry Commission England

At 18.38 Mrs YA lands on Nest 1 with a stick
(c) Forestry Commission England

During the time the nestcams are running it is evident there has been a slight drop in the number of fish deliveries although they are almost all quite substantial, so the overall weight per day won’t have decreased as much. There is still competition for a new fish most of the time. On Nest 1 yesterday YA flew in with a trout at 17.35 and found a welcoming party.

Here comes tea! (c) Forestry Commission England

Here comes tea!
(c) Forestry Commission England

YA departed as speedily as he arrived.

YA gets out of there! (c) Forestry Commission England

YA gets out of there!
(c) Forestry Commission England

Here is a video of part of a lengthy tug of war, which Blue UV won. So a day in which the two juvenile males at Kielder did well in different ways.

 

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Thanks for the Season’s Dedication

Joanna Receiving her Present

Joanna Receiving her Present

The Forestry Commission wanted to recognise the exceptional dedication of Joanna Dailey to the Kielder Ospreys this season so we had a surprise presentation at the Castle.

Joanna has spent hours monitoring the nestcams from which she has produced an amazing record of the behaviour of the ospreys on the 2 nests as illustrated by her blog posts.  She has also promoted the Kielder ospreys to the visiting public and made links with other osprey projects around the UK and beyond.

It has been an exceptional year as 8 chicks have fledged from 3 nests.  Joanna also dedicated her time to ensure that the ospreys on nest 3 were protected.

Joanna thought she was coming to an osprey meeting and was so surprised at the reception that was waiting for her.  She was presented with a framed photo and of course there had to be an osprey cake.

The cake

The cake

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Visits and a probable departure

The high winds at the weekend meant that when the juveniles were on the nests they tended to be either lying down trying to get below the gusts or standing facing into the wind. Since then they have seen much less often – unless there is food, of course! – which has presented opportunities for other birds.

Begging for a titbit (c) Forestry Commission England

Begging for a titbit
(c) Forestry Commission England

Sometimes one or two corvids appeared despite an osprey being present.

Look behind you! (c) Forestry Commission England

Look behind you!
(c) Forestry Commission England

Mainly the juveniles made their feelings clear and any visitors left. The focus on food continues to dominate. Both males have continued to bring in good supplies, with two ‘part fish’ on the nests at times. Some juvenile behaviour is quite interesting, with a sizeable new fish being ignored for a smaller remnant, and sometimes the smaller piece has been the object of a tussle even though there is another fish. Both rainbow trout, so what is so appealing about the smaller piece? But usually the newer catch is preferred.

Blue VT abandons a perfectly good meal for something fresher (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VT abandons a perfectly good meal for something fresher
(c) Forestry Commission England

Of course sometimes you need to keep control of a good supply.

Blue UV attempts to protect a new fish and the one he was eating (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue UV attempts to protect a new fish AND the one he was eating
(c) Forestry Commission England

As ever there is competition when a new fish arrives.

YA beats a hasty retreat as Blue VT and Blue VV both want to eat NOW (c) Forestry Commission England

YA beats a hasty retreat as Blue VT and Blue VV both want to eat NOW
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 7H gets to the fish first as Blue 9H plans her snatch tactic (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 7H gets to the fish first so Blue 9H plans her snatch tactic
(c) Forestry Commission England

Osprey sightings in southern areas of the UK are becoming commonplace as migration gets under way. Where there has been breeding adult females generally leave first, they are relatively out of condition after months of incubating or protecting and feeding young. Some well known females have left in recent days, for example EJ (Loch Garten), Lady, as she is known to many, (Loch of the Lowes) and Glesni (Dyfi).

Mrs 37 from Nest 2 hasn’t been seen at her nest since 17 August. At 12.20 she landed with a partly eaten fish which Blue 8H took. She stayed for a couple of minutes, fiddling with a stick, before flying off. Was that the start of her long journey south? Very possibly. We wish her a safe journey, safe few months at her winter home, and safe return next year.

The last time Mrs 37 was seen on the nest (c) Forestry Commission England

The last time Mrs 37 was seen on the nest
(c) Forestry Commission England

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Visitors to Nest 1

Very different visitors have been spotted on Nest 1 over the last couple of days.

On Thursday two redstarts spent 20 minutes or so flitting around the nest when the osprey family were elsewhere. They were possibly a female and a juvenile, or perhaps both juveniles, and they put on a colourful display.

Two redstarts flit around Nest 1 (c) Forestry Commission England

Two redstarts flit around Nest 1
(c) Forestry Commission England

On Friday at just after 11.30 YA landed with a fish. Blue VT took it. YA flew away as a female landed from the other side of the nest. But it wasn’t Mrs YA! The intruder wandered around the nest as Blue VT screamed and half mantled over her fish. YA didn’t return. She looked at home and quite familiar – very like the first female to land on Nest 1 this year, referred to as 26/3 female, and who YA mated with before Mrs YA returned from migration. Mrs YA can’t have been near the nest and initially we wondered if she had left on her migration, but she turned up at 15.10. Here are some images of the recent intruder and 26/3 female. What do you think?!

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Blue UV growing up!

Firstly, we must mention wonderful news today from Wales. The fantastic camera set up (nothing without the people with the controls) at Dyfi recorded a 2012 Glaslyn male, Blue 80 visiting them. This will be his first year back to the UK and is the first record of him since 2012. Great news for Glaslyn and hopefully the future Welsh osprey population. Although we’d love him to join his two brothers at Kielder, Yellow 37 and White YA! Now to more mundane matters.

Blue UV, the only male on Nests 1 and 2 this year, has been a frequent visitor to the natal nest over the last couple of days – all the young are spending more time in the nearby trees. He has timed his arrival just before YA lands with a fish on several occasions.

UV gets ready to relieve YA of a fish (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue UV gets ready to relieve YA of a fish
(c) Forestry Commission England

But on Wednesday Blue UV rather weakly submitted to Blue VT’s snatch attempt.

Blue UV gives up the fish without a struggle (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue UV gives up the fish without a struggle
(c) Forestry Commission England

On Thursday he fended off Blue VV – more confident or just not such a formidable ‘foe’?!

Blue UV sees off Blue VV (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue UV sees off Blue VV
(c) Forestry Commission England

Also on Thursday whilst his sisters were attending to a fish in a corner of the nest Blue UV lay down on the nest. Nothing unusual in that, but he went on to indulge in some nest cup scraping! Two years too early at least.

Blue UV scrapes on the nest (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue UV scrapes on the nest
(c) Forestry Commission England

Here is a video of some flying practice and also the fish and scraping incidents.

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Nest 3 update

A visit to Nest 3 is always a treat. On the way there today a fox was just visible in the heather on the clear fell, a head or sometimes just glimpses of ears. But the meadow pipit ‘evacuations’ allowed his progress to be tracked.

Once set up at the monitoring point the adult and juvenile females were both visible on the nest. No sign of the other two in the surrounding area. After a while the adult male flew in, and the adult female left almost immediately. The juvenile female Blue VL started eating after a few minutes although the fish was almost certainly on the nest already. A pair of buzzards floated across the nest area very high overhead. The male looked up at them but saw no threat to chase away and stayed with his daughter. She finished eating and cleaned her beak on some bark; the male took off.

The Nest 3 male fliesoff leaving Blue VL alone on the nest (c) Joanna Dailey

The Nest 3 male flies off leaving Blue VL alone on the nest
(c) Joanna Dailey

A few minutes later Blue VL left the nest also, much more confidently than last week, flying over trees to the right of the nest before disappearing behind them.

Blue VL leaves soon after her father (c) Joanna Dailey

Blue VL leaves soon after her father
(c) Joanna Dailey

No sign of the young male Blue VK, but no reason for concern either. Nothing happened really, but great to observe. Apologies for the not very good images.

On the way out three roe deer grazed on a small open area at the forest edge. They loped away at the sight of a human. Even one who loves watching wildlife!

 

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