Blue VV slows down, but has been to the seaside today!

After her 250 mile first day of migration Blue VV took it easy yesterday, 1 September. She only covered about 24 miles in the day, spending a long time in the farmland near her roost tree NE of Banbury and where a tributary of the River Cherwell flows, but there is no evidence that she attempted to fish. However, fixes were mainly 40 minutes apart much of the time. She ended the day in more farmland just north of Oxford, initially in a copse before roosting on top of a large electricity pylon!

A short trip from Northants to near Oxford on 1 Sept

A short trip from Northants to near Oxford on 1 Sept

Today, 2 September, was more exciting. Blue VV had a late start, not moving away from the general area around the pylon until 09.12 BST. Then she was flying SSW at 23 knots, about 26 mph, speeding up quite often to over 30 knots as she flew on. Fixes were at 1-3 minute intervals until after 17.00. By 11.12 she was crossing into Berkshire, then into Wiltshire by noon. She crossed briefly into Hampshire before flying west of Salisbury and on into Dorset at 13.18.

By 14.51 she was on the coast, near Lulworth Cove. She flew along the coast and out to sea!

Blue VV sees the sea for the first time

Blue VV sees the sea for the first time

As you can see, she had an exploration over the water, and may well have been the osprey reported on Bird Guides as flying south of Portland Bill this afternoon – she was there at 15.36.

By 17.00 she was inland and in a copse. She was still there just before 18.00 when the last data was received. On the map below a number of fixes have been removed for late afternoon, so the trail ends some distance from her possible overnight roost area.

VV's 1-2 September travel

VV’s 1-2 September travel

What will she do tomorrow? Often ospreys stay for a while on the south coast. Will she do this, or does France (presumably!) beckon?

 

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Blue VV is off!

The GSM tracker on Blue VV, the female juvenile on Nest 1, has only transmitted irregularly because the nest area is not within range of a mobile phone mast. Also with a lot of inactivity, witnessed via the nestcam and ‘long shot’ camera, the solar panel was not charging well.The data received showed a fairly restricted area of flight around the nest – no more than an occasional 3 mile foray.

So it was a slight surprise to find that sometime after 08.08 BST on Sunday 31 August she began her migration. At that time she was in the nest area but by the next data point, 08.58, she was flying over Kielder Water near the dam end. And on she went!

At first she was flying around 500-600m altitude and up to 35 knots, roughly 40mph. She was heading SSE but after passing east of Allendale in the North Pennines she took a more southerly direction. Throughout her journey she would regularly change course just a little to fly in a more easterly direction for a few minutes before heading south again.

She gained height to over 1000m flying over North Yorkshire. By 12.01 she was south of Barnard Castle and did one of her easterly shifts. She past very near Scar House Reservoir in Nidderdale but didn’t slow down. Soon after she was just east of Grimwith Reservoir but again there was no fishing attempt. With the GSM system, data points are at 2 or even 1 minute intervals for much of the daylight hours so any roosting or fishing activity is very obvious.

Blue VV carried on throughout the afternoon without stopping for a break or hunting for fish, although she did track along Gill Beck and past Reva Reservoir before flying high over Bradford. From 15.38 she dropped altitude and/or speed at times but was almost always over 250m and 15 knots. She flew alongside Cromford Canal (and the A6!) for a while. The last data point received was at 18.24 when she was in Northamptonshire, having started to head slightly westwards towards Banbury in Oxfordshire. STOP PRESS, new data received as this was being written showed she stopped soon after the last fix on the map and roosted in trees quite near the River Cherwell. She was still in that area at 10.23 this morning. Here is a map up to 18.24 on 31 August.

Blue VV migrates - data to 18.24 BST on 31 August

Blue VV migrates – data to 18.24 BST on 31 August

She had covered 400km, just under 250 miles, in under 10 hours with no recorded stops on the way. A fairly steady start, no record, but quite a long distance for a first day. And humans will feel better when she has caught a fish!

So what did she do in her last 24 hours at Kielder? She had an exciting start, with a male intruder landing on the nest (more about him in another post). After shouting at him for a bit she shooed him off.

Blue VV says 'go away, please.' (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VV says ‘go away, please.’
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VV meant it! (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VV meant it!
(c) Forestry Commission England

Plucky lass! She was around the nest area or on the nest all morning. When YA brought a smallish fish in at 14.28 she claimed it and flew off to a tree near the nest to eat.

Blue VV gets set to take a late lunch away (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VV gets set to take a late lunch away
(c) Forestry Commission England

At 19.11 she came down to the nest to eat a trout which Blue UV had finished eating.

The last meal for Blue VV seen by the nestcam  (c) Forestry Commis

The last meal for Blue VV seen by the nestcam
(c) Forestry Commission England

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A Scottish Visitor

On 27 August Nest 2 had a brief call from a Scottish osprey.

Blue 7H and Blue 8H were both mantling and screaming when a pair of legs came into view on the nest edge.

Blue 69 drops in to Nest 2 (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 69 drops in to Nest 2
(c) Forestry Commission England

Although only on the nest a couple of seconds the Darvic number, Blue 69, was clear. Blue 69 is male, a 2011 osprey who was ringed at Loch Lomond. Many thanks to Roy Dennis and David Anderson for the information.

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Kielder Update and a plug for a TV programme!

First the plug; there will be two brief films by Mike Dilger on BBC1’s The One Show on 1 and 2 September, featuring Roy Dennis and the Basque Country Osprey Reintroduction Project. A ‘must watch’ event!

The Kielder juveniles on Nest 1 are still around the nest area most of the time and Mrs YA is also present. Sometimes she brings a part eaten fish to the nest although often it is one she had removed earlier after the young had eaten courtesy of a YA delivery!

Mrs YA 'leaves' a fish for Blue VT (c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs YA ‘leaves’ a fish for Blue VT
(c) Forestry Commission England

In 2013 Mrs YA did not seem to stay at Kielder for as long after fledging, although the permanent recording facility wasn’t available so we can’t be certain.

With a good forecast for migrating birds later next week we are unlikely to have the privilege of seeing the whole family for much longer. Although they haven’t all been seen on the nest at the same time for a while.

The Nest 1 family bar Blue VT (c) Forestry Commission England

The Nest 1 family bar Blue VT busy doing their own things!
(c) Forestry Commission England

On Nest 2 37 and the young were still present on Friday, but a streaming problem over the weekend means there is currently no coverage. Last Wednesday 37 brought quite a large whole fish to the nest and was squashed in the resulting scramble for possession between Blue 8H and Blue 9H.

Blue 8H and Blue 9H close in! (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 8H and Blue 9H close in!
(c) Forestry Commission England

Poor 37 has also suffered more nipped toes and ankles.

Blue 9H nips 37's toe in her haste to get the fish first (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 9H nips 37’s toe in her haste to get the fish first
(c) Forestry Commission England

The Nest 2 juveniles have been miserable at times, either waiting for 37 to bring more food or else in the rain. Or both, as on Friday!

The three juveniles wait for a fish in the rain (c) Forestry Commission England

The three juveniles wait for a fish in the rain
(c) Forestry Commission England

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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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