First Kielder ‘grandchicks’ take to the air!

Avid osprey fans will no doubt have seen the CWT Foulshaw Moss blog announcing that their chicks have fledged. Wonderful news for them, and for us because the adult female is 2010 Kielder born Blue 35. So the three young fledglings are our first ‘grandchicks’ as far as we know.

This is another major step in the re-establishment of ospreys in in the north of England. Our congratulations to CWT on a great first breeding season. And many thanks for their generosity in sharing their images with us. Here are a few of the latest photos.

A stormy sky on the horizon a couple of days before fledging (c) Cumbria Willife Trust

A stormy sky on the horizon a couple of days before fledging
(c) Cumbria Wildlife Trust

A day before the first fledge (c) Cumbria Wildlife Trust

A day before the first fledge
(c) Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Only one left! (c) Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Only one left!
(c) Cumbria Wildlife Trust

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Nest 1: movement towards fledging. And a live fish challenge!

The fledging window is well and truly open but – famous last words! – it doesn’t look imminent on either nest. The weather has been very hot with only a slight breeze, even at the elevation of the nests. Most of the time on Nest 1 the youngsters are standing gazing at the world beyond their nest, preening, or dozing. Next comes eating and last is exercising!

Nevertheless there has been progress in the last three days. Blue UV looked well ahead early in the week.

Blue UV with a good leap on 22 July (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue UV with a good leap on 22 July
(c) Forestry Commission England

But even an expert can get caught out with the debris littering the nest. The image below is from today.

Blue UV has an ungainly landing as Blue VT dines on a new fish and Blue VV has a bite from a remnant (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue UV has an ungainly landing as Blue VT dines on a new fish and Blue VV has a bite from a remnant
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VV seemed to be catching Blue UV up and even managed a jump whilst carrying a stick!

On Wednesday Blue VV did a reasonable jump carrying a twig (c) Forestry Commission England

On Wednesday Blue VV did a reasonable jump carrying a twig
(c) Forestry Commission England

And on Thursday morning she reached her personal best height.

A spring in Blue VV's step! (c) Forestry Commission England

A spring in Blue VV’s step!
(c) Forestry Commission England

But somewhat surprisingly given her focus on food the nearest to ‘helicoptering’ has been Blue VT. A definite ‘mini-helicoptering’ was executed on Thurday afternoon. Here is a link to a video of that, and some other, efforts by the Nest 1 trio.

In a second Blue VT was completely out of shot (c) Forestry Commission England

In a second Blue VT was completely out of shot
(c) Forestry Commission England

She has also risen to the challenge of dealing with a live fish. YA left one for the three youngsters and as usual Blue VT went to collect it. But it flapped at her, slightly disconcerting! Unlike her sibling Blue 6H last year, who took several minutes to decide on a good strategy, Blue VT dispatched the trout efficiently and was soon tearing off large morsels.

Blue VT working on the live trout (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VT working on the live trout
(c) Forestry Commission England

Under 5 minutes from delivery, Blue VT is tearing large pieces from the fish (c) Forestry Commision England

Under 5 minutes from delivery, Blue VT is tearing large pieces from the fish
(c) Forestry Commision England

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Osprey Watch Report: Wednesday 23 July

We arrived early and were set up by about 10.30 even though the mist meant there was nothing to see through the scopes. The screens confirmed that the 3 chicks were all still in the nest and looking fit and healthy.

Around 10.50 the male arrived with a fish swiftly followed by the female who took it off him.

The family are interested in YA's catch! (c) Forestry Commission England

The family are interested in YA’s catch!
(c) Forestry Commission England

He left her on the nest and the chicks began to gather round, with Blue VV taking up prime position. The female fed VV a few scraps but ate a lot of the fish herself. VT waited hopefully for her share with little success and eventually moved closer to take what she could. UV appeared to lose interest and was not seen feeding. By 11.30 no fish could be seen but one of the chicks was almost completely off screen and may have taken what was left of the fish to eat it in peace.

Around 12.30 the male visited briefly but brought no fish. Before 1pm the female put in two appearances – but still no fish!

By now the mist had cleared and visitors and volunteers alike were getting good views through the scopes of wing flapping, stretching and an occasional hop. We also spotted one of the adults at first in a tree to the right and later in one to the left. Several of the visitors including a young man who was making his second visit of the day were able to pick the adult out and the chicks spent most of their time sitting facing us so their white fronts showed up really well in the sun shine.

Around 3pm one chick flapped vigorously but any attempt to count the number of flaps was hampered by the other two joining in – it did though dispel any doubts visitors had about whether they had really identified the chicks through the scopes.

Blue UV jumping high (on the right) as Blue VT flaps (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue UV jumping high (on the right) as Blue VT flaps
(c) Forestry Commission England

There were a couple more visits from the adults – but still no more fish! As we spoke to late visitors just before 5 pm one chick briefly “helicoptered”.

We saw at least 106 visitors, including two from Bahrain. Many were family groups and in a couple of cases one of the party came back to look again and to find out more. The children particularly loved the pictures in the folders and Jack’s mum commented on the visitor list that Jack loved his sticker.

Margaret, Joyce and Robin

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Blue UV leads the way

Here is a link to a video of Blue UV showing his hop/modest jump ability. He is the most advanced of the six young on Nests 1 and 2 but there is a long way to go before fledging unless there is a sudden exercise spurt.

Yesterday was very warm and still and until the temperature dropped and a breeze picked up there was virtually no flapping. Today is cooler and breezier, so better conditions.

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In a flap

It won’t be long now until the young ospreys fledge. Around 53 days is the average and for most of the Nest 1 and Nest 2 chicks that date will come this weekend. So come along to Osprey Watch at Leaplish Waterside Park between 11.00 and 16.30 to watch the flapping on Nest 1 via the nestcam stream and through the telescopes, or Kielder Castle Cafe between 09.00 and 17.30 to view the cameras on the two nests. And from tomorrow for the next 3 Wednesdays volunteers will be at the Leaplish viewpoint with the ‘scopes out.

Nest 2 activity is considerably more muted than Nest 1. All Nest 2 chicks are flapping, with Blue 8H doing about 30 sustained beats to top the ranking on that nest.

Blue 8H has a sustained flap (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 8H has a sustained flap
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 7H has a go (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 7H has a go
(c) Forestry Commission England

On Nest 1 Blue UV is the top osprey, with a few reasonable jumps.

A leaping Blue UV (c) Forestry Commission England

A leaping Blue UV
(c) Forestry Commission England

But no helicoptering from anyone yet. It is very still at Kielder today, so hardly any flapping has been observed.

 

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Tugs of war. Or fish!

On Nests 1 and 2 all the chicks are now feeding themselves from fish brought in by the males. Mostly the females leave the youngsters to it for a while before taking the fish and feeding them from it. So there are quite a few tussles for ‘ownership’ of the fish when it arrives, or when someone feels it is their turn.

9H and 8H each want first go at a new fish (c) Forestry Commission England

9H and 8H each want first go at a new fish
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VV claims the trout from YA (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue VV claims the trout from YA
(c) Forestry Commission England

VT decides UV has had enough to eat (c) Forestry Commission England

VT decides UV has had enough to eat
(c) Forestry Commission England

On Nest 1 Blue VT is usually first to the fish and is least likely to concede possession gracefully.

VT pecks at UV, who was trying to take the fish (c) Forestry Commission England

VT pecks at UV, who was trying to take the fish
(c) Forestry Commission England

Things are a bit more civilised on Nest 2.

Blue 9H feeds in peace (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 9H feeds in peace
(c) Forestry Commission England

In the final image Blue 9H is cleaning her beak against a stick after her meal. How ‘grown up’ the youngsters are getting.

Blue 9H uses a stick to clean shreds of trout from her beak (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 9H uses a stick to clean shreds of trout from her beak
(c) Forestry Commission England

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Osprey Watch Report: 20 July

We set up at 10am to find the chicks on Nest 1 feeding on a rainbow trout followed by a period of resting, stretching of wings and preening. At 11.15am an osprey was spotted high up travelling along the opposite shore line before disappearing from sight. The chicks continued with their wing stretching and preening throughout the morning.

At 12.20pm YA landed on the nest with a large fish followed by Mrs YA.

YA has just brought lunch (c) Forestry Commission England

YA has just brought lunch
(c) Forestry Commission England

 

Blue UV eats from the new delivery whilst Blue VV makes do with a 'scrag end' (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue UV eats from the new delivery whilst Blue VV makes do with a ‘scrag end’
(c) Forestry Commission England

With the fish delivered YA flew off leaving Mrs YA and chicks to feed. The feeding continued until 12.55pm when Mrs YA also left the nest. One chick continued to help itself to the fish whilst the other two either preened or rested.

At 2.20pm both adults were spotted high above the nest enjoying a bit of flying fun together then at 3.45pm they both appeared briefly on the nest.

The male osprey spent a lot of time in a roost to the left of the nest. Then guess what – yes, we had some rain! After sheltering we managed another brief spell with the scopes before we closed down.

The day was filled with visitor tales of other osprey sites including GLASLYN, RUTLAND WATER, LOCH OF THE LOWES (LADY) and the LAKE DISTRICT, including sightings in many other countries. Whilst the day started very slowly momentum built up as it progressed to conclude with visitor totals reaching 144 – or as they say 12 dozen.

Don, Gillie & Ian

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