Very sad news about one of the Nest 2 eggs

Last night at shortly before 18.00 there was another intruder incident at Nest 2. 37 was incubating when he started alarm calling.

37 prepares to chase an unseen intruder (c) Forestry Commission England

37 prepares to chase an unseen intruder
(c) Forestry Commission England

He flew off after the unseen intruder and Mrs 37 went onto the eggs. Peace was restored for 10 minutes but then she began calling and mantling.

Mrs 37 alarm calls  (c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs 37 alarm calls
(c) Forestry Commission England

An intruder came into sight and flew at Mrs 37 who accidentally kicked an egg out of the cup.

Mrs 37 chased the intruder off and returned within a minute. But she ignored the egg on the side of the nest. It was still there this morning.

Mrs 37 has stood off the three eggs  several times, moving to the edge near the abandoned egg. She has looked at it, but not tried to return it to the cup.

Mrs 37 takes a close look at the egg before returning to incubate (c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs 37 takes a close look at the egg before returning to incubate
(c) Forestry Commission England

Although at Loch Garten this year one of the eggs kicked to the edge by an intruder was returned to the cup a few days later and incubated it is more usual for the parents to ignore an egg on the side of the nest.

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And finally Blue 2H says hello to mum!

We’ve seen Blue 2H who hatched on Nest 2 in 2012 on both Nest 1 (quite a few landings there now) and Nest 3 but not his natal nest. Nestcam streaming is just 9 hours a day so maybe he has checked in there, but it would be very special to see him at that nest.

Late yesterday Mrs 37 started alarm calling.

Mrs 37 alarm calls (c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs 37 alarm calls
(c) Forestry Commission England

An osprey hovered into view and there was a blue ring on the right leg – was this Blue 2H?

Is this Mrs 37's son? (c) Forestry Commission England

Is this Mrs 37’s son?
(c) Forestry Commission England

Here is a video clip of the ‘event’, the intruder is only in shot for a couple of seconds.

The ring number was never totally clear (although the ‘2’ was visible in a couple of frames) but comparison of tail and primary feather markings led to the conclusion that it was indeed Blue 2H.

An historic moment and it also helps prove adults don’t recognise their offspring!

Thanks to Paul for checking the footage and comparison images to validate the findings.

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A couple of Scottish intruders

Although there have been less ‘intruder alerts’ on Nests 1 and 2 the incubating ospreys still watch the sky intently at times and alarm call. On Thursday afernoon Mrs YA exhibited this behaviour, then hunkered down on the nest. YA landed with a fish – was that all the fuss was about? No, a moment later there were three adults on the nest.

The intruder stands behind YA and his fish (c) Forestry Commission England

The intruder stands behind YA and his fish
(c) Forestry Commission England

After a few seconds of stand off Mrs YA employed her now familiar and effective tactic of jumping at the intruder who flew off. But she returned to perch just over the edge, apparently keen on YA’s catch!

That fish looks good (c) Forestry Commission England

That fish looks good
(c) Forestry Commission England

YA flew off but the intruder stayed until Mrs YA shooed her off again. A few minutes later the intruder overflew the nest again.

Blue EU has another look at Nest 1 (c) Forestry Commission England

The intruder has another look at Nest 1
(c) Forestry Commission England

The fish wasn’t the only attraction – unattached ospreys will prospect active sites and see how determinedly the residents defend their nest. Mrs YA is usually very resolute.

Slow motion playback revealed the intruder is ringed Blue EU.

Blue EU makes her entrance (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue EU makes her entrance
(c) Forestry Commission England

She hatched in 2012 near Tain on the Dornoch Firth, about 300 km from Kielder. A video of the incident is here.

Interestingly another osprey from the same area but a different nest landed briefly on the edge of Nest 3 on 2 May. He only stayed a few seconds and we are fortunate that the nestcam was recording at the time. Blue EE is a male who hatched near Tain in 2010.

Blue EE lands on Nest 3 (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue EE lands on Nest 3
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blue EE flies away (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue EE flies away
(c) Forestry Commission England

 

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UV: finally making himself at home?

The last update on UV covered his first few days back at the Langue de Barbarie in the very far north of Senegal. He has spent time here before – was this another ‘mini-break’? The answer is a resounding ‘NO’. On the whole he appears more settled in this area than elsewhere in Senegal. Nevertheless, recently his roaming instincts have been apparent too.

To recap, the Langue de Barbarie is a long peninsula ( ‘island’ on the image below, but the southern part is now connected to the mainland) with an inner tidal lagoon which flows into the Senegal River.

UV is mainly in the circled part of the Langue de Barbarie

UV is mainly in the top part of the circled section of the Langue de Barbarie

UV has a choice of fishing in the relatively calm and shallow lagoon or offshore over the sea. During the last few days of April he hunted almost exclusively over the lagoon. In May there was a gradual shift. On 3 May he had several expeditions just offshore over the sea in additon to one recorded outing to the lagoon.

UV hunts just offshore

UV hunts just offshore

On 4 May he flew much further out to sea in a total of five forays.

Five flights over the sea from 12.43 to after 18.00

Five flights over the sea from 12.43 to after 18.00

The first two trips are the green and yellow modest flights, then the red and blue longer expeditions. The last one in purple was early evening, a time of fewer fixes.

Since then, the data  has seldom recorded UV over the lagoon. Generally he inhabits the area shown in the above image, which is near the northern tip of the peninsula. That tip has tended to be the limit of his flights but on 12 May he went beyond the self-imposed boundary and just about reached the mainland!

A longer trip for UV

A longer trip for UV

The following day was a quiet one but on 14 May UV explored further south than usual without leaving the peninsula. On 15 May he went beyond that point.

UV travels down the coast a short way...

UV travels down the coast a short way…

And on 16 May even further!

.... UV has a near 100 km round trip

…. then has a near 100 km round trip

As you can see, UV almost reached the winter quarters of 30(05) from Rutland, in itself only 20 or so km from his previous base in Senegal. There was no weather event to trigger his move, which would have used a fair amount of energy for no obvious gain. Yesterday and this morning UV restricted himself to the approximate area shown on 4 May image above.

UV’s behaviour over the last two to three weeks has been fascinating to observe as he refined his foraging area, then started to look further afield at other opportunities. Until his activity over the last three or four days it seemed safe to say he had found a long term base. It’ll be interesting to see what DOES happen next!

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The boy is back!

We hadn’t seen Blue 2H, the first Kielder born osprey to return to his natal area, since 2 May. Young ospreys will roam around looking for their own territory so it was always possible he had moved on. Maybe he did, but if so he has returned!

Yesterday he landed on Nest 1 no less than FIVE times much to Mrs YA’s chagrin. Here is the first time.

Blue 2H shows off his ring (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 2H shows off his ring
(c) Forestry Commission England

He can shut out extraneous noise; he looked about him as Mrs YA told him to leave.

Blue 2H admires the view (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 2H admires the view
(c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs YA had to leave her eggs and jump towards Blue 2H to force him off the nest.

Mrs YA takes more forceful eviction measures (c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs YA takes more forceful eviction measures
(c) Forestry Commission England

But Blue 2H returned and landed four more times. Video highlights are here.

YA was away fishing throughout these events. It was a windy day so catching a meal would not be easy. When he returned with a whole trout an intruder was around again. If it was Blue 2H he was wise enough not to try to perch on the nest with both resident ospreys present.

YA lands to help defend the nest from more landings (c) Forestry Commission England

YA lands to help defend the nest from more landings
(c) Forestry Commission England

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Update on 7H in Morocco

It’s been a while since a migration update so it’s clear nothing dramatic has happened!

Although, if you take the long view, there is something very significant. Just look at these two heatmaps prepared by Paul Wildlifewriter.

7H Winter 2014:15 heatmap7H heatmap Spring 2015

Seeing the data presented in this innovative way truly highlights 7H’s shift of focus. We don’t believe heatmaps have been used in Europe on bird tracking data before now; Paul wrote an article in his own blog with more about the work involved. He has to process literally thousands of fixes from a GSM tracker. His presentation of results of data analysis in highly accessible graphics including the heatmaps is greatly appreciated.

Apart from the obvious reduced activity near the mouth of the river (although ironically 7H did go there yesterday!) what else can we learn?

Firstly, 7H is tending to travel further each day than over her first few months near Azemmour. She is still favouring roosts on or near the pylons to the west, yet her hunting focus is further east. The heatmap is red near her roosts because of the daily movement in that area.

Secondly, her trips further upstream are far from daily but are frequent enough to show red on the heatmap. As noted previously, she is often flying at too high an altitude to be hunting during on these outings. The next image shows her heights ASL on a flight upstream on 4 May.

7H upstream early on 4 May

7H upstream early on 4 May

Most upstream outings end roughly where this one did, or just a little further upstream. You can see she flew out at altitude but not in a straight line, then she flew lower as she tracked back along the river. Is she assessing water levels, perhaps – dropping at this time of year – to identify areas which will be shallower for fishing? And then taking a closer look for fish on the return journey? Because she seldom behaves as if she is hunting when on these trips reconnaisance appears the most probable reason for them.

Thirdly, on the Spring heatmap the ‘spike’ from the area around the weir to the farmland she likes to sit in is very prominent. Quite why the farmland is so attractive is a mystery, but it definitely appeals to 7H even more than the wood by the weir.

To end – something not visible on the heatmap is 7H’s choice of a good place to sit early on the morning of 13 May.

The railway bridge south of Azemmour

The railway bridge south of Azemmour

Here is a photo of the railway bridge where she was on top of one of the poles enjoying a panoramic view!

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Nests 1 and 2 update and news of an exciting event

Since the last update reporting the ‘intruder’ activity on Nest 2 on Sunday and Monday all has been calm there during live streaming hours. 37 has been on the nest more often.

37 stands guard after the intruder was apparently repelled on Monday (c) Forestry Commission England

37 stands guard after the intruder was apparently repelled on Monday
(c) Forestry Commission England

Sometimes he has brought a stick, moss or other adornment. Mrs 37 isn’t always pleased with his choices.

A dispute about stick placement (c) Forestry Commission England

A dispute about stick placement
(c) Forestry Commission England

The pair are incubating normally, with 37 on the eggs two or three times a day during nestcam coverage. Both ospreys are shuffling the eggs roughly every 20 minutes but less often in poorer weather.

Another turn for the four eggs (c) Forestry Commission England

Another turn for the four eggs
(c) Forestry Commission England

Nest 1 has also been peaceful. Both birds have brought strips of bark, clods of earth, moss and sticks although YA brings the largest branches normally. On Wednesday Mrs YA tried to wrest one off YA as he wandered around the nest looking for an ideal spot for it.

Mrs YA isn't keen on this stick wafting near her head (c) Forestry Commission England

Mrs YA isn’t keen on this stick wafting near her head
(c) Forestry Commission England

Like 37, YA has been incubating several times a day. He is a study in concentration when he lands to take over.

YA has his eyes on the eggs and his talons curled (c) Forestry Commission England

YA has his eyes on the eggs and his talons curled
(c) Forestry Commission England

In general one fish is delivered to each nest during the time the nestcam streams, occasionally two. With three breeding pairs and other ospreys around there is a chance of witnessing one hunting even given the size of Kielder Water and no need yet to provide for chicks. A new event is planned for the summer: here is more from Kelly Hollings of Northumberland Wildlife Trust.

Some of the volunteers heading for the boat (c) Kelly Hollings

Some of the volunteers heading for the boat
(c) Kelly Hollings

On Thursday volunteers from Northumberland Wildlife Trust joined forces with staff from Calvert Trust Kielder to trial an Osprey Watch on a motor boat. An exciting event will take place on Kielder Water on Wednesday 27 May for the first time. A Calvert Trust motor boat (two if there is sufficient demand) will travel around Kielder Water guided by volunteers from Northumberland Wildlife Trust with the aim of spotting ospreys and other wildlife. Today we were treated to amazing views of an osprey hunting close by, along with sightings of buzzard, corvids, a Canada goose in flight and swallows. The joy of this event is that it is very intimate and versatile – the boat can follow wildlife sightings and is not committed to following a set route. If you would like to book space for the event, please contact the Calvert Trust on 01434 250 232. And dress up warmly. The boat is small and has a covered top, but the sides are open to the elements, allowing you to get close to nature. Today the 10 volunteers and 3 members of staff were delighted to witness stunning views of the osprey diving into the choppy water and hauling itself out before continuing the hunt, plus close up views of the original osprey nest built in 2009.

The osprey we saw was not one of the breeding males, but a Scottish bird (blue ring, left leg, couldn’t be read). Some not very good photos (mine, not Kelly’s!) follow.

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Here is a poster with more about the trip. osprey boat cruise. If successful there will be weekly cruises in the summer.

Posted in Osprey updates, Public Events, UK | Tagged , | 6 Comments