Nest updates

Nest 1A nestcam technical problems – just before hatching was due – mean we can’t tell how many chicks have hatched. Osprey Watch and field observations have recorded possible feeding activity. The chicks would have begun hatching during a spell of wet weather. The adults are experienced parents who protected and fed four very young chicks last year during some inclement weather, so hopefully all the chicks are thriving.

The males on Nests 2 and 4 have incubated less during the wet weather, as is the norm. On Nest 2 a barrier has been built to prevent us seeing a hatch. This is one of the largest additions to the front edge.

one of 10 sticks added to the nest edge that day
(c) Forestry Commission England

Yesterday EB was still adding material.

more bark and moss arrives
(c) Forestry Commission England

The first egg reaches the 37 day point this afternoon, the average ‘first hatch’ day.

Nests 3 and 4 are nearly a week behind Nest 2. The eggs are being turned regularly on both nests – and are visible to the camera at the moment! The Nest 3 male flew over the nest yesterday morning, possibly with a fish, which encouraged the female to stand off her clutch. Press HD for best quality on all videos.

The limited Nest 3 coverage indicates the male is as good provider as previous years. Fish often feature.

here comes supper
(c) Forestry Commission England

Nest 4 has experienced a few close encounters with intruders. An unringed female landed on the nest on different days last week. She adopted a submissive pose on the edge on both occasions.

After the rain had ceased on 20 May the 2 year old Welsh male Blue W6 (see post of 21 May) obviously had a fly around Kielder Forest and found Nest 4.

We haven’t seen him on camera since then so he’s probably continued his UK tour!

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Right time, right place

On Thursday 18 May the Kielder Ornithologist, Martin, showed Emyr and Janine of Dyfi Osprey Project Yellow 37 and White YA’s nest areas. (Congratulations to Dyfi on their first hatch today!) Some readers may not know that Emyr and Janine worked at Glaslyn when both males hatched. Now they would see those ospreys with eggs of their own.

An intruder appeared to be around 37’s nest, Nest 2, when we were watching the nestcam at Kielder Castle so we headed there first in case it was still around. What a good decision that turned out to be!

On arrival at a vantage point a buzzard was flying well short of the nest area. But perhaps it was the bird that had disturbed EB’s peace a little earlier? Then Martin spotted a Common Crane far behind the buzzard, heading west towards the Solway Firth.

county rarity, a Common Crane
(c) Emyr Evans

There are only a couple of records of Common Cranes in Northumberland each year so an exciting start.

The next few minutes were underwhelming – EB was brooding and there was no sign of 37. Then an osprey flew into view, 37 perhaps. But as it came nearer a tracker was visible – could it be UV?

surely it is UV
(c) Emyr Evans

Later, data confirmed it was indeed UV. A thrill!  Then two other ospreys arrived on the scene. One was Scottish with a Blue Darvic ring on the left leg.

the ring on the left leg is tucked out of sight
(c) Emyr Evans

Janine noticed one of the ospreys had landed in the old nest lower down the fell. It was UV – he’d sat there for about 5 minutes earlier this year. This time he observed proceedings for around 10 minutes.

UV watches the other two intruders
(c) Emyr Evans

Then he took off and flew towards the Scottish male.

UV behind the Scottish male
(c) Emyr Evans

Another osprey entered the scene at speed from the left. 37 was back to restore order! UV made a discreet exit.

UV heads away
(c) Joanna Dailey

Many thanks to Emyr for sharing his photographs.

The interaction and behaviour of the ospreys was fascinating. Surely the nestcam would have captured some distant ospreys flying around the fells. In fact, during the period three intruding ospreys were mostly over the land behind and right of the nest, none were caught on camera. EB was watching the Scottish and unringed ospreys, but not UV. He was sitting almost directly behind the nestcam. Press HD for best quality on all videos.

Just after we’d left one of the ospreys eventually showed on footage.

the Scottish male
(c) Forestry Commission England

UV’s data revealed he returned to Nest 2 later in the afternoon. His shadow can be seen crossing from right to left in this video from 12.11.07.

A memorable day for us all.

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Another Welsh male at Kielder!

It feels a bit uncomfortable to be posting happy news when the iconic Loch Garten nest is going through extremely difficult times since the male Odin disappeared on Thursday. We hope he returns, as he did in 2015.

Although our Nest 1 is unoccupied the nestcam is still running and yesterday there was reward for reviewing hours of empty nest footage.

Blue W6 jumps across the nest
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blue W6 is a 2015 male from Welsh nest B/M, also known as ON4, the fourth osprey nest in Wales in modern times. A pair have bred there since 2012 on a platform erected by Friends of the Ospreys. Blue W6 is the third of the offspring to have been seen in the UK. The others, Blue 2C and Blue 9R, are also male.

Blue W6 spent just under 3 minutes looking around.

admiring the lake view
(c) Forestry Commission England

The weather deteriorated soon after Blue W6 left so he may well have stayed in the area. Here’s a short clip from his first recorded visit, press HD for best quality.

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Before covering the subject of this post there’s some disappointing news about the Nest 1A webcam. The camera stopped streaming yesterday and web coverage may not be possible for a couple of weeks or so. We can confirm YA and Mrs YA are fine. Let’s hope they have four healthy chicks when we can look into their nest again.

On Sunday human visitors to Kielder and also birds made the most of the last sunny, warm and dry day of a sustained spell. Avian intruders upset the peace on Nests 1A, 2 and 4 on and off throughout the day.

an unidentifiable intruder osprey
(c) Forestry Commission England

Mostly the birds – some may have been buzzards or crows – causing concern to nest occupants were either distant or unseen. We know from UV’s data that he was responsible for about a third of these – but not the one above.

As on his three previous visits to Kielder this year UV’s interest in nests encompassed Nests 2, 3 and 4.  Nest 2 came first and initially EB was watching him fly around the area. Press HD on all clips for best quality.

Then UV had the audacity to perch on the nearby tree that housed the original nest for four minutes!  EB decided to chase him off, here she is about to take off.

EB about to fly towards the old nest tree
(c) Forestry Commission England

UV wasn’t around Nest 3 during a recording slot. On Nest 4 Mrs 69 took a relaxed approach, merely observing him as he flew by, unseen by the nestcam.

Although UV checks out the nest sites at Kielder his behaviour elsewhere was more interesting. For the first time this year he perched for up to 30 mins or so in several areas of Kielder Forest, all some distance from the reservoir. He perched in some of these areas last year. Mostly they are characterised by sparse Sitka Spruce trees giving UV good views of the surrounding areas.

This activity does not mean he is close to establishing a territory. Yesterday, in the poor weather, he was hunkered down west of Kielder Forest. He didn’t return today.

The overview of his activity since reaching northern England suggests he still has no ‘home’ territory. Not quite 3 years old, still a bachelor boy, no surprise.

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Life on Nest 3. Plus a flying visit to Kielder by UV

A download at Nest 3 yesterday coincided with a visit to Kielder by UV. He was near Nest 3 at download time! There was no indication from footage or vocalisation from the incubating male that UV was close by, only the later data revealed his presence. The likely reason there was no chipping or alarming is that the male didn’t see UV because he was facing the wrong way.

UV heads away as the male finally looks behind
(c) Forestry Commission England

More on what else UV did later in this post.

The Nest 3 footage for the last few days suggests a peaceful time, but with only a couple of hours of insight a day firm conclusions can’t be drawn. Both ospreys are often on the nest. An ‘aaah’ image.

a companionable pair
(c) Forestry Commission England

Frequently the male is the one incubating when the recordings are made. In the image above he took over once the female, furthest from the camera, left the eggs. In the next one the female eats on the edge.

(c) Forestry Commission England

In another clip we were fortunate to see the female preen out a primary feather from her left wing.

a primary feather has just been removed by the female 
(c) Forestry Commission England

Which one was it? A later clip revealed all.

left wing, P7 missing
(c) Forestry Commission England

Back to UV’s flying visit to Kielder yesterday. He arrived near Nest 2, a favourite route. As usual EB was unamused. In the last few seconds UV’s shadow is visible in the bottom quarter of the clip. Press HD for best quality.

UV also passed close to Nest 4 although Mrs 69 did no more than watch him heading away.

Mrs 69 doesn’t alarm or mantle
(c) Forestry Commission England

Why did UV spend half an hour or so flying around the Forest? He showed no interest in foraging. UV knows ospreys attract ospreys, and that there are four nests in an extended area surrounding the largest man-made reservoir in northern Europe. So we can expect further visits to establish whether there are singletons around.


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Nest news

This post covers the last few days on Nests 1A, 2 and 4.

On all the nests life has been mainly peaceful with excellent weather for incubation. On Nest 1A the depth of the nest cup means sometimes no eggs are visible when the incubating bird stands up. This is often the view – a couple of eggs.

2 eggs visible as Mrs YA takes the trout
(c) Forestry Commission England

This video shows all four eggs safely cocooned in the nest cup. Press HD for best quality on all videos.

Comparing behaviour on the different nests is fascinating. YA spends the longest time incubating during the 12 streamed hours. On many days he fits in 3-4 hours. Yesterday he was on the eggs for over 5 hours. Mostly he has several long stints. On Nest 2 37, who incubates between 2.5 and 4 hours a day, does many short spells triggered by material being brought to the nest. Whoever is incubating tends to leave as bark, moss and sticks arrive. Sometimes ‘placing the stick’ takes precedence over the eggs for a few moments.

69, in his second season as a breeding osprey, incubates for about 2-2.5 hours in 12 but sometimes he leaves because he is pushed, not choice.

YA provides one large trout most days. Sometimes it is clear one had been eaten before streaming begins. 37 provides 1-2 fish usually. A couple of times 69 has brought three fish in during streaming hours. Most are a reasonable size so that pair are definitely well fed. Occasionally 69 lands with a fish but despite Mrs 69 making it clear she is keen to take it he doesn’t always comply.

Neither Mrs 37 nor EB would be quite as tentative as the less experienced Mrs 69.

Intruders have been scarce this year. Often they don’t come near enough to have a chance of reading any ring number.

just a wing tip visible
(c) Forestry Commission England

the pair watch an intruder flying at the rear of the clear fell
(c) Forestry Commission England

Next week we should see eggs hatching on Nest 1A, exciting times. But will we see any hatchlings in that deep cup on Nest 1A?

The Nest 1A nestcam is now also a webcam for viewers to learn more about life on a Kielder nest.

There is a link to the webcam in the top bar of the blog. At the moment the stream is dropping out every 3 minutes but it will resume if you refresh. Technical staff are working on the issue.  Enjoy watching the striking Nest 1A  pair!

incubating, fishing, warm sun…  zzzz 
(c) Forestry Commmission England

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More river roving from UV

Our studies of UV’s movements, both last season and again this year, are providing some good data on how male ospreys in this part of their life-cycle (“pre-nuptial phase” in the slightly coy technical jargon) can cover very large amounts of ground in a relatively short time. During these excursions, they will be collecting information about hunting opportunities in different types of terrain, and perhaps finding out how many other ospreys are present (or absent) in a given area. This modifies the conventional view that males stick solely to their natal area which, we are beginning to understand, is not a new “home” at this stage – but rather a base of operations from which these longer-range forays can be made into the surrounding region. Yesterday’s activity was a very typical example.

UV had a busy day, travelling 185 km mostly along two Scottish rivers – the Border Esk and the Annan. Last year UV explored some of the Esk but not the Annan.

courtesy Paul Wildlifewriter

You can see his course was mazy. Initially he flew across the fells from Liddel Water to join the Esk at Langholm, which he visited last year.

Sometimes he was about 400m above the terrain deciding which way to head next but for the most part he followed the course of the rivers. He wasn’t travelling particularly quickly bar a few 90 kph bursts, usually downwind, to get to the next interesting looking place!

One such was Black Esk Reservoir which he encountered for the first time yesterday.

a slow journey across the reservoir

UV slowed down as he travelled up the west side of the reservoir but headed away after that short recce.

Over the next 30 mins he crossed agricultural land to reach the Annan and changed course to follow it to the coast. He made an occasional detour  – one of note was to Kirk Loch and Castle Loch at Lochmaben.

a brief look at two lochs

UV went back to follow the Annan southwards. He had two brief stops beside the river, no fishing involved, before he reached the estuary. A bleak looking spot when this photograph was taken!

courtesy Street View

Compared to 2016 UV’s migration this year was much more direct and more miles were covered on average each day. He went straight to active nests at Kielder and established there were no vacancies. At the end of summer 2016 UV spent many days in an area where it appeared he could try and form a territory this year, but he has hardly flown over there. Instead he is visiting old and new river systems. If on his travels he found a nest with a lone female would he stop and court her? Perhaps. But he is not quite 3 years old, official birthday 4 June, so still young to breed.


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