It seems a long time since last September, when ospreys flying over Kielder Water were a daily treat. But the return home has started and there have been 3 reports of ospreys in England already, the earliest on 23 February. That bird could have been en route to Scandinavia as it was seen in Lincolnshire. Historically the Kielder ospreys return at the very end of March or in the first half of April. But birds heading for Scotland may fly over the area earlier. There are now well over 200 breeding pairs in Scotland.
Despite the ospreys’ absence Kielder Forest and Water Park has still been a great place to visit for wildlife over the winter, with red squirrels in particular providing lots of interesting behaviour. They have been seen at the Squirrel Hide at Leaplish most days. Some lucky visitors have seen five in the feeding area. Caching hazelnuts was a busy task for them in earlier months.
Some UK ospreys born last year were satellite tagged, adding to tags on a few birds from previous years. Satellite tagging provides valuable information on migration routes and destinations and gives an insight into the difficulties faced by the birds. Sometimes technical problems lead to lack of transmissions, as is hoped happened to the young osprey Blue 44 from Loch of the Lowes. His transmissions ceased when he was in Spain, but in a manner which suggests there may have been a glitch rather than a problem for the bird. Others have not been so lucky. For example a young osprey from Rutland Water died on the edge of the Sahara, almost certainly predated by an eagle owl, one of the greatest threats to ospreys. And Ceulan, the sole survivor of three chicks at the Dyfi Osprey Project in Wales, died after he became entangled in a net when fishing in a tributary of the Senegal River in Africa.
All the Kielder chicks that fledged, twelve in total over the previous four years, are unlikely to have survived to return to the UK. And some of the breeding adults may not – readers of the blog last year may remember that the male on Nest 1 was a new osprey. However to end on a positive note, as happened in that case, new mates are usually found if an established nest suffers a loss. And further great news – the Forestry Commission has installed an HD camera on Nest 1, replacing the original nestcam. So HD images from both nests will be available at the Duke’s Pantry at Kielder Castle and the Boat Inn at Leaplish when breeding begins again.
There will be more posts when there is news of the ospreys.