Avid osprey followers may have noticed the excitement surrounding sightings this week of a male osprey, White YA (from the colour and letters of his Darvic ring), in Somerset. He was seen fishing around Blagdon Lake and some photos picked up the ring, establishing he is a 2007 born osprey from the Glaslyn Osprey Project in Wales. This seemed to be the first time he had been recorded back in the UK, a real cause for celebration given the hazards of migration.
However, it gets much more interesting. Followers of this blog may recall that the male on Nest 1 last year was a new osprey; he wore a Darvic ring which the previous male did not. The nestcam images were not sharp enough to be certain of the colour, although it was pale, let alone enable reading the numbers or letters. At the ringing of the sole surviving chick last year a photo of the male flying over the nest area suggested the ring was ?White ?A. Comparison of that photo with the Blagdon Lake images show a number of matching features in the pattern on the wings and chest. (Click to zoom in on either photo.) There is still a caveat until (we hope) the Nest 1 male returns this year, but it is extremely likely that he is White YA. To be almost certain of the origin of one of the Kielder adults is thrilling and adds another dimension to the story of ospreys re-establishing in the UK.
Some may feel he is a long way from his birthplace; male ospreys are more likely than females to establish their own area near their natal site. But a 2006 Glaslyn male (Black 80) has bred at Threave in Dumfries and Galloway since 2009. And a 2009 Glaslyn female was seen at the Loch of the Lowes in Perthshire last year.
There has been a nest at Glaslyn since 2004, although in the first year neither of two chicks survived a storm. The same pair of adults have returned each year, noteworthy in itself. The male is a 1998 translocated Rutland Water osprey, so was born in Scotland although he fledged at Rutland Water. Are the Glaslyn young tending to head north, at least in part, because of these genes?
This year at Kielder the Forestry Commission have installed an HD camera on Nest 1 as well as Nest 2, so the ring letters should be confirmed – provided the male returns. But if it is White YA he hasn’t got too far to fly now to reach his nicely refurbished nest.
So, if the Kielder male is White YA, in the history of UK re-colonisation we have a Scottish born, but English fledged, osprey fathering a Welsh born son who breeds in England!