Third time lucky for YA?

Is this YA's mate at last? Probably. (c) Forestry Commission

Is this YA’s 2012 mate at last? Probably.
(c) Forestry Commission

When the nestcam feed from Nest 1 started up on Friday morning, it didn’t take long for a female to appear on the nest. But hang on, it wasn’t either of the two who have been trying to win YA! And on close inspection of her head and chest markings she looked very like YA’s 2012 mate. She was on and off the nest for about half an hour and then YA made his appearance, mantled for a few moments, and mated with her. Although YA was mantling, there did not seem to be tension between them. Mantling is defensive or submissive, and is often observed when a pair meet up again after months apart.

YA doesn't waste time now she's arrived! (c) Forestry Commission

YA doesn’t waste time now she’s arrived!
(c) Forestry Commission

Similar behaviour was observed throughout the morning. YA’s reaction to this osprey is so different to how he was with the dark headed female (he was not comfortable with her for several days) and the recent intruder (who he did not mate with at all, as far as the nestcam showed). He even brought some moss to the nest, quite an achievement for him! There were significantly more mating attempts than seen with the dark headed female. At 12.30 he flew over the nest with a fish. The female was probably nearby and the fish must have been consumed in the trees as the nest stayed empty for some time. Later in the afternoon there was less action but YA did bring more moss in, fiddled with twigs and scooped the egg cup.

So the strong likelihood is that YA’s mate has just returned from migration. There have been a lot less sightings in the South this week, but still some in the Midlands and North, and this osprey could have been one of them. What will happen to the other females? They may stay around the Kielder area looking for a different mate. The dark headed one has mated a number of times, but could reabsorb any eggs that have been fertilised. She would not be able to incubate eggs and fish for her food, so if she does lay without a mate the eggs will be abandoned. It woud be great if she finds a male, and uses another of the nest platforms around Kielder!

Hopefully it isn’t premature to say that what has happened on both Kielder nests over the past couple of weeks is further evidence of the strength of the pair bond between osprey couples. Both 37 and YA ‘consorted’ with new females, but they responded immediately to their mates’ return by choosing their old partners.

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8 Responses to Third time lucky for YA?

  1. viv blake says:

    Wonderful news. Says much for fidelity and bonding. I hope the other two females find new mates soon. Have last years’ fledglings been sighted?

  2. joannadailey says:

    Last years’ fledglings will stay in Africa for a couple of years, Viv. We could expect to see survivors from the six young that left Kielder in 2009 and 2010 this year, but even with their Darvic rings they are hard to identify from afar. All of them are unlikely to have survived, but it isn’t unreasonable to long for a couple of them to show up! The dark headed female is a very pretty osprey (to a human!) so personally I’d love it if she found a Kielder born male and set up home.

    It’s also very interesting that three females have been scouting for partners at Kielder. None were the Kielder offspring (unless the one with a BTO ring had lost the Darvic coloured ring) and they are almost certainly Scottish born. Bodes well for the future of ospreys in the area.

  3. Rosie Shields says:

    I think you are very harsh on YA! He was clearly not comfortable with either of the 2 intruding females and was waiting for his mate; it reflects well on the strength of bonding. Anyway, great news that she is back. I follow several osprey websites and it looks like many of the returning birds have had a v difficult migration this Spring. Fingers crossed for those not yet back.

    • joannadailey says:

      I’m not sure why you think I was harsh on YA, Rosie. I commented on the strength of the pair bond and agree it is lovely that his mate made it back. If you mean the comment about YA bringing moss being an achievement, he is notable for doing very little refurbishment of his nest, so it wasn’t sarcasm!

      • Rosie Shields says:

        No offence meant – I am getting a soft spot for YA! Are there any unattached males in the area for the 2 females to find or are they likely to move on?

  4. joannadailey says:

    YA is definitely a character, the more we learn about him reinforces that impression.

    Usually we do see a number of young ospreys at Kielder over the season. Late in the 2012 year there was persistent ‘visiting’ to the Nest 1 area by presumably the same unattached osprey. But no-one had a good enough view to determine if it was a male.

    Given we had two pairs breeding within two years, it shouldn’t be too long before there is a third pair at Kielder. Tweed Valley saw a rapid increase in numbers of pairs in their first few years, so we hope we can replicate their achievement.

  5. Dolly Cox says:

    Interesting to read this female appeared so late from migration – Monty is still waiting at Dyfi for his mate to arrive, so if you have any spare females point them in the direction of Wales! Really hoping for a good breeding season for you and some good weather would help! Good luck YA – he’s the one that was feeding at Blagdon Lake earlier I believe. A character indeed!

    • joannadailey says:

      A few females are still being seen further south so there is hope for Nora yet. But Elin looks a promising replacement.
      It would be very sad if Monty doesn’t find a partner.

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