Here we have not one but two guest blogs from some visiting ospreyholics from down south:
Last weekend I had a great few days around the Kielder water area, meeting up with Joanna and Sally who kindly showed us what was happening with the Ospreys. Joanna showed us the best viewing areas for them and the set up there, with the live screen at Kielder Castle, conveniently in the cafe for coffee and cake.
I had some early morning viewing near the dam but late afternoon proved a good time to watch a male, probably YA, fishing in the reservoir. On Sunday evening, like most ospreys, he decided to give us the run around. We were watching him from the car park at Yarrowmoor, near the dam: he was cruising along the far shore towards the dam for a while, circling around searching the water for a potential meal. We decided to drive across the dam for a better view on the far side. On reaching the Hawkhope car park we began a search for him. Typical, within a couple of minutes he was circling above where we had just come from, but that’s Ospreys for you. I followed him with my binoculars and eventually he swooped down and caught a fish, quickly lifting off to take back to the nest.
An interesting find was the Kielder Water monster; I carefully approached this strange looking being and managed to photograph it without coming to any harm but it turned out to be a log posing as a large reptile like beast.
Many thanks to Joanna and Sally for the day. Anyone thinking of visiting Kielder Ospreys should head there as soon as possible to see these fantastic birds.
Chris Wood (Rutland Osprey Volunteer)
I too spent four lovely days at Kielder, overlapping with Chris to the extent that we bumped into him on Monday morning at the dam. Joanna and Sally must have felt more like tour guides rather than osprey volunteers that week and I can’t thank them enough for the time and effort they put in to make my visit enjoyable. The weather was misty in the distance in spite of being hot enough to burn me (cue big red nose and forehead) so my views of the nest were limited on Monday but I saw it clearly on Wednesday evening. Sadly for Joanna, who spent 5hrs showing me round all the different viewpoints, I was with Kelly (Northumberland Wildlife Trust Estates Officer responsible for Northumbrian Water’s wildlife areas) when we had a really close view of a male osprey flying right past us at the Bakethin weir! One also flew over the Birds of Prey centre at Leaplish just 5mins before we arrived there.
The sighting of an osprey was a bonus for me. I really came to Kielder to see the set-up and the setting and both are impressive. The area is beautiful with interesting flora and fauna in abundance – the osprey at the top of the chain just completes the picture of a thriving natural environment, one that I will be visiting again.
The area round Kielder Water is well worth visiting even if you’re not osprey obsessed (are there such people?)
On Sunday evening Sally took me over the viaduct with beautiful views, interesting lichens and ferns (couldn’t drag her away) and grey wagtails singing and zipping around after insects. The small island we could see from the viaduct was host to some oystercatcher chicks but they were eluding us that night.
On the walk back she pointed out a dipper’s nest under a bridge but there was no sign of activity. Joanna later established that the chicks had fledged so that was good. I did in fact see one feeding there on Tuesday evening.
I wasn’t lucky enough to see an otter but they are around and a close encounter with red squirrels made up for it. I was fascinated by the way they nibble all-round the top of the hazelnut shell before opening it and then they use it as a cup while they eat the flesh.
I spent one morning looking for adders in the wild garden built by volunteers next to the Birds of Prey centre. Then in the centre itself, watched a little screech owl have a bath at my feet! At all times, in almost every place, swallows swooped by, filling the air with their chittering and popping in and out of the many nests under the eaves (and on the ferry apparently) while siskin flew up from almost under my feet when I walked the grassy paths.
All this and an astronomical observatory too! I’ll shut up now – I’m starting to sound like the tourist board :-)
Janis Warren (Rutland Osprey Volunteer)