For the second time in two days a trudge through deep forest gloom promised much. The aim was to determine if a third osprey nest had produced young. The first visit was inconclusive – would the second provide an answer?
Breaking out from the dark onto sunlit clear fell an uneven upward climb led to a point with a first distant glimpse of the nest site. An osprey was on the nest, as on the previous trip, so perhaps still incubating although the window for hatching was nearing the end.
Over the hilltop and into trees once more to a nearer discreet vantage point, heart pounding not so much from exertion but from the thrill of expectation. For twenty minutes or more, the female osprey was on whatever was beneath her, fiddling with bark or twigs occasionally, seemingly sitting a bit higher than if she was on eggs, but not conclusive.
Then in came the male with a fish and he landed on the nest edge. After a few moments, off he went but he soon returned with a slightly smaller fish. Would he present it to the female so she could feed chicks? Or would she just fly off with it to eat it elsewhere, indicating no hatch?
Well, neither happened! The male settled with the fish on the nest edge and started dipping down into the nest, clearly feeding at least one chick down in the nest cup. The female watched on, both adults oblivious to such an important moment for Kielder. THREE pairs of breeding ospreys in England in one small area, how wonderful is that?!
The success is a tribute to the work of the Forestry Commission in having the vision and technical ability through the Wildlife Rangers to erect platforms in good locations for ospreys to find and use. It is a privilege to be involved with the dedicated team who developed the project and also Radio and Electronics Branch who provide such an insight into osprey behaviour through the nest cams on the first two nests. And an honour to be the first person to confirm that there are chicks on Nest 3. A never to be forgotten moment.