Kielder heavyweights! Ringing and tagging on Nests 1 and 2

Late on Tuesday 15 July the six chicks on Nest 1 and 2 were ringed. Three were also fitted with Solar GPS/GSM trackers, which use the mobile phone network as well as satellites to collect and transmit data.

A small team including Roy Dennis, Martin (the Kielder ornithologist) and Cat, also a licensed ringer, worked together to ensure the chicks were ringed and tagged as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Nest 2 was the first destination. The three chicks were lowered to the ground by the licensed tree climbing Forestry Commission Ranger. All youngsters were calm when placed on the ground, obeying the circling parents’ alarm calls to ‘play dead’.

The smallest looking chick was weighed first and came in at an unexpectedly heavy weight of 1900g! The next to be weighed was the same and the third was a bit lighter. The measurements were carefully checked, so the results were a real surprise. All were female; it had been hoped the ‘smaller’ one was male because the aim was to attach trackers to two males and a female and ideally two at Nest 2. So it was decided to tag just one from that nest, the one referred to as chick 3 in the blog, who is much heavier than she looks. She was ringed with a Blue 7H Darvic ring then the tag was attached. You can see Blue 7H remained calm. Roy’s expertise was clear to see and a great privilege to watch.

Nest 2 chick Blue 7H having her backpack attached. (c) Joanna Dailey

Nest 2 chick Blue 7H having her backpack attached.
(c) Joanna Dailey

The other two females were ringed Blue 8H and Blue 9H. All were judged very fit youngsters – the term chick seems inappropriate now! This is Blue 8H who is the same weight as Blue 7H despite looking larger.

Blue 8H has just been ringed (c) Forestry Commission England

Blue 8H has just been ringed
(c) Joanna Dailey

This is an image of Blue 9H, the lightest chick at 1800g.

Blue 9H with her new ring (c) Joanna Dailey

Blue 9H with her new ring
(c) Joanna Dailey

Reports from Kielder Castle Cafe revealed that 20 minutes after the team left the area 37 brought a fish to the nest and the chicks were feeding.

For the team it was on to Nest 1, quite a few miles away along forest roads then another hike in across rough fell. Mrs YA was on the nest and saw the visitors heading up; reviewing nestcam footage later showed her flying off and the chicks getting into the ‘play dead’ position. YA flew over, lower than 37 had done, so wonderful views of him.

YA inspects team Kielder! (c) Joanna Dailey

YA inspects team Kielder!
(c) Joanna Dailey

The Ranger lowered the chicks to the ground, then got on with some gardening work plus building up the far side of the nest a bit. Meanwhile, as the chicks arrived at ground level, fingers were crossed for at least one male: and there was! The chick, heavy again, was 1600g but after consideration the experts agreed ‘it’ was almost certainly a male. So, with his two sisters, we have five females out of six chicks so far this year with two still to go on Nest 3.

The sisters were the same weight, 1950g, and it was decided to put a tracker on the one described as a bully in recent posts. True to form she had pecked at YA’s wing earlier in the day and certainly has spirit. She was ringed Blue VV then was taken to have her tracker attached as the other two were ringed. This avoided delay in returning the threesome to the nest.

Blue VV just after her tracker was fitted (c) Amy Riley

Blue VV just after her tracker was fitted
(c) Amy Riley

The male – the paler looking chick who has been very active lately flapping and hopping on the nest – was ringed Blue UV during Blue VV’s tracker attachment.

Blue UV, the only male on Nests 1 and 2 (c) Joanna Dailey

Blue UV, the only male youngster on Nests 1 and 2
(c) Joanna Dailey

Whilst Blue UV had his tracker attached the final chick was ringed, Blue VT, a healthy female.

Blue VT, the other female from Nest 1 (c) Joanna Dailey

Blue VT, the other female from Nest 1
(c) Joanna Dailey

Here are the details of the six stunners!

Nest 2  

Blue 7H  weight 1900g  wing 372mm   female

Blue 8H weight 1900g  wing 350mm    female

Blue 9H  weight 1800g  wing 316mm     female

Nest 1

Blue VT  weight 1950g  wing 360mm female

Blue UV  weight 1600g  wing 333mm  male

Blue VV  weight 1950g   wing 355mm  female

Words are totally inadequate to describe the feeling of seeing six absolutely wonderful looking young ospreys. The credit is due to the parenting skills of the Glaslyn born males and their female partners, who have been exceptional this year. Four of the chicks hatched in bad weather but the females sheltered them diligently and the males brought in good catches. This blog is dedicated to the parents. Super parents for certain.

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12 Responses to Kielder heavyweights! Ringing and tagging on Nests 1 and 2

  1. Tiger Mozone says:

    What a fantastic report and what amazing chicks. The fishing around Kielder must be very good indeed.

    I am looking forward to following them south.

  2. joannadailey says:

    They have never gone hungry this year, Tiger, that’s for sure! They looked very fit indeed.

  3. A wonderful post: what progress they’ve all made.

  4. Patricia Selman says:

    Wondefulblog Wonderful parents and stunning chicks

  5. Rebecca Denny says:

    A pleasure to read the above and see such healthy chicks and to have followed their progress so far. Thank you for all your updates.

  6. Greg Sanders says:

    Brilliant news- looking forward to their progress! and theres nest 3 yet! (will they be ringed?)

  7. Liz Jones says:

    Wonderful report, thank you. The chicks look fabulous.

  8. Greg Sanders says:

    I see they have! more good news!

  9. David Easby says:

    Thank you for the incredible pictures throughout this season. Could you please advise the criteria for selecting the different ring numbers and who decides what they should be. Many Thanks

    David E Sent from my iPad


    • thehutts says:

      As far as I understand it David the ringers are issued with a set of rings to use each season by BTO. The first rings used this year were ones left over from last year. More information on ringing can be found on the BTO website:

      • thehutts says:

        Here is a more thorough answer to the ringing question curtesy of Joanna:
        Each bird is given two rings: a metal one issued by the BTO which is mainly of use if the bird dies and the ring recovered, and a larger plastic Darvic ring supplied by the leading authority on ospreys, Roy Dennis. The metal ring is put on the left leg on English and Welsh birds. The Darvic ring can be read through a telescope or binoculars if the bird is relatively near, or photographed with a telephoto lens.
        Darvic rings have a combination of two or three numbers and/or letters. Here is more about them (the three letter/number combination has been introduced since the web page was written):

  10. Vivien Finn says:

    Thank you for a fantastic report. I felt as though I was present at the ringing and tagging. The chicks look amazing they’ve really changed and grown in the last few weeks. Good weights and great to know they are all healthy and strong. Congratulations on 8 super Osprey chicks. I look forward to following the progress of the tagged chicks. Well done all involved especially the parent birds. :)

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