7H was the youngest chick on Nest 2. She had hatched by the time the nestcam stream started on 7 June. This was our first view of her, peeping out at the world as her mother stood up.
From day 1 she proved she would not be overshadowed by her older siblings as she squeezed between them for a mouthful. Aged one week she was experienced in getting her fair share of fish. If not more!
She mainly kept a low profile if one of her sisters decided to show she was top chick.
At a month old 7H was flapping her wings as vigorously as her siblings.
Her feisty attitude made her first choice to be tracked; usually the eldest chick is selected subject to weight and health. 7H was very pale chested from an early stage and also looked quite small so was possibly male. But she weighed the same as one sister and more than the other. Clearly all muscle! Here she is at ringing.
Another memorable event was fledging. On 29 July 9H looked likely to take the plunge and 7H had been studying her with interest. When 9H stopped helicoptering for a moment 7H went to the top edge of the nest, so no good images, and took off. She returned to the nest to supervise 9H’s fledge a little later.
In the next few weeks 7H gained flying experience around the nest area and a bit further afield. Remarkably the detailed tracking data never recorded her over Kielder Water, she preferred exploring burns and a river nearer the nest. Like all Ospreys 7H concentrated on feeding up for her migration.
She was the last youngster to leave, on 7 September. Any further knowledge of her activity would come from the tracking data and possibly sightings. Paul has written a blog outlining the significant contribution 7H’s data has made to knowledge of Ospreys; in this post there are just a few highlights from a human interest perspective.
The first was her flight from the UK to mainland Europe, which began in the Scillies and took her over the Bay of Biscay. As sundown approached 7H decided to roost on an island which, of course, was actually a ship. Then she moved to a better ‘island’. Waking the next morning she found herself quite near the English Channel and had to travel almost as far again as the previous day, and then further, to reach Spain. She became a talked about Osprey as a result of this ‘adventure’.
She migrated through Spain and Portugal leaving from the far SW for her next sea journey to Africa (which included a short stop on a boat near the Moroccan coast); we expected this to be the start of a route south of the Sahara. But 7H became the first recorded UK Osprey to overwinter in Morocco. She chose the second largest river in Morocco, the Oum Er Rbia, for her territory.
Throughout her time there she had quite a large range which was at its greatest extent in the few weeks before her death. She often flew fairly high, sometimes very high eg over 500m ASL, apparently enjoying the thermals. She had favourite roosts which included a number of transmission towers and pylons – a very different environment to Kielder but providing her with plenty of commanding views.
In late January 2015 data ceased. Nothing had suggested 7H had a problem but so often – as with her this week – there is no warning of trouble. Thanks to Pip and Vic making a diversion during their February holiday 7H was discovered in one of her favourite spots and further investigation by the tracker company resulted in restored transmissions. We have learned so much more in those extra months.
The only known photographs of 7H in her wintering grounds are from that February trip. Here she is hunting along the river. How she should be remembered – doing what comes naturally.