7H: Just a few of so many memories

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.

7H at a few hours old (c) Forestry Commission

7H at a few hours old
(c) Forestry Commission England

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!

7H at one week old stretches in front of her older sister and gets her reward (c) Forestry Commission England

7H at one week old stretches in front of her older sister and gets her reward
(c) Forestry Commission England

She mainly kept a low profile if one of her sisters decided to show she was top chick.

7H lies low, literally (c) Forestry Commission England

7H lies low, literally
(c) Forestry Commission England

At a month old 7H was flapping her wings as vigorously as her siblings.

7H at a month old (c) Forestry Commission England

7H at a month old
(c) Forestry Commission England

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.

7H at ringing (c) Joanna Dailey

7H at ringing
(c) Joanna Dailey

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.

7H watches 9H just before deciding to upstage her and go first (c) Forestry Commission England

7H checks 9H’s technique
(c) Forestry Commission England

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.

7H collects a take away (c) Forestry Commission England

7H collects a take away
(c) Forestry Commission England

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’.

7H on a short journey by ship in the Bay of Biscay before her overnight one.

7H on a short journey by ship in the Bay of Biscay before her overnight one

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.

7H movement after returning to Azemmour

Some of 7H’s favourite pylons

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.

7H foraging (c) Vic Paine

7H foraging
(c) Vic Paine


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6 Responses to 7H: Just a few of so many memories

  1. Mary G. Kerr says:

    Thank You Joanna, it cannot have been an easy blog to write, but it shows why 7H captured the hearts and imagination of so many, she leaves a legacy of detail and information which is all down to the hard work by yourself and Paul. She is one Osprey that will never be forgotten that’s for sure.

  2. Beccy Denny says:

    A lovely read and summary of 7H’s eventful, if too brief, life. She was a great choice to track and what a lot of data and information she has provided. Many thanks to Joanna and Paul (and Pip for finding her and helping get her back on line) for sharing information and helping us to understand her travels and daily life in such detail.

  3. Mike says:

    Joanna that is indeed a amazing legacy, thanks to you and Paul, as Mary says.

  4. Starling says:

    Thank you Joanna, a lovely read that brought tears to my eyes. Thanks to yourself and Paul for making her the star that she was. I will miss following her adventures.

  5. Thank you Joanna for this summary of 7H’s life. Her exploits on ships and in Morocco certainly made her an osprey that will be remembered for a long time. Thank you for all the careful observation, study and wonderful blogs you have written so that the rest of us could share in her story.

  6. Vivien Finn says:

    A lovely summary of a very special osprey, Joanna. Thank you for re calling some of her special moments. Her loss is indeed massive, our consolation is in the wealth of information she gave us during her short life. What a legacy! My thanks to you and Paul for all the hours of work invested in her life story.

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