Everyone at Kielder was delighted to hear that UV had returned safely on 1 May. But how often will we get to see him, over and around Kielder Water and Forest Park this year?
You would think that UV might be a bit peckish after a 5,600 km migration – and he probably is. But Monday’s tracking data showed us that he may have other things on his mind than fish. The instincts surrounding reproduction can be more powerful than mere hunger. On arrival in Northumberland, UV headed straight for the Park. His movements there provide a beautifully clear confirmation of something that we’ve known about ospreys for a long time: they remember the exact location of each and every nest site they have previously visited.
Using landmarks that are also imprinted in his long-term visual memory, UV headed directly to three active nests in the Park, in turn. He did not linger long at any of them, because the purpose of this flight was simply to check if each was still occupied by a bonded pair – information that he had gathered last year. He did NOT visit the nest area of his own parents, and this too is in line with our ideas about the more general population dynamics in ospreys. With this inspection completed, UV then headed westwards and began to forage down a nearby river valley, visiting hunting spots which, again, he had frequented at the end of last season.
So… does UV have a “secret sweetheart” waiting for him in the north country? Our analysis of the data suggests not. There is no evidence that he is focused on one particular area, which is what we would expect to see if that was happening. We’ll be watching his daily activity closely, for any signs of it.
Overall, UV’s migration has had a completely different “look and feel” when compared that of 2016. Admittedly this is very much a subjective assessment but, at almost every stage of it, he has displayed a more “decisive” approach (if that term can be applied to an osprey.) His stopovers have been shorter, his average speeds higher, and his changes of course much less frequent. In short, the pattern has been much closer in scope to those recorded by mature adult ospreys in other tracking studies.
How quickly they do grow up…
Yesterday UV did return to Kielder but en route to explore the North Tyne. His passage was noted by the occupants of two nests as he flew on with purpose. EB on Nest 2 reacted as usual!
UV followed the North Tyne from the dam and had a brief stop at lunchtime by the riverside. In the afternoon he travelled further downriver with frequent stops before deciding to head north again around 18.00 UTC. The data downloaded as he was moving north and headed in the direction of ‘chez moi’. Regular readers may recall last year UV was perched a mile away and last night it was search mode again, up and down a stretch of the river for an hour. No joy.
Today the email was early. A fix at 19.21 showed UV was perched in an area of deciduous trees by the river. This photo was taken one minute earlier.
Despite microscopic analysis of the tops of the deciduous trees visible just beyond the tall conifers no potential osprey can be found!
UV travelled away from the river to roost in a stand of trees. This morning he had a very early start and had travelled back to Kielder by 04.41 when he was perched on the north side of Bull Crag, possibly with Rainbow Trout for breakfast.
A couple of hours later UV was flying away heading west. But will he return later today? All eyes on the nestcams!