The Kielder Osprey blog is managed and updated by volunteers on behalf of The Kielder Osprey Project. The project is a partnership between Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and the Forestry Commission. Northumberland Wildlife Trust manages the volunteers that run the public viewing point for the watch. The Forestry Commission provide the technological infrastructure that allows us to see the nests and monitor the ospreys’ progress. All of this is very much dependent on donations from the public either at the viewing point, when it is open, or through the Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s donation page.
Thanks to the Forestry Commission, live video-feeds from both Nest 1A and Nest 2 are provided at Kielder Castle and of Nest 1A in the new cabin behind the Boat Inn at Leaplish. You can also see clips of the recorded video footage from 2011 and additional information on the Forestry Commission’s website. Clips of video footage from 2013 onwards can be found on the Kielder Ospreys Vimeo website. A video is also available of the 2013 season on Nest 1.
Since 2009 a watch point has helped show off these wonderful birds to the visitors who make the trip to Kielder Water & Forest Park. The watch is open at weekends (and Wednesdays from 6 July) until the chicks leave the nest area. Volunteers with telescopes are available at Leaplish Waterside Park to help the public view the birds on Nest 1A as this is the only nest that can be seen from this point. Ospreys can be seen flying over Leaplish Bay and some visitors are lucky enough to see a catch!
For many years ospreys were seen passing through Kielder without stopping, always on the way north to more long-standing nesting sites in Scotland. As more and more of the best nesting spots were taken it was just a matter of time before they stayed south of the border. To encourage this, the Forestry Commission installed a number of platforms around the Forest after a failed attempt to nest by two young birds in 2008. This paid off, as following an absence of about 200 years in Northumberland, ospreys returned to nest at Kielder in 2009.
Since then the same nesting platform (Nest 1) has been used each year, though not always by the same pair. In 2009 and 2010 three young were successfully raised. The 2009 young were ringed as white KC, KM and KH and the 2010 young were ringed as Blue 34, 35 and 36. They were also named as Aqua, Splash and Spray in a naming competition by a girl from Wooler. 2011 was a disappointing year for (probably) the original pair as they only raised one chick (Blue 39 aka Bracken). In 2012 a new male with the Darvic ring White YA took over the nest; his mate may have been the original female. Although three eggs hatched, as in 2011 only one chick survived to fledge (Blue HO).
In 2011, a second nest (Nest 2) was established in a different part of the Forest and two chicks fledged (Blue 37 and 38). A video of all the 2011 chicks being ringed was produced. In 2012 the nest was occupied again and a newly installed nestcam showed that the male is ringed Yellow 37. Two chicks hatched and fledged from Nest 2 (ringed Blue 1H and 2H).
Both Kielder males returned in 2013. The Nest 2 pair is now established as male Y37 and an unringed female who is almost certainly the 2012 female. YA had lots of problems deciding on a mate as he had 2 females to choose between, one of which looked very like the 2012 Nest 1 female, but he settled down with a new female who has a strikingly dark forehead and chest. Both pairs produced three chicks each, but sadly two of the Nest 1 chicks died very young. The remaining chick was ringed Blue 6H. The three Nest 2 young were ringed Blue 3H, 4H and 5H.
The identification of rings in 2013 has enabled the male birds to be identified as full brothers, although born two years apart. The second osprey to fledge in Wales in modern times is 37, born at Glaslyn in 2005. YA hatched there in 2007. Research has indicated that male ospreys normally establish their own nests 30-40 miles from their birthplace, so to have the pair at Kielder Water & Forest Park is truly amazing. Another Glaslyn brother has been nesting in Dumfries and Galloway for several years; so this seems to be a pioneering family.
In 2014, both pairs of ospreys returned safely from migration although both males mated with other females before their usual partners arrived. White EB, a 2007 born osprey from the Tweed Valley who bred there in 2010, and Blue HV, a female born at Aberfoyle in 2010, intruded on Nest 1. White EB went on to Nest 2 where she and 37 were together before Mrs 37 landed home. The Nest 2 pair decided to move to a new platform despite renovating their nest. Both nests had eggs by late April. All six eggs, three on each nest, hatched between 4th and 7th June. The Nest 1 chicks were ringed Blue UV, the only male on Nests 1 and 2, Blue VT and Blue VV. Blue UV and Blue VV were fitted with GSM transmitters. On Nest 2 the chicks were ringed Blue 7H, Blue 8H and Blue 9H. Blue 7H has a GSM transmitter.
The young ospreys on Nest 1 all fledged on 28th July; it may be a UK first for all three to fledge within just over 5 hours. Blue 8H also fledged on 28th July; her sisters took to the air on 29th July. For the first time a third pair of ospreys bred on a Forestry Commission platform and raised two young, a male (Blue VK) and female Blue VL). The adults are unringed.
In 2015 all breeding birds returned from migration. Although ten eggs were laid between the three nests one egg failed to hatch on each nest. One chick on Nest 2 died at a couple of days old. The remaining six chicks all fledged. All were female except Blue VN on Nest 3. His sibling was ringed Blue VW. The Nest 1 chicks were ringed Blue VY and Blue VP. Blue VY was fitted with a GSM tracker. The Nest 2 rings are Blue VM and Blue VS.
The third pair of ospreys breeding in Kielder Water and Forest Park also had two chicks. The chicks were ringed Blue VN, a male, and Blue VW, female.
For details of 2016 see the Timeline and posts in the blog.