Thursday, 28 August 2008

2009 Awaits!

The Borders ospreys will be back in late March/early April 2009. We will again be running live nest camera coverage from the moment they arrive until the end of August.

We will again be running a full programme of special events and activities for all ages, including: a spring dawn chorus walk, summer guided nature walks, kids activity days, and more. Stay Tuned!

If you would like to be involved as a volunteer, please get in touch. You'll be given full training and have the chance to get actively involved in the centres, attend talks and outings and social occasions and meet some fabulous people. It is also great experience for anyone who perhaps fancies a career in conservation or environmental education. See you in 2009!

So Long and Thanks For all the Fish

As our season draws to a close, I'd like to thank everyone who has helped make the 2008 Osprey season here in the Borders such a success.
It is appropriate that our tenth anniversary year for these wonderful Birds in the Borders, should be our most successful year ever. With eight nesting pairs and at we believe 15 chicks, the future looks bright for these wonderful birds in this area thanks to the help they've received from a team of volunteers, staff and sympathetic locals alike.

As those of you who've visited our twin centres will appreciate the projects heart blood is a dedicated team of volunteers who devote their time to sharing their knowledge of the birds with the public. This team of forty people are amazingly knowledgeable and generous- not just about Ospreys but local birds, wildlife, walking , history and more- they've helped many visitors use the Osprey watch centres as a springboard to enjoying the wild Borders.

Behind the scenes are a dedicated steering committee from Forestry Commission Scotland, RSPB, and Kailzie Estate who all contribute to making the partnership project work. A big thankyou must also go to ground staff such as our local Conservation and Recreation Rangers who do so much work with building nest platforms and monitoring birds.
A big thankyou also goes to all the local birders, walkers, fishermen and neighbours who feed us information on the birds activities and help keep nest sites monitored and safe from egg thieves and disturbance.

Lastly thankyou everyone who has visited and contributed to the project- nearly9,000 people this year alone! Your support and donations will help practical conservation and education in the future. We hope you've enjoyed the season- be sure to come and see us next spring! Emma Rawling

End of the Season- Or is it?

Here in the Tweed Valley you can't quite escape the feeling that our Osprey season is ending and autumn is waiting in the wings. All our nest camera birds have fledged, even the second brood swallows and wrens, and the swifts have already left. Early mornings have been foggy and the nights drawing in-but its a beautiful time of year here in the Borders for wildlife watching.

Our female Osprey has already left for southern skies, and we haven't seen the male for a few days now. The three youngsters are, however, still around as a great scene yesterday showed: Not having been seen on the nest for three days, at about 3.30pm, all three chicks suddenly appeared on the nest all at once, one with a sizeable fish in its talons. Frantic squabbling ensued ( though most of it was ritualised mantling and threats rather than contact) and for ten minutes all three birds had a standoff at the nest. This aggressive posturing at first made me think they were defending the nest from an intruder, but its seems likely that is was an argument over food- perhaps dad has left and being on their own, suddenly reliant on their own fishing skills, has made them a wee bit desperate.

It is certainly a tough time ahead for these young birds who are really just starting their life journeys- with some 4,000 miles of migration ahead of them this autumn into the unknown , and an extended 'gap-year' holiday on offer in Africa if they make it! Even their parents have a good five months in Africa to look forward to ( and two months travelling) before we'll see them again. Perhaps we could think of them as African birds who come here to breed, rather than Uk birds who go to Africa. Whichever way you look at it, they certainly have evolved an extraordinary lifestyle.

Monday, 18 August 2008

An Empty Nest

Our young main nest Ospreys are becoming a rare sight at the nest now, as they are all now confident in the air and independent. The female bird has almost certainly left for Africa already as it's been more than a week since we had a confirmed sighting of her. As is so often the case, dad seems to have been left to supervise the teenage chicks 'finishing school' period. However, even he is becoming a rare sight at the nest, no longer bringing fish in for the chicks, which must mean they are feeding themselves down at the river.

We have been getting reports of Ospreys seen out and about the area thick and fast- from the classic St Marys Loch, to the Yarrow valley, the Tweed river at Thornilee, and even flying over the Kailzie centre on Friday!

Interestingly we are now seeing other Ospreys starting to cross the Borders too , on their way south. As one of our volunteers mentions in his comment, we had a strange female on the nest this week- females are usually the first to start moving south, having spent so much of the summer sedentary. Others will doubtless be young birds who didn't manage to breed this year, heading south early. It won't be long now until many of the highland birds will be crossing the Borders ( most use a route over us or Galloway) on their way to Africa- we'll be wishing them well as they pass us over!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Growing Up and Away

Our three Osprey chicks are seemingly too busy showing off their new found flying skills too bother too much with visiting the nest this week. They only seem to appear ( like most teenagers) when there is the offer of food around!

The male bird is still devotedly bringing fish back to nest for his offspring, and whichever chicks is closest at the time scores the whole thing. Interestingly , one of the chicks yesterday only bothered to eat about half of one such fish, leaving the remains on the nest- which is a good sign, because it means he can't be too hungry!
There have been several occasions this week when the youngsters have turned up at the nest carrying fish which we can only assume they have caught themselves, which is another great sign that they are perfecting the skills they will soon need to survive on their own.

One beneficiary of this abundance is the cheeky Jay which has realised the Osprey nest is a good place to hang around to score a free meal of fish scraps- we've been seeing more of it than our Ospreys!
The upside of the quiet on the nest is that its a great time to try your hand at spotting our birds out and about in the Borders- come and see us in the centres for tips on where best to look in the area. Be sure to let us know is you have luck!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

First Fish?

Yesterday we witnessed an interesting feeding time at the main Osprey nest. Dad arrived back with a fish which one of the chicks greedily began to devour as usual. Moments later another chick arrived with a half fish which it started to eat on the nest. Could it be that this was its own first catch? Has our youngster started fishing for himself , or could he have mugged mum somewhere off camera fro a share of her spoils?

Comedy then ensued as the chick with the fish provided by dad, had extreme trouble handling the very large trout! He insisted taking the fish to the perching post to the left of the nest, despite it being slick with rain, and struggled continuously to keep the fish on the post- several times we thought he would drop it altogether! If you think the post is at least a foot in diameter, that meant the fish had to be at least a foot and a half long- quite a catch for dad!

Lets hope the flooding in the Tweed Valley today doesn't leave our Ospreys too hungry- perhaps they'll be going further afield today to local lochs and reservoirs where the water is clearer? A good time perhaps to stake them out to watch for Ospreys in action!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Where's Mum?

We haven't seen our female Osprey on the nest for a few days now, although with the adults' visits often very short - dump the fish for the kids and run!- it is hard to be certain. She is obviously spending much of her time away fishing, working on her fitness before her long autumn migration. Although she is usually the first of the family to head away south , it is probably too early for her to have left just yet, so we will be keeping a close eye out in the next few days for sightings of her.

Interestingly we had an intruder alert yesterday, caused by another osprey. Two chicks arrived back at the nest ( probably from nearby tree perches) and started alarm calling. A parent bird quickly appeared and joined them on the nest, and the chicks flattened themselves in their instinctive 'camouflage' posture. After a few minutes of watching the intruder circle above, the parent bird gave chase leaving the youngsters on the nest.

It is interesting to speculate that the scare may have been caused by one of the other young Scottish ospreys starting to drift south across territories such as ours. Birds that haven't successfully bred this year usually begin to migrate about now. So it is likely we'll have more of these alerts in the coming days and weeks.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Hungry and Greedy.

Our three chicks are still very much dependant on mum and dad for food, despite their growing confidence in their flying skills. Dad, and less often mum, have continued to bring fish to the nest for the youngsters although they are not always all present when it arrives!

In contrast to their earlier good manners at feeding times ( when mum deliberately fed them each in turn to prevent squabbling) it now seems to be a bit of a free for all!

Dad delivered a fish today and the quickest chick got to it first, greedily feeding itself and steadfastly refused to share it with its younger brother. The poor hungry wee chap desperately circled and tried to scrounge some fish. He raised quite a hue and cry squawking and complaining , perhaps hoping a parent would hear him and take pity on him- but all to no avail.

It now seems to be more like every chicks for itself! hard days ahead for our youngsters as they learn the hard facts of survival.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Surprising Independence

Our three Osprey chicks are showing themselves to be surprisingly independent this week. It seems they were quiet slow in fledging, a little reluctant to start flying ( perhaps because the weather was so awful) but now them seem to be making up for lost time.

All three chicks have been spending considerable time away from the nest, and taking flights around the valley. In fact they are spending more time off the nest the last few days then we would normally expect at this stage- perhaps the very hot weather we've been having is making the nest a bit uncomfortable and they've been sheltering in nearby trees were it is a bit shadier. They certainly seem to appear quickly whenever food is delivered by an adult to the nest- they seem to come from nowhere in an instant like typical teenagers!

There is still plenty to see in the centres though with all the birds making regular appearances and great highlights of the season so far now on DVD too.

Thursday, 24 July 2008


Viewers of our main osprey nest will be as surprised as we were with the results of our chicks DNA results just in. During their health examination on ringing day a tiny blood sample was taken from each young chick to help screen for illness and to determine the gender of the birds. This is necessary because there are no real external difference between males and females- and the subtle differences in plumage can be very subjective and not clear until they are older. Since females in this species are always larger than males , and can have proportionally bigger legs, we often use this to estimate the sex of the birds during ringing. We used this technique on July 1st, and thought the largest two chicks were female.

Surprise, surprise, it turns out ALL THREE OF OUR CHICKS ARE MALE! We have only been using this technique for a few years, and it looks like it will turn up a few surprises.

So 2008 is the year of three wee boys- you can always guarantee a surprise with ospreys!

The Week Has Flown Past

My apologies for the delay in posting this week- its been a busy one! All three of our chicks have fledged this week and there has been plenty of action on the nest. Our oldest chick fledged a week ago today, and is strong and confidently flying now. The second chick flew on Sunday afternoon- 4pm seems to be the fashionable time for a young chick to lift off! The smallest chick flew on Tuesday to the great cheers of those watching.

The scariest and funniest moments have undoubtedly been landings - on Monday for example, the second chick landed literally on top of his brother, who had flattened himself to try to get out of the way- very undignified!

All three chicks are still spending most of their time on the nest however, with fish being brought in most days by mum and dad. Dad especially has taken to delivering fish and dumping them in the nest for the chicks to feed themselves. When mum appeared yesterday with a fish however, they lined up to beg like babies for her to feed them despite now being more than capable of shredding the fish themselves. Talk about spoilt!

Friday, 18 July 2008

We Have First Lift off!

Late yesterday afternoon our oldest and strongest chick, a female, took the huge step of her first flight! After flying across the nest several times during the day, she finally took off from the nest at 4.05pm heading off down the valley.

We anxiously awaited her return but she hadn't made it back by 6pm when our cameras shut down for the night. So of course I came in early this morning to see if she's made it safely back- only to find only two chicks on the nest- my heart lurched! Luckily within the first hour she reappeared- obviously confident enough to take another short flight this morning.

Neither of her two nest mates looks so keen to follow suit but it's likely they will in the next few days- hopefully as successfully as their sister.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Almost Off!

Here in the centres it is getting nail biting! The chicks are big, strong, and bold, but none has yet taken that brave final step off the nest. The largest female chick has certainly been close to it and at least two of the chicks have managed airborne hops across the width of the nest- at least six feet- but until they actually leave the nest it doesn't count as full fledging. Yesterday a crowd of visitors was teased by the largest female chick, as she danced on the edge of the nest tantalisingly several times- to a chorus of GO GO GO ! YOU CAN DO IT! from the crowd. Maybe today? We'll keep you posted

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Webcam back online!

At last - images from the nest are available online again. Sorry this has taken a while. The webcam is available at Or go to the Tweed Valley Ospreys homepage and click on 'live images of the nest'.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Images from the ringing

We've posted images from the recent ringing online - you can see a preview of them via the slideshow on the right, or you can view them all in full at You can also click on any of the slideshow images to go to the online album.

While you're there, have a look at the pictures of the Huntly Peregrines too.

Hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Mum's Independence

Our Tweed Valley Osprey chicks have been huddled down the last couple of days trying to stay warm in the incessant rain, so not much flapping or pre-flying practise has been had. However, as soon as the sun breaks though they furiously preen themselves- the bedraggled look just won't do!- and start their 'pilates' routine. This is essential to build muscle fitness before their impending first flights.

Our chicks are now so big and mature that mum has started to leave them for considerable periods. She has been noticeably absent from the nest and the immediate area -not holed up on her usual perch as couple of trees away- for up to an hour at a time. She is finally able to take longer flights away from the family, as now they are big enough to look after themselves, and we suspect she is now joining in fishing. It is important for her to brush up on her hunting skills (which have been dormant for a couple of months) as she will soon need to fish for herself on migration. Dad is probably glad of the help in providing for the three huge hungry chicks as they are somewhat insatiable by now- though we've yet to see her bring a fish back to the nest herself.

We're all staying tuned for the thrills and spills of the coming week or so as the chicks take their first flights.

Monday, 7 July 2008

More on the ringing

A select group of our hard working local volunteers had their efforts rewarded by being given a unique chance to get 'up close and personal' with this year's osprey chicks during the recent ringing.

Caroline Blackie with one of the Tweed Valley osprey chicks
Click on the image to see a larger version

New volunteer Caroline Blackie (in picture), along with Roger Scott and Bob Rowles, both of whom have been involved with the Osprey Watch Centres since they first opened in 2003, were some of the lucky few to witness the ringing. Andrew MacDonald, Andrew Scurfield and Nigel Palmer were given special recognition for their outstanding contribution to the project during the 2007 season.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Quiet Recovery

The few days since the young Ospreys' big ringing event have been quiet and peaceful. All the chicks seem hearty and have been getting more active on the nest. One chick in particular - the largest female chick- is very active, already doing some really strong wing flapping and standing very close to the edge of the nest. This behaviour is normal for this stage, when the wing muscles are being built up before their first flights. The smaller two chicks have been watching big sister with bemusement and are only just starting to join in the ritual.

The chicks are now approaching adult size and, with their new plumage , quiet similar superficially to their parents. You often have to take a moment to look for the telltale pale edge to each brown feather to check if its one of the youngsters- the parents are solid chocolate brown.

The nest is going to start looking very crowded soon, as all the three chicks start exercising ( now you know why its so big!) and mum and dad are increasingly taking their breaks off the nest. Both parents have been using nearby perches and next door trees to get a little space from the 'kids' but they are never far away in case of trouble.

Stay tuned for the thrills and spills of fledging.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The Big Day

We are delighted to report that the ringing day for our young Ospreys was a great success. The weather stayed fine and we were able to get our expert team on site and the whole process achieved in a hour. The procedure is designed to give us our one and only chance ever to handle the chicks, and collect scientific data, whilst minimising any stress to the birds.

Our expert Forestry Commission climber braved the enormous nest to bring the chicks down to earth, where they were weighed, measured, ringed and given a thorough medical by our wildlife vet. If anything it must be said the chicks were larger in real life than they seem on camera - really adult size already, just with a bit more feather development to go. They were amazingly calm and easy to handle, and exquisitely beautiful up close.

The vet was pleased to report they all appeared to be healthy, if a little thin ( less than ideal but not dangerously thin), even the smallest chick. Whilst it is impossible to say for certain until blood test results are in, it appears we have two female sand a male chick- the smallest being the wee man!

The chicks were given their identity rings (called darvic rings) which are white just like dad's, and carry the numbers, CA CB and CC. These rings will be invaluable in tracing what happens to our chicks in the future and identifying them if and when they make it back to Scotland as adults.

Mum was back on the nest within half an hour of our leaving and Dad brought a fish in to console the wee ones less than an hour later- they all seem to be none the worse for wear after their adventure.

We are pleased to report that the backup nest chicks we also ringed yesterday, and there were two delightful chicks (one female one male we think) but no clues as to the fate of the original third sibling. These were also healthy and hearty and were given ring numbers CE and CF.

I hope to post pictures of the ringing on the blog tomorrow.

A big thank you to all the ringing team for their expert work and a very successful ringing day.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Ringing Pending

Our annual ringing event for the young Ospreys is coming up, and if you've seen the size of the chicks this week ( now looking uncannily like mini adults ) you will be unsurprised that we are keen to do the ringing before these little beauties start flying!

The ringing process is undertaken by licensed experts and is done with the greatest of professional care for the birds' welfare. It is the only time in their lives they are ever handled, and it is our only chance to meet them face to face after watching their early days on camera.
The process is painless and involves a short removal from the nest for weighing, measuring, a health check by a wildlife vet and the identity rings' attachment to their legs.

We hope to ring our birds early next week, weather permitting, and we will endeavour to beam live coverage of the event into the centres and the webcam as it happens so you can enjoy the view.

So stay tuned.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Sad News

Sad news today from our Backup nest- the second camera monitored Osprey nest in the Tweed Valley. It appears that one chick of the three recently hatched, has disappeared. We are not sure exactly when this tragedy happened as the nest is not filmed 24hrs, but it seems likely the smallest chick has died sometime in the last few days. It is most likely it has succumbed to cold and wet ( the weather has been very erratic) or perhaps was accidentally injured in the nest. The other two chicks are still hearty and strong. We will keep you posted of any further developments at this nest.

Apologies for Web Camera Problems

Our apologies for the current problems with the website link to the nest camera. The problem is with the web uplink which transfers the picture to the website, not the actual camera- which is working on site beautifully. Rest assured we are trying to fix the problem and please be patient with us while we try to fix the problem.

Meanwhile you can enjoy the nest camera view in both our visitors centres, and keep up to date on the web diary. Thanks, the Osprey team.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Our Other Birds Update

Just a quick update for those of you who have visited our twin visitors centres this year and may have wondered what is happening on the other nests profiled on nest cameras.

At Kailzie gardens our bumper blue tit family have finally fledged, from their nest on the tree outside the front door. Of the 10 or 11 eggs, and nine hatchlings, eight managed to fly the nest safely- not bad! We hope this super pair of wee birds might even attempt a second brood- we will keep the nest camera switched on to keep an eye out.

At Glentress, our swallows in the adjacent shed have now hatched five lovely chicks- they are certainly hungry, and the parents frantic in their efforts to satisfy them! We will keep you informed of their progress.

Other local birds are also doing well: at Kailzie the local heronry has a mix of chicks , some now old enough to be seen flying along the banks of the tweed. At Glentress , we have moorhen chicks and ducklings on the popular pond walks at the Red Squirrel carpark. If is a fantastic time to get out and about and see bird families- ask us how!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Growing Independance

Our young Ospreys are progressing fast- they seem to grow before our very eyes. Despite knowing what to expect, every year it never ceases to amaze me. The oldest two chicks are now four weeks old and clearly almost half way through their amazing early growth spurt- by eight weeks they'll be adult size and flying!
What we've really noticed this week is how long their wings have grown- they are quite comical using them like props to waddle about the nest on. Their feathers are starting to come in too- and they have taken on a distinctly speckled and well camouflaged appearance that can make them hard to see on the nest if they are sill very still or sleeping.
The boldest of them has even been seen this week, cheekily trying to take fish from dad- picking at a newly arrived fish impatiently without waiting for it to be shredded.
Mum now seems happy to leave them for short periods too- she has taken a half hour or so break most days since we've had plenty of sunshine.
My they grow up fast- Don't I sound like a grandparent- whoops!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Happy Family

Here in the Tweed Valley, our Ospreys are doing amazingly well, but life in the nest day to day is not without its little dramas. For example, there are the daily squabbles between chicks, with one (we suspect the oldest female chick) being decidedly bossy and today pecking her siblings head quite fiercely. Yet again Mum came to the rescue, diverting their attention to break up the fight.

Dad has been working hard to bring in enough fish to keep all the hungry mouths happy, and has taken to bringing in fish still whole. He must be still hungry himself, because occasionally he hangs around nearby and waits until all the chicks are full and then pops back to 'ask' for the tail for himself.

Just this afternoon, Dad arrived back in the nest with a fish, only to find mum was away, and there was no-one around the do the serving! He sat for about ten minutes wondering what to do with it before resorting to feeding the chicks himself- two of them took a few minutes to be convinced it would taste as good from a different parent.

Dad Osprey still insists on bringing in yet more moss to line the nest and yesterday half buried one chick which sat patiently with a moss headdress for a few minutes. Quite the look.

Overall all three chicks are growing well, starting to colour up with the first signs of brown and white feathers, and disproportionately long wings they use as props to waddle about the nest with- not their cutest stage but fascinating none the less.

Monday, 9 June 2008

A Loving Father

Our Osprey Dad has this week been demonstrating his extreme devotion to his parental duties and to his DIY. Not only has he been bringing in four or more fish a day to feed his family , including one very large pike, but he has been bringing in yet more sticks and moss to the nest. It is almost comical watching how he brings in fresh bedding material, artfully arranges it ( sometimes misguidedly on top of the chicks) and as soon as his back is turned, Mum rearranges it to her satisfaction! On one day this week, Mum returned from a quick trip away to find he had nearly buried the chicks in sticks, and it wasn't even raining!

His obsession with DIY it seems, is already passing to his offspring who have been seen lately moving small sticks around the nest themselves, perhaps trying to make things more comfortable, or perhaps just imitating their parents. All three chicks continue to be hale and hearty, so don't miss their cute early days- they'll soon be bigger than you realise!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Bird of Prey Month Events

Here at the Osprey Watch centres we've christened June Bid of Prey month, and our Ospreys will be acting as ambassadors for all our local raptors. The Scottish Borders we are blessed with many different species of Birds of Prey and many opportunities to view them. Mini displays will be available in the centres all month, so come and visit us to find out more, including their conservation challenges, and where to see them.

We are also running a weekend of special activities on the theme of Birds of Prey. On Saturday the 14th June, Glentress will be hosting a FREE Information and activity day, featuring kids games 12-,2pm.

On Sunday the 15th June at Kailzie Gardens centre, will we have a FREE information and activity morning and a themed afternoon guided walk at 2pm . The walk will be moderate grade, approx 2 hrs long and children must be accompanied. Please wear outdoor shoes and clothing.
For more information email us or call Emma on 07530310376

Growing Fast

Our three Osprey chicks are growing very fast indeed, already leaving behind their fluffy pale down and taking on a dark grey , striped look. They have already tripled in size in their first two weeks or so, and seem to grow before our very eyes!
All three chicks are feeding well- though Dad has taken to bringing in some fish alive which is a bit of a challenge. They are also getting rather more mobile and restless and one chick in particular is proving rather adventurous. It keeps wandering in the nest, trying to get out of the deep centre 'cupped' area, and Mum has to keep manoeuvring herself between it and the nest edge to prevent a nasty accident!
The female Ospreys parenting skills never cease to amaze us- as well as keeping her chicks shielded from this weeks occasional down pours, she has, on hot days, been placing herself carefully to provide shade for her chicks. What tender and attentive parents Ospreys are.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

More Good News: Backup Nest Babies

More good news here in the Tweed Valley today- the second camera monitored nest in the area, affectionately know as the 'back-up nest', has hatched three chicks. They appear to have been born between Wednesday and Friday last week, and are now approaching a week old, and all doing well. Friends of the project will know they are in excellent 'hands' ( or should that be talons?) as this is the famous Osprey pair who in 2005 raised four chicks to fledging.
We will bring you further news of this nest in the next couple of days.
Needless to say we are over the moon to have six Osprey chicks on these two nests considering the cold and difficult spring we've had- it bodes well for this being a bumper year for the Borders Ospreys!

An Eventful Weekend

What a weekend we've had here in the Tweed valley, with everything from blazing summer sunshine to torrential downpours! Our Osprey family on the main nest are doing well, with the three chicks growing before our very eyes- the youngest still obviously whiter than its two siblings who have already started to darken into deep grey 'bandits'.
On Sunday however, we were all given a terrible fright when the male bird brought in a huge trout to the nest - alive and very much kicking! This is unusual as he most often eats the head himself before bringing his catches to the nest, On this occasion, perhaps sensing his offspring were hungry, he brought it in still flapping and dumped it rather unceremoniously in the nest. The female Osprey did not immediately kill it or begin to 'serve' it to the chicks and for some ten minutes or so it flapped around, and being quite large it represented a considerable threat to the chicks. It landed on top of them once or twice, and we held our breath , hoping they weren't injured- luckily they seem to escape unharmed, as mum eventually tucked them under her for safety until the flapping subsided. What a day for a baby Osprey- nearly flattened by your supper!

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Growing Strong

Our main nest Osprey chicks are today one week, nine and ten days old respectively. Volunteers and visitors alike have been amazed at how much they have grown in their first week or so- they already seem to have doubled in size. The oldest two are already loosing some of the fluffy whiteness of their initial stage and are darkening to a deeper grey.
We are very happy to report all three chicks feeding well and seeming strong. They are having many small meals a day- this morning dad brought in such a huge fish, he was able to eat half himself and still have enough for the chicks breakfast, morning tea and lunch! He even fed them himself tenderly whilst mum was away from the nest briefly.
There is no sign of the youngest chick being weaker , despite its smaller size, though sibling rivalry has started to emerge, with some squabbling between chicks. Lets hope it all stays amicable!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Apologies Technical Hiccups

We hope you are enjoying the webcam view of our main Osprey nest. Please accept our apologies for the view being 'stuck' in one position. The zoom and tilt feature of our camera, powered by a motor, is currently malfunctioning. We are hoping to be able to rectify this soon, but this not going to be easy!

The images are fed from the Osprey nest to the visitors centres and thence to the Internet, via and radio and microwave link, due to the remote location. We set up the cameras every year before the birds arrive in the spring, and once the birds begin nesting we respect an exclusion zone around the nest to avoid disturbing them.

Of course this has the disadvantage of meaning we can't pop in a fix or change the camera easily , so we have installed a 'standby' camera. Alas, this extra camera too is playing up!

So please be patient with us , and meantime enjoy the close up view of the Osprey nest and the three chicks.

Three is the Magic Number

Here at the Tweed Valley Osprey Project, we like to keep in touch with the other Osprey watch sites in the UK to keep tabs on how the species is progressing. We are happy to report its seems so far to be a good year for Ospreys, with three being the magic number at a several sites.

Both the Glaslyn Welsh Ospreys, and Loch Garten Ospreys on Speyside , like us , already have three chicks.

The Loch of the Lowes Ospreys have only hatched one chick from three eggs thus far-though their female is thought to be over 20 years old and has laid more than fifty eggs in her time , so she deserves an osprey award!

The Aberfoyle Ospreys and the Lake District Ospreys are still awaiting hatching- stay tuned! Down at Rutland Water, one nest site has a hatchling, and the other is due to hatch any moment now.

Three chicks is a fantastic result for any Osprey nest, and we hope other sites will be as lucky as us this year. It will be interesting to see if, over the rest of the season , all of these chicks survive. In the past it was often assumed that the smallest or youngest of triple chicks wouldn't survive. However, here in the Tweed Valley we can vouch for the fact that it is possible for Ospreys to raise even four chicks! Our famous 2005 nest proved that with experienced parents and good habitat, all chicks can make it at least to fledging. We have great faith in our experienced Osprey parents here in the Tweed Valley.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Its a Hatrick!

The glorious sunshine here in the Scottish Borders this weekend finally encouraged our last remaining egg on the Main Osprey nest to hatch. We now have three delightful chicks from three eggs- more than any of us dared to hope given the weather conditions in which they were all laid which included several days of snow!

Visitors and volunteers have already been treated to some great views of the tiny chicks being tenderly fed and 'tucked in' by their parents. Mum is understandably very protective at this stage and doesn't leave the nest hardly at all, keeping her chicks safely tucked under her when they're not feeding.

Staff have been paying 'count the bobble heads' every time she stands up, and we are now sure there are three, the last having hatched sometime on Saturday. It is of course a few days behind its siblings and so is significantly smaller. Lets hope it catches up over the coming days. This is only the second time this pair of Ospreys has hatched three eggs but we are confident their excellent parenting skills should see their family through the season ahead.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Best News - Baby Buzz in the Borders

The best news today from the Tweed Valley, our main nest Ospreys have hatched not one but two chicks in the last twenty four hours! Here at the Osprey watch centres volunteers and visitors alike have been thrilled to see two tiny chicks close up on the nest cameras. The chicks were born last night and this morning respectively. The female Osprey has already begun feeding them raw fish, and even keeping half a fish tucked safely beneath her for their seconds, as if incubating it too!

There is still another viable egg in the nest which we hope will hatch over the next few days.
Visitors this bank holiday weekend will be able to enjoy the intimate view of this early stage of the Ospreys lives, when they are at their cutest. Stayed tuned for more baby Osprey news!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Nervous Anticipation

Here in the Tweed valley we have reached the stage of the Osprey year when chewed fingernails and anxious pacing becomes the norm! With our main nest pair of birds expected to hatch their chicks anytime this week, the staff and volunteers become somewhat like nervous grandparents. The three eggs were laid over nearly a week back in April, and so should hatch in the same sequence over the next week or so here.

Of course we have learnt never to count your Osprey chicks before they hatch- it is quite common for some eggs not to make it, either because they were never fertilised, or because they were subject to too much cold during incubation. As the first egg in particular was laid when it was still snowing here we have our doubts, but have to trust in our very experienced and capable Osprey parents and their instincts and skills in egg protection.

Last year on this nest we also had three eggs and only two hatched, so we hope to at least equal that this year. We will keep you posted!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

A Second Hatrick

Regular viewers of the Tweed Valley Ospreys will be delighted to know that our second camera monitored site ( affectionately know as the Back-up nest) has now had the presence of three eggs confirmed.

This nest has a camera that only records in 'real-time' so a special trip up the mountain is required to harvest footage, and hence the occasional delay in getting news to you. But to have both nests with three eggs is a very exciting prospect indeed, especially knowing hatching is not far off.

Watching the 7 or so hours of footage harvested from this nest this week, I've noticed the female Osprey incubating on this nest has two very much preferred positions- both facing down the valley from her high vantage point, giving her a clear view of everything and anything coming into her valley. She never turns her back on the scene below- her vigilance is amazing and perhaps a sign of just how wary and susceptible to disturbance these birds are.

Stay tuned as hatching nears!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Basking in Sunshine

Spring really does seem to have arrived at last here in the Tweed Valley with glorious sunshine and warm weather the norm in this last week. Our birds have been basking and enjoying the warmth, though at times they pant to keep themselves cool as there is no shade at the nest. This is because the birds prefer an very exposed nest site where they can get 360 degree views and be prepared for anything!

The nest visible on the camera is atop a very high tree, on which was fixed a platform some years ago as part of the projects' active encouragement of the birds in this region. We like to think of these nesting platforms as 'starter kit homes' for Ospreys and they have been very successful here in the Borders and across Scotland in encouraging birds to take up residence.

Incubation continues and we are anxiously awaiting hatching- the earliest possible date for this would be approximately the 20th May so not long now!

Elsewhere at the centres we now have blue tits with eggs on nestcam at Kailzie and swallows sitting at Glentress. Don't forget our free guided nature walks this weekend at Glentress on Saturday and Kailzie on Sunday- see below for details.All are welcome- come and discover the wildlife in your backyard!!

Friday, 9 May 2008

Upcoming Events

Here at the Tweed Valley Osprey Project we like to think of our Ospreys as ambassadors for all wildlife. In both visitor centers we profile other species of birds and mammals on nest cameras and are happy to provide tips on local wildlife viewing opportunities in the Borders.

We have nominated May as the month to encourage everyone to find out about Wildlife in your Backyard. We have special displays in both centres from next week, on what you can do at home to cater for wildlife, and Kailzie has a special wildlife gardening feature.

We are running two free guided walks to help you discover wildlife on your doorstep:
Saturday 17th May at Glentress, 2pm, and Sunday 18th may at Kailzie gardens, 2pm.

Both events are 1.5hrs approximately and moderate grade. Wear sensible shoes and outdoor clothing. All children should be accompanied. For more information contact Emma on 07530310376.

Also, on Bank Holiday Monday, 26th May, at Kailzie Gardens we are having a special free kids' activity and information day- come and make a bug box, and pick up a free information pack about wildlife in your backyard.

Great News

Great news all round this week at the Tweed Valley Osprey Project!

Our local conservation officer has reported that this year we again have eight pairs of ospreys nesting in the Scottish Borders, which out of a UK total of just over 200 pairs is a wonderful contribution. It is too early yet to tell how many of these nest will produce eggs and chicks successfully , but we hope it will be a bumper year for ospreys!

Also, news from our 'backup nest' - we have two eggs laid by our resident pair of birds, so we are hoping they too will have chicks by the end of May.

Lastly, news today of a sighting of one of our previous year's osprey chicks: one of the 2003 chicks has been found in Dumfries and Galloway. Despite being blown down by the turbulence of a passing military aircraft, the bird was rescued and re-released unharmed. This is fantastic news as we estimate only half of chicks born each year make it back to Scotland as breeding age adults due to the hazards of migration. There is also a time delay of a couple of years usually before their return to their birthplace, so we are always excited to get news of them.

Our main nest birds are enjoying the glorious warm weather- as are we!

Monday, 5 May 2008

Spring Sunshine

Here in the Tweed Valley today, we are blessed with glorious sunshine and it is so warm it feels like summer already! Can it only be six days ago it was artic cold and hailing on our poor hardy birds?

The female osprey still sticks diligently to her nest incubating her eggs. She has been frequently today seen 'panting' with her beak open trying to cool herself, and sometimes opening her wings and flying short distances to cool off.

Incubation is a delicate balance of keeping the eggs at just the right temperature- perhaps she is trying to keep them from getting too warm!

The male too seems to be taking it easy in the heat, spending most of the day sitting in trees nearby, probably dozing in the sunshine, although he did bring a nice wee trout today for lunch for his lady.

Here in the Osprey Watch centre it really feels like spring. We have swallows beginning to nest on our camera at Glentress and great tits at Kailzie. Other birds such as dunnocks, house sparrows and wrens are beginning to make homes around the centres and we hope to catch some more of these on live nest camera soon.

Many of us were up at dawn on Sunday for a national dawn chorus day walk at Kailzie- a great chance to see and hear many of our local birds at their spring best, and worth the early rising. This was just one of many special events planned for the summer, suitable for the whole family, so stay posted.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Hail and Hearty

What a week in the Tweed valley! We've had everything from glorious spring sunshine to hail showers, and finally some real warmth in the air.

One Tuesday the hail was so heavy it saw our poor female osprey frantically mantling (spreading her wings and flattened herself) over her eggs trying to protect them from the hailstones. She was , at one stage, up to her chest surrounded by hailstones in a completely white nest! Surely this is not the kind of weather she was hoping for when she flew back from Africa!

Although we've had no serious nest incursions by stray ospreys or other birds, our male has been sitting in nearby trees frequently, and often on the camera itself, never too far away from his precious female and nest, in case of trouble.

The telltale vertical wobble on the camera lets us know he's sitting perched on it and sometimes we get a great view of his undercarriage as he take off!

Otherwise all is well on the nest and incubation continues- we all have our fingers crossed for our three precious eggs.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Images of the birds

Stuart Lowrie has taken some photos of the ospreys in flight. They were taken at St Marys Loch earlier this month (April 2008).

Osprey flying in the Tweed Valley

The second picture also shows a local peregrine falcon. According to Stuart, the peregrine seemed to be joining the local crows in harassing our osprey .

We hope these inspire you to get out and about and spot our local birds in action- see the staff in the osprey watch centres for advice on local viewing hotspots.

Osprey and peregrine falcon flying in the Tweed Valley

Friday, 25 April 2008

Blissfully quiet on the nest

Here in the beautiful Tweed Valley spring is finally showing its face and our Ospreys are at last basking in some proper spring sunshine!

All is blissfully quiet on our main nest, with our birds settled down to the patient task of incubating their precious eggs. As yet, no incidents of nest raiding , intruder birds, extramarital affairs, infanticide or egg stealing! ( touch wood). Our experienced birds are being model of family life. We are treated to great views of the two birds on the nest, as well as all the comings and goings, fish deliveries and shift changes.

Other migrant birds are also starting to appear- we have our first local sand martins and swallows. Some are even beginning to nest, such as our blue tits , who you can see on one of our other 'nest cams' at Kailzie Gardens.

Spring really is beginning to bite- come and enjoy the view!

Monday, 21 April 2008

It's a Hatrick!

To our great delight today on our 'main' nest we witnessed another Osprey egg- bringing the total laid in the nest this year to three. This pair of birds have reliably laid three eggs most years- and they did not disappoint us.

On several past occasions, only two chicks have resulted from three eggs, so its reassuring to have three 'chances'- especially as the weather was so very cold around the time the first egg was laid this year, perhaps endangering it.

Our female bird now settles down to a period of patient incubation, but there is no room for complacency- just today a carrion crow 'buzzed' the nest, perhaps testing the resolve of our female, who saw it off with fierce calls and expressions. The crows are one of the few predators capable of stealing an unprotected egg. Luckily our Ospreys are vigilant parents.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Finally Some Sunshine

Our hardy Ospreys have finally been treated to some sunny spells over the last couple of days, albeit with a cold wind still blowing! Our female bird really seems to have settled down to the task of incubating, being the personification of patience- she will need to be, as she faces over a month of the job until her chicks ( hopefully) hatch.

The male today spent most of the afternoon bringing in fresh moss to line the nest- often plonking great footfuls down on his mate, which she then artfully arranged. She and the eggs are now very snug, but it does make it a little hard to see if there is a third egg yet!

For those of you desperately waiting for an update from our second filmed nest (affectionately known as the 'backup' nest), rest assured it is occupied and the regular birds are doing very well.

This nest does not have a live camera link, but footage can be recorded at regular intervals. We will try to bring you regular news from this nest, especially at crucial times of the season. The latest footage shows two rather disgruntled birds on their snow covered nest, the female sitting so determinedly we've yet to get to see her eggs! More news soon.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Eggs in Peril?

Our excitement today on discovering another egg on our 'main' nest has turned to concern as the weather here in the Tweed Valley continues to swing between lovely sunny spells and snow showers! The second Osprey egg was laid overnight, and joins an earlier one laid last Friday.

Our very experienced Osprey parents know the risk to the eggs from the elements, and they have been taking turns incubating, but both appear restless- changing places so frequently we sometimes loose track. Perhaps they're trying to keep warm! We can only hope that this late cold weather doesn't jeopardise the success of these eggs, and that our female osprey lays a couple more just in case.

On Sunday two ospreys were seen flying over the viewing centre at Kailzie Gardens, engaging at one stage, in an aerial 'dog-fight' with two local buzzards. This spectacular display was a delight to watch- flying techniques were use that would make the red baron balk! This shows how active the birds are in Tweed Valley at the moment, so keep your eyes open. Happy spotting, Emma

Friday, 11 April 2008

The First Egg

Another wet and cold day here in the Tweed valley unfortunately- we were even watching hailstones bounce off the back of our nesting Ospreys!

Today we were treated to some great views of what we've all been hoping for- our first Osprey Egg of the season! Sometime late yesterday or early this morning our female laid a single egg which we hope in time will soon be joined by more.

Our first clue was the way she was sitting in the freshly moss lined nest centre, instead of perching as she has the last few days. Then she stood up and was seen turning over something between her feet with her beak- a telltale sign. Finally, as she left the nest briefly, we were able to zoom our camera right in and confirm the presence of an egg.

Ospreys usually commence incubating straight away, but our bird has been a bit restless today, probably as it is still snowing up at the nest site! Our male bird took a brief turn at incubating too- friends will remember that in previous years he has been a great father, often sharing such duties.

Our main concern now is that the current cold and wet weather doesn't jeopardise the egg. Lets hope it is joined by more soon- It's going to be great weekend!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

All Present and Ready

Our hardy 'main' nest birds have been riding out the wild and wintry weather here in the Borders the last few days. Despite the snow carpeting their nest, one of them has been on the nest at all times- probably to make sure no passing birds steal the chance to call it home! The Osprey pair have often been seen sitting side by side and mating, giving every sign of being 'family' orientated- egg laying can't be far off.

More good news today from our second monitored nest in the Tweed Valley. Affectionately know as the 'backup' nest, this Osprey pair have been a feature of the project for several years, and friends of the project will know them as the parents of 'Erol',the famous runt of a nest of a record four chicks in 2005.

The camera on this nest has today been linked up to a remote recording station, and the first images show two birds on the nest, one already sitting suspiciously as if she has eggs. This pair have a reputation for being early birds and it seems they may have preempted even our main nest pair this year. Over the next couple of days fresh footage will be collected that should allow us to identify the birds and to confirm the presence of eggs at this nest.
So all four of our regularly filmed birds have migrated successfully this year, and are on their nests ready to breed- it bodes well for the season ahead.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

A Whiteout

Viewers of the online camera link today will be appreciating the extraordinary weather we've been having today here in the Tweed valley which is more like midwinter than April!

Our poor Osprey couple have been sitting on the nest through snow showers and freezing winds. Late this afternoon we briefly lost view of them completely as snow settled all over the camera lens.

Surely the birds must be asking themselves why they hurried back from sunny Africa for this!
Let's hope the weather improves before our birds start egg laying and incubation duties, which could be anytime now.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

The Happy Couple

More great news from our 'main' nest: we now have our regular pair of Ospreys settled in residence.

Over the last couple of days, a male bird has been visiting our female on the nest morning and evenings, but today he stuck around and we were able to clearly identify his white leg ring (SS) which confirmed his identity.

Its seems after last years' scare, when his tardiness led to another male courting 'his' lady, our male has made sure he was on time and by his lady's' side to ward off interlopers from the beginning.

He and the female have been looking very 'romantic' sitting side by side on the perch and mating several times over the last two days. They have even been seen doing some 'housekeeping' together , adding sticks to the nest. Both birds have been vigilant however, watching the skies ready to ward off any other birds trying to steal their nest.

Great viewing of the birds is already being had at our centres so come and join us.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Osprey Web-Cam is Live!

We now have live pictures of our main Osprey nest available online every day between 10am and 5pm . In between visits you can now keep abreast of all the developments on the nest and see for yourself how things unfold. Please feel free to post us any comments or questions about the behaviour you see. Note: the view may change during the day as our volunteer staff in the centres zoom in and out to identify birds, see details etc.
Enjoy the view!

Monday, 31 March 2008

Lady of the House?

It now seems very likely that the bird who turned up at the camera nest yesterday is our regular breeding female.

Unfortunately she is not ringed so we have to rely on our records and memories of her markings- which certainly seem to match- to identify her.

She spent a long time on the high perch above the nest this morning looking very much at home. The volunteer on duty this afternoon reports she was seen adding sticks to the nest, which is just what you would expect of the 'lady of the house'.

So where's our regular male? He had better hurry , because if last year is anything to go by, we may well have a couple of other passing males try to tempt our lady before he turns up.
It going to be an interesting few days!

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Birds on the Nest!

Great News- we have birds on the nest for the first time this season! This afternoon there were two brief visits by single birds, followed by two birds landing simultaneously for about 30 seconds! Unfortunately the visits were so brief we could not ID the birds definitively.

One bird then returned at 4.30 and sat proprietorially near the nest for more than an hour, preening and surveying the revamped accommodation . It looks suspiciously like our regular breeding female ( judging by the distinctive markings) but we can't confirm this until we see the legs and ID rings clearly.

Let's hope it is one of our breeding pair and that soon it will be joined by a mate. Stay tuned!

For local watchers, a warning: there is a young pale breasted cormorant who is doing a very good osprey impersonation on the Tweed river at 'dirt pot' corner. So its worth checking your 'osprey' sightings twice! Happy spotting!

Baited Breath

Both Osprey watch centres are now up and running , open every afternoon from 1.30-5pm. Though birds have been seen in the area already, there is as yet, no sign of our 'usual' pair at the nest.

We expect them to return to claim it as soon as they arrive as there is so much competition for nest sites.

So it is with baited breath we watch our screens hoping to catch the first glimpses of our birds.
Over the last few years the date of their spring arrival from Africa has varied from the end of March to the 14th of April. Ospreys are turning up at other sites in Scotland already so it can't be long now!

Who knows, this year we may even catch a glimpse of one of our previous years chicks returning to its natal area- they are now old enough to undertake the epic migration themselves. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Ready for Lift Off

Welcome to the Tweed Valley Osprey Project 2008

2008 is the tenth year of nesting Ospreys in the Scottish Borders, and the new season is ready for lift off. Ospreys are already being seen in the Tweed Valley area, our nest cameras are installed and ready, and we have high hopes for another successful breeding season.

We are delighted to be able to offer great viewing this summer of Ospreys and other wildlife via our camera links at our two centres at Glentress Forest and Kailzie Gardens, near Peebles.

Both centres will be open everyday from Saturday the 29th of March each afternoon 1.30-5pm. The centres will be open all day from Mid April (depending on the activity of the birds) Watch the website and local press for details.

Stay posted for Osprey news!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Welcome to the Tweed Valley Osprey season 2008!

Young ospreys from the 2007 season in the Tweed Valley. This year, we've decided to provide the diary in the form of a blog, so that you can add your comments and feedback to our updates on what the ospreys are up to.

The blog is held on a separate site to the main Forestry Commission Scotland osprey pages. If you've come from there and want to go back, or have arrived here from elsewhere and want to know more, just follow the link at the side of each posting.

We'll have more information here shortly.

Go to Tweed Valley Ospreys pages on the Forestry Commission Scotland website.