Friday, 29 July 2011

Female osprey surprise!

Just as we were beginning to think that the female may have started to drift away from the family unit, she surprised us by turning up at the nest today. Two chicks arrived at the nest and were calling frantically for food. Then the male flew in to the nest carrying a fish which was so fresh it was still breathing and wet. He did not pass it across to the chicks however, but flew off into a nearby tree. The chicks were calling monotonously, beseeching him to return with the fish. Then an extraordinary thing happened, the adult female flew onto the nest and the male returned and passed the fresh fish, untouched, across to her. She feasted on it and even offered a small portion to one of the chicks. One chick flew off and then the other left the nest, just leaving the adult female who finished the whole fish to herself complete with tail fin, she then picked up some scraps of fish remains from an earlier meal and ate that.
We have never seen the male present a fish to the female this late in the season before and it was a fascinating insight into the bond between this pair. We are constantly learning more about the family life of the ospreys the more we observe them. It is hard not to apply anthropomorphism to the events today and see it as a touching moment within a relationship between the pair,as he has no duty to continue to bring fish to her at this late stage in the season. It begs the question - are they bound by more than just duty and instinct to raise a family?

Young carrying fish. 28th July.

A chick flew on to the nest with a fine fish in his talons. He never stayed to eat it, presumably in case his siblings spotted him and fancied sharing his prize.
There were no adults about and we wondered if this young chick had caught the fish for himself or whether he had been out hunting with his father who had caught it and pssed it over to him. Sometime after he had flown off, the other two chicks returned to the nest and they stridently vocalised their hunger for almost an hour before finally leaving.
The female has not been seen lately and perhaps she has broken away from the family as she will soon want to make her return journey back to Africa.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Alasdairs blog

Today our youngest osprey watch volunteer, Alasdair aged 11 years, was on duty at Kailzie Osprey Watch with his Dad. Alasdair has kindly written the blog for us about what was happening today.

Alasdair wrote: Friday 22nd July
Today there has been a lot of activity on the nest. Earlier on there were two jays on the nest thought to be an adult and a chick. The chicks have been coming back and forth. ZP (the stay at home bird) has spent most of his day on the nest. At one point in the afternoon all three chicks were on the nest. There has been a lot of calling in the vicinity.
For ZP, the day has been a bit of a 'hokey kokey' because he has been in and out but not shaking it all about. When the nest is empty you can hear the family calling in the distance and when ZP is on the nest you can here them replying to his constant calling. Unluckily for ZP there hasn’t been a fish delivered to the nest so he is probably quite hungry so that explains the calling. At the moment he has been flapping about and has just left probably to be back soon. The female is probably thinking about leaving for Africa in two or three weeks time. At the moment mid afternoon seems to be the best time to come to visit the centres.

Thank you to Alasdair and we hope he will write for us when he is on duty again.

Three fledged chicks

The osprey chicks are doing extremely well, they are now confidently flying and are sometimes away from the nest for quite some time getting to know the area, trying out their flying techniques and no doubt having some hunting lessons from their expert father.
Yesterday, all three chicks arrived back at the nest and were screeching and calling excitedly for about 45 minutes. It was clear that they were hungry and an adult was nearby with a fish. Their father must have been sitting in a nearby tree top feeding himself and they wanted his fish!
Eventually the male adult flew down to the nest amongst his squabbling youngsters and gave up the remains of his dinner. Some squabbles ensued but eventually all three chicks were full and settled down.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

All chicks now fully fledged.

The third chick is now finally flying. All three chicks will use the nest as base camp for a while yet as they practice honing their flying skills. The parents are still around and Dad is bringing fish to the nest for the young chicks to feed. Soon they will begin to attempt hunting techniques and Dad will oversee their training until he is confident to leave them to fend for themselves.
At times the nest may be empty but when the chicks are hungry they will head to the nest and call for food. It is at this time of year when other ospreys sometimes take a visit to the nest site to check it out while the family are away. Last year, late in the season a white leg ringed adult, with the letters HC appeared at the nest site and began moving sticks around and scraping out the bottom of the nest. He was a bird from another nest in the Tweed Valley that had been ringed as a chick back in 2007 and this was most likely his first return since fledging.
Hopefully, he has returned again, found a partner and set up a nest of his own. Who knows, perhaps he has reared young of his own for the first time this year.
This is a good time of year to spot young ospreys and adults flying around the area. If anybody spots coloured leg numbers that they can read, please let us know and we can find out about the birds spotted.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Two chicks flying now!

Two osprey chicks are now flying but the third is reluctant to go. There is some reluctant and half hearted wing flapping but he doesn't look convinced that flying from the nice, cosy nest is agood thing!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

more ringing pictures

Ringing pictures

Glentress wildwatch

The wildwatch room has live ospreys and highlights from previous years. There are live cameras on to the bird feeders and ponds, which are showing great views of woodland birds and a female mallard having a good soak.
Outside the newly landscaped area has been seeded with wildflower mixes and the whole area is ablaze with birds foot trefoil, vetches, clovers and oxe-eye daisies. The flowers are attracting butterflies and bees and look tremendous as well as serving the invertebrate population well for nectar.
One of the volunteers at the centre on duty, spotted a hummingbird hawk moth in the wild watch room as it flew in through the window and then back outside.


The heron cam at Kailzie has revealed that the final heron chick has died. Of the three chicks in this nest all three have now died, the first was killed by its siblings and subsequently eaten by them. The other two never appeared to be very active although were growing so must have been getting some food from their absentee parents, one has been found dead below the tree that they nest in as well as the one dead in the nest.

Buzzard visit

The three big chicks were in the nest when an adult sitting in a branch close by began alarm calling, the smaller two chicks instantly lay flat in the nest and shielded their fish. One of the chicks boldly sat at the edge of the nest to survey any drama, the adult male was seen to take off and all the chicks sat back up into a more relaxed position.
A short while later a buzzard was heard flying around the nest and calling loudly, the chicks did not flatten back down and the adult returned. There was no alarm call and the buzzard sounded very close by but did not seem to be perceived as a threat.

Maiden flight of first fledged chick 6th July

The first chick to brave a maiden flight left the nest yesterday at 3.40pm. After much wing stretching and flapping the chick took off and was away for 1 hour and 40 minutes before returning and landing on a branch to the side of the nest. Today the chick is confidently coming and going from the nest. The other two have yet to trial out their wings on any proper flights.
The male brought in a good sized fish at lunch time and was left calling for the female to feed them, she declined and so he took to the task himnself. This is the first sign of the female backing away from duties towards the youngsters as she lessens the attachment. She will be the first to break up the family and return to Africa. The family will remain together through the summer until they are all confidently flying and hunting. The nest will still be in use as a delivery post for passing fish to the youngsters and the young birds will hang around at the nest site waiting for parents to bring food.

Osprey successes and losses

Four nests in the Scottish Borders have so far been visited by the licenced ringers Tony Lightley and his team. Three have been successful and have raised chicks but the fourth nest sadly has failed. It has probably been due to the very wet weather which has made it difficult for the adult birds to fish. The adults were still holding the territory but sadly they are too late to raise a brood this year.