Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Our three new chicks bask in the sunshine but no luck with the fourth egg

Osprey parents with chicks
Our proud parents watch over their new brood
The fourth egg has not hatched and cannot be seen in the nest. The female osprey has stopped incubating so the egg must not have been viable. However, on a much brighter note, we have three bouncy healthy looking chicks in the nest and they are growing at a phenomenal rate!

Only one week ago we could barely see their tiny heads reaching up for food. Since then they have almost doubled in size! They have grey down covered bodies and stumpy wings with the characteristic black eye-stripe prominent on their faces.

This phase of their life cycle could be classed as their ugly phase, often almost reptilian in facial expressions and mannerisms as they lurch at each other in chick squabbles from time to time. In just a very short period they will begin to get their fledgling feathers and they will gain their handsome colouring.
We are currently having a summer of extremes in Tweed Valley, from the washout spring, (thankfully, before the chicks hatched), to the sudden heatwave. The female now has the greatest concern to shield the vulnerable chicks from the scorching sun as they can very quickly be affected with heat exhaustion.

Pictures of the new chicks can be viewed on the new FC Scotland Facebook page

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Feeding the three new arrivals

On Saturday 19th May, the male brought in a small fish with red fins, possibly a rudd or a roach. The fish was still alive and flapping as Mum was feeding the chicks and the tail fin caught the 4th egg and rolled it in the nest so we got a really clear view of it.

Female osprey feeds chicks
Our female osprey feeds her young chicks
 On 21st May the male brought a freshly caught fish back to the nest with the head still intact and the fish was flapping about which was a grisly sight. Usually he would have eaten the head first and then delivered the remains but because the chicks have only just hatched he must be very keen to ensure that his family benefit from the successful fishing trip as soon as possible.The female tore off small strips of flesh from the fish and fed this directly to the young chicks.

After feeding time was over, the female settled down onto the young brood and appeared to be continuing to incubate the fourth egg.

Visit our two Osprey Watch centres at Kailzie Gardens and Glentress for quality live images of our osprey family.

Monday, 21 May 2012

New arrivals boost osprey family numbers

osprey chicks
Chicks from a previous Tweed Valley brood
 Two further eggs have now hatched in the osprey nest in Tweed Valley meaning we now have proud parents of three chicks. The eggs hatched over the last few days and the male osprey has now had to double his efforts to make sure he catches the largest fish possible to feed his brood!

We are still awaiting images of the new chicks. These will be posted on the new FC Scotland facebook page when we get them.

A fourth egg still remains in the nest. Volunteers at the centres remain hopeful that this will hatch, however four chicks in one nest would be an extremely rare occurance.

On a sadder note, our blue tits have been seen on camera dragging three dead chicks from the nest. It is believed that the chicks failed to survive through a lack of food. Blue tits feed heavily on caterpillars and the recent damp weather has seen a drop in caterpillar larvae in the area meaning the young birds have been struggling to survive on small insects.

Hopefully with the weather now beginning to improve, the rest of the chicks will be able to get the nutrition they need to grow.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Wildlife Cameras give us upclose views of the abundance of wildlife in the area

Kailzie Gardens Osprey Watch
The centre at Kailzie Gardens
There are now more cameras trained on wildlife at the opsrey watch centres at Glentress Peel and at Kailzie Gardens, so it is not just all about ospreys anymore. We have the fondest regards for our ospreys but it is really fascinating to spy on the secret world of our other species live on camera too.

We have seen the blue tit turning her clutch of 10 eggs. most of which have now hatched. The pondcam has been superb to reveal the life of the tadpoles and today a common newt went stalking past the camera too, so perhaps we can expect some efts as spring progresses.

The river cam at Kailzie has a pan , zoom and tilt driver and we zoomed along the river and across the stone dyking and glimpsed a redstart which is exciting as the old dyking is possibly the site of the nest.

We can follow wildlife up the river and focus on a fallen willow which we are hoping may attract kingfisher as an observational perch from which, to dive into the water below to grab fish fry.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

First osprey chick in Scotland hatched in Tweed valley

feeding chick proud dad looks
Feeding chick proud dad looks
The Tweed Valley ospreys have hatched what is believed to be the first osprey chick in Scotland.
Signs that the new arrival was due became very clear as the adult birds were becoming very twitchy and restless. The new chick was spotted by volunteers today.

The first egg was laid around the 9th of April and a second one soon after. It is not clear if there are other eggs because the nest is piled so high with twigs and branches.

The osprey family can be viewed on high definition cameras at Forestry Commission Scotland’s Glentress Forest and at Kailzie Gardens, both close to Peebles.

Osprey Information Officer Diane Bennett said:

"This is great news for the Tweed Valley Osprey Project and for ospreys across Scotland.

The adults are old hands when it comes to rearing chicks…this will be their 9th brood to date.

The adult male will be busier than ever now with more mouths to feed. He has already been bringing fish back to the nest and sharing it with his mate who is turn will feed the new chick.

In a few days we will hopefully have more chicks in the nest to keep the proud parents busier than ever."

As part of the Tweed Valley Osprey Project, the chick will be ringed so that its movements can be monitored over its lifetime.

Glentress Forest’s wildwatch room is situated within the new Peel visitor centre development and is part of the wider Tweed Valley Ospreys Project. The project is a partnership between Forestry Commission Scotland, Kailzie Gardens and RSPB Scotland.

The project not only offers close circuit TV footage of ospreys at Glentress Forest and Kailzie Gardens, but also of other birds too. For more information on the Tweed Valley Osprey Watch project log on to www.forestry.gov.uk/tweedvalleyospreys.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Blue tits have a new family as eggs start to hatch

blue tit
Our blue tits are now proud parents
 Yesterday at the centre at Kailzie we were delighted to see 8 tiny little wide open mouthed heads reaching up out of the nestcup begging for food. Mum is intermittently still incubating , so we have 2 more eggs still to hatch. Dad was very busy diving into the nest box with green caterpillars for the brood and bringing food in to mum.

Both birds were in and out of the box all day and bringing back food to satisfy their little ones. They will be fed a diet of green caterpillars as super high protein rations to enable speedy growth.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Twitchy Ospreys await the day

Osprey on the nest
One of our ospreys guarding the nest
The soon to be parents are becoming a little restless, they are old hands at this family game and have raised 8 broods of chicks to date, with this year being their ninth brood.

So understandably they must realise that the time is very close now for hatching out their first 2012 youngster.
We are hoping to have this years first hatched osprey chick in Scotland too, so hurry up parents and incubate those eggs!

Today on the nest the male brought a huge fish in to eat and this became a shared meal.

Male osprey returns with food
Our male osprey brings home the dinner
The backdrop of forest sounds was delightful as a song thrush has taken up residence close by and was practising his triple song phrases with gusto.

We are expecting hatching soon and as there is news we will post it on the blog and via our twitter feed.

Nine years of watching this osprey pair raise their family and yet the excitement at hatching time never fades.

They are magnificent birds and we are all looking forward to see how many chicks they will have.

Friday, 4 May 2012

A foray of feathered activity around Tweed Valley

heron chicks
Our developing heron chicks at the nest

The heron chicks at Kailzie are really big now and they are becoming adventurous. The nest is a midden of rotting food at the bottom and white splashes of heron droppings all around the edges. This is such a contrast to the tidy and clean nesting ospreys.

The precocious chicks are beginning to wander through the branches of their nest tree to explore their world and possibly to escape the stinky reaches of their home.

While the chicks had gone walkabout we think a chick from one of the other nearby nests in the colony wandered on in to have a nose about and see if there was any free food scraps to be had.

This bird seemed much further advanced in feathering, with the pin feathers broken all along the shafts to reveal almost full primary and secondary feathers.

After a good rummage about in the bottom of the nest, the chick then stalked off to continue wandering though the branches.

The two heron chicks return to the nest when they are hungry and mum is due back to feed them.

When their mum returns to the nest with a full crop of fishy food, both chicks violently descend on her and begin tapping at her beak to regurgitate the food. It is like a wrestling match with both chicks competing to win the prize! Most often it is the largest heron chick that wins and gets a satisfied full stomach and the smaller skinnier chick has to take any scraps dropped into the bottom of the nest. We are hoping that this smaller chick will get enough to survive.

The blue tits have now completed their clutch of eggs and it looks like there are 10 eggs in the nest. The female carefully covers the eggs when she leaves the nest but she has now begun incubating and turning them regularly. When she stands up briefly we get a glimpse of the eggs.

The feeder cameras at Glentress are bustling with hungry forest birds such as flocks of siskins tucking in to the peanut feeders. The camera is set to capture, in superb detail, these little finches teasing the food from between the mesh of the feeders.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Male Osprey taking on his role as "Man of the nest"

Osprey incubating at the nest in Tweed Valley
One of our Ospreys incubating at the nest
 Things are going really well for our parents to be in Tweed Valley.

The pair have spent the first part of the incubation season going off to hunt for themselves and then taking it in turns to incubate the eggs.

They seem to have a system all worked out and operate a rota which keeps the whole egg incubation period running as a slick operation.

Things have changed this week though - a slight shift in behaviour - the male (White leg ring SS) has started to hunt for his lady!

Female osprey sets of with our male's latest catch
Female osprey sets of with
our male's latest catch

He has been spotted bringing in headless fish and delivering the substantial body to
the female at the nest.

He must be catching the fish, then perching up close by and feeding on the nutritious brains before passing his bounty over to the female once she is ready for a swap over at the nest.

She takes the fish and flies off with it while he settles down into a spot of incubation duty.

Signs of a great team at work as we edge closer to the appearance of some new chicks.