Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Farewell for another year.

An empty nest, at the top of an old Scots Pine, looking like a flattened out platform of larch sticks, garnished with dried out yellowed moss, is the scene on the live cameras for most of the time towards the last days of summer.
photo by J.Lister

Only a few short weeks ago this was the scene of bustling activity with three juvenile ospreys the same size as their parents, all squashed together, occupied with wing stretching exercises and flapping to strengthen their flight muscles. After fledging, the juvenile birds also continued to use the eyrie as a dining area to practice gripping fish in their talons and using their hook tipped beaks to tear off strips to eat.

In what seems such a short time, the birds are ready to make their way in the world, it is time to journey south and although we are sure that mum and one of the juveniles have already gone, it seems likely that the second young bird has left now too. A brief appearance at the eyrie of a lone juvenile on Monday indicates that there is one still to make a move, to start the migration journey and dad will most likely wait until this one goes before he too will make his way down to West Africa.

We are delighted that this 10th anniversary of the parents, at the main nest site has gone without any hitches and young ospreys have successfully fledged once again from this nest all watched with privilege from our live viewing facilities at Glentress Wildwatch Room and at Kailzie Gardens osprey and nature watch centre.

The Tweed Valley Osprey Project is a conservation success story and a project to which the dedicated few who are involved should be very proud of because in a matter of 15 years this region has gone from somewhere where ospreys were extinct to a region that has now produced upwards of 160 fledged ospreys, mostly from artificial eyries created to encourage them to breed here. These magnificent birds will need careful monitoring and protection in the future if they are to continue to thrive. We hear reports of a couple of nest sites that have failed to produce young and we are all too aware that the biggest threat to them is from disturbance.

Photo by J.Lister
We are lucky that the main nest site location was so carefully chosen at the start of this project, as for ten years this site has been relatively disturbance free and its security has been very well maintained. The Forestry Commission for Scotland staff have maintained and renovated the nest site while the birds are away on migration, created new artificial eyries, they install all the camera workings to make the live images possible and the licensed Conservation and Heritage Manager actively monitors the birds by ringing the fledglings at six weeks old, so that they can be tracked in the future with visible identity rings.

Although the centres are quiet at this time of year we still have many visitors on holiday in the area and folk from as far as Lancashire and Devon have called in to see our ospreys this week and to hear how the project is progressing. Most of the time the centres have volunteers on duty and they do a great job to interpret the osprey activities and tell visitors all about Tweed Valley Ospreys and their amazing comeback to the area thanks to the work done by this project. We are extremely grateful to all the volunteers that have given their time so generously to support this project once again for this season.

This week is the end of osprey watching for the season and The Osprey and Nature Watch Centre at Kailzie Gardens will be closed from Sunday 1st September although the Wildwatch Room at Glentress will remain open for longer.

I would like to thank everybody that has supported the osprey project this year and wish for a safe migration  journey for our ospreys and a safe return next spring when hopefully I will be able to bring news that our pair have returned for an eleventh season together.

Best Wishes

Diane Bennett.

Tweed Valley Osprey Project Officer.

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