Forestry Commission logo
NEWS RELEASE No: 165764 APRIL 2016

A record early return for the Kielder Ospreys

Ospreys nesting at Kielder Water and Forest Park, June 2009

Bird lovers in Northumberland are celebrating an early start to their season with the earliest ever sighting of a bird on the Kielder Osprey nest and now the safe return of two pairs of birds.

Yellow 37 – one of the ringed Kielder males - was first seen at Nest 2 on the 24 March, coinciding with one of the Osprey volunteer training days, an unexpected bonus sighting for the team of Northumberland Wildlife Trust volunteers who were busy preparing for the season ahead. Not only is it the earliest return of any Kielder Osprey to the nest, Yellow 37 was the second male home across all UK osprey projects.

Since the first sighting, Nest 1 has seen the return of “YA”, on the 26 March, another record early return date for this male, with his partner arriving shortly after. Meanwhile, on Nest 2, Yellow 37 didn’t have to wait too long for his mate to arrive, with “Mrs 37” arriving safely back on the 30 March.

This rare species were extinct in England for 150 years but have bred successfully in Kielder Water and Forest Park every season since they returned to north east England in 2009.

Tom Dearnley, Ecologist at the Forestry Commission said:

“It’s always a pleasure to see the ospreys return and to watch this fantastic species continue to recover in Northern England. We don’t know quite why ospreys are early this year, as other migrants such as chiffchaff aren’t showing the same pattern, but March is certainly earlier that we have come to expect.”

Joanna Dailey, Kielder Osprey expert volunteer, said:

“It’s really exciting for the whole volunteer team whenever the ospreys return, and even more so when it’s so unexpectedly early. Now the birds are back, we’re looking forward to another successful season for the birds and for all the visitors who enjoy following their progress via our blog and live camera feeds.

"The birds can be watched by visitors through nestcams on Nest 1 and 2, with footage beamed to a screen at the Kielder Castle café. Kielder Osprey Watch will be open every weekend at Leaplish Visitor Centre, from when the eggs hatch to when the chicks fledge, manned by the team of Northumberland Wildlife Trust volunteers."

The Osprey Watch is organised by Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and Northumberland Wildlife Trust, with support from the RSPB. The partners are working hard to ensure that the ospreys are here to stay by maintaining a high quality habitat in Kielder Water & Forest Park and safeguarding and monitoring the nest site.

Wildlife lovers can keep up to date with the story as it unfolds through the Kielder Osprey blog at

The Kielder Ospreys will feature on Further Tales from Northumberland, broadcast on Monday 4 April, on ITV.


Notes to Editor

  1. Historically ospreys lived in Northumberland, hunting on the once extensive network of marshes. However, records going back more than 200 years fail to mention any ospreys breeding in the county. Ospreys were once distributed widely, but persecution resulted in the species becoming extinct in England as a breeding bird in 1847 and in Scotland in 1916. Some birds re-colonised in Scotland in 1954 and by 2001 there were nearly 160 breeding pairs (today about 200). The same year saw the first successful osprey nests in England for 160 years by re-colonising birds in the Lake District and re-introduced ones at Rutland Water in the East Midlands.

  2. Osprey Fact File:
    * Ospreys are migratory and arrive in late March and April and leave again for Africa in August and September.
    * The bird is an Amber List species because of its historical decline (due to illegal killing and egg theft) and low breeding numbers.
    * Ospreys normally breed for the first time when they are aged between 4-5 years old.
    * They are largely monogamous and faithful both to nest and mate.The nest is generally built on the top of a large tree.
    * Females lay two or three eggs at 1-3 day intervals which are incubated for about 38 - 42 days per egg.
    * Ospreys divide the nesting duties  between the pair.
    * The female does most of the incubating, brooding and direct feeding of the young.
    * She guards them throughout the nesting period and will share the hunting at later stages when the chicks are larger.
    * The male is the major provider of fish for the female and chicks.Chicks fledge about seven weeks after hatching.

  3. Kielder Water & Forest Park, which spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest working forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It was awarded the number one tourism experience in England by VisitEngland 2013, and the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Together with Northumberland National Park, it was granted gold tier Dark Sky Park status in December 2013. For more information see

  4. Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust is a registered charity working at Kielder to promote sustainable development, provide recreational facilities, improve knowledge of the natural environment and encourage the arts. The Trust works with the range of communities to benefit from these activities. Members, who have appointed directors/trustees to serve on the board, are Northumbrian Water, Forestry Commission, Calvert Trust Kielder, Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society and Northumberland County Council. Affiliate organisations that are not members but have a close working relationship with KWFPDT include Arts Council England, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, The Scout Association and local decision making bodies such as the parish councils.

  5. Northumberland Wildlife Trust is the largest environmental charity in the region working to safeguard native wildlife. One of 47 Wildlife Trusts across the UK, Northumberland Wildlife Trust has campaigned for nature conservation for over 40 years. It aims to inform, educate and involve people of all ages and backgrounds in protecting their environment in favour of wildlife and conservation. Supported by over 13,000 individual and 56 corporate members in the Region, Northumberland Wildlife Trust manages and protects critical species and habitats at over 60 nature reserves throughout Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

  6. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. The North England Forest District looks after forests in Cumbria, the Lancashire, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham.  Further information can be found at

  7. The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, the RSPB protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. They play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

  8. Media Contact: Sarah Bruce, Forestry Commission Communications Manager, 0300 067 4493