The delicate task of ringing at least 10 young ospreys of Kielder Water and Forest Park is underway, carried out by experts from the Forestry Commission. This important task helps the team at the Kielder Osprey Project to monitor the birds’ progress and is helping keep track of the recovery of ospreys in England.
This year has been another hugely successful one for the Kielder Osprey Project. Four chicks hatched on Nest 1A, a 1 in 100 chance of occurrence and one of only three “public” osprey sites with four chicks being reared in the UK. The “awesome foursome” were the first to be ringed and all were in very good health for such a large brood. This rare occurrence was in addition to the establishment of a new nest site in Kielder. The team is delighted with the new nest, which uses one of several nest platforms set up by the Forestry Commission’s wildlife team to provide ospreys with a place to breed.
Ringing the chicks allows ecologists to examine the health of the five to six week old birds and make various checks and measurements. The chicks are not small - with a wingspan of about one metre - and the ringing is carefully managed under license.
One chick will be fitted with a satellite tracker, a tiny backpack which sends information via the mobile phone network. This provides significantly more effective monitoring of the birds than by ringing alone. This year, the project has been closely monitoring the satellite tracker of “UV”, born at Kielder in 2014. The information on his journey back to the UK is providing a fascinatingly detailed insight into the osprey migration journey and travels to identify potentially good fishing areas, the first step in establishing his own territory.
The process of ringing and tracking provides ecologists and ornithologists with detailed information on subjects such as migration and feeding behaviour. It is a brief and painless but a key moment in the early lives of the osprey chicks; a species which only returned to Kielder in 2009 after an absence of more than 200 years.
Tom Dearnley, Ecologist at the Forestry Commission said:
“Ospreys are a fascinating species and I am delighted our work is helping their continued recovery in northern England and southern Scotland. As Kielder Water and Forest Park ages, it is becoming more diverse and ospreys are a great illustration of this natural succession, delighting visitors to the area”.
Visitors to Kielder Water and Forest Park can visit Osprey Watch, to keep up to date with the birds’ progress. Kelly Hollings, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Estates Officer for Kielder, who works with the Osprey Watch team said, “Ringing is a momentous moment in the lives of these fabulous young birds. We have had hundreds of visitors coming to the Osprey Watch at Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park to see and hear about the ospreys from the expert volunteers.
“The progress of the Chicks has been seen by many others via the live camera feed into Kielder Castle Café, where visitors have enjoyed the local food while watching the screen.
“The ospreys have created such a popular following that they even have their own blog, updated regularly by the dedicated osprey volunteers giving expert updates on the progress of the birds.”
The blog also features a selection of remarkable close-up images of the birds taken from the webcam feed installed just above their nesting platform. The blog can be found at www.kielderospreys.wordpress.com
Kielder Osprey Watch 2016 continues to run every weekend between 10.30am and 4.30pm until the chicks fledge in August, behind the Boat Inn restaurant at Leaplish Waterside Park. It will also be open on Wednesdays from 6 July.
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.
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 www.visitkielder.com.
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 www.forestry.gov.uk.
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.
Media Contact: Sarah Bruce, Forestry Commission Communications Manager firstname.lastname@example.org, 07584 003362
Image: Please credit: Paul Pickett, Forestry Commission