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Kielder Partnership can reveal that the record breaking osprey couple reunited in Kielder Water and Forest Park last month have produced three eggs.
The news has delighted conservationists who are hoping for a repeat of last year’s historic event when the birds become the first to raise three osprey chicks in the north east for at least 200 years.
Forestry Commission rangers have kept an eagle eye on the pair by viewing CCTV footage beamed directly to Kielder Castle Visitor Centre.
The three eggs were laid over a six day period – a survival strategy adopted by many birds, where the last born is sometimes sacrificed in lean years. Since then mum has been seen turning over the eggs and ensuring they are kept nice and warm. Meanwhile, the expectant father is busy keeping her well fed, bringing back tasty fresh trout plucked from Northumbrian Water’s Kielder Water. He's also been giving mum a break from her maternal duties by sitting on the eggs while she goes off for a fly.
Amanda Miller, RSPB conservation manager for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber, said:
“Having another clutch of three eggs is fabulous news and we have our fingers crossed that they produce healthy chicks. Every young osprey reared in Kielder Water & Forest Park strengthens the prospects for the return of this once extinct bird to former haunts. This nest is only the second in England where ospreys have re-colonised naturally, so it really is critical for the future.”
The eggs should begin to hatch by the end of the May and then the male will have his work cut out with potentially three youngsters to feed, in addition to the female. Fortunately, he appears to be a skilled hunter and with the reservoir – the largest man-made lake in northern Europe - a few minutes flight time away there’s no shortage of food. The weather has also been good so far this breeding season, being relatively dry and warm.
Kielder Partnership can also reveal that the popular osprey viewing area at the Mounces Car Park, just west of Leaplish Waterside Park off the C200, will re-open and will be staffed on weekends between 29 May to 25 July, 10am to 5pm
Duncan Hutt, from the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, said:
“Last year we had nature lovers coming to Kielder from as far afield as Hong Kong. It was incredible how news about the ospreys travelled. We’ll use powerful telescopes to pick out the distant nest and explain more about osprey family life.”
The ospreys have made their nest on an artificial platform erected by tree climbing rangers from the Forestry Commission. Two similar platforms has been built elsewhere in the 155,000 acre forest, offering any other ospreys tempted by the magical combination of wood and water a ready made home. Indeed, another osprey is in the area and even paid a call on the occupied nest.
Kielder Osprey Watch 2010 is organised by the Kielder Partnership, the RSPB and Northumberland Wildlife Trust. 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. To find out more go to www.visitkielder.com
Kielder Water & Forest Park was recently voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
NOTES TO EDITOR
The three chicks raised last summer in Kielder Water & Forest Park will spend the next few years in Africa assuming they made their first hazardous migration south without a hitch. When they reach about two to four years old they will make their first return journey north to breed, but won’t necessarily return to Northumberland.
Historically ospreys lived in Northumberland, hunting on the once extensive network of marshes. Accounts written in the 1700s refer to the presence of `fish eating hawks’ locally. However, until last year there were no records of the bird breeding in the county for well over two centuries. The Kielder Water & Forest Park ospreys are thought to originate from the expanding Scottish population. Ospreys were once distributed widely, but persecution resulted in the species becoming extinct in England as a breeding bird in 1840 and in Scotland in 1916. Some birds re-colonised Scotland in the 1950s 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.
Osprey Fact File:
Ospreys are migratory and arrive in late March and April and leave again for Africa in August and September.
The bird of prey 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 2 and 4 years old.
They are largely monogamous and strongly faithful both to nest and mate.
The nest is generally built on the top of a large tree, usually a conifer.
Females lay two or three eggs at 1-3 day intervals which are incubated for about 37 days per egg.
Like most other birds of prey, 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.
Kielder Partnership is a public, voluntary and private sector collaboration working to develop Kielder Water & Forest Park as an inspirational place for leisure, exploration and fun. Partners are the Calvert Trust, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Northumberland County Council and Northumbrian Water, plus representation from community groups. The Northumberland Wildlife Trust is an associate member.
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.
The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. We believe that nature is amazing and we want people to help us keep it that way. In 2008, we launched a campaign to highlight the fact that birds of prey continue to be killed, despite the fact that it is illegal and has been for decades. We are calling for an end to this unacceptable cruelty, but the campaign can only be effective with widespread support. To date, over 105,000 people have signed our pledge to stop the illegal killing of birds of prey. Support the pledge and add your voice to ours at http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/birdsofprey/index.asp
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is a registered charity: England and Wales no 207076, Scotland no. SC037654
Richard Darn, Forestry Commission, on 01226 246351. Mobile 0775 367 0038.
Philippa Clark, Communications Advisor (Kielder Water & Forest Park), on 0191 301 5538. Mobile 07970 897 756 or email@example.com