Picture the Pretender

This afternoon things seemed to have moved forward a little. There seems to be now only one Pretender to KL’s throne, a female first seen on the 3rd of April. She has no ring and can be recognised by a fairly long brown mark down the back of her head . (All ospreys’ head markings are slightly different) Unring has a wider patch at the back of his head. The relationship seems to be one of fits and starts with the female going off for long periods and when she returns  Unring is not all that keen to give up his fish for her. The one she has in the picture above could well be her own catch.

Here is Unring – as you see, wings slightly defensively drooped – so still not really comfortable with the new lady perched with a fish on the next branch.

Meanwhile No 14 has loitered in France.

Kerpuffle and Confusion

Not so Peaceful skies over Bassenthwaite

Here’s a concise timeline of what’s been happening with the Ospreys on Bassenthwaite.
It’s been a very perplexing start to the season, we’ve been trying to keep up with the osprey action but due to poor weather, signal disruptions with our cameras, and trying to identify so many unringed birds it’s been a difficult puzzle to piece together.
2cnd April: Unring male (KL’s partner for the last 5 years) is seen on the nest for the first time this year.
3rd April: Unring female is seen on nest. Our male does not offer her his fish and mantles against her.
4th April: Unring male is seen mating with a female and he brings new nesting material onto the nest.
5th April: A third unringed bird shows up on the nest. A fight breaks out between this bird and the unringed female. The new bird dives onto the other with such force the unringed female is expelled from the nest, they then tussle in the air and climb to a very high elevation. For the rest of the afternoon we only have 1 bird in view perched nearby the nest and a half eaten trout left alone on the nest.
6th April: 2 Osprey are seen together on a breeding perch all morning. 1 flies off towards the lake and the other flies to our nest where it stays for a large part of the day.
At this point we can see that this is a different  unringed bird from the one our male was mating with, it’s likely to be the bird that tussled mid-air with the unringed female. Later in the afternoon it is joined on the nest by our unringed male; who takes a bath in Bassenthwaite Lake and, returns to the nest where the unringed bird has remained.
We have not seen any mating today but neither have we seen any aggressive or territorial behaviour from our male. Still no sign of KL.
We will continue to observe the birds closely over the next few days and give updates of the drama at Bassenthwaite as it unfolds.

Alpine Oranges

No 14 has turned West and crossed the Alps to straighten up for his run in northwards to England & Cumbria……maybe…

En route !4 passed over the small mountain town of Ivrea, home of the ‘Battle of the Oranges’. This strange custom involves importing thousands of kilos of oranges from the lowlands. The townsfolk then divide into 9 teams and on the days before Shrove Tuesday commence battle, commemorating the decapitation of a 12 century tyrant by a plucky village maid.  Of more interest to 14 than fruit would probably be the fish in nearby Lake Sirio, before his flight over the Alps.

 

This morning he was near to lake Aiguebelette west of Chambery in France .

Stolen kisses

 

Despite its title the Lake District Osprey Project is not just interested in one species of bird. Ospreys do not live in a vacuum. All around them are other birds plants and animals acting out their own lives and re-acting to the presence of our annual migrants. The arrival of Ospreys both disrupts and adds opportunity to the residents of the valley. Take the neighbouring crows for example.

KL hates them for sure. In previous years we have seen her, diving and swooping and chasing any blackguard that approaches her nest, even though the crows are the all year residents. But the crows can turn the arrival of a big bird of prey to their advantage. Undeniably they are intelligent. Yesterday Unring caught himself an enormous trout and after eating the head sat quietly holding the tail on the big branch under the nest. Along the branch sidles a crow, smooth as a pick-pocket staking out a sea-side pier. Unring glares at him – he stops, staring innocently out at the view- until Unring turns his head away – then with a lightning lunge he leans forward  and tweaks at the fish, dancing back as Unring snaps his beak and raises his wings.  Crow knows he is in a winning position as Unring cannot chase him unless he lets go of the fish. And as ospreys never pick up fallen fish – Bazinga! a free dinner. In this case though Unring showed the white feather and flew off to a quieter tree so Crow had to be content to peck up the remaining fish scales and await another opportunity.

Amongst humans Crows have a poor reputation. They have been called cunning, vicious, acquisitive; scavengers of the rubbish heaps and scourge of new-born creatures. On the other hand crows have a fascinating and enviable home life, mating for life with strong bonds between the generations and communal support in raising families. They even take time out to go courting, so have a look at this gentle clip, extracted from a 10 minute romantic interlude. Mutual grooming or stolen kisses – Spring affection is in the air.

 

No 14 The road less/more travelled

He never ceases to amaze! No 14 was hatched and satellite tagged in 2013 and from these beginnings has proved himself an exceptionally fit, adventurous and intelligent bird; one that has captured the imagination of every armchair traveller in his fantastic journeys; one that uses the whole of North Africa and Europe as its Playground.

A resume: In his first migration back in 2015 he travelled from Bioko across the Sahara to Tunisia, crossed the Mediterranean via Italy turned East to skirt the Alps and then spent a few weeks exploring central and northern European countries and Scandinavia, before returning home to the Lakes. In 2016 he cut the journey shorter by travelling straight across the Alps , through France and back to South Lakes. In 2017 he took the most direct route to the UK as you can see in the top map. This would seem to follow a pattern of increasing maturity, taking the most efficient route as hormones for home-making start to kick in.

However, as we saw from last summer, although No 14 showed great interest (or was a great nuisance) around other breeding sites in S Lakes, he did not settle down and it looks like this year he is keen to go and revisit some old stamping grounds rather than catch up with any lovers in the Lakes – see the second map where he veers off his Westerly course to Tunisia.

The second and third map 2018 shows him having made the Sahara crossing successfully, currently whipping across the Med to Sardinia . Where will he fly next? We have absolutely no idea!

 

Unring – Aviator and House-husband

To our great delight who should we see but this bird on our screens, busy tidying up the nest. However, trying to do a full Saturday morning workout with sticks, moss, bark and digging on top of 3000 mile of jet lag proved a bit too much and he was not seen again after 11.00. Probably having a snooze out of the wind somewhere.

Migration Movement

 

The Lake District Osprey Project partnership has always been firmly embedded in the community, either directly, as staff and volunteers or as part of the networking resident population who observe and take joy from the natural world. Without this well-spring of support the Project would not have started and could not continue to enhance the bio-diversity of our beautiful National Park. And we would not have these pictures.

The question is of course, is this report our male bird Unring or another on its way up to Scotland? We’ll have our eyes peeled on the nest and surrounds this morning.

Just reporting sighting of osprey over Cogra Moss between 19.10 hrs to 19.20 hrs this evening 30th March. The bird was being mobbed by crows flying high above the lake by about 500ft.  It circled wide of the lake for a while diverted by the crows. Once it was clear of the crows for a short while it paused then dropped about 500ft right into the water. An attempt that appeared to fail as it re-emerged without fish to be mobbed again by crows. This was also witnessed by two trout fishermen.  They said it had been seen about five times recently.  I attach a few photos  taken with iPhone X.

Thanks to JCHowell

Ullswater sighting

A sharp-eared member of the team was walking around Ullswater last Sunday and heard an osprey calling. It was in the trees just beyond the Glencoyne car park. They tried to identify from the calls where it was, to get a photo, but there are too many trees! It was calling for a good 15/20 minutes before it seemed to fly further away. Still no signs of our pair though.

However, even when the valley still looks so bare all the ingredients are there waiting for the Spring sun to shine again. A fence full of nesting material for instance!

They are back !

vlcsnap-00026

We can confirm that the bird we have been watching since Good Friday is KL !  Today she was joined by her mate, the un-ringed male.  They have been mating throughout the day and are holding territory over their nest.

So….we are up and running, ‘phew !  Just an additional  note, we are currently recruiting for two new members of staff to join the team, if you are interested you can apply at www.forestry.gov.uk/vacancies or via direct.gov.uk .

Finally, a special thanks must go to Becky and Barbara, along with the team of volunteers for holding the fort until we fill the vacant posts !