End of Summer Round-up

A pair of ospreys nested by Bassenthwaite Lake this year. From their behaviour we think them to be Unring, and the unringed female from the past two years. They returned to the Lake at the end of March. As last year, they nested on the platform on private property. It was not possible to ascertain how many eggs were laid but 2 chicks hatched out. From the outset they appeared to be strong and healthy. Unring did a grand job keeping the family supplied with fish and the female nurtured them diligently. The two chicks proved to be very independent and by mid August were not hassling Unring for food, very different to many others we have seen.By the last week in August only one bird was seen fleetingly so we must assume the female and the chicks flew sometime then, winging their way to Africa. It was not long after the solitary bird (male) also moved on. Their breeding success just re-enforces the fact that as long as wild creatures are left alone, they generally thrive.

The chicks were not ringed and so they will not be traceable again but as usual, crossed fingers for a successful journey down Europe and over the Sahara.

Bassenthwaite Lake from the top of Dodd

Whether they go to the West coast or follow in White 14’s wing-beats to Bioko is anyone’s guess.

 

Hatching. And still chilly!

Over the past week there have been signs of a change of behaviour in the birds on the Bassenthwaite nest. After round-the-clock incubation with both Mum and Dad doing stints with only the occasional upset of a visiting passage osprey or corvid intrusion, suddenly all if fired up again. Dad is bringing fish to the nest and instead of taking it away to eat, Mum is hoarding it. It’s one of the best things in the world to watch when she at last stands up and after tearing off a minute portion of flesh, dips her head down into the nest; a sure sign that she has offered it to a chick. If all goes well then the chick instinctively grabs at it and down the red lane it goes. After that it becomes the bottomless pit, that so many parents will relate to. With more than one infant the parent’s days are cut out for them with fishing, feeding and keeping the little ones warm. Roll on some less chilly days!

Image of new hatched chicks and headless fish – from a previous year

 

Eggs! A chilly start to season this year’s clutch.

Picture from a previous year – showing a full clutch of 3 eggs

The Bassenthwaite birds have done it again. On Saturday 10th April the behaviour of the birds changed with both looking a little uncomfortable. The female stood hunched in the nest whilst the male flew around with a fish – but her mind was on higher things!!

Here’s an on-the-spot account by one of the watchers:-

‘There was one bird standing hunched on the edge of the nest looking about. After a time it sat down in the nest with only its head visible. At about 3:30 another osprey flew by carrying a fish. It did not stop at the nest, but flew round a couple of times then went off towards the south. The other bird stood up and looked about, but did  not leave the nest. I stayed for about another ½ hour, and nothing further happened. It then started to snow and got very cold, so I came home.’

By Sunday it seemed that the first egg had been laid although mating continued – a sure sign that more eggs are on the way. Eggs are laid at 2 day intervals and so her clutch will have been completed sometime in the middle of that week. She is now sitting tightly.

Crossed fingers for the next month of sitting.

Oh Beautiful Day!

After a grey start to the day, suddenly sunshine painted the fellsides in shades of gold and umber and the Lake lying below, shone bright as a starling’s wing, flecked by a warm breeze. What scenario could be better to welcome back the Bassenthwaite birds than this?

Over the past few days we’ve caught glimpses of a single osprey (or ospreys) dodging about the marsh and there have been some sightings at nearby stretches of water but this afternoon, quite clear to behold, were 2 ospreys sitting close together, sharing a fish for lunch. Their long migration is over and along with all the other creatures that share the valley,  the summer business of home building and rearing offspring is starting.

Hooray!

 

Welcome to 2021 – Long time no see 7V!

Over the past couple of weeks it has been all eyes to the skies watching out for ospreys passing overhead and ospreys that look as if they might stay and take up residence in the valley. So far there have been a number of sightings of passage birds but they have winged their way on past going North to Scotland. Around the nest platforms there have been the usual excitements of buzzards and crows having some argie-bargies as they jockey for their own nest territories in the area.

Looking at last year’s satellite maps  there are many factors that can effect the date of arrival of migrating birds. Africa is a huge continent and start points can be anywhere from Equatorial Guinea, c4000 miles from the UK and Senegal c 3000 miles. Some canny birds are only making a short hop from the Mediterranean, where more are now spending their winters.

Weather too plays a vital part, particularly the wind strength and direction. An adverse wind near ground level will be avoided by an experienced osprey if there is a good tail wind at a 1000 feet.

Some excellent news is a report Yellow 7V, of one of the Bassenthwaite offspring hatched in 2008. After leaving the Lakes on his first migration this bird was next seen in 2013 at a nest site in Scotland, where we believe he has been breeding ever since. He hatched from a fortuitous clutch of 3 brothers and his sibling is White YW who has been breeding at Foulshaw and has recently returned to breed again this year.

Yellow 7V was photographed at Langue de Barbarie

in Senegal by John-Marie Dupart, who has kindly given permission to use his pictures. It is great to see our bird, now 13 years old, looking so fit and well, only his ring a bit faded. The down-side, that many have commented on, is the amount of plastic rubbish cast up on a beach that is relatively remote.

Crossed fingers that he has made his way back again and will be rearing more Bassenthwaite bairns North of the Border this season.

 

 

Through France and Spain and into Africa

Through Southern France and over the Pyrenees, skirting around Spain and over the Mediterranean (actually the bit called the Alboran Sea) to Morocco. 30.09.2020.

02.10.2020

Across the Atlas Mountains into Algeria and across the Grand Erg Occidental Desert to roost in the mountains.

04.10.2020

Then an odd divergence to the East along the mountain range, passing an even odder landscape feature.

A moon landscape with what looks to be an enormous meteor strike. The Tin Bider crater was formed in the last 70 million years, perhaps in the late Cretaceous or early Tertiary Period.Spanning 6 kilometres, the crater sits at the southern end of a range of hills.

10.10.2020

He’s crossed out of Algeria into Mali and he’s heading southwards to follow the Niger River which should take him through the SW corner of Niger into Nigeria and down to the coast.
14.10.2020

‘We have been made aware of a possible ringing recovery involving White 14.  We are working closely with the British Trust for Ornithology, and will update when they can confirm or deny these reports.’

Spring 2021

Sadly, it is confirmed that No 14 has perished in Mali. We shall probably never find out the full story, but as we know the hazards of migration over such a long distance are many, on both human and natural fronts. The legacy of his terrific and well documented flights has added a further dimension to what we understand about osprey movements across the globe.

 

Britain, Brittany, France

We are not keeping up with wonder bird!

This is his position for September 28th. He has flown down the length of France via a channel crossing, Seaton to Loguivy on the  Brittany coast. Then straight over Brittany to  Carnac Plage he took a rather risky route over the notorious Bay of Biscay to the Gironde Estuary. This is a favourite osprey stop over place with shallow sandy water and good fishing. He then continued Southward, toward the Pyrenees.

No 14 starts his Southward Journey

 

Travels around the South lakes over the past few weeks.

Day 1 of the migration

Roudsea to Wrexham – and that was the first indication that No 14 had started his migration back to his wintering grounds in Bioko on Wednesday 16th Sept. It was a leisurely trip starting at 06.55 with some swoops around the bay before heading off over the North Wales Coast and landing in a strip of woodland adjacent to a river near Wrexham. Via the M6 the journey would have been about 140 miles.

No 14 and some research – handsome, talonted, why no mate?

The map shows No 14’s movements in S Lakes, fishing in the estuary with occasional visits to Pennington reservoir to the west. 

No 14 has not found a mate this year, again and he has rarely been seen visiting the site in South Lakes where we felt he might settle, so:

Our licensed ringer and osprey expert has been trying to discover if the fact that white 14, at the age of 7 years and has not started breeding yet is unusual or if the fact that he is still carrying the satellite tag is having an influence on his breeding capabilities.

To this end he has asked the folk who have worked with the Rutland osprey population which started breeding in the same year as the Lakeland birds and also Roy Dennis who has been involved with Ospreys, including satellite tagging, for many years in Scotland and elsewhere what information they have on the ages that ospreys have started to breed and whether any birds carrying satellite tags have bred successfully.

This is the information/data that they have sent through to him. It’s extremely interesting to know about other ospreys and the ages they start to breed and those others carrying sat tag successfully raising chicks

With regard to the age of breeding males, there have been two males in the Rutland Water population that bred for the first time aged 11 and 14 respectively.

So there is no doubt that some birds have to wait a considerable time to breed.

This year there is an 8 year-old male that is breeding for the first time, and a 7 year-old male that is yet to pair up.

So on this data there is still time and hope that white 14 will breed in the future

There are numerous examples of satellite-tagged birds breeding successfully. Notable examples include:

  • Female Yellow 30 raised eight chicks between 2015-2019 at a nest near Rutland Water after being tagged as an adult in 2013. The tag then fell off last winter and she has returned to breed again this year.
  • One of Roy’s satellite-tagged females, Beatrice, bred each year from 2009-2015 after being tagged as an adult in 2008.
  • Satellite-tagged female Morven bred between 2009 and 2018 while carrying a satellite transmitter. The transmitter was then removed and she continues to return to Scotland.
  • Another of Roy’s satellite-tagged birds, Nimrod (male), raised five chicks between 2008 and 2011 while carrying a satellite tag.
  • A further six satellite-tagged males and two females have bred successfully in Scotland in recent years, plus two males at Rutland Water.

There is no evidence that satellite transmitters have ever stopped birds breeding. 

So to conclude, there is no way that the satellite transmitter is the issue with White 14 and there are still several years left for him to settle down and raise some chicks.

 

The Lockdown Gap.

 

Top of Dodd – Sunshine and clouds in June.

With Staff and Volunteers all in Lockdown and subsequently unable to deliver the Osprey project there has been little news on the doings of the Bassenthwaite family over the past months. At the Dodd viewpoints there is no way that using communal telescopes can comply with covid restrictions. Similarly, gathering people around a screen to watch osprey footage is not possible with social distancing.

However, ospreys, like many other creatures thrived over a time when traffic and people were not there to disturb them.

Eggs were laid, chicks were hatched, fishing was good and the dry sunshine conducive to health and well-being. The two chicks this year looked very healthy. Their experienced Father Unring, now in his 8th breeding year, is a pro at delivering fish and defending the nest site. The female, thought to be the un-ringed one from last year, has taken to motherhood well, shading the young chicks from the sun and popping the right sized morsels of food down their ever-hungry throats.

The chicks from an early age showed a considerable size difference. Perhaps this indicated there had been an egg that did not hatch laid between them. Or perhaps the elder one of the two was a bigger female and the younger a smaller male. However, both were vigorous in vying for attention and in flapping and hopping about the nest prior to first flights.

Altogether, with pairs in South Lakes, such as Foulshaw, and those in Keilder Forest producing young, Cumbria is having a good year ospreywise!