The last leg for no 14

Pond Piece, Pattiswick Hall farms halfway between Braintree and Tiptree Essex at 7pm on April 16th

At last the North is calling! The blandishments of Tiptree jam in could not hold him!  No 14 has made his way across the Pennines and on the evening of the 19th he was on the River Lune south of Kirkby Lonsdale.

Globe v Home trotting

Here are no 14’s movements over the last six days. Perhaps, like many of us he has realised that with the opportunities he has for globe trotting he hasn’t thoroughly explored his home country. Certainly there seems to be no particular pull towards claiming a territory or settling down for this carefree bachelor.

With the temperature hitting 18C at 20.00 hours up at Whinlatter yesterday evening surely this is a sign of Spring. Maybe the start of flocks of little migrants, willow warblers, chiff chaffs, swallows martins, will mean a few more wandering ospreys touching down.

KL not KLamity yet!

Time keeps creeping on and we are now in mid-April. These are the questions everyone is asking.

Where is KL? Is it too late to expect her back?  Is there a chance she has survived?

Where is KL? – the short answer is that  we do not know. She does not have a satellite tracker (unlike her son No14) so we cannot pinpoint her position or what date she might have started the migration (No 14 started on March 19th). We know her roosting spot is in Senegal in the Sine Saloum Delta and thus her probable flight path follows the desert coast of Africa through Spain and France to home. She has a white ring on her right leg but unless someone sharp eyed with good optics picks this up and bothers to send in the sighting we are no further forward.

Is it too late to expect her back? Not at all. The time it takes to migrate depends very much on wind and weather. As we know the strong easterly winds have effected the whole of Europe and many migrants will have battled or just decided to rest up until certain of kindly winds. Waiting though means they will need to spend time to replenish their fat reserves to resume the journey.

This year statistics from the other observed nests in the UK all point to many individuals who have not turned up yet. Usually between 8% and 10% of adult ospreys do not make it each year. This year about 25% are missing. It seems unlikely that all of these will have perished (although being blown out into the Atlantic will have been a very real danger!). Lastly, In their first year both Unring and KL arrived on April 24th and this is not the latest date recorded overall by a long chalk.

Is there a chance she has survived?  The journey is the single greatest factor in the mortality rate of osprey. Think of all the hazards and it is amazing that any find their way at all. KL is now 9 years old, an experienced traveller and in her prime. What we do know from osprey behaviour is that if it is at all possible for her to make the journey she will continue trying.

From Unring’s behaviour he is still on the look out for her, spending yesterday nest building and sitting as a watchman on the topmost branch of the nest tree.

So, this is what a good home looks like to Unring, a cosy bunk, his lovely lady and good food. Worth waiting for!









Villas and Temples for the Culture Vulture


Le Toquet-Paris-Plage – in the early 1900’s home of the English literary smart set including HG Wells, Noel Coward and PG Wodehouse. Architect designed villas lie behind the sand dunes but for No 14 lingering there the attraction for a smart bird is in the name  – must be a plage with poissons.

11.04.2018 Then a leisurely drift down the coast to the lazy braided mouth of the Somme River.

12.04 At last he crosses the Channel and flies across Kent and the mouth.of the Thames and on North West into Leicestershire. On his way home? Oh no our bird’s not done yet. He got to the outskirts of Leicester before turning sharply south west to visit to visit Sezincote estate in the Cotswolds, perhaps attracted by the green pergola of the Mughal temple or perhaps the green waters of Sezincote Lake.


Bs0u10e01 Wikipedia

Back on Bassenthwaite :- Still no KL and the other affaire is still more off than on.

Blue Bird’s Over

How lucky is it to be able to view the ospreys from your own house?                         Even better when the household comes up to Whinlatter to report the sighting and check out the CCTV footage. This morning 3 birds were spotted over the marsh in just such a manner.

One of course was Unring, one probably his off/on female, but who was the other? We didn’t have to wait long before a skirl of wings heralded yet another stranger bird ganging doon on the nest. Distinguished by broad dark line down the back of its head it may have been either a bonnie lad or lassie. We knew instantly it must be a Scottish bird as it had a blue colour ring on its left leg. (English and Welsh birds have their colour rings on the right)

All we needed to do was to read the white lettering and we would ken its age, where it was hatched and perhaps where it is nesting. We watched avidly as it contentedly shuffled about the nest cup, picking up a bit of moss here, laying down a bit of stick there and looking lazily out at the view. But its legs showed as coyly as white sheep in a Scots mist, hidden either by its feathers or by the deep bed of pale dry grass. After 15 mins of pop-eyed concentration from staff and visitors it flew off – probably over the Border and never to be seen again – leaving nothing but a wee snippet of film showing a blue blur with a mark that could have been an X or a Y or a V.

No 14 has got going again and at the last download yesterday was at Le Toquet, North France ready to cross the channel. Look out Angleterre!

The film below looks hopeful, but if you look carefully the hit and miss aspect of the new relationship is very obvious. Unring is going through the actions but is unsuccessful in the deed.

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.