At 10.00 yesterday the Viewpoints at Dodd opened to a dull day with a wind interested in chilling fingers and finding every gap between hat and scarf. However, as the telescopes scanned the fields and trees around the nest site, lo and behold there sat an osprey! Although too far away for a positive identification, further watching confirmed it was using the same perch sites as our resident birds from last year.
At last at 17.15 it landed on the nest itself and at Whinlatter we had a good view of it. Hurray! From his head markings and behaviours we could see it was our dear male bird ‘Unring’ (so named because he does not have a leg ring.)
He first arrived in the valley in 2013 together with his feisty female KL. Together they flew in out of the sun and chased off a hopeful pair of young birds from the nest in an aerial battle planned out by KL. She lay on the nest, kicking and pecking whenever a rival came close whilst Unring flew around the nest to challenge either enemy trying to fly in. KL was a determined General and as hard on her troop of one as she was on herself. We saw her nip and clout Unring off the nest with her wing when he was inclined to give up the chase.
Of course, their take-over bid was successful and they produced a fine brood of chicks, subsequently ringed. One of them was ringed White 14 and a satellite tracker fitted. The gene pool produced a winner in him and we have been following his extensive travels ever since.
Meanwhile, with some ups and downs Unring and KL produced chicks every year, until last year when KL did not arrive from her roost in Senegal in the Spring. Sadly, this meant that she had perished at some point in the winter. The saddest seemed to be Unring, dejectedly waiting for his partner and mentor. Despite visits from a number of interested females his heart didn’t seem to be into wooing them. The upshot was that although by the end of the season there was one female (also not ringed) who had the tenacity to hang around, there were no chicks. But, swings and roundabouts, it was a most interesting time for watchers as we monitored the behaviours of an off-on romance and had constant views of the two in various perches close by the Lake.
We hope this lady will come back this year and the two can make a new start together – all eyes watching out for a first sight of her – or indeed any other female that may catch Unring’s own eye!