Ospreys

Ospreys are Spectacular fish-eating birds of prey with a wingspan of nearly five feet. Find out more about Ospreys with our Osprey Fact File or check out the BBC’s Osprey web page.

Other Cumbrian bred Ospreys

As osprey numbers rise we can expect to see an increase in the number of pairs in Cumbria, although this is a slow process as only about 3 in 10 naturally survive to adult hood.

For the last 2 years YW, our 2008 male chick, has bred  successfully at Fowlshaw Moss, with broods of healthy chicks.

Another of our male chicks has been breeding in South Scotland for a number of years.

In 2010, one of the Bassenthwaite chicks from 2007 bred with another un-marked Osprey and laid eggs in South Cumbria but unfortunately none of the eggs hatched, not unusual for young inexperienced Osprey pairs. The pair were later seen on the coast nest building in late Summer, which is known as frustration behaviour, and often occurs after an unsuccessful breeding season.

An Osprey believed to be another Bassenthwaite chick from  2007 was seen regularly around the Thirlmere area during 2010 but since then there have been no sightings.

Osprey nestOther Great Places to See Ospreys

Cumbrian Ospreys History

In 2001 a pair of ospreys nested beside Bassenthwaite Lake and became the first wild osprey to breed in the Lake District for over 150 years.

The birds were encouraged to stay with the help of a purpose built nest provided by the Forestry Commission and the Lake District National Park. This was the culmination of several years of hard work. Ospreys had been summering in the Lake District since the mid 1990’s and in 2001 they started breeding, immediately adding sticks to the nest.

Once the eggs were laid, wardens kept a round the clock watch to prevent disturbance and deter egg thieves. Ospreys usually lay three eggs, which take about six weeks to hatch. The young stay in the nest for seven or eight weeks. In late summer, the adult female will migrate south, leaving the male to feed the youngsters until they master the art of fishing.

Bassenthwaite Lake is a National Nature Reserve, owned and managed by the Lake District National Park. Most of the surrounding woodland is managed by the Forestry Commission and provides valuable habitats for wildlife.

Threats

Although in the UK the osprey population doubled during the 1990s, and has steadily increased since then, ospreys remain the fourth rarest bird of prey in the UK. Their eggs are still at risk of being stolen by collectors and they are easily disturbed by human presence. If water quality deteriorates, a reduction in fish could have a dramatic effect on the number of young birds raised. Finally, as ospreys migrate, they are vulnerable to habitat changes across southern Europe and Africa, and risk being shot by hunters.


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Strange and Outstanding

One outstanding and one strange event has happened over the past 2 weeks.

The outstanding event has been the fledging of two marsh harrier chicks on the National Nature Reserve below the Dodd Wood viewpoints. It is a unique event as marsh harriers have not bred in Cumbria for over a hundred years. In most summers we have seen single birds that have stayed just for a few days and assumed that there was not enough reed bed to attract them to become more resident However, this year has seen a pair hunting throughout the season over the marsh, hunting the swathes of reed canary grass and passing food in courtship air dances.Last Sunday week we were overjoyed to see not one but two dark brown fledglings, with their characteristic cinnamon heads fluttering out of the grass. As their favourite perches are the lines of fence posts they are easily visible through the telescopes and have provided us with hours of interest. It is likely that the recent rise in numbers of the marsh harrier have encouraged pairs to explore more marginal sites but it is not sure fire that they will return to Bassenthwaite next year as marsh harriers may change partner and nest site each season.

The strange incident concerned another pair of ospreys that visited our nest, also on Sunday, All 3 of our chicks landed on the nest in a great state of agitation, screaming,  flattening their bodies and shaking their wings. Suddenly an adult bird flew in with a half eaten perch. One of the chicks leapt forward and grabbed at it, but in the general upset managed to catch hold of the bird’s talon and then grimly hung on to it. This gave us a chance to see that it was not Unring, our own adult, but a blue ringed male. After a short tussle our chick, realising his mistake, let go of the toe and grabbed the fish. At the same time,  landing on the nest, was yet another stranger bird, this time a  rather small looking female with no ring.

On replaying the film footage we found that the ring read 2H. This we discovered was a Kielder Forest bird, hatched in 2012.It had been seen at Kielder on return from its migration  in 2014 and 2015. It is likely that he and his partner failed to breed successfully this year and were attracted to the very successful nest on Bassenthwaite. It appears trying to feed unrelated chicks  is not an unusual occurance in these circumstances but undoubtedly a first for here.

 

 

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