Mother and daughter


The transition between child and adulthood is marked by the gradual assumption of independence, together with a diminishing need for parental support. Getting the balance right is a tricky business though! Over the past week Unring has been bringing fish directly to Bega on the nest, rather than waiting for KL, as she is now quite capable of subduing and eating a fish without help. Indeed, if KL turns up Bega has shown signs of being quite snappish towards her Mum and definitely hasn’t wanted to share the meal. However, as every teenager knows, there are times when being ‘grownup’ palls and a bit of TLC is needed.

So, here is KL feeding her big daughter on Wednesday for maybe the last time before becoming redundant as a carer for this season.

THE WEBSTREAM CLOSURE   Since then Bega is only visiting the nest once in a while to collect fish from Dad. Often she flies off to her comfortable perch amongst the alders to eat. She is spending her nights away as well. We will be switching off the webstreaming this weekend because the best place now to see her and her parents is from the telescopes on Dodd. At Whinlatter we will still be watching the wider area through the CCTV and have lots of footage of B’s miracle survival and amazing growth

First Flight

At sometime between dawn and 08.00 Bega definitively  flew out  the nest. She had been jumping up and down and had even managed to leap up onto the branch just above the camera once, but never did a proper flight previously. We shall have to see if she comes back regularly to feed at the nest or if she can wind Dad around her little talon and get him to bring the fish to her!

The Flapper


                                                                    It looks easy!

7 weeks old and everything is coming together for Bega.

Soon she will be making her first flight and she has only two options then – fly or crash.

Muscles have to be well developed. Flapping work-outs and making jumps across the nest cup builds up stamina and coordination. Plumage is vital. Preening means every feather is fully functional. But her primary pinion feathers still fall short of covering her tail feathers. Determining some landing spots is a good idea.

Here is today’s diary from the Whinlatter screen – how close do you think she is to a first flight?

09.25 Bega on nest resting.

10.48 KL on nest eating small perch. Bega not interested.

11.45 Unring arrives with another small perch, all alive Oh and hopping around the nest. Bega stamps on it, kills it and eats it.

11.50 Unring leaves nest

11.55 KL leaves nest. Bega begins a session of vigorous flapping. She faces into the wind for lift and hangs onto the sticks with her talons to prevent actual lift off – then she lets go. OOo -errr! A jump upwards and backwards, landing on the far side of the nest.

12.05 KL arrives and departs. Bega resting.

12.40 KL arrives and departs.

KL arrives and eats fish tail. She feeds Bega some of it. KL departs

13.20 KL arrives with large stick. Bega helps put it in place.

14.15 Bega starts another session of fast flapping, jumping up at least 60 cm.

14.20  Bega really really wants to be going off the nest. She stares intently at the nearest branch of the tree and flaps deliberately as she shuffles closer and closer to the edge of the nest and then over the edge, sticks slipping into the void under her claws. At the last second she loses her nerve and scrabbles backwards.

15 28 Bega eats fish tail

16.00 Bega rests


                                   But, not so easy as it looks!

Go on Sweet Bird

Whilst our Bouncing Babe was having her rings put on, what was her elder sibling doing?

Well, what he usually does – flying and flying and some more flying.

On the weekend of 25th and 26th June he was anywhere between Kendal and Millom.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday he was in the Eden Valley.

On Thursday and Friday he swept over the Border, around Moffat,

This Spa town  incidentally, also attracted Robbie Burns, although the waters he was interested in were to drink, rather than fish in, and comprised an effervescent mix of Sulphur and Iron washed down with beer! Of course, in 1788 Robbie might well have seen an osprey – and even been inspired, between burps, to write his one verse poem, ‘Go On Sweet Bird, and sooth my Care.’ Who knows?.

But without doubt our bird was flying on the wind near Kirkby Lonsdale on Saturday 2nd July, at 06.00,

and Sunday was back to the South Lakes.

A high mileage week – even for him!

The Old Sulphurous Well Moffat.                   Creative Commons Rosser 1954File:Moffat - Sulphurous Well.JPG

Where Ospreys Dare

Where ospreys dare

                    Where ospreys dare

Do you have to wait until the adults are away, before you climb up to the nest is a question often asked?

In fact, either KL or Unring always have the nest in sight, even if they are sitting hidden in the alders or on top of the tree. So, when humans appear we are viewed as predators by the birds. KL was on duty that morning and immediately flew up screaming at us and warning her chick to lie down flat. Because the young birds have little muscle power they rely on their camouflage to protect them, in theory staying still and quiet in the base of the nest cup. (However, it’s tempting to take a sneak peek out to see what is happening.)

In general, this works to our advantage as it means that the adults fly away from the nest and the chick does not struggle and hurt either itself or hopefully, us. On Saturday only KL was on the scene at the beginning but was soon joined by Unring who had been off to catch a fish. He was determined not to let go of this and circled around clasping it, until the excitement was over. Whereupon, he ate it himself!

Meanwhile, the tree climber, under license, climbed up to the nest and popped the chick into a soft bag, which he lowered on a rope to the ringer at base of the tree. He then prepared for a long and rather uncomfortable wait, perched on a side branch, so that the adult birds do not land on the empty nest. It seems that, using ‘bird psychology’,  if the chick is back in the nest when we all depart from the scene at the end of the procedure, the adults believe that they have chased off the predator and see themselves as victors. Obviously ringing is a one off occurrence and there is little danger of the chick being abandoned by its parents as the bond is very strong at 5 weeks old. However, constant/ multiple human disturbances are a far greater threat and often will result in abandonment at the time or a nest move the next season.

Operation lens clean

Operation lens clean

Whilst all this was happening the second tree climber went on a more hazardous climb into the next tree where the zoom camera is situated for operation lens clean. All this season there have been large blurry blobs on the zoom camera spreading over the picture, possibly caused by the calling cards of the resident spider, or a spontaneous growth of algae. The zoom camera is out on a limb so it took some heart-stopping contortions before at last a hand with a cloth poked out between the oak leaves and started the cleanup.

Later we were very pleased to see that his efforts had been entirely successful and there is again a clear view at all distances on the screens at Whinlatter.

At the end of the ringing procedure the chick was popped in the bag again and hauled up to the nest where the climber there gently placed her back in the centre  to await her parents and a fishy brunch.

Our thanks to the tree climber team for such a smooth and successful operation.

She’s a Girl!

As you will have noticed from looking at the web stream, or visiting the screens at Whinlatter, our chick is now sporting a smart satellite tracker. Yesterday, under license, our ringer, with the transmitter expert, fitted our chick with two leg rings and the tracker. On her left leg there is a thin metal band with her unique number, and on her right leg is a blue colour ring with the white letter/number combination V5, both issued by British Trust for Ornithology.

It was apparent as soon as she was removed from her carry bag that this was a fine and weighty individual. Feet and toes particularly caught our eyes as they seemed to be very large and well formed as she flexed her formidable talons. It looked already as if she was a female, but weight is the most telling evidence, and as the spring scale marker moved lower and lower the ringer did a double take, repeating the number twice. 1,810 grams. 1,810 grams!!!!!  This was the heaviest bird we have ever had and put her firmly into the female category.

Not only female, but feisty! In return for the indignity of being handled, she managed to put in a good few nips of her own.


Big and Beautiful

Mid-summer flowers

Summer flowers are a large part of the joy of being in the Lakes and these Red Campions, ruddy as a fine wine, are in full blossom at the moment. Each flower consists of 5 forked petals and, if you look closely, the flowers on individual plants are either male or female.

red campion0709 015

Slenus dioeca 

This is a male bloom; females have a few sticky white threads protruding from the centre, to catch the pollen carried by passing insects.

It is named ‘Silenus’, after the donkey riding woodland god of wine and usefully, the roots of these plants are said to contain small amounts of saponin, which can be lathered up as a natural soap, if caught out after midsummer revelry..

Good Four-tune for Keilder



Four heads are better than one?

Four heads are better than one?

Good news from Keilder, where we have a 4X4 situation in the rugged terrain. Four nests  – and four chicks in one of them. We are maybe a little jealous, but what a fine sight to see a forest of tiny heads bobbing up over the nest edge. Only about 1% of ospreys hatch four chicks – so we hope the (very hard-working) parents are successful in getting them to the point of migration!

Not just a dot

For a lot of the time we watch No 14 as a little red dot on a Google map, or in our bird’s case a hailstorm of red dots as he moves from place to place throughout each day. Sometimes it seems that he must have passed over the heads of the entire population of the Southern lakes at least once every 24 hours.  He’s not always so easy to pin down in real time though as there is an inevitable lag on the satellite downloads, so it is always a thrill when a member of the Project actually can catch up with him and view him in solid flesh, rather than a flitting transmission ghost. Here he is yesterday evening, photoed by Becky, nearly in her back garden, having a quiet interlude with a fish.

No 14  a quite interlude between flights.

No 14 a quiet moment between flights.