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 .
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.
He never ceases to amaze! No 14 was hatched and satellite tagged in 2013 and from these beginnings has proved himself an exceptionally fit, adventurous and intelligent bird; one that has captured the imagination of every armchair traveller in his fantastic journeys; one that uses the whole of North Africa and Europe as its Playground.
A resume: In his first migration back in 2015 he travelled from Bioko across the Sahara to Tunisia, crossed the Mediterranean via Italy turned East to skirt the Alps and then spent a few weeks exploring central and northern European countries and Scandinavia, before returning home to the Lakes. In 2016 he cut the journey shorter by travelling straight across the Alps , through France and back to South Lakes. In 2017 he took the most direct route to the UK as you can see in the top map. This would seem to follow a pattern of increasing maturity, taking the most efficient route as hormones for home-making start to kick in.
However, as we saw from last summer, although No 14 showed great interest (or was a great nuisance) around other breeding sites in S Lakes, he did not settle down and it looks like this year he is keen to go and revisit some old stamping grounds rather than catch up with any lovers in the Lakes – see the second map where he veers off his Westerly course to Tunisia.
The second and third map 2018 shows him having made the Sahara crossing successfully, currently whipping across the Med to Sardinia . Where will he fly next? We have absolutely no idea!
To our great delight who should we see but this bird on our screens, busy tidying up the nest. However, trying to do a full Saturday morning workout with sticks, moss, bark and digging on top of 3000 mile of jet lag proved a bit too much and he was not seen again after 11.00. Probably having a snooze out of the wind somewhere.
The Lake District Osprey Project partnership has always been firmly embedded in the community, either directly, as staff and volunteers or as part of the networking resident population who observe and take joy from the natural world. Without this well-spring of support the Project would not have started and could not continue to enhance the bio-diversity of our beautiful National Park. And we would not have these pictures.
The question is of course, is this report our male bird Unring or another on its way up to Scotland? We’ll have our eyes peeled on the nest and surrounds this morning.
Just reporting sighting of osprey over Cogra Moss between 19.10 hrs to 19.20 hrs this evening 30th March. The bird was being mobbed by crows flying high above the lake by about 500ft. It circled wide of the lake for a while diverted by the crows. Once it was clear of the crows for a short while it paused then dropped about 500ft right into the water. An attempt that appeared to fail as it re-emerged without fish to be mobbed again by crows. This was also witnessed by two trout fishermen. They said it had been seen about five times recently. I attach a few photos taken with iPhone X.
Thanks to JCHowell
A sharp-eared member of the team was walking around Ullswater last Sunday and heard an osprey calling. It was in the trees just beyond the Glencoyne car park. They tried to identify from the calls where it was, to get a photo, but there are too many trees! It was calling for a good 15/20 minutes before it seemed to fly further away. Still no signs of our pair though.
However, even when the valley still looks so bare all the ingredients are there waiting for the Spring sun to shine again. A fence full of nesting material for instance!
Yesterday the team went up to Dodd to see if there were any signs of KL and Unring – but no. However No 14 still flies onwards using a direct route this year and 2 days ago crossed the border into the South of Algeria.
Here is the Weather in Laghouat,, central Algeria today
- RealFeel®: 41°
- Winds: 21mph NNW
- Precipitation: 0 in
Great news – our satellite tagged osprey No 14 has started his migration back to the UK, which means that probably his parents KL and Unring are also on their way. We are keeping our eyes open for them, although it may be some days before No 14 arrives as he has a 4000 mile journey from Bioko, Equatorial Guinea rather than the shorter 3000 miles from Senegal where KL spends her winter.
For human beings the Lake District Osprey Project will open on Good Friday this year. Opening times are 10.00 to 17.00 at both Dodd Viewpoints and Whinlatter Visitor Centre.
Here is the latest map from 21st March showing No 14 flying across Nigeria.