The Forestry Commission is to erect three more artificial osprey nesting platforms in Kielder Water & Forest Park.
Over the past two years six ospreys have being born and have fledged successfully in the 62,000 hectare (155,000 acre) wilderness using a man-made nest, making Kielder only the second location in England where the bird has recolonised naturally after becoming extinct in the country.
Buoyed by this achievement, the push is now on offer more safe osprey nesting sites in Northumberland.
Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, said
"Last year another male osprey turned up in Kielder and tried to breed with the resident female while her mate was away fishing. However, ospreys generally bond for life and she quickly disabused the interloper of any romantic notions. But the newcomer’s arrival has added to our optimism."
The habitat of wood and water at Kielder is perfect for ospreys and experts say there is plenty of room for more ospreys to settle and raise young. The lone male seen this year could return and strike lucky in his search for a mate. Tom Dearnley added:
"The first of the Kielder born birds are likely to return from southern climes next year, providing they have kept out of harm’s way. The following year they may start to breed. There is no guarantee they will come back to Kielder, although males could have a stronger instinct to come back to their birth place. Having ready made nests will be a powerful incentive.”
Ospreys erect their nests – or eyries - high in tree tops and one of the new man-made versions will require the top to be lopped off a Sitka spruce. Made of wood, each nest is securely fastened to branches by tree climbing wildlife rangers and spread with vegetation such as bracken and moss.
Currently there are two nest sites in the forest, one of which is occupied.
Kielder Water & Forest Park was recently voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Notes to editor
Ospreys time their 5,000 mile journey from their wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa to arrive in the UK by March. Breeding pairs return to the same nest each year.
Before 2009 there were no records of ospreys ever breeding in Northumberland although there are references to fish hunting hawks in 17th century documents. Kielder′s ospreys are thought to originate from the expanding Scottish population.
Ospreys were once distributed widely, but persecution resulted in the species becoming extinct in England as a breeding bird in 1840 and in Scotland in 1916. Some birds re-colonised Scotland in the 1950s and by 2001 there were nearly 160 breeding pairs (today about 200). The same year saw the first successful osprey nests in England for 160 years by re-colonising birds in the Lake District and re-introduced ones at Rutland Water in the East Midlands.
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