Kielder osprey watch - Dad′s back

04.04.2011

The record breaking male osprey – who last year fathered chicks for the second year in a row – has returned to Kielder Water & Forest Park.

Employees and visitors alike are now keeping their eyes peeled and their fingers crossed for the return of his mate. In 2009 the frisky pair became the first on record to breed in Northumberland and raised three healthy chicks. Much to everyone’s delight, the two birds returned again in 2010 and once again successfully raised three more
osprey chicks.

Hopes are now high that the female will arrive over the next few days from her winter break in Africa and that more off-spring will soon be born to strengthen the bird of prey′s return to former haunts in England.

Neville Geddes, from the Forestry Commission, said:

“This is the fantastic news we’ve all been waiting for. We’ve had several sightings of one of the ospreys and we think it is the male who normally returns first.

“We’re hoping for his female mate to join him and estimate that it could be any time in the next week. If they successfully mate again we will be delighted if they raise a third brood. It will be a busy time for them. They have until early September to mate, produce chicks and teach the offspring to fish for themselves before going their separate ways and heading south once again.”

Kielder Water & Forest Park has been on the flight path of ospreys returning to the UK for some years. They are likely to return to the same nest site – a platform specially erected by the Forestry Commission in 2008 to encourage the return of the ospreys.

Providing things go to plan, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust will once again stage Osprey Watch with the help of RSPB and Northumberland Wildlife Trust. The popular series of events will give visitors the chance to view the birds on the nest through high powered telescopes at Leaplish Waterside Park, with volunteer experts on hand to tell the osprey story.

Anyone enjoying a day out at the Park will be able to learn more about ospreys at the Kielder Castle exhibit, open daily, and enjoy close up views of the nest through the live video-feed. Finally, ′highlights footage′ at Tower Knowe Visitor Centre, will showcase the Kielder ospreys finest moments over the last two years.

For more information contact Philippa Clark, communications advisor (Kielder Water & Forest Park), on 0191 301 5538, 07970 897 756 or philippa.clark@nwl.co.uk.

Notes to editor:

Historically ospreys lived in Northumberland, hunting on the once extensive network of marshes. Accounts written in the 1700s refer to the presence of `fish eating hawks’ locally. However, until last year there were no records of the bird breeding in the county for well over two centuries. The Kielder Water & Forest Park 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.

Osprey fact file:

• ########Ospreys are migratory and arrive in late March and April. They leave again for Africa in August and September.

• ########The bird of prey is an Amber List species because of its historical decline (due to illegal killing and egg theft) and low breeding numbers.

• ########Ospreys normally breed for the first time when they are aged between three and five years old.

• ########They are largely monogamous and strongly faithful both to nest and mate.

• ########The nest is generally built on the top of a large tree, usually a conifer.

• ########Females lay two or three eggs at one to three day intervals which are incubated for 37 days per egg.

Ospreys divide the nesting duties between the pair. The female does most of the incubating, brooding and direct feeding of the young. She guards them throughout the nesting period and will share the hunting at later stages when the chicks are larger. The male is the major provider of fish for the female and chicks. Chicks fledge about seven weeks after hatching.

Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust is a registered charity working to develop the Park as an inspirational place for leisure, exploration and fun.

Members, who have appointed directors/trustees to serve on the board, are Northumbrian Water, Forestry Commission, Calvert Trust Kielder and Northumberland County Council. Affiliate organisations that are not members but have a close working relationship with KWFPDT include Arts Council England, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, The Scout Association and local decision making bodies such as the parish councils.

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