All eyes on the sky!

03.03.2010

KIELDER PARTNERSHIP - Press Notice 13355

Images attached: Forestry Commission wildlife ranger Adam Fletcher scaling the osprey platform built on top of a conifer tree in Kielder Water & Forest Park to check CCTV cameras and spread moss on the decking to help entice the bird back after last year′s successful nest.¬†

Rangers anxiously wait for return of pioneering ospreys as curtain goes up on Wild about Kielder season

Rangers in Kielder Water & Forest Park will soon be scanning the skies for the return of the record breaking ospreys which last year nested in Northumberland for the first time in at least 200 years.

The Kielder Partnership says it’s likely that the iconic birds will return to nest once again in the 62,000 hectare (155,000 acre) Northumberland wilderness, after the pair successfully reared three strapping youngsters on an artificial platform erected for the purpose by the Forestry Commission.

The male is likely to be the first on the scene in late March after migrating back from sub-Saharan Africa, where he has spent the winter in warmer climes. But despite being a born survivor and having made the long haul trip at least a couple of times before, nothing can be taken for granted, said Tom Dearnley, ecologist with the Forestry Commission.

“The epic 5,000 mile journey these birds make is quite breathtaking, but also daunting and there are many risks which have to be negotiated. But fingers’ crossed they will make it back and the male will soon be scouting out the nest site in Kielder Water & Forest Park. The female generally follows a few days later and providing things go to plan, they’ll re-ignite their romance with an aerial courtship display and settle down to rear young. It would be fantastic to see more English born ospreys fledge from Kielder Water & Forest Park to continue the recolonisation of former haunts.”

With England’s largest Forestry Commission woodland and northern Europe’s biggest man-made lake, managed by Northumbrian Water, Kielder Water & Forest Park is ideal territory for ospreys, which feed on fish and build their nests, or eyries, high in the tree tops. Depending on if and where the birds nest the Kielder Partnership will organise a viewing area with the RSPB and Northumberland Wildlife Trust, and hope to gain close-up CCTV footage. Further details will be revealed shortly.

But ospreys are not the only stars on show in Kielder Water & Forest Park this spring!

The Kielder Partnership is staging a spectacular series of events as part Wild about Kielder season, starting on Saturday 6 March 2010 with a chance to see magnificent goshawks performing their breathtaking aerial courtship display. Setting out at 9am, the walk is repeated on Saturday 20 March 2010. Booking essential on 01434 220242. Other outings lined up include deer safaris, a dawn chorus walk, bat and owl nights and a chance to spy a badger. Booking is also required for these events on 01434 250209 and full listings can be found at www.visitkielder.com The season culminates with a wonderful Family Wildlife Day at Leaplish Waterside Park on Sunday 6 June 2010.

Richard Gilchrist, chief recreation ranger with the Forestry Commission, said: “Kielder Water & Forest Park offers unrivalled opportunities to see some of the nation’s best loved wildlife. This is a fantastic chance to join experts and see owls, bats, deer and goshawks in all their glory set against a dramatic wilderness.”

Kielder Water & Forest Park was recently voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Notes to editor

The three chicks raised last summer in Kielder Water & Forest Park will spend the next few years in Africa assuming they made their first hazardous migration south without a hitch. When they reach they? about four years old they will make their first return journey north to breed, but won’t necessarily return to Northumberland.

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.

Like most other birds of prey, 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 Osprey Watch 2010 is organised by the Kielder Partnership, the RSPB and Northumberland Wildlife Trust. The partners are working hard to ensure that the ospreys are here to stay by maintaining a high quality habitat in Kielder Water & Forest Park and safeguarding and monitoring the nest site. To find out more go to www.visitkielder.com

The Kielder Partnership is a public, voluntary and private sector collaboration working to develop Kielder Water & Forest Park as an inspirational place for leisure, exploration and fun. Partners are the Calvert Trust Kielder, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Northumberland County Council and Northumbrian Water, plus representation
from community groups. The Northumberland Wildlife Trust is an associate
member.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust is the largest environmental charity in the region working to safeguard native wildlife. One of 47 Wildlife Trusts across the UK, Northumberland Wildlife Trust has campaigned for nature conservation for over 40 years. It aims to inform, educate and involve people of all ages and backgrounds in protecting their environment in favour of wildlife and conservation. Supported by over 13,000 individual and 56 corporate members in the Region, Northumberland Wildlife Trust manages and protects critical species and habitats at over 60 nature reserves throughout Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. We believe that nature is amazing and we want people to help us keep it that way. In 2008, we launched a campaign to highlight the fact that birds of prey continue to be killed, despite the fact that it is illegal and has been for decades. We are calling for an end to this unacceptable cruelty, but the campaign can only be effective with widespread support. To date, over 105,000 people have signed our pledge to stop the illegal killing of birds of prey. Support the pledge and add your voice to ours at
http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/birdsofprey/index.asp

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is a registered charity: England and Wales no 207076, Scotland no. SC037654

Media calls to:

Richard Darn, Forestry Commission, on 01226 246351. Mobile 0775 367 0038.

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

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