Look to the skies for rare ospreys!

Osprey chick

20 March 2012

Wildlife lovers have been asked to scan the skies for signs that rare ospreys have returned to Kielder Water & Forest Park.

The iconic species – which was extinct in England as a breeding bird for over 150 years - nested in the North East for the first time in over two centuries in 2009.

Since then the original pair have produced seven offspring and last year saw another huge breakthrough when new birds settled on another artificial nesting platform, raising two more chicks.

Now rangers have their fingers′ crossed that the success story will continue.

Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, said:

“All being well the adult birds will have begun their long journey back to Northumberland from sub Saharan Africa where they spent the winter. There are many hazards along their 5,000 mile flight, not least of which could be bad weather. So nothing can be taken for granted. But people can help us plot their return by reporting osprey sightings around the forest. It’s likely the males will show up first towards the end of the month, followed by females soon after. Some of the original chicks could also make their way back to the UK for the first time providing they have survived. It’s certainly possible that they may come back to the general Borders area.”

Tree climbers have refurbished all four osprey platforms in the 62,000 hectare (155,000 acre) wilderness in the hope that more birds could be enticed to breed. If the birds do return, both resident osprey couples will become local TV stars. The Forestry Commission and Northumbrian Water have installed a second camera to monitor the nest which produced young for the first time last year. Footage from both cameras will be beamed into Kielder Castle and Leaplish Waterside Park for visitors to enjoy.

Elisabeth Rowark, Director of the Kielder & Water and Forest Park Development Trust, added:

“Ospreys have been a massive boost for Kielder and a huge hit with the public. They have also become an emblem for the many conservation successes we have achieved in this truly spectacular place.”

To post osprey sightings you can go to the VisitKielder Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kielder, or email info@visitkielder.com

You can also follow the ospreys fortunes at http://kielderospreys.wordpress.com and sign up for regular updates on Twitter @KielderOspreys

Kielder Osprey Watch 2012 is organised by the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, 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


1. Historically ospreys lived in Northumberland, hunting on the once extensive network of marshes. However, records going back more than 200 years fail to mention any ospreys breeding in the county. Ospreys were once distributed widely, but persecution resulted in the species becoming extinct in England as a breeding bird in 1847 and in Scotland in 1916. Some birds re-colonised Scotland in 1954s 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.

2. Osprey Fact File:

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

• The bird 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 4-5 years old.

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

• The nest is generally built on the top of a large tree.

• Females lay two or three eggs at 1-3 day intervals which are incubated for about 38 - 42 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.

3. Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust (KWFPDT) 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.

4. 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.

5. The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. We believe that nature is amazing and want people to help us keep it that way. We are the largest wildlife conservation organisation in Europe with over one million members. Wildlife and the environment face many threats. Our work is focussed on the species and habitats that are in the greatest danger.

6. Media calls to: Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.

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