Weather takes its toll on birds of prey - but ospreys pull through

Osprey ringing

19.07.2012

One of the three surviving osprey chicks ringed by the Forestry Commission ornithologist Martin Davison in Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland.

Rare English ospreys may have defied the dismal summer weather, but cold conditions and record rainfall have still taken their toll.

Two osprey chicks which hatched just before the Jubilee weekend - and dubbed Jubilee Jack and Queenie - were today (Thursday, 19 July) ringed by Forestry Commission experts in 62,000 hectare (155,000 acre) Kielder Water & Forest Park. The sole surviving chick on the other nest in the Northumbrian wilderness - given the name of Olympia - has also been ringed.

A record breaking six chicks hatched in Kielder this year, however, three succumbed to the elements, which also blighted the breeding season for other rare birds, including goshawks.

But Rangers remain upbeat. Forestry Commission Wildlife Ranger Philip Spottiswood explained:

"We have maintained our record of producing three osprey chicks each year since 2009 when the bird began to breed again in Northumberland for the first time in at least 200 years. Despite the conditions, the chicks ringed this year are very healthy and we expect them all to fledge (fly) in the next few weeks. Given the dreadful weather that is a tremendous result."

Ringing the birds is the best way of monitoring their fortunes in the wild.

After being carefully lowered from the their treetop nest by tree climbing rangers, each was fitted with a harmless metal leg ring and unique colour tag to help identify the bird. These can be read over a distance using a telescope. Gathering data on ospreys is vital to chart what experts hope will be a gradual re-population of other areas.

Duncan Hutt, from Northumberland Wildlife Trust, added:

"The species was extinct in England until recently, but Kielder together with the Lake District has been naturally re-colonised. A big factor has been the expanding Scottish population and also the erection of special nesting platforms near Northumbrian Water′s Kielder Water, which offers perfect hunting grounds for trout."

Kielder Osprey Watch 2012 is organised by the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and the RSPB. 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.

1. Nature fans can watch the action unfold on CCTV at Kielder Castle and also at Leaplish Waterside Park, where the Kielder Osprey Watch 2012 is being operated by volunteers on weekends and Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

2. Regular updates on the ospreys are being posted by volunteers at http://kielderospreys.wordpress.comand at the VisitKielder Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kielder. You can also get Twitter updates @KielderOspreys

3. Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038 or Philippa Clark on 0191 301 5538

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