Eyes to the sky for famous bird

25 March 2014

Wildlife lovers in Northumberland are being urged to look to the sky for signs of incoming ospreys.

Image: A Kielder osprey guards its nest high above England′s largest working forest.(Credit Forestry Commission England)

The iconic species – which was extinct in England for over 150 years – has bred successfully in Kielder Water & Forest Park every season since it returned to the North East in 2009.

Last year, the rare birds even produced four bouncy chicks from two nests – a record number since their return.

Now the clock is ticking down on the much anticipated return of the adult birds, with the male hopefully arriving back this week and the female following soon after for a romantic reunion.

Kelly Hollings, Estates Officer from Northumberland Wildlife Trust, said: “It’s very exciting and we’re looking forward to our birds returning again this year.

“According to a birding website there has already been an osprey sighting reported at Kielder on 25 February. This was the first sighting of an osprey in the UK but local staff and enthusiasts have yet to spot one. Let’s hope 2014 is a successful breeding year for these magnificent birds.”

At over 250 square miles, the mix of forest and water is perfect for the species. The ospreys feast on trout from the largest man-made lake in northern Europe, Kielder Water, and nest among England’s largest working forest.

Cameras installed by the Forestry Commission in two out of four of the nesting platforms, will beam footage into Kielder Castle and Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park for visitors to enjoy.

Elisabeth Rowark, Director of Kielder Water & Forest Park, added: “The ospreys and the Kielder Osprey Watch are a huge hit with visitors to the area.

“It’s fantastic that we had a record number of birds fledge the nest last year and even more exciting, in December, a chick which fledged from Kielder in 2012 was spotted in its wintering grounds in Senegal, Africa. Fingers crossed their success story will continue.”

Kielder Osprey Watch is organised by Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and Northumberland Wildlife Trust, with support from 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. To find out more, go to www.visitkielder.com.

To post osprey sightings go to the VisitKielder Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kielder or the Visitkielder twitter feed at www.twitter.com/visitkielder.

You can also keep up to date with the ospreys at www.kielderospreys.wordpress.com.

For more information contact Janine Scott, communications advisor (Kielder Water & Forest Park), on 0191 301 5538 or janine.scott@nwl.co.uk.

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 in Scotland in 1954 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, which spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest working forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It was awarded the number one tourism experience in England by VisitEngland 2013, and the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Together with Northumberland National Park, it was granted gold tier Dark Sky Park status in December 2013. For more information see www.visitkielder.com.

4. Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust is a registered charity working at Kielder to promote sustainable development, provide recreational facilities, improve knowledge of the natural environment and encourage the arts. The Trust works with the range of communities to benefit from these activities. 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.

5. 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.

6. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk.

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