Hat-trick for Ospreys at Kielder

Hat trick for ospreys at Kielder

20 June 2014

Kielder Water & Forest Park has scored a hat-trick as a third osprey nest with chicks is revealed.

To have three breeding pairs so close to each other is a new record in England for the rare species, which re-colonised naturally in Kielder in 2009 after an absence of more than 170 years.

Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, said: “This is fantastic news, the Kielder ospreys continue to go from strength to strength, thanks to the natural environment of Kielder, work of the Wildlife Rangers to provide safe nest locations and superb volunteers.”

Since 2011, visitors to the Park have delighted in following the story of the two breeding pairs and for a couple of seasons, an artificial nest platform erected by the Forestry Commission had attracted a third pair of ospreys.

Tom explained: “Everything seemed to be progressing towards successful breeding in 2013, but for unknown reasons no eggs were laid. This is not unusual for young, inexperienced osprey pairs.

“This year, mating was observed during April and the female was seen incubating thereafter. By mid-June it was confirmed that there was at least one chick on the nest.”

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, Northumbrian Water’s Kielder Reservoir, and nest among England’s largest working forest.

Tom added: “We are also delighted to announce that thanks to several generous donations, we will be able to find out much more about our ospreys after they leave Northumberland as we will be fitting three young birds with GSM transmitters. These tiny ‘backpacks’ communicate with the mobile phone network and tell us where the birds are year round.”

With the other two well established nests having six healthy chicks between them, everything is on track for a record number of chicks to fly away from Kielder on their long migration to Africa in September.

In the meantime, cameras installed in the nests mean visitors can watch the action unfold on CCTV footage beamed live into Kielder Castle and Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park.

Fans of the famous birds can also keep up to date with them and the progress of the chicks by checking the blog at kielderospreys.wordpress.com.

Kielder Osprey Watch 2014 will run every weekend from 11am - 4.30pm until the chicks fledge in August, behind the Boat Inn restaurant at Leaplish Waterside Park.

This season, the Osprey Watch has a powerful new telescope generously funded by the Northumberland and North Tyneside Bird Club.

The 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.

For more information contact Janine Scott, communications advisor on 0191 301 6713 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.

7. The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, the RSPB protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. They play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

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