Ospreys not shell-shocked by fling

24 April 2015

Ospreys, who caused a flap by sharing an illicit fling, have begun laying eggs in Kielder Water & Forest Park.

Picture shows: osprey pair posing for photo as they incubate their eggs, male osprey checking up on his eggs (credit Forestry Commission).

Two of the six resident birds at Kielder were first to make the 3,000 mile trip home from Africa and enjoyed a short romance while their other halves were still away.

Now, with both birds returned to their own partners in their two respective nests, egg laying has begun in the Park for the seventh consecutive year.

So far, at least six eggs in total have been laid on three nests by the fish-eating birds who usually produce two or three eggs each.

Kelly Hollings, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Estates Officer working with Northumbrian Water, said: “We were delighted when the birds returned to their other halves as soon as they landed. We had hoped they would as ospreys normally form faithful pairs for life.

“They are incubating their eggs now and will do so for about five weeks. Once they hatch and the chicks survive their first couple of weeks, there′s a strong probability that they will fledge. These are incredibly exciting times.”

Last year, the Kielder Ospreys broke a new record, producing eight chicks from three nests and with all three breeding pairs returning, the outlook is good for this year too.

For 150 years, ospreys in England were nearing extinction, but have bred successfully in the Park since they recolonised naturally in 2009.

At over 250 square miles, the mix of forest and water is perfect for the species. They feast on trout from Northumbrian Water’s Kielder Water, and nest among England’s largest working forest.

Nature lovers can keep up to date with the progress of the bird’s eggs by checking the blog at kielderospreys.wordpress.com or watching footage from the nest, streamed into Kielder Castle Cafe.

Kielder Osprey Watch, ran by knowledgeable volunteers, will take place every weekend from when the eggs hatch to when the chicks fledge at Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park.

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 (Northumbrian Water) on 0191 301 6713.

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 100 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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