Record breaking breeding season for Kielder ospreys

01 August 2016

The Kielder ospreys have had their most successful ever breeding season this year since they first began nesting at Kielder Water & Forest Park in 2009.

Nine chicks have already fledged, beating 2014’s record of eight, with a further two more birds expected to take their first flights within the next week.

First to fledge was the chick ringed Y1 on 13 July from the nest known as 1A. Over the course of the following five days, his brother and two sisters also flew for the first time. Since then, three birds have fledged from Nest 2 and two from Nest 3, bringing the total to nine. Two further juveniles are expected to fledge from Nest 4 shortly.

Philip Spottiswood, Forestry Commission Wildlife Manager, said: “We are all delighted that 2016 has been a record breaking year for Kielder’s ospreys, the young birds will help to ensure that this once rare species continues to recover in England. Thanks goes to the Forestry Commission’s Wildlife Rangers who have done so much to ensure prime nesting sites are available in Kielder Water and Forest Park.”

Despite this great success, in the face of some challenging weather conditions earlier on in the season, this year has not been incident free. Sadly, the third juvenile to fledge from Nest 1A - the eldest Y0 - has not been seen since she first left the nest on 15 July. The area around the nest was searched without success and it is unclear what has happened to her. The first year of an osprey’s life is always challenging, not least because it includes a solo migration to (mainly) Africa from late August onwards.

Visitors can still watch the birds on Nest 1A through a nest camera broadcasting at Kielder Castle Café at the Forestry Commission’s Kielder Castle Visitor Centre and Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park.

Fans of the famous birds can also keep up to date with them by checking the blog at https://kielderospreys.wordpress.com/

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 media information contact: Paul White, 0191 3015325

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, Northumberland County Council and Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society. 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.

7. The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again www.rspb.org.uk

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