Incoming! Eyes to the skies for the return of the Kielder ospreys

15 March 2017

Nature lovers are being urged to turn their eyes to the skies to watch for the return of some of Northumberland’s most popular visitors.

Homes will be made, relationships rekindled, new family members born and feathers may fly as the 2017 osprey season and its soap opera in the sky unfold at Kielder Water & Forest Park.

The iconic birds have bred successfully in Northumberland every season since the species returned to the North East in 2009.

Following a record-breaking year in 2016, it is hoped that this year will see another exciting season for local residents and visitors alike.

Last year was the most successful breeding season since the return of the species, with 11 chicks fledging across the four nests.

The bird dubbed Yellow 37, who has inhabited Kielder’s Nest 2 site in past years, has historically been the first of the ospreys to return from migration in Africa. It is anticipated that he will arrive back at Kielder in the next fortnight.

Alex McLennan, Public Affairs Manager at the Forestry Commission, said: “The journeys, lives, habits and relationships of the Kielder ospreys have captivated visitors to Northumberland since the species returned in 2009. We are all set to welcome them back once again and will have a team of volunteers in place to help people get the most of the experience when they visit the Kielder area.”

Lynn Turner, Director at Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, said: “The Kielder ospreys have become a major part of the visitor experience at Kielder, fascinating those who choose to enjoy the Osprey Cams at Kielder Waterside and Kielder Castle, and thrilling those who get a rare sight of activity including the birds fishing in Kielder Water. The return of the ospreys is an exciting event in our calendar and all eyes are now on the skies for a glimpse of our favourite birds.”

Once more, the arrivals will be viewable via Osprey Cams at the Forestry Commission’s Kielder Castle Visitor Centre and at Northumbrian Water’s Kielder Waterside. Fans can also keep track of this year’s osprey season at www.kielderospreys.wordpress.com.

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 further media information, call 0191 3015678.

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, Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society , Northumberland National Park Authority 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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