Forestry Commission rangers are urging people to look to the sky for signs of incoming ospreys!
The iconic creature – extinct in England for over 150 years - has bred successfully every season in Kielder Water & Forest Park since 2009, producing 12 bouncy chicks from two nests.
Now the clock is ticking down on the much anticipated return of the adult birds, with the male hopefully arriving back by the end of the month and the female following soon after for a romantic reunion.
To ensure a warm welcome, tree climbing rangers visited the oldest osprey nest in Kielder Water & Forest Park to do a spring clean. Not only was the nest re-decked with fresh moss and vegetation, but new high definition CCTV cameras were installed to provide the clearest picture yet of the historic nest for nature lovers at Kielder Castle and Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park.
Three other artificial nesting sites in the forest, one of which produced two chicks last year, are also being given a make-over. This will ensure that if the osprey population expands pairs can nest in safe locations.
Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, explained:
“Nothing can be taken for granted with nature and that’s why our excitement at the impending return of the ospreys is also tinged with a little anxiety. But we have good hopes that the osprey success story in the forest will continue. Ospreys tend to stay with the same partner and also keep to the same nesting sites. There were more birds in the general area last year and we know that the magical mix of forest and water is perfect for the species. All being well the Kielder birds will now be well advanced in their journey back from their wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Adding to the osprey excitement is the fact that the first chicks born in Kielder in 2009 will be looking to start their own families this spring, providing they survived the rigours of early life. They will not necessarily make a beeline for Kielder, but because the chicks were all tagged with unique rings and colour tags on their legs it's possible we may still learn of their fate from sightings elsewhere.
Elisabeth Rowark, Director of the Kielder Water & Forest Development Trust, added:
“Last year's weather was terrible for the ospreys at a critical time, but the fact that three chicks fledged was a tremendous boost and maintains Kielder Water & Forest Park’s proud record. It was riveting to watch the drama unfold on CCTV and heart-warming to see vulnerable chicks blossom into magnificent birds.”
Northumberland Wildlife Trust is currently seeking volunteers to help with the Kielder Osprey Watch at Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park during weekends and Bank holidays. Volunteers play a vital role running an information area for visitors and operating telescopes fixed on one of the nests. No previous experience is required and training will be given. If you are interested contact Lou Chapman, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Volunteer Co-ordinator, on 0191 284 6884 or via email at [email protected]
Kielder Osprey Watch 2013 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 and go to www.visitkielder.com
To post osprey sightings go to the VisitKielder Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/kielder