Friday, 12 April 2013

It's all about the Ospreys.....

Due to being generally under the weather, and the weather generally being a bit pants, I haven't been out the last few days. Instead I've been watching the osprey web cams with interest.

I'm particularly interested in the ospreys at this time of year as its around now they start coming back to the UK to breed. There were four pairs that I watched on the web cams last year, and I've got the same ones all set up on my 'favourites' list for this year now.

The good news is that the Manton Bay ospreys have already laid one egg, the bad news is the female from the Dyfi project, Nora, has not yet returned from west Africa. The best news of all though is that Lady, the female osprey based at Loch of Lowes has returned. She is thought to be around 27 years old now.

I found a great web page today, that has recorded all the dates that the ospreys from around the country have arrived back in the UK. Link below.......

link to which Ospreys have been recorded as being back

Ospreys are fascinating birds. They survive solely on fish, and migrate late summer to west Africa and return again each spring. That's around 3000 miles each trip. They mate for life and are loyal. The only times an osprey will switch partners is if they failed to successfully fledge any chicks the previous year, failed to lay any eggs the previous year, or if one of them has sadly died during migration.

For the first couple of years of an ospreys life after fledging and migrating, they stay around west Africa and start returning to the UK when they are around two years old. From the age of about three years old, they will start exploring for a nest site of their own in the UK. As I previously mentioned, ospreys are very loyal, but not just to their mate, but also to their nest site.

When they arrive back at their previous nest, one of the first things they do is make it a nest again. Out goes the old material, and in comes the new.

Ospreys, on average, lay three eggs with each egg being laid two days apart. Incubation starts on the date of the last egg laid and is roughly 35-40 days with both male and female taking turns to sit on the eggs. Once hatched, the chicks are fed and nurtured by both parents. Fledging is around 50-55 days from the date of the chick hatching.

Then in August, both the adults and the juveniles will make that perilous journey back to west Africa to over-winter.

Because ospreys are still classed as a fairly rare bird in the UK, all chicks at known nest sites are ringed at the appropriate age. Some are also satellite tagged so people like you and me can actually view on the websites, where these gorgeous birds go each summer. Every now and then an un-ringed osprey will turn up in the UK.

A male bird at Manton Bay, 5R (his ring number) has a female mate who is un-ringed. They laid their first egg on the 10th April, so a second egg is imminent.

The famous Lady at Loch of Lowes is also un-ringed. Her identification has been done in previous years by the shape of her irises and her plumage. She arrived back on the 30th March, Her mate from last year, Newman, arrived back on the 24th March. They have been seen mating and gathering nesting material, so the first egg should be laid any day now. If Lady successfully hatches and rears just one chick, it will be her 50th. That would be some achievement !

These are the links to the web cams that I follow, though I'm sure there are others out there.

link to EJ and Odins webcam - Loch Garten

link to Monty and Noras webcam - Dyfi

link to 5R and MB female - Manton Bay

link to the famous Lady and Newman - Loch of Lowes

So on the days that I don't get out and about enjoying my own local wildlife, this is what I do. Open a large bottle of rose wine and enjoy watching these magnificent ospreys on their own web cams.

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