Time is running out to catch a final glimpse of the osprey chicks born at Kielder this year.
The eight beautiful, young ospreys will soon set off from their nests in Kielder Water & Forest Park on their perilous flight to southern climes – often West Africa.
This coming weekend (Saturday, August 26, to Monday, August 28) may be your last chance to see the youngsters before they embark on their 6,700km journey, flying on average around 260 km per day.
They can be viewed between 10.30am and 4.30pm at Osprey Watch at Kielder Waterside.
What makes this year’s departure a little more poignant is that for the first time, the osprey chicks have been given local names, rather than simply being named from their colour ring details.
In 2017, all the chicks were given Northumbrian place or river names beginning with A. From Nest 1: Amble, Ayle and Acton. Nest 2: Aln. Nest 3: Large female Archer and her brother Ancroft, then small female Acomb. Lastly, from Nest 4: Young lad Aydon and his sister Alwinton.
The new names have encouraged wider public engagement with the osprey project, and a fascinating blog, written by Kielder osprey expert volunteer Joanna Dailey, charts all the birds’ comings and goings with vivid and knowledgeable commentary, nest webcams and video footage, found at www.kielderospreys.wordpress.com
In 2018, new osprey chicks will be named by Northumbrian places or rivers beginning with B.
The return of the ospreys to Kielder Water && Forest Park in 2009 after an absence of 200 years in Northumberland is a fantastic conservation success story. This year has been the ninth successive year that ospreys have nested here. From one pair in 2009, the Kielder osprey population has grown to four nesting pairs.
However, this year’s success has been tinged with sadness. Out of 13 eggs laid, one failed to hatch, three of the chicks died before they had a chance to fledge and another young bird sadly died. The chicks’ death was largely due to the changeable weather and heavy rain, which young chicks struggle to deal with.
But 2017 saw a landmark achievement for the Kielder Ospreys, with the 50th chick fledging since the ospreys recolonised.
Chicks from previous years have been seen at several locations in the UK this year, including the Lake District and Derwent Reservoir, which is great news for their further recovery in the UK.
Joanna Dailey, Kielder Osprey expert volunteer, said: “Kielder Water & Forest Park is proving to be a successful home for ospreys, with excellent habitat and food supply. A special pleasure this year has been seeing our adult ospreys from Nest 3, who have been here every season since 2014, raise three chicks for the first time. It is apt that the official 50th Kielder fledge is from that nest.”
Lynn Turner, director of the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, said: “Our Living Wild at Kielder project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has allowed the purchase of new high-tech equipment to allow visitors to observe these magnificent birds unobtrusively and has given Northumberland Wildlife Trust the opportunity to employ a seasonal Kielder Osprey Assistant to run extra activities for visitors.
"Living Wild at Kielder is all about bringing the park’s amazing wildlife to life for all – and the Kielder Osprey Watch is doing exactly that with great success.”
For a chance to see the ospreys before they leave Kielder, visit Osprey Watch at Kielder Waterside (behind the Boat Inn) this weekend, when knowledgeable Northumberland Wildlife Trust volunteers will be on hand to help you see the birds using high-powered scopes and give you more information.
You can also see live footage from the nests at the osprey cabin at Kielder Waterside and at the Duke’s Pantry café at Kielder Castle. To keep up to date with the latest news, visit the blog
Kielder Osprey Watch is a partnership between Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, Forestry Commission, RSPB, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Northumbrian Water and Calvert Trust Kielder. The partners work to ensure that the ospreys are here to stay by maintaining a high-quality habitat and safeguarding and monitoring the nest sites. To find out more, go to www.visitkielder.com.