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A surprise visit

Chaffinches surround an osprey nest

Tiny chaffinches on the tree above the right hand branch

The young ospreys on the main nest were treated to a surprise visit from a delightful family of chaffinches this week. At least seven young birds flocked into the branches to the side of the nest and were busy preening, unphased by the presence of three young but large predators sitting in the nest next to them. The ospreys seemed happy enough preening their own plumage too.

They soon moved on as a little roving forest party, chattering between themselves as they flit across the branches and disappeared from view.

Lazy day

Osprey stretches its wing

Just a little stretch

Two ospreys lying in a nest

Having a lazy me day

We have witnessed a few lazy days of the now seven-week-old ospreys lounging in the nest in the sunshine. Occasionally they've stretched out to reveal the full length of those admirable and impressive wings which will soon be ready for flight. The parent birds are not always present in the nest with them anymore but, judging by the direct stares to camera, Mrs O likes to sit on top of the camera pole – her young looking up towards her.

Two ospreys

Looking up at the camera

Osprey stares at camera

Hi Mum

Exercising and stretches

Osprey flapping its wings
 
Osprey flapping its wings
 
Osprey standing in nest
 
Osprey flapping its wings

When the young birds do stand, it’s usually to exercise their wings. There’s lots of flapping, stretching and also a lot of feather preening. The nest is now covered with white, downy, fluffy feathers; particularly noticeable when Mrs O speedily flew in, wafting a storm of white over the nest. She was carrying a large stick as she clumsily landed, leaving it draped across the shoulders of her son 302. 302 had to wriggle from underneath and move across to the other side of the nest.

The young birds perform a stretch whenever they’ve finished resting – tilting their heads down and forward, sticking their rear into the air and opening their wings to their full extent, before bobbing back down into a standing position.

Pecking order

Ospreys standing around a fish

Gather round trout delivery

Ospreys feeding on a fish

Two largest feed first with mum and the third stands alone

There is a clear pecking order in the feeding regime. The two females, 303 and 301 (the largest and most developed of the family) being fed first. The male chick, 302, doesn’t even bother pushing into the line-up anymore, now accepting he is always last to be fed. He always gets fed eventually, but usually after the other two are finished. Only occasionally does he manage to squeeze in when one of the other chicks is done. His development is slower than that of the other two, but hopefully this will not hamper his chances of success once they are fledged.

Fish skin meal

Family of ospreys

A happy meal

When the hungry chicks were getting fidgety on the nest due to a lack of fresh fish, Mrs O plucked a dishevelled looking fish skin – the remains of a previous meal – and began to show the largest chick how to handle prey by tearing it. The chick took it and tugged at it with her bill for a brief few seconds before losing interest and giving up. None of the chicks seemed to appreciate the unappetising meal.

Naming the chicks

We are thinking of naming this year’s main nest young, particularly as it’s nicer to refer to them by a name rather than a number as we follow their eventual migration. Some names have already been suggested (such as Faith, Hope and Charity). Tony is a popular suggestion for the male chick, as one hatched on project leader Tony Lightley’s birthday. But if anyone has any more good suggestions please let us know and we will pick the favourites!

Returning Borders bird

It was lovely to receive news that one of the Borders Ospreys, hatched from the Born in the Borders nest site in 2017, has made it back to the UK safely. It briefly touched down at one of the Kielder Project nests on Friday 12 July. Osprey PYO made the surprise visit to resident bird, W6, making a return visit to the nest later when it was empty. This was one of the young from parents Samson and Delilah.

Videos

Watch the latest highlights from the nest below:

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