The first fledglings
On 19 July, in the main nest, osprey chicks Megget and Talla were 54 days old and one of them fledged. The other osprey youngster was sat low down in the nest and we could not see the ring number, so we couldn’t say whether it was Megget or Talla that made the first brave flight. She probably didn’t venture far, most likely a wing lifted jump into a close-by pine. Mrs O was relaxed, sitting above the nest, on a branch, showing no concern for her adventurous offspring.
A subtle shift in behaviour has been observed with PW3, actually sitting on the nest with his family and eating fish. So far this season we have only previously seen a fleeting glimpse of him as he delivers food and then leaves soon afterwards. He has very ‘talons off’ parenting skills as a new dad.
The heatwave has come at a good time in the season for these young ospreys, as thankfully they are now as big as adult birds and capable of regulating their own temperature. The birds can be seen panting in the heat, much as a dog does in order to cool down, and the supply of fish keeps them hydrated without the need to drink water. Another benefit will be the dropping water levels and the clear waters, allowing the ospreys to easily spot fish when hunting. Larger fish, may plunge into deeper water but the smaller fish are still easy to pick off.
This is in contrast to bad weather hunting, with choppy waters and rivers in spate. Churned up and running brown water makes spotting fish very difficult.
The Environment Team visited a nest on the northern edge of Peebles to ring the chicks there, only to discover that the young osprey raised at the site had fledged earlier in the day. This was far earlier than previous years for this nest site and they only produced one chick this year. The ospreys at this nest have struggled due to the pressure from disturbance from recreational visits. A great discovery was made regarding this site though. The adult male bird had been photographed in the spring when he had just returned from migration by Dennis Morrisson, who had reported the sighting to the osprey sightings reporting web form.
Because he submitted the report with the photo, we were able to trace the history of this male osprey, ringed as Blue ZU. We are really pleased to find out that he came from Peebles, from a nest we referred to as the ‘back up’ nest which had a camera on it at the time. (This nest has since been abandoned). ZU was one of a brood of three ospreys and was ringed on 1 July 2011. He had a brother and a sister too that also fledged successfully from the nest site.
That brings us up to two male ospreys (PW3 and ZU) from Peebles that have now returned to breed here.
The Environment Team visited another nest to ring the chicks and discovered that this site regularly had three adult birds; most probably the parent birds were tolerating the presence of a young, non-breeding two-year-old female. This nest was very successful with three young ospreys which were fitted with darvic rings. The final nest site visited was in the south of the Tweed Valley Osprey Project area and these were the youngest of all the osprey chicks raised within the region and not likely to fledge until the end of July, but they were doing very well.
In total Tweed Valley Osprey Project area has fourteen occupied sites, three of these sites are new this year. From the total number of chicks ringed at the sites, it is hoped there will be a minimum of 19 osprey youngsters fledging from the region for 2021.
Darvic rings have been fitted on 18 of the 19 young ospreys because one had already fledged. There is also one more site still to be checked to see if there are any young there. The darvic numbers used for Tweed Valley birds this year are 670 to 687 .
The main nest birds are Megget (670) and Talla (671) and the ‘Back up no.3’ nest are 672 and 673.