TEN-YEAR-OLD Olivia Graham took the plunge and entered a competition to name Northumberland’s three osprey chicks.
The birds are being raised at Kielder Water & Forest Park by an osprey couple who last year successfully fledged three youngsters. They became the first for osprey breeding in the North East for at least 200 years.
Now Forestry Commission rangers have ringed this year’s brood – joined by Olivia, from Chatton, near Wooler in Northumberland.
The ringing trip was the prize for Olivia winning the naming competition.
A pupil at Glendale Middle School, Wooler, she came up with the names of Aqua, Spray and Splash. Olivia was inspired by internet video footage of the Kielder ospreys and opted for a watery theme for the fish-hunting eagles.
Martin Davison, Forestry Commission ornithologist, who carried out the ringing procedure, said: “Ringing the birds is vital. It has to be done at this stage because the chicks will soon fly the nest.
“Rings carry vital information like where and when the birds were born, and they can be read over a distance using a telescope. It’s really our best chance of finding out how they fare in the big wide world.”
The ospreys were lowered from their high nesting platform by a tree-climbing Forestry Commission ranger and were weighed and had their wings measured.
Despite the creatures’ large size they were docile and took their first experience of life at ground level in their stride. Once back in the nest their mother soon returned to the chicks, which are reported to be in excellent health.
The chicks’ progress has been monitored on live CCTV being beamed to Kielder Castle Visitor Centre from a nest camera. The youngsters have been fed with fish plucked from Northumbrian Water’s Kielder reservoir by their hard- working father.
In a couple of months they will begin their 5,000 mile migration to Africa.
Elisabeth Rowark, director of the Kielder Partnership, said: “The names fit perfectly and capture what these birds are all about. We are incredibly excited about how well the ospreys have done since they came to Kielder Water & Forest Park.”
The three chicks will spend the next few years in sub-Saharan Africa. Assuming they survive their first migration south, they will return north to breed when they are about four years old.
Kielder is only the second location in England where ospreys have naturally recolonised after being persecuted to extinction in the 19th Century.
A pair of ospreys has nested at Bassenthwaite in the Lake District since 2001. Two osprey chicks in the Lake District have been fitted with satellite transmitters in an attempt to track their movements after they leave Bassenthwaite.