Record number of Northumberland osprey chicks ringed

Eight Kielder ospreys chicks tagged for the future while three are fitted with tiny backpacks to track their migration

A Kielder female osprey chikc being ringed with a backpack transmitter
A Kielder female osprey chikc being ringed with a backpack transmitter

The epic migration flight of three young ospreys from Northumberland to Africa will be plotted through tiny backpacks carried by the birds.

A record eight ospreys which have hatched at Kielder Forest and Water Park have now been ringed to help in the monitoring of the birds’ progress.

And for the first time at the Kielder Osprey Project, three of the chicks have also been fitted with trackers.

These miniature backpacks send information via the mobile phone network and satellite, which provides more effective monitoring of the birds than by ringing alone. 

The tracking process provides ecologists and ornithologists with details on subjects such as migration and feeding behaviour.

Since 2011, visitors to the Park have delighted in following the story of the two breeding osprey pairs, while the third pair of parents, which had been seen in previous years, only laid eggs this year.

The Kielder Osprey Project team were thrilled with the news that the third pair have successfully raised two chicks and to have three breeding pairs so close to each other is a new record in England.

Tom Dearnley, ecologist at the Forestry Commission, said: “Ospreys are a fascinating species and one which continue to recover in southern Scotland and northern England.

“Ringing the chicks allows us to examine the health of the six week old birds and make various checks and measurements.

“The chicks are not small - with a wingspan of about one metre - and the ringing, which was carefully managed under licence, was completed successfully for all eight chicks.

“As Kielder Water and Forest Park continues to age, it is becoming more diverse and ospreys are a great illustration of this natural succession, delighting visitors to the area.”

Another osprey chick after being ringed
Another osprey chick after being ringed

Kelly Hollings, estates officer for Northumbrian Wildlife Trust, who works with the Osprey Watch team, said: “Ringing is a momentous moment in the lives of these fabulous young birds.

“We have had hundreds of visitors coming to the Osprey Watch at Leaplish Waterside Park to see and hear about the ospreys from the expert volunteers.

“The progress of the chicks has also been seen by many others via the live camera feed into Kielder Castle Café, where visitors have enjoyed the local food while watching the screen.

“The ospreys have created such a popular following that they even have their own blog, updated daily by the dedicated osprey volunteers giving expert updates on the progress of the birds.”

The blog can be found at kielderospreys.wordpress.com

Kielder Osprey Watch 2014 continues to run every weekend from 11am - 4.30pm until Sunday, August 11, behind the Boat Inn restaurant at Leaplish Waterside Park.

It will also be open on Wednesdays from July 23 until August 6. This season, the Osprey Watch has a powerful new telescope funded by the Northumberland and North Tyneside Bird Club.

The Osprey Watch is organised by Kielder Water and Forest Park Development Trust and Northumberland Wildlife Trust, with support from the RSPB.

Meanwhile, the first Northumberland-born osprey known to have bred is raising three chicks, it has been established.

Staff at Cumbria Wildlife Trust have confirmed three chicks at their Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve – the first at the site.

The female fledged from Kielder in 2010 while the male hatched at Bassenthwaite in the Lake District in 2008.

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