Wildlife enthusiasts are hopeful that osprey eggs laid in the North will hatch today.
More than 250 visitors took part in a weekend watching brief on Northumberland’s nesting ospreys and it was hoped that the first of the season’s Kielder Opsrey Watch sessions would coincide with the hatching of the first egg.
But that was still imminent yesterday at the first of two nests at Kielder.
At the weekend volunteers were on hand with four powerful telescopes at the watch site, behind the Boat Inn restaurant at Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park at Kielder.
Visitors, including a family from Luxembourg, could watch Nest 1, where male osprey White YA is in residence for his third year running. This nest has three eggs, which usually take 37 to 39 days to hatch and yesterday was day 38.
The Osprey Watch will run every weekend from 11am–4.30pm until the chicks fledge in August. During the school summer holidays there will also be a Wednesday session.
YA was the talk of osprey circles last year when, on the last leg of his migration flight from Africa to Kielder, he stopped for a snack at the fish holding pen of a reservoir in Somerset.
He had to be rescued three times by reservoir staff after becoming trapped by overhead nets put up to keep herons out of the fish pen.
His brother is the male Yellow 37 at the second Kielder nest, who has bred in Northumberland since 2011. Nest 2 also has three eggs.
This is the sixth consecutive year that ospreys have travelled from West Africa to breed in Northumberland.
The Osprey Watch is organised by Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and Northumberland Wildlife Trust, with support from the RSPB.
Kelly Hollings from Northumberland Wildlife Trust, said: “Waiting for the eggs to hatch is always an exciting and tense time. You never know exactly if and when it might happen. With a bit of luck, at the end of this season, we will end up with six healthy fledged chicks.”
Cameras installed in the nests mean visitors can also watch the action unfold on CCTV footage beamed live into Kielder Castle and Leaplish.
Meanwhile, the first known Kielder-hatched osprey to breed is a female from 2010. Blue 35 is in South Cumbria nesting on a Cumbria Wildlife Trust reserve at Foulshaw Moss, with a male from the Bassenthwaite osprey site in the Lake District.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust supplied shots of Blue 35 at the nest site and Kielder volunteer Joanna Dailey said: “It is wonderful to have these shots of the first known Kielder-born osprey to breed.”