My name is Joanna Dailey and I’ve been a volunteer on the Kielder Osprey Project since 2009, when ospreys bred in Northumberland for the first time in over 200 years.
After retiring from my role as a Civil Servant working in London, I moved back to the land of my birth and became involved in various outdoor activities as a volunteer. These magnificent, fish-eating raptors at Kielder Water & Forest Park are now my main passion.
I monitor the nest cameras which are installed on two osprey nests and write most of the posts on a blog (kielderospreys.wordpress.com) about the ospreys.
I also analyse the data from two satellite tracked youngsters, where we can see where they are at any time.
The ospreys at Kielder are a big ‘success story’. In 2011 we had two nests in the Park and by 2014 a third nest had been established, making Kielder one of the most successful areas in England and Wales for natural recolonisation.
I was thrilled when this year too got off to a fantastic start. Ospreys migrate in late August or September to hotter climates – mostly in West Africa, although some now go no further than Iberia.
It is always a relief when they return safely to the UK in late March or April. Our three pairs of ospreys were back by 9 April, although there was a slightly rocky start…
The first two to return to Kielder were a male from Nest 1 and a female from Nest 2. Ospreys are usually faithful to their nest and breeding partner, but the urge to pass on their genes can result in them mating with another osprey when they are first to return. The Nest 1 male was scouting around the area and came across the Nest 2 female waiting for her mate to return. The inevitable happened!
However their ‘other halves’ returned on the same day and normality was restored. The third pair were also re-united around the same time.
Egg production began on 17 April at Nest 1. Ospreys usually lay three eggs roughly three days apart, and by 25 April Nests 1 and 2 had six eggs between them.
We prepared for the long incubation (the average hatch is 37 days after laying) but on 29 April, while watching the nest cam, I was surprised to see a fourth egg on Nest 2!
This is very rare and it is a big ask for the male to catch enough fish for all the chicks.
Last year, the chicks on both nests last year were very heavy thanks to their fathers’ fishing skills, and if the weather is kind this year, we should see four young fledge from one nest. This will be the the first time this will have ever occurred in England and Wales as far as is known!
Incubation is also underway on Nest 3, where three eggs were glimpsed by 30 April.
A final excitement to date was the first return of a Kielder born osprey to the natal area. Blue 2H, a male who hatched on Nest 2 in 2012 landed on Nests 1 and 2! Less than one in three of the average clutch survives to return to the UK, so this is very special.
The live nest cams can be seen at Kielder Castle Café, where I like to pass the time monitoring the nests and writing the blog (kielderospreys.wordpress.com).
Osprey Watch, a chance to look through telescopes manned by Northumberland Wildlife Trust volunteers, also runs from Leaplish Waterside Park from June.
Volunteer, Kielder Osprey Project
So sad that all this news and excitement can’t be shared better in the park. We travelled up from Cumbria today and went to all three of the visitors centers – they couldn’t tell us where to go to look at the ospreys through telescopes, couldn’t tell us where the live feed cameras are so we could at least watch on the screens if there were any birds near the nests. We were in luck and one was fly high above the hills on the opposite side of the lake while we sat and ate our picnic …… but no helpful signs anywhere! Bassinthwaite have signs from the main road dirrecting you to Dodds Wood, a board at the visitors centre marking the SIGNPOSTED path up to the viewing platform and lots of helpful volunteers available every day during the season to help!
Also the ferry wasn’t running, the salmon centre was closed, the art work & instillations aren’t clearly signposted and no one seems to know where the beautiful new chair with the otter carvings is!!!