I had heard that ospreys were nesting in Kielder forest in 2009 but it took me until 2012 to find out more about it and I first became an Osprey Watch volunteer in 2013.
So what is Osprey Watch all about? Well it isn’t sitting camouflaged in the middle of the forest protecting the nests, nor is it sitting in front of a TV screen recording everything that happens on each nest. It’s talking to people about ospreys and, in particular, telling people about the ospreys that have been nesting in Kielder forest since 2009. It’s helping them use the telescopes to see one of the nests and answering all manner of questions, mainly osprey related but by no means all.
Osprey Watch is the part of the Kielder Osprey Project and relies on volunteers to make it all possible.
The project is a partnership between Northumberland Wildlife Trust (NWT), Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and the Forestry England. Northumberland Wildlife Trust manages the volunteers that run the public viewing point for Osprey Watch.
Forestry England provide the technological infrastructure that allows us to see the nests and monitor the ospreys’ progress.
Since I first started as a volunteer we have had more and more nesting pairs with 6 nests in 2019. We have also moved from a corner in the Boat Inn to a lovely wooden cabin next to the play area at the back of the inn. The technology has also improved over time with live feeds in both the cabin and also at Kielder Café – although we still have to call on the Forestry England boffins every so often when the systems fail.
So why do I do it? To spread the story of these amazing birds that went extinct in England in 1840. To tell people how Forestry England encouraged them to nest in Kielder and what we are learning about their migration routes and destinations. It is also a great opportunity to work along side other volunteers from many different backgrounds and to share my knowledge of the local area with our many visitors. We see visitors from all over the world and from just around the corner, some are knowledgeable birdwatchers, including some who have made a special trip to see our osprey. Others come across us by chance and are curious about what we are watching through the telescopes. The other part of osprey watch I really enjoy is heading out onto the reservoir with the Calvert Kielder on their Wildlife Cruises and seeing how many osprey we can spot and hoping every time that we might see them diving for fish!
If you want to know more about your local osprey head to the website https://kielderospreys.wordpress.com. We are always looking for more volunteers so if you are interested I am happy to try to answer any questions you may have so please do get in touch. There will be a training session in April and you will be working with an experienced volunteer. The watch usually starts in May and it runs until mid August. You can volunteer for as few as 3 days or for many more, selecting dates that suit you on the NWT “My Volunteer” site – the watch operates on Saturdays and Sundays and also Wednesdays during the school holidays.
To sign up to volunteer or to find out more information please visit the Northumberland Wildlife Trust website at https://www.nwt.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer or alternately contact Lou Chapman, Volunteer Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 284 6884.