‘Heir-borne’ ospreys!

For the first time in at least 200 years chicks have been born to osprey fathers who themselves fledged in Northumberland.
Martin Davison rings osprey chick - Forestry England

Forestry England ornithologist Martin Davison rings 38 day old male osprey chick Elsin in Kielder Water and Forest Park. Elsin is one of the first to be born to a father who himself hatched in the 155,000 acre Northumbrian beauty spot since the once extinct creature returned in 2009. Image by: Forestry England.

The 'multi-generational' milestone comes 12 years after the iconic bird - extinct in England during the 20th century - first bred again in 62,000-hectare (155,000-acre) Kielder Water and Forest Park.

Experts have visited a remote site to ring one of these chicks, named Elsin, after a nearby Northumbrian fell. Forestry England climbers gently lowered the docile youngster to the ground from its nest where it was fitted with a unique identifying ring on one leg, which it will wear all its life, and a colour tag on the other to indicate it’s an English osprey. He was also weighed before being returned to the nest, none the worst for the experience.

Martin Davison, Forestry England ornithologist, said:

“Three more chicks on a separate nest also have a Kielder born dad which signifies a big step forward. Kielder Water and Forest Park is now an osprey stronghold and a crucial staging post in what we hope is the natural re-colonisation of northern England. We have an amazing habitat for ospreys and have come a long way over the past decade.”

The Kielder Osprey partnership has also revealed that a record number of ospreys are likely to fledge in the forest park, with at least 16 healthy youngsters on seven nests.

High definition cameras are monitoring most of these sites, giving conservationists and the public (via a live feed at Kielder Castle) a unique insight into osprey lives. Local volunteer Joanna Dailey, who has followed bird's fortunes at Kielder for over a decade, added:

“Elsin’s dad was born in 2014 and was not only ringed, but also fitted with a satellite tag. It took him until April the following year to reach Senegal, where he stayed for a couple of years. Driven by a homing instinct, he first came back to Kielder in 2016 after an epic journey when he was thrown thousands of miles off course by a sandstorm. Last year he tried to breed, but the eggs failed. He then got jilted by his partner, but happily found another female this year and together they have produced Elsin. Ospreys are iconic and incredible birds and being able to follow at least part of their adventures is a real privilege.”

The next stage for all the chicks is to pluck up courage to make their first flight. They will then hone their flying skills on Kielder Water before embarking on a long journey to their wintering grounds, usually in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Kielder Osprey project is a partnership between Northumbrian Water, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Forestry England, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and Calvert Kielder.