I can’t believe that the osprey season is virtually over and I’m writing my last blog of 2019. Nevertheless, many birds are already on the move and we haven’t had a confirmed sighting of an osprey (probably Samson) at Border Ospreys since Wed 22 August, so our pair may well have migrated and be well on their way to wherever they winter. I’ll make sure that my friends who visit Senegal and Gambia over the winter keep a good look out for KX7 and report back any sightings; it would be great to know where she spends her winters. There is no way of knowing where Samson goes as he is unringed so, with the best will in the world, he couldn’t be identified. We wish both of them safe travels and “haste ye back” next Spring.
It’s been a very mixed bag of a season here. Samson made us nervous by being several days later than normal and we then had the tragedy of Freya’s non appearance and the sad conclusion that she had not survived one of the two migration journeys or her winter. We had the spectacular sight of Samson skydancing to attract a new mate and, after two false starts with other females, finally attracting the attentions of the stunning KX7. Too young to breed, she nevertheless treated us to great views while she was learning to be a territorial female and growing more and more confident as the season went on. Who can forget the sights we had of the fish-carrying Samson being chased onto the nest by a screaming KX7, seeing her snatch it off him and then retreat to the dead tree to eat, while he in the meantime sat close by with (I swear) a relieved look on his face?
The second year being without chicks has been extremely frustrating, especially as we had had such high hopes of Freya’s return and opportunity to breed and it was disappointing for the many customers who visited the restaurant hoping to see a family on the nest on the screen. I am however very optimistic for next year. Statistically, we were very unlucky to lose Freya and so to have a similar tragedy next year would be even less likely. However, predictions based purely on statistics can be wrong so I am therefore throwing the statistics out of the window and relying on good old fashioned crossed fingers and toes that both our birds return and breed successfully!
We also had the very exciting confirmed return of the first of our ringed chicks in the shape of PY0, our middle of the three chicks hatched in the nest in 2017, and nicknamed Walter. Others may well have also successfully returned but have not been reported as being seen.
So, despite the disappointment of no chicks, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom and there is a significant prospect of osprey breeding being attempted next year. In the meantime, we will be keeping our eyes open for transiting intruder ospreys as well as all the other wildlife that is to be seen along the river here. We will be doing our normal maintenance on the nest and the camera equipment over the winter and will be raring to go again by the Spring. The camera will hopefully be running from about mid March and I’ll let you know when there’s news to tell. In the meantime, my thanks to John, the owner of Born in the Borders, and all the staff there for their support; to Jain Jameson of Techstar, my computer and camera technology expert; to Steven Craig of Soutra Design for producing my blog; to Kirsty Smith of Tree Bird Arboriculture for braving the giddy heights of the tree to carry out work on the camera and the nest this year; and to Tony Lightley, of Forestry & Land Scotland, and Joanna Dailey, my opposite number at Kielder, for their knowledge, encouragement and commitment to the ospreys in the area on both sides of the Border. Finally, my thanks to you and all the lovely people I’ve met, in the restaurant, down by the river this year or at the various talks I’ve given. Your support and enthusiasm are always appreciated and I hope you’ve enjoyed my verbal and/or written bletherings. See you all in 2020.
26 August 2019