Welcome to the new site for my blog. I hope you will find the new format easy to follow but still interesting to read. I will be adding features as we go along and it is very much a “work in progress” so please forgive any slips I make. My intention is to try and give you more up to date information as well as a round up of happenings throughout the season. Whether or not I succeed is a much a matter of my computer expertise (or lack of it, more like) as it is of the birds’ activities.

Anyway, we will start with the news that Samson returned at about 1830 on 30 March this year; a full week earlier than he arrived last season. I had a climber up the tree at the time, trying to sort out the WiFi link that had been damaged in high winds the previous weekend. He came down the tree sharpish and we moved away and, by the time we were in the car park, an osprey was sitting on the nest perch. It looked like Samson but we weren’t able to confirm until the next morning and the better light that our boy was back.

He set to collecting sticks for the nest and also replenishing his own reserves, bringing back a huge pike that was as long as him! As he regained his energy, he started his beautiful sky dancing and sitting expectantly waiting for one of the females from last year or indeed any passing female osprey.

Samson with the large pike

Eventually on the evening of Fri 9 April, a previously unknown and unringed female osprey arrived at the nest and proceeded to make herself comfortable. Unfortunately, Samson had not long since finished the fish he had been keeping back to entice a female onto the nest so he had nothing to offer her. She was a striking looking girl with quite the widest eye band I’d ever seen. She stayed overnight but no fish had been forthcoming and she left at 0820. She was perhaps wise to do so because at lunchtime, a second female arrived, and this time it was 3AF (Astra), the bird who had spent most of the summer with Samson last year. I found out later that she had intruded at Kielder 45 minutes previously. Luckily for both of them, Samson had just returned with a huge trout which he was able to offer to her and she gobbled it down. She was clearly ravenous and her crop was completely concave. The question was then: would she be as uncooperative and offhand with him as she had been the previous year?

The female with the piratical eyeband

We had our answer, regularly, for the rest of the day and for the next few days with multiple matings going on in the dead tree, on the nest perch, in the nest and she was being completely cooperative with many apparent successes! She has also since spent quite long periods in the bowl of the nest rearranging what he has brought in the way of furnishings (unfortunately, plastic sheeting appears to be in fashion this year).

The arrival from migration of 3AF

So, it’s early days but it appears as if she is ready to settle down and breed. I have a few concerns about the aggressiveness of the local buzzard who forced her off the nest perch on one occasion (some of you might remember that happening last year and she disappeared for three weeks) but he won’t stand up to Samson and I hope she will learn from him a more resolute reaction to such attacks.

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