Checking in on the chicks

James Barclay. Osprey chicks 2017 at Foulshaw.

In the weeks since my last post, there has been a burst of activity regarding our resident osprey chicks, from ringing them to fledging in a matter of weeks. Some of these events took place during the same time as my last blog but were unable to be included because it was simply getting too long.

The Ringing

On Sunday the 2nd of July, we set out to ring the osprey chicks. Crossing the bog with a 30ft ladder was like something right out of chuckle-vision. Once we had navigated the bunds crisscrossing the bog, getting up the tree was a problem unto itself.

When the platform was placed in the tree 4 years ago, the tree was healthy and the bog was much drier. Since then, the bog has grown, raising the water table, and lowering the pH of the water – all of which have contributed to the death of the tree. 

When the tree surgeon reached the top of the tree, he surprised us with the news that rather than 2 chicks, as was thought, we actually had 3 healthy chicks.

Osprey chicks 2017 at Foulshaw close up

Darren Williams. U0,U9 and N0

The osprey chicks

Blue U0 Osprey being ringed 2017

James Barclay 2017. Blue U0 Osprey being ringed 2017

The first chick out of the nest was Blue U0 (zero). This chick has caused some confusion amongst the wildlife trust.

This chick was the runt of the group, being significantly smaller and scruffier than its two siblings, and you may remember a competition on Facebook to guess the weight of this chick – for its size it is disproportionally heavy (1430g).

As a result, there is some confusion over the sex of the bird, as the weight is firmly in the male weight-range, however as the runt, it would suggest, to me at least, that this is a female.

Blue U9 Osprey being ringed 2017

James Barclay 2017. Osprey Blue U9 is ringed

The second chick out of the nest was Blue U9. As you can see from my picture (see right), he was the largest, heaviest (1490g), and feistiest of the chicks.

We can assume that Blue U9 was the most dominant of the chicks due to his size and obvious ferocity, and can be seen standing upright in the nest in the first picture.

Blue N0(zero) Osprey being ringed 2017

James Barclay 2017.  Blue N0(zero)  Osprey being ringed

The last out of the nest was Blue N0 (zero). This chick was the only slightly smaller than U9, but still much lighter than U0 at 1290g. Blue N0 was definitely the most photogenic of all 3 chicks, unlike the scruffy Blue N0 and grumpy Blue U9.

They grow up so fast…

Since starting my placement, the chicks have grown from the barely visible sock puppets you can see above, into the large and regal birds you can see below.

Osprey chicks in nest 2017

James Barclay.  Osprey chicks in nest 2017

In the past 2 weeks, all three osprey chicks have fledged, and I was lucky enough to catch one of the chicks’ first flight!  It wasn’t a particularly long flight, and it was a very ungraceful landing (given he nearly missed the nest entirely), but this flight was nearly a full week before another chick began flying, and another week before the last chick became airborne.
Now all the chicks have fledged, they have been exploring the nature reserve.

First flight 2017 Blue U9 flaps wings.  Cumbria Wildlife Trust

We have also had footage of  Blue 35 and White YW on the nest, seemingly guarding it against some offscreen invader, we originally thought that White YW was one of the chicks due to the low quality of the video and its seeming crash landing on top of Blue 35, but once the video was enhanced it quite literally became clear this was YW

Osprey web cam at Foulshaw Moss 2017. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

See you in a fortnight



About the author

James is a student placement gaining experience in wildlife conservation alongside Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve Officer, Paul Waterhouse.