Heatwave strikes Cumbrian ospreys

25 degrees and above bake Foulshaw dry, yet our ospreys continue to thrive in the heat. Under cover from Blue 35 providing a break from the sun!
Blue 35 sleeping on one leg

Welcome back to the excitement that is happening at Foulshaw Moss, this week our female sleeps on one leg!

Okay, not the most exhilarating 2 weeks apart from the chicks’ unstoppable rate of growth. But, may I divert our attention to the actions of our male, slaving away scooping up half of the fish out of Morecambe bay at a rate nearly as impressive as the chicks’ growth.

osprey zygodactyl feet

Ringing 2017 osprey chicks © James Barclay

He does have his evolutionary advantages that any angler would envy. Starting off with his zygodactyl feet (Shown on the right) meaning that his outer toe can reverse to the rear of his foot, so he has two front toes and two rear, allowing him to claw up the slippery suspects!

Not stopping there his talons aren’t like other raptors with a groove, but are completely round to pierce into the flesh of an unsuspecting flounder.

Then their skin on their feet have spicules that work like barbed hooks which prevents the slippery suspect from wriggling away!

 image of osprey fishing RSPB LeightonMoss -copyright Keith Grafton

Osprey fishing at RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve © Keith Grafton

Overactive preen glands produce oil to stop their feathers from getting waterlogged as they dive into the depths, their nostrils will seal shut if they are fully submerged.

All-in-all, Mr flounder ends up been carried back to the nest more times than not, with an average hunt success rate of approximately 50%!

With our chicks getting even larger and requiring more food is ramping up the amount of hunting White YW is having to perform. So, if you’re around Morecambe bay then keep your eyes peeled for ospreys offshore, you could see one of our ospreys!

Our chick fledging date is on the horizon, when do you think they will fledge? Comment or share your thoughts using #FoulshawOspreys on Twitter or Facebook.


About the author: Andrew is on a student placement with us in 2018-19 gaining experience in wildlife conservation alongside Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve Officer, Paul Waterhouse.

image of a wildlife viewing platform with people at foulshaw moss nature reserve

One of the osprey viewing platforms at Foulshaw Moss nature reserve © Julia Garner

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