The ospreys are back!

Return of #FoulshawOspreys for the 3rd year

I’m delighted to report that our osprey pair have returned to their nest at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve for a third season. Their chicks will probably still be too young to risk the long migration back from the wintering grounds (most likely to be along the coast of West Africa, though some now winter in the south of Europe) yet. It is possible that chicks born here in 2014 may try to return to Foulshaw this season, so the nest cameras could help us identify their leg rings if they do. Keep your eyes peeled!

Watch our first video of the year, with some HD highlights from the last few weeks. Thank you to all those who have let us know what they have seen on the cameras. This makes it so much easier to compile videos like this.

Foulshaw Osprey returning footage 2016 April. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

One of the 2 cameras has been repositioned to make it further back and slightly higher, which should give some great views of the action. Unfortunately the limitations of the availability of branches means it now sits at a slightly jaunty angle.

The first bird spotted on the camera was a happy buzzard on 23rd March, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy hopping around the nest. The local ravens had already been seen hanging around in it, but luckily none of these visitors tried to take it over before the ospreys got back.

A week later an unringed female osprey paid a brief visit on 29th March whilst migrating through. Then on the 30th another brief visit from a rather nervous-looking male, ‘White YC’, whose leg ring confirms he is one of the pair that nested at Roudsea Wood National Nature Reserve, also in South Cumbria, in 2014 and 2015. It’s really great that these cameras are helping gather data on movements of other birds as well as our own pair.

Unringed female osprey visits nest March 2016

Unringed female osprey visits nest March 2016. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Unsurprisingly, the report of an osprey returning on 1st April appears to have been an April Fool. Migrant birds mostly seem to be a bit earlier than usual this year, and ospreys have been no exception. Ospreys had already returned to Bassenthwaite Lake and other nests in Cumbria, so we were all watching expectantly. Then, on 2nd April there were multiple sightings of ‘Blue 35’, the resident female, on the webcams. 

The very next day our male, ‘White YW’ arrived back. The female was clearly watching the sky as he soared overhead, then suddenly he swooped down and mating took place immediately.

The next week they greedily fed on fish to build up their energy after a long migration.

'White YC' returned from Roudsea to pester 'Blue 35' on the nest, leading to lots of defensive 'mantling' behaviour. Online webcam viewers then reported sightings of birds chasing each other in the background. Closer inspection of foootage reveals that 'YC' must have disturbed the ravens that nest in a nearby tree, as they were chasing him across the moss past the nest. He then disturbed a pair of ducks/geese that circled around the osprey nest.

Visitor White YC pesters Blue 35 on nest April 2016

Visitor White YC pesters Blue 35 on nest April 2016. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

There was also lots of time for mating during this week. Online viewers were reporting copulation up to 6 times a day, but it seemed somehow indecent to include a compilation of those here. We don’t want to attract the wrong sort of viewers!

As usual, you can follow the action live via our website and visit the nature reserve free of charge to see them in person. We will try to have staff and volunteers on site at Foulshaw Moss to help you see the ospreys every day from about 11am. 

We will try to post fortnightly blogs like this one, with exclusive photos and videos to keep you up to date with news. Please do feel free to join in the conversation using the comments section at the bottom. 

If you enjoy watching the webcam please consider making a small donation to help us pay for the costs of providing it. Thanks