Ringing the Chicks

Osprey chick ringing 2016 Blue V8. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

On the 30th June we got a close up view of the #FoulshawOspreys chicks as they were ringed.

It is important when ringing ospreys to get the timing right. As the chicks are fitted with adult rings they need to have developed enough so that the ring will be secure and not fall off, but they also have to be young enough that they will not try to leave the nest when approached by the specialist ringer.

On the afternoon of the 30th June we set off to ring the chicks. The first challenge was to make our way across the treacherous bog that provides the ospreys with a safe nesting site. 

Once at the nest site a professional tree surgeon climbed up to the nest and carefully lowered the chicks to the ground in a secure bag. Once the chicks were on the ground it was straight to work with the ringing trying to be as quick as possible to reduce the disturbance to the nest and to prevent causing too much stress. During the ringing Blue 35 and White YW were circling overhead and calling to the chicks. 

Tree surgeon lowering Osprey chicks for ringing 2016

Tree surgeon lowering Osprey chicks for ringing 2016. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

When on the ground the chicks sat on the ground with their heads down. This behaviour has evolved as a defence mechanisms when the chicks are on the nest to prevent them from falling out.

Osprey chicks lowered to ground from nest for ringing 2016

Osprey chicks lowered to ground from nest for ringing 2016. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

The siblings were fitted with two rings, one small lightweight metal ring with a unique number on their left leg, and a larger coloured plastic ring on their right leg. 

The plastic rings are numbered Blue V8 and Blue V9 allowing us to easily identify the chicks when watching the nest cam footage. The ringing was done by an experienced bird ringer with a licence to ring Schedule 1 protected species.

Osprey chick ringing 2016 Blue V8

Osprey chick ringing 2016 Blue V8. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

As well as being ringed the chicks had a quick health check whilst on the ground. They were weighed, measure and sexed. Blue V8 is thought to be female and weighed in at 1540g and was noted as being 38 days old. Blue V9 is thought to be male and weighed 1400g and was noted as being 34 days old.

Osprey chick Blue V8 female being weighed 2016

Osprey chick Blue V8 female being weighed 2016. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

As soon as the ringing was complete the chicks were safely returned to the nest and we made our way back across the bog away from the nest to prevent upsetting the parents anymore. 

As safe nest sites are one of the main limiting factors to osprey populations in the UK this whole process was completed as quickly and efficiently as possible and we make sure that no-one gets close to the nest for the rest of the time to ospreys are here. 

Osprey chicks Blue V8 and V9 back on nest after ringing 2016

Osprey chicks Blue V8 and V9 back on nest after ringing 2016. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

The Importance of Ringing

Bird ringing has been going on for over a 100 years and plays a vital role in the understandings of bird migration patterns, population size and life span.

Each ring has a unique number which provides a reliable and harmless way of identifying individuals. Through studying the changes in survival rates it helps build an understanding of the causes of declining populations. For more information on the importance of ringing visit the BTO web site.

Grace

About Grace: A student placement gaining experience in wildlife conservation alongside Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve Officer Simon Thomas.