The Ospreys are returning!

It is Day 4 of World Osprey Week and there are a lot of smiles as these fish hawks return from their winter migrations.

The seasonal movement of the Western Ospreys in the United Kingdom and Western Europe happens twice a year. This means that the birds travel a total distance of 8000 km or 4970 miles annually. They migrate north in the spring where the days are long. They are returning to their nests to breed. The summer in Europe is a perfect time to raise their chicks because food is plentiful throughout the food chain. They will return to Africa from August-October, travelling alone. The mothers leave while the dads remain at the nest to feed the fledglings. Once the fledglings leave then the male will depart. They will live in the mangrove forests and estuaries of The Gambia and Senegal. The adults return to the United Kingdom between February, March, and early April while the juveniles will remain in Africa.

This seasonal migration is treacherous. It is especially difficult for the young birds. Only 30% survive their first year. Just to get to Africa they have to go through the Bay of Biscay. In the map below the Bay of Biscay is directly to the west of France. It is a huge body of water with strong winds. The Osprey have to hug the coast or they can be blown out to the Atlantic Ocean and perish.

If they make the Bay of Biscay successfully, they have three other challenges. The first is the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea. Then the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the Sahara Desert. There is absolutely no water in the Sahara and, consequently, no fish. The trees are small and there are two major predators in the desert, the eagle owls and the jackals.

They will live in the mangroves and the estuaries of Senegal, The Gambia, with some staying in Guinea.

The new arrivals in the United Kingdom are exciting.

Laddie LM12 has been fixing up the nest at the Loch of the Lowes since 21 March hoping that NC0 will return and want to be his mate. And his wish came true. NC0 arrived back at the Scottish nest today, 25 March. But instead of bringing her a nice fish, Laddie decided that more nesting material would be appropriate. The image below shows Laddie (the one mantling) arriving once he had spotted NC0 on the nest. Shortly after they bonded their relationship – to the happy delight of thousands watching on camera!

NC0 has just arrived at the Loch of the Lowes nest in Scotland. Laddie flew to greet her with new nesting material. 25 March 2021.

Mrs G arrived at the Bywyd Glaslyn Nest in Wales at 8:42, 25 March. Her mate, Aran, should not be far behind.

Mrs G is approximately twenty to twenty-one years old. She has been nesting at Bywyd Glaslyn since 2004. She laid 32 eggs with her first mate 11 (98) and 17 eggs with Aran. Of those, 46 hatched and 41 fledged. She has at least 100 grandchildren and 4 great grand chicks. As the oldest Osprey in Wales, she is the matriarch of the Welsh Ospreys!

The beautiful dark plumage of Mrs G. 25 March 2021. Just after a fish dinner!
Mrs G. The oldest osprey in Wales. 25 March 2021

Dylan arrived at Lyn Clywedog in the Hafren Forest in Wales at 19:30 on 24 March. He is waiting for his mate Seren, Blue 5F to arrive.

Dylan just arriving on the Clywedog Nest. 24 March 2021

And others are starting their journeys. Rutland 4K (13) was fitted with a satellite tracker when he was five years old during the summer of 2018. Satellite imagery indicates he left his winter home in Guinea on 21 March and is traveling at a rate of 72 kph or 45 mph.

More and more arrivals will be coming in the next few days. What a fantastic way to wind up World Osprey Week.

And checking on on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, I have a smile on my face. We are beginning the third day of the ‘turn around’. Gosh, I hope that I do not jinx it. It started with Diane bringing in an extra large catfish first thing on the 23rd of March. She fed the osplets for hours including Tiny Tot who had his first bursting crop for more than a week. The 24th was a good day. Crops on all during the day and this morning Jack brought in a fish with a head at 7:20:16. Tiny Tot had a nice crop! I wonder if Diane has been doing a lot of loud calling. Last night Jack landed on the nest without a fish. Diane and the three started yelling loudly – Jack took off quickly. You could almost hear Diane tell him not to come back without a fish. So the fish arrives this morning with its head – almost a first!

In the image below, Tiny Tot still has a full crop at noon on 25 March 2021.

Tiny Tot is still much smaller than his siblings but he is surviving and doing well the last few days. 25 March 2021. @Achieva Credit Union Osprey Cam

Oh, thank you for joining me on a beautiful spring day. In Manitoba, the sun is shining and the Grackle family of 17 have returned from their winter vacation. It’s a good day.

Thank you to the Loch Arkaig FB page, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the United Kingdon Ospreys, Bywyd Glaslyn Streaming Cam, and the Achieva Credit Union for their images or streaming camera where the images were taken. Thank you to Rutland for the satellite tracking information for 4K (13).

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