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Foulshaw Moss osprey chicks colour ringed

Osprey chicks ringed with ID tags, Foulshaw Moss 2016
Osprey chicks ringed with ID tags, Foulshaw Moss 2016

[T]wo osprey chicks at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve, whose progress is being followed by thousands of viewers via an online webcam, were successfully tagged with unique ID rings last week. This was the first time that staff from Cumbria Wildlife Trust have seen the chicks at close hand since they hatched at the nature reserve last month.

The parent birds kept a watch on the wing as the two chicks were carefully lowered from their tree top nest and handled by an experienced bird ringer with a licence for this Schedule 1 protected species. The process took no longer than 10 minutes and neither parent birds nor chicks seemed unduly alarmed by the activity. As well as being ringed with blue ID bands, they were weighed, measured and checked over.

The two osprey chicks, now known as Blue V9 (probably male) and Blue V8 (most likely a female) are the young of a third clutch of eggs produced by the Foulshaw Osprey pair – White YW (the male) and Blue 35 (the female) – after they successfully fledged three chicks last year.

IMG_5801 - V8Simon Thomas, Reserve Officer for Cumbria Wildlife Trust explains why ringing is so important: “These tags are invaluable, as they enable everybody to identify the birds individually, keep tracks of their movements and understand the birds’ life history.

“They have been fitted with metal BTO rings, as part of the national bird ringing scheme and also a plastic colour ring, which allows individual birds to be identified in the field using a telescope or telephoto camera. It was wonderful to be able to get up close to the chicks and see how they are thriving. We hope that visitors will continue to enjoy the chicks’ progress via our webcam and to come and see them for themselves at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve.”

The ospreys have been really popular with local people and tourists alike, with hundreds of people visiting the nature reserve which lies just off the A590 near Witherslack. A short walk from the car park along a boardwalk which runs over the restored peat bog takes visitors to a viewing platform where a beautiful panorama of the nature reserve can be enjoyed. On most days a telescope is available for visitors to see the osprey nest first hand.

Live footage from Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s web camera has been really popular again this year with people all over the world watching each significant moment, from the return of the osprey pair from their wintering grounds in Africa or southern Europe, to the eggs being laid and their defending of their nest from intruding birds.

The ospreys begin their migration to warmer climes in the autumn and remarkably it is likely the female will leave first, just after her young have fledged. The male will remain in the area and continue to fish and feed the young until they are able to fend for themselves and then he will start his journey alone. Young ospreys typically leave Britain a little while after their parents and migrate separately, an amazing feat of nature that sees them fly thousands of miles to their wintering grounds for the first time without guidance.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve is open to visitors and free to enter, and can be found off the A590 near Witherslack. Live footage from the nest can be viewed at www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/osprey-cam

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