[T]hree osprey chicks have been confirmed at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve near Witherslack by Cumbria Wildlife Trust. Staff and volunteers at the Trust had previously made positive sightings of two chicks but when they got up close to the osprey nest for the first time since they hatched in April, they were pleased to discover that there are in fact three.
They visited the nest site this weekend to accompany a licenced and experienced bird ringer, brought in to tag the chicks with ID rings. As the osprey is a Schedule 1 protected species, only those with a licence from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) are permitted to approach and handle the birds. The parent birds kept a watch on the wing as the three chicks were carefully lowered from their tree-top nest. 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 three osprey chicks, now known as Blue U0, Blue U9 and Blue N0, are the young of a fourth clutch of eggs produced by the Foulshaw osprey pair – White YW (the male) and Blue 35 (the female) – after they successfully fledged two out of three chicks last year. The Trust is hopeful that all three will fledge this time. At around eight weeks old, the wing length of U9 and N0 is already over 32cm. U0 is smaller but heavier.
Paul Waterhouse, Reserve Officer for Cumbria Wildlife Trust says: “Blue U0, pictured on the left, is definitely smaller than the other two and may have been the last egg to hatch. However it is disproportionately heavier, so we think it may be female, while Blue U9 and N0 appear to be males; U9 on the right definitely seems to be the dominant chick in the nest!”
Paul explains why it’s important to ring the chicks: “These tags enable us to identify the birds individually, keep tracks of their movements and understand their 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. Thanks to the rings, we now know that one of our first chicks from 2014 has returned to Cumbria and one of our chicks from 2015 has been spotted at Kielder in Northumberland.”
By late July the trio should be flying and will learn to fish before they migrate to Africa. Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve lies just off the A590 near Witherslack. There is short walk from the car park along a boardwalk which runs over the restored peat bog 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.
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