Fantastic Success for two pairs of Kielder Ospreys

[singlepic id=227 w=400 h=265 float=left]A second pair of ospreys has produced at least one chick in 62,000 hectare (155,000 acre) Kielder Water & Forest Park – and the news is being hailed as a massive conservation breakthrough. The Northumbrian wilderness becomes the only location in England for over 170 years where more than a single pair of naturally re-colonising ospreys have bred successfully at the same time.

The new birds have nested on an artificial platform erected by the Forestry Commission on top of a tall spruce tree. Forest chiefs have worked with Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Northumbrian Water and the RSPB to create an osprey-friendly environment in Kielder. The latest news is a rich reward for their endeavours.

It has also emerged that Kielder’s original osprey pair, which arrived in 2009 and became the first to breed in the North East for at least 200 years, have had a single chick this year – their seventh youngster in just three years. 

The female originally laid three eggs in May, but stormy weather during the crucial hatching period meant that the male could not hunt for fish to feed the first of his off-spring. But the third chick, born a few days later when the gales subsided, was more fortunate and has survived.[singlepic id=322 w=300 h=380 float=right]

Elisabeth Rowark, from the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, said:  “Getting a second pair of ospreys breeding in Kielder Water & Forest Park is truly fantastic news and hopefully heralds the return of this magnificent bird in even greater numbers. It’s a tremendous boost for everyone who loves this stunning place and its wonderful wildlife. Fingers’ are now crossed that the youngsters fledge from both nests.”

The new osprey couple first tried to breed in Kielder last year using a self-built nest, but the news was kept under wraps to protect them from disturbance.  As with many inexperienced young birds, their first try for a family was unsuccessful, not least because their nest wasn’t up to scratch. But help was at hand.

Philip Spottiswood, Chief Wildlife Ranger with the Forestry Commission, explained: “In the spring we sent in our tree climbers to erect a more secure artificial platform on the birds’ chosen tree. They took to it straight away and have piled it high with home comforts like moss and twigs. Even so we have kept our distance and have used telescopes to spy at least one chick in the nest. For the rangers involved it’s like winning the jackpot.”

[singlepic id=303 w=300 h=260 float=left] Duncan Hutt, Head of Land Management at the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, added: “Having a single pair of ospreys at Kielder was great news – but it meant that the species was always vulnerable to unexpected events, such as this year’s bad weather, or hazards on their 9,000 mile migration round trip. But with two breeding pairs the odds are lengthened that the bird is here to stay and make Kielder Water & Forest Park an English stronghold.”

Blanaid O’Connell from the RSPB said: “The news that another pair of ospreys is breeding in Kielder marks a major milestone. It strengthens the chances of this once persecuted bird recolonising other parts of England where it has been absent for hundreds of years.”

Kevin Hudson, Leisure Manager at Northumbrian Water commented: “If all the chicks fledge successfully Kielder Water will be graced with two osprey families hunting on the wing – what a unique sight that would be.”

To find out more go to or check out the Osprey Blog at

There are no public viewing points overlooking the new nest, but there’s still plenty of drama on offer watching the original ospreys nurture their surviving chick towards take-off!

How to enjoy Kielder’s ospreys

  • Watch live views of the original nest through a nest-cam video-feed at Kielder Castle and take a tour of a fascinating new exhibition about ospreys, supported by Egger Ltd. Video ‘highlights footage’ will be played at Tower Knowe Visitor Centre.
  • See the birds on the nest two miles away through high powered telescopes at Leaplish Waterside Park with volunteer experts. Weekends until 14 August.
  • Enjoy osprey talks on the 2.15pm Sunday ferry service from Leaplish Waterside Park until 31 July – you may even see birds from both nests fishing. Book on 01434 251 000 
  • Or if you have your own spotting telescope head for the Mounces car park off the C200 near Leaplish. A telescope has also been set up at the Kielder Birds of Prey Centre.

Osprey Fact File
Persecution resulted in ospreys becoming extinct in England as a breeding bird in 1840 and in Scotland in 1916. Some birds re-colonised Scotland in the 1950s and by 2001 there were nearly 160 breeding pairs (today about 200). The same year saw the first successful osprey nests in England for 160 years by re-colonising birds in the Lake District and re-introduced ones at Rutland Water in the East Midlands.

  • Ospreys arrive in the UK in late March and April and leave again for Africa in August and September.
  • The bird is an Amber List species because of its historical decline (due to illegal killing and egg theft) and low breeding numbers.
  •  Ospreys are strongly faithful both to nest site and mate.
  • Females lay two or three eggs at 1-3 day intervals which are incubated for about 37 days per egg.
  • Chicks fledge about seven weeks after hatching.

Kielder Osprey Watch 2011 is organised by the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, the RSPB and Northumberland Wildlife Trust. The partners are working hard to ensure that the ospreys are here to stay by maintaining a high quality habitat in Kielder Water & Forest Park and safeguarding and monitoring the nest site.

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