Great news for fans of the wonderful Kielder ospreys! If you’re eagerly awaiting the return of the birds to their breeding ground at Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland during April, you will be pleased to hear that four birds have been sighted in West Africa.
Joanna Dailey is an osprey volunteer with the Forestry Commission which helps to run the Kielder Osprey Project in partnership with Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Northumbrian Water and Calvert Trust, Kielder. The seasonal Osprey Watch at Kielder is run by Northumberland Wildlife Trust. Osprey Watch is a popular scheme whereby visitors can watch the birds from afar through powerful, high tech equipment.
Joanna reports that White EB – a female osprey who has been breeding at Kielder since 2016, has been spotted looking fit and healthy at Somone Lagoon, near Dakar in Senegal by keen bird watchers, Fabienne and Michel Vernaudon, who have also taken some beautiful pictures which they have allowed the partnership to use.
This winter, EB’s youngest daughter from 2016 (Blue Y6) has been seen at Tanji Bird Reserve in The Gambia, while a third Kielder osprey – male bird Blue UV, who fledged in 2014 – has been sighted in the Langue de Barbarie area of northern Senegal. At the time of writing, just as the adult birds are starting their spring migrations, Joanna reports that the youngest 2017 Nest 3 offspring, Blue 6L (Acomb), has been seen in southern Senegal, writing that “It’s fantastic news and a great end to winter!”
Some Kielder ospreys are tracked and identified using tiny, lightweight GSM/GPS satellite transmitters. Another of EB’s chicks from last year, female bird (Aln) is shown from satellite tracking data to be overwintering in the far north of the Banc d’Arguin National Park in Mauritania.
In 2017, for the first time, the Kielder osprey chicks were given local names, rather than simply being named from their colour ring details. Last year all the chicks were given Northumbrian place or river names beginning with “A”. This year it will be “B”.
The new names have encouraged wider public engagement with the osprey project, and a fascinating blog, written by Joanna Dailey, charts all the birds’ comings and goings with vivid and knowledgeable commentary, nest webcams and video footage at kielderospreys.wordpress.com
Joanna writes: “Mortality rates for ospreys are high in the first couple of years, and we know that only about one in three ospreys make successful return migrations to the UK. Usually, juvenile ospreys don’t return for two, or occasionally even three years so it is very unlikely we’ll see any 2017 fledgelings return this year, but you never know! The fact that two of EB’s four offspring who migrated, are now known to be alive, is a positive sign.”
The return of the Ospreys to Kielder Water & Forest Park in 2009 after an absence of 200 years in Northumberland is a fantastic conservation success story. This year will be the tenth successive year that ospreys have nested here so 2018 is a great landmark for the project! From one pair in 2009, the Kielder osprey population grew to four nesting pairs in 2017. Who knows, there may be even more in 2018!
Acomb, photographed by Steven Houston©
The Heritage Lottery-funded Living Wild at Kielder project has allowed the purchase of new binoculars and powerful scopes to allow visitors to Kielder to observe these magnificent birds unobtrusively. The Forestry Commission has just installed a new osprey platform and pole at Kielder in readiness for the birds’ return in April.
Joanna Dailey, Kielder Osprey expert volunteer, said: “It’s a real thrill to receive photos of Kielder ospreys in their wintering grounds, especially ones where they are looking in such good condition. We’re very grateful to the photographers for reporting their sightings. Y6 had a tough first few weeks in the nest, with her two elder sisters taking most of the food. She was fine by the time she migrated and looking at her now, clearly, there was no long-term adverse consequences!”
Katy Barke, Kielder Living Landscapes Manager at Northumberland Wildlife Trust adds: “Living Wild at Kielder is all about bringing Kielder Water & Forest Park’s amazing wildlife to life for all – and the Kielder Osprey Watch is doing exactly that with great success. Come and visit our friendly team to see the wonderful ospreys for yourselves!”
For a chance to see these magnificent birds at Kielder this year, visit Kielder Osprey Watch at the Osprey Cabin at Kielder Waterside (behind the Boat Inn) from Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd April between 10.30 and 17.00, where knowledgeable Northumberland Wildlife Trust volunteers will be on hand to help you see the birds through high powered scopes and give you more information. Osprey Watch takes place every weekend throughout the summer – usually until mid-August, plus Bank Holidays and Wednesdays in July and August. To keep up to date with the latest news, visit the blog at
Kielder Osprey Watch partners work 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 sites. To find out more, go to
Cover image: Acomb, photographed in Southern Senegal by Steven Houston ©