[T]hree five-week-old osprey chicks (thought to be two males and one female) were tagged with ID rings at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve near Witherslack recently, one of Cumbria’s key breeding sites for these spectacular birds of prey.
Staff from Cumbria Wildlife Trust visited the nest site, 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 30 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 5N, Blue 7N and Blue 9N, are the fifth brood produced by the Foulshaw osprey pair White YW (the male) and Blue 35 (the female), after they successfully fledged three chicks last year. The Trust is hopeful that all three will fledge this time. At around five weeks old, the wing length of 5N (male) and 9N (female) is already over 30cm. 7N (probably male) is smaller but all are roughly the same weight, around 140g.
Paul Waterhouse, Reserves Officer for Cumbria Wildlife Trust, says: “It was wonderful to see the three osprey chicks thriving. The pair of ospreys at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve has successfully reared three chicks again and is without doubt the most productive breeding pair in Cumbria – they have fledged 14 chicks in the past five years. Since the species returned to Cumbria in 2001, just under 70 chicks have fledged from the county.”
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.”
Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve is open daily to visitors and throughout the breeding season staff are on hand to show visitors the osprey nest, using binoculars and telescopes set up on viewing platforms.
Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve is located off the A590 near Witherslack. Full directions are available on http://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/reserves/foulshaw-moss.
To view the osprey cam online go to www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/osprey-cam. You can also join in the conversation on social media using #FoulshawOspreys.