Tweed Valley Osprey Project Officer Diane Bennett brings us the latest news from the nests...

The main nest chicks were six weeks old this week and so it was time for them to be fitted with their leg rings and the GPS trackers.

Of all the ospreys in the Tweed Valley Osprey Project area, it is the main nest chicks that tug at the heart strings the most due to the the live camera link.

These youngsters have been watched and their fortunes followed since they first broke out of their eggs and their life stories link back further as we have followed the relationship between the two parent birds, Mrs O and SS, since they first got together last year.

They have proved to be fine parents and SS their proud dad is now 19 years old. These two youngsters make his total number of chicks raised to adulthood to date as 29.

This is his first brood of chicks with first-time mum Mrs O. In 2015 one of his chicks FX9 was fitted with a tracker but the bird vanished after only a week from fledging and the device never transmitted any further signal.

So these two special chicks this year will be the first of his extensive osprey offspring that we will be able to track.

Forest Holidays have very kindly sponsored the tracking of these two chicks and have paid for the data subscription for the next three years, which will mean that we can follow their migration journeys and their lives up to the point where they settle and begin to breed as adult birds.

Two representatives from Forest Holidays (Pauline Lynch and Margaret Turner) were invited to watch the juveniles being fitted with their rings and trackers. Eve Schulte climbed the nest tree and lowered the chicks to the ground to Tony Lightley, who fitted the blue coloured Darvic rings with digits LL6 for the female chick and LL7 for the male. Then Dave Anderson fitted the GPS trackers.

This team from Forest Enterprise carried out the procedures under special licence from SNH and BTO as part of the ongoing monitoring of the ospreys for Tweed Valley Osprey Project.

Forest Holidays invited members of the public to name the two chicks via an online vote and the names selected are Tweedledum for the male and Tweedledee for the female, the names reflect their origins in the Tweed Valley.

The names also bring to mind the curious little characters from Lewis Carroll’s book, ‘Through the Looking Glass’ but in fact were first penned in a poem by John Byrom highlighting the petty squabbles between musicians.

We have witnessed some squabbles in the nest between the two siblings and now, as soon-to-be adults, we hope this pair make a smooth transition to adulthood and await their first tentative flights soon.

A further young osprey from Tweed Valley Osprey Project area has also been fitted with a tracking device. This single chick in the nest identified by leg ring LK8 has been reared by parents who had three eggs in total but two didn’t hatch.

The unhatched eggs are most likely down to the very hot summer leading to dehydration. This is the first osprey from this nest site to be fitted with a tracker and it will be interesting to follow his progress and compare his life story to the main nest chicks from the same year as him.

Across the district some young orphaned tawny owls have been released recently into vacant owl territories.

The owls were rehabilitated by the SSPCA, Fishcross Centre and Forest Enterprise staff Tony Lightley and Eve Schulte who monitor the owls in the forests.

They were able to select sites for their safe release into the wild where previously occupied owl nest boxes had become vacant.

It was amazing to see these young birds make their first flights to freedom and into the wild.

We hope that they manage to grow strong and establish themselves into their new territories and maybe take up residence to breed in the boxes next year.