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18 Jul 2019

Great news for osprey conservation

Written by David Thompson, Estate Supervisor at Threave Garden & Estate
Two men hold an osprey chick while kneeling on the grass. They are fitting a blue ring to one of its legs.
Fitting a ring on an osprey chick
David Thomson, Estate Supervisor at Threave, talks about the Trust’s role in protecting ospreys, and how this season has been a real success.

It’s been another fantastic year for the ospreys, volunteers and staff at Threave Nature Reserve, with three osprey chicks getting ringed on Friday 12 July.

Black 80, the resident male, hatched at RSPB Glaslyn in Wales. He is now 13 years old and the proud father of 28 chicks to date, a huge achievement considering the distances and dangers the birds face on migration each year.

The original female was unidentified due to no leg ring. A new female arrived on the scene at Threave in 2012, Blue KC. She is now 10 years old and hatched in Scotland.

Their three chicks this year have had two rings attached for identification: a small metal BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring and a large Darvic ring for easier identification.

It’s with great thanks to Ciril Ostroznik, who has an unrivalled passion and knowledge for ospreys and other raptors, that the public, volunteers and staff are able to enjoy seeing these ospreys on a daily basis.

A head and shoulders shot of Ciril Ostroznik, who wears a white helmet.
Ciril Ostroznik

Ciril is involved with ospreys up and down the country and has done a huge amount of work over the years towards osprey conservation as well as other raptors, including nest building, nest management and ringing.

On Friday 12 July, Ciril was joined by John Skilling of the North Solway Ringing Group, who was on the ground placing on the Darvic ring and weighing the youngsters. He was assisted by James Milligan (landowner), James Hutchinson (National Trust for Scotland, filming) and me (photographing).

Three men kneel on the grass. One holds a bird-weighing scale, with an osprey chick inside.
John Skilling weighs an osprey chick.

Ciril attaches the small BTO ring to the chick up in the nest, and then lowers the chick down. As the chicks are being weighed, etc, Ciril does some nest maintenance while waiting. The whole operation takes no longer than 40 minutes, including ascending and descending the tree. Disturbance is kept to an absolute minimum – Ciril has it all down to a fine art. This year’s ring details and weights are:

  • 1462278 NK4 male 1.37kg
  • 1462279 NK2 female 1.66kg
  • 1462280 NK3 male 1.39kg
A close-up of a female osprey chick, held by a person. Her bright orange eye looks directly at the camera.
The female osprey chick

Ciril constructed the nest on the Milligan family’s land over 10 years ago, and visitors can now enjoy superb views from the osprey viewing platform on Threave Nature Reserve. Throughout the season you can find a team of 21 dedicated volunteers here, informing the public come rain or shine from 10.30am–4.30pm, seven days a week. In one day, we’ve counted 150 visitors, welcoming people from all over the world. The volunteers have translations for the word ‘osprey’ in German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish.

For daily updates on the ospreys, please visit the Friends of Threave Osprey Facebook page.

We would like to thank Ciril Ostroznik, the Milligan family, John Skilling and all the dedicated volunteers for their hard work.

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