Conservationists from the Tweed Valley Osprey Project are monitoring the main osprey nest in anticipation of the chicks leaving their nest.
The two chicks, now as large as their parents and fully feathered, were named Tweedledee and Tweedledum by the public in a social media vote, and are filmed by a live camera link.
The chicks were ringed and tagged by Eve Schulte, Dave Anderson and Tony Lightly from the project in mid-July when they were six weeks old.
The GPS trackers will operate for three years, during which time they will provide data to the project on the survival rate of the birds, population dynamics and migration routes.
“We’ve been involved in encouraging ospreys back to the area for twenty years,” says Eve Shulte, environment and heritage ranger at Forest Enterprise Scotland, “and these amazing raptors have really been taken to the hearts of local people.”
One of the chicks stretching its wings on the nest. © Tweed Valley Osprey Project
“We’re really looking forward to finding out much more about our own local ospreys and their use of the environment, as well as learning about their fascinating migration flights.”
Even once the chicks fledge, the parents will continue to look after them. The male (named SS) will still be catching fish for them as they begin to learn how to find and catch fish for themselves.
The adult female (named Mrs O) will be the first to leave the family group, as she will need to build up her reserves in preparation for migration.
SS is 19 years old, and has raised an impressive total of 29 chicks to adulthood. In comparison, the female adult Mrs O is much less experienced as she is a first-time mum.
Although Mrs O laid three eggs, only two of them hatched successfully. The third egg looked like it had a crack in it, and Mrs O actually ended up breaking open the shell and eating the lifeless chick inside. This took place during a period when Mrs O and both the chicks were very hungry, due to SS only bringing in a few fish.
The pair have faced a number of struggles to raise Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the stormy weather in mid-June meant that SS wasn’t able to catch many fish for the week-old chicks.
In addition, they have had to face off another male adult osprey and cope with the heatwave. At one point, observers were worried that one of the chicks had succumbed to heat stress, as it was lying on its side motionless.
Follow the progress of the Tweed Valley ospreys on the project’s blog.