Bird lovers in Northumberland are celebrating an early start to their season with the earliest ever sighting of a bird on the Kielder osprey nest.
One of the ringed Kielder males - Yellow 37 - was first seen at Nest 2 on March 24, coinciding with one of the osprey volunteer training days, an unexpected bonus sighting for the team of Northumberland Wildlife Trust volunteers who were busy preparing for the season ahead.
Not only is it the earliest return of any Kielder osprey to the nest, Yellow 37 was the second male home across all UK osprey projects.
Since the first sighting, Nest 1 has seen the return of YA on March 26, another record early return date for this male, with his partner arriving shortly after.
Meanwhile, on Nest 2, Yellow 37 didn't have to wait too long for his mate to arrive, with Mrs 37 arriving safely back on March 30.
The osprey was extinct in England for 150 years but the birds have bred successfully in Kielder Water and Forest Park every season since they returned to the North East in 2009.
Tom Dearnley, ecologist at the Forestry Commission, said: "It’s always a pleasure to see the ospreys return and to watch this fantastic species continue to recover in northern England. We don’t know quite why ospreys are early this year, as other migrants such as chiffchaff aren't showing the same pattern, but March is certainly earlier that we have come to expect."
Joanna Dailey, Kielder osprey expert volunteer, said: "It’s really exciting for the whole volunteer team whenever the ospreys return, and even more so when it's so unexpectedly early. Now the birds are back, we’re looking forward to another successful season for the birds and for all the visitors who enjoy following their progress via our blog and live camera feeds."
The birds can be watched by visitors through nestcams on Nest 1 and 2, with footage beamed to a screen at the Kielder Castle café. Kielder Osprey Watch will be open every weekend at Leaplish Visitor Centre, from when the eggs hatch to when the chicks fledge, manned by the team of Northumberland Wildlife Trust volunteers.
The Osprey Watch is organised by Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and Northumberland Wildlife Trust, with support from the RSPB. The partners are working 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 site.
Wildlife lovers can keep up to date with the story as it unfolds through the Kielder Osprey blog at kielderospreys.wordpress.com
The Kielder ospreys will feature on Further Tales from Northumberland with Robson Green, broadcast tonight at 8pm on ITV.