Kielder ospreys pictured in Africa

Magnificent migratory birds from Northumberland spotted on their winter grounds.

Published: March 9th, 2018 at 4:25 pm
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Four ospreys from Northumberland have been spotted in West Africa.


The spectacular birds from Kielder Water have turned up in Senegal and the Gambia, where they have spent the winter.

White EB has been breeding at Kielder since 2016. Picture by Fabienne and Michel Vernaudon

One female – known as ‘White EB’ – was even photographed fishing by French birdwatchers Fabienne and Michel Vernaudon (see also main picture, top), at Somone Lagoon, near the capital Dakar. The 'EB' is clearly visible in the ring at her ankle, above.

The ospreys left Kielder in late August and early September to spend the winter in Africa, more than 4,000 miles away. The journey is gruelling – particularly for young ospreys, according to Joanna Dailey, an osprey volunteer with the Forestry Commission. But the good news is that one of the eight juveniles to leave Kielder last summer – named Acomb – is among those to be spotted in West Africa.

Acomb, on the right, was the youngest pictured in Kielder's Nest 3 in 2017, in this view from the nestcam
By summer 2017 Acomb, pictured right, was much bigger and stronger. But would she survive the migration to Africa?

In February 2018 Acomb was pictured in the Casamance region of Southern Senegal, which has a tropical savannah climate – a little different from Northumberland.

Safe in Senegal, Acomb's blue '6L' identifying ring is just visible. Image: Steven Houston / Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation

Other Kielder ospreys to be be seen in Africa are:

• Blue Y6, White EB’s youngest daughter, hatched at Kielder in 2016, which has been seen at Tanji Bird Reserve in The Gambia.

• Blue UV, a male who fledged in 2014, sighted in the Langue de Barbarie area of northern Senegal.

Joanna said: “It’s a real thrill to receive photos of Kielder ospreys in their wintering grounds, especially ones where they are looking in such good condition. Y6 had a tough first few weeks in the nest, with her two elder sisters taking most of the food. She was fine by the time she migrated, and looking at her now, clearly there were no long term adverse consequences.”

Absent from Northumberland for 200 years, a single pair of ospreys first returned to Kielder in 2009 and by 2017, four pairs were nesting.

Kielder water resevoir and forest in Northumberland, United Kingdom
Kielder Water is an ideal hunting ground for ospreys in the breeding season. Picture: Getty

With an area of more than four square miles, Kielder Water is Britain’s largest artificial lake and is rich with fish for the ospreys to hunt, including trout and grayling.


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