Posted 10th May 2018 by Peter Byrne
‘Unring’, one of the Lake District's famous ospreys, returned without his partner of five years this Easter, prompting staff, volunteers and visitors to the Lake District Osprey Project (LDOP) fearing he would be left heartbroken
However, 'Unring' has managed to find love when a new female osprey arrived over the bank holiday weekend.
This new, un-ringed female turned up a few days after Unring had initially returned, with the pair then seen mating and feeding together. With the new female moving on after a few days, it was hoped Unring's old partner, KL, would arrive, but she never did.
This sadly left Unring with no choice but to spruce up his nest on his own with no female to impress. However, the hope for a successful breeding season was boosted by the arrival of this new female on Saturday.
Cath Johnson from LDOP said: "It has certainly been a dramatic start to the season this year! Several Bassenthwaite osprey fans have been asking why KL hasn’t returned, but as she is not satellite tagged, we can’t know for sure unless she is found or photographed. There were a lot of ospreys arriving back late this year, due to severe weather further down their migration path, so we weren’t worried at first. However, she would not have been delayed for this amount of time. Ospreys spend the winter in West Africa, so have a long journey to the UK in spring. Natural dangers such as weather and predators, as well as human-caused problems such as the loss of fishing habitat for feeding en route, or shooting, can affect their return. There are a lot of potential perils for migrating birds to overcome."
The majority of established breeding ospreys return each year, but a small percentage will sadly die over the winter months or on their way back. While they live an average of seven to 10 years, some have been known to live to over 20.
The birds don't start breeding until they are three to five years old, with KL fledging from a nest in Inverness-shire in 2009 - this means she would have been nine this year, within the average expected lifespan of the bird.
Cath added: "It is sad that KL has not come back this year, as she has bred for the previous five seasons at Bassenthwaite and was a great mum, hatching 13 chicks in that time. However, this new female arriving this weekend has raised our hopes of having chicks this year, as the pair have been seen mating, and Unring has been adding flowers to the nest, so he is trying to impress her. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for them."
Image courtesy of LDOP