Wet summer kills rare osprey chicks in Northumberland


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The Independent Online

Rain and cold weather this summer have taken their toll on rare osprey chicks in a remote corner of England, the Forestry Commission said.

Three of the six hatched in Northumberland's 155,000-acre Kielder Water and Forest Park this year have died.

One of the surviving chicks has been named Olympia, while the other two, which hatched just before the Diamond Jubilee weekend, have been dubbed Jubilee Jack and Queenie.

All three have now been ringed by Forestry Commission experts, allowing them to identify the rare birds.

Wildlife experts were delighted by the six chicks that hatched in Kielder this year - a record - but the extensive rain and cool weather have meant only half survived, while other rare birds including goshawks have also struggled.

Forestry Commission wildlife ranger Philip Spottiswood said: "We have maintained our record of producing three osprey chicks each year since 2009 when the bird began to breed again in Northumberland for the first time in at least 200 years.

"Despite the conditions, the chicks ringed this year are very healthy and we expect them all to fledge (fly) in the next few weeks.

"Given the dreadful weather that is a tremendous result."

Rangers carefully ringed the birds so they can be identified by their individually-coloured tag from a distance through a telescope.

Duncan Hutt, from Northumberland Wildlife Trust, said: "The species was extinct in England until recently, but Kielder, together with the Lake District, has been naturally re-colonised.

"A big factor has been the expanding Scottish population and also the erection of special nesting platforms near Northumbrian Water's Kielder Water, which offers perfect hunting grounds for trout."