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Wildlife lovers hail ‘perfect’ pair of ospreys

Mr and Mrs YA – the prolific osprey breeders on their nest in Northumberland’s Kielder Forest (Forestry England/PA)
Mr and Mrs YA – the prolific osprey breeders on their nest in Northumberland’s Kielder Forest (Forestry England/PA)

Conservationists have hailed the incredible success of an osprey love match which has boosted numbers of the endangered birds of prey.

Forestry England experts visited the nest of the prolific pair in Kielder, Northumberland, to ring four more of their chicks.

The duo – known as Mr and Mrs YA from their tags – began breeding in 2013 when they had their first offspring on a specially built platform in Kielder Forest, close to one of Europe’s largest man-made lakes.

Martin Davison, Forestry England ornithologist, with an osprey chick ringed in Kielder Forest (Forestry England/PA)

Since then 22 of their chicks have successfully fledged, with the current brood soon to leave the nest and boost numbers further.

With plenty of prey nearby, Mr YA is known to be an excellent provider while his partner is an equally nurturing and attentive mother.

Joanna Dailey, from the Kielder Osprey project, said: “Their impact on our growing osprey population has been tremendous.

“Ospreys are pretty faithful to each other and these two are the perfect match.

“He’s an excellent hunter and brings back plenty of fish to feed the family.

“She is just as effective as a mother, making sure each chick gets a share and keeping them warm.

“They are always one of the earliest couples back from their wintering grounds in Africa.

“Not surprisingly we’ve become very attached to them.”

One of Mr and Mrs YA’s four latest chicks (Forestry England/PA)

Ospreys were extinct in England in the 20th century and when they returned to Kielder in 2009 it was the first time chicks were born in Northumberland for at least 200 years.

Re-colonisation has steadily happened since, thanks in no small part to Mr and Mrs YA.

Kevin May, Forestry England forest management director, north district, said: “The success of this nest and others has made Kielder Forest one of the bird’s English strongholds.

“Plus it has significantly increased the likelihood that this iconic species will spread throughout the rest of the country.

“That’s nature recovery in action in England’s largest working forest.

“By working with our partners we have been able to produce a wonderful habitat of woodland and water.”

Ringing chicks is vital to help experts keep tabs on the osprey population.

The youngsters were gently lowered from their nest and fitted with a unique identifying ring which will stay on for the rest of their lives, before they were returned unharmed.

The chicks will soon learn to hunt before making the long journey south, spending winter as far away as sub-Saharan Africa.