Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 17:00 UK

Osprey father returns to Kielder Forest

Adult osprey
The male is thought to have made a 10,000-mile round trip

A male osprey which last year fathered the first chicks to be born in Northumberland for more than 200 years has returned to the county.

The bird of prey was spotted at Kielder Water and Forest Park - in the same treetop where the 2009 brood hatched.

Now hopes are high that the male's previous mate will also return after spending the winter in Africa.

Cameras have been installed at the nest to transmit live images back to a screen for visitors at Kielder Castle.

Last year the ospreys raised three chicks at the Kielder nest - on a specially-built platform - where the male is now "tidying up" in preparation for his mate's arrival.

Since departing last year he is thought to have made a round trip of about 10,000 miles to return to the forest.

Forestry Commission spokesman Neville Geddes said: "It's now fingers crossed that the female makes it back safely.

"Once she does the two will spark their romance with an aerial courtship display and settle down to raise a second brood.

Kielder nest camera
A camera has been installed above the nest

"Raising an osprey family is a hectic job - not least because they are on a fairly strict timetable.

"They have until early September to mate, produce chicks and teach the offspring to fish for themselves before going their separate ways and heading south."

Historically ospreys lived in Northumberland, hunting on the once extensive network of marshes.

However, they were hunted to extinction and until last year there were no records of the birds breeding in the county for more than two centuries.

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