Osprey Diary 2008

29 August 2008
Welcome to the final entry in this year’s Osprey Diary. It is pretty much accepted now that the ospreys have indeed vacated Lowes for sunnier climes. To some this may signify the end of the summer season, but what a season it’s been! From the Oedipal liaisons between the female and one of her previous sons to the drama and controversy surrounding the second and third egg this has certainly been a memorable summer at Loch of the Lowes.
With the brand new High-Definition camera we have been able to gain valuable access to the life of a family of ospreys that was previously almost impossible without disturbance.
As for the chick, well, it has a long journey ahead of it. The migration to west Africa could take up to a month and a half; where the chick will spend between 3 and 5 years before reaching maturity, ready to return home and start a family itself. However, just because the ospreys have gone, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing left at Lowes. Sure, the ospreys may be the stars of the show, but there’s still one heck of a supporting cast! From multitudes of wintering geese to pine martens and everyone’s favourite wee mammal; the red squirrel!
Thank you for your readership and continued support. See you next year!
25 August 2008
It’s been a few days and neither dad nor chick have had any confirmed sightings, which could mean that they are now away, but we will have to wait a couple of days until we know for sure.

We did receive a rather unusual report on 22 August from an excited couple that the chick fished on the loch and caught a slippery prize before fumbling the fish and losing it. Whether this was the chick we do not know; but if it was then what a spectacular sight!
If the chick has begun its migration then we should all wish it best of luck for the journey. The chick will stay in western Africa (Gambia or Senegal) for between 3 and 5 years, whereupon hopefully it will return to Scotland and start a family of its own! It’s a long, difficult exodus to Africa, but this chick has had a fantastic start in life, reared by truly excellent parents.
18 August 2008
It’s the same old story with the ospreys as the male is still feeding the chick. According to some sources this isn’t actually all that unusual. Apparently chicks don’t always fish until they are well on their journey and become desperate. It is getting nearer to the time when the chick makes its first migration.
Those of you who have been keeping a close eye on the webcam may have seen some very odd pictures, but don’t worry! The footage of this summer season is being played back frequently for visitors and webcam-viewers alike, which is more interesting than a mostly empty nest!
8 August 2008
There has been a mystery forming at the reserve with regards to the ospreys. Although the previous installment told of the female’s probable departure due to lack of reports, it seems that several visitors have been witnessing a second adult osprey flying around the nest site. This hasn’t been unusual as intruders have been flying over all season, but the distinct lack of alarm calls has been unusual. Could it be that our female is still here and has just been making herself scarce? We can’t say for definite as it is difficult to get a proper look at this other adult to discern whether it is really her or not.
The chick still hasn’t been seen fishing yet. Come on, lazybones, pull your talons out!
4 August 2008
No-one has reported seeing Mum since about the 26th of July… Her disappearance has raised a little concern, but it is entirely possible that she has migrated back to Africa. Remember that the chick fledged a couple of days earlier than usual (it was only a matter of days, but that can still have a knock-on effect) and the chick is very capable of feeding itself when Dad brings in a fish, so essentially her work is done.
One minor concern, however, is that the chick has still not yet been seen fishing. It may be fishing on a neighbouring loch; in which case we would not see it, but surely it would be practicing on Lowes as well? It’s still got plenty of time left to start fishing successfully, but it had better get its skates on! One theory has been that with only one chick in the nest there has been no competition, and thus no pressure for the chick to leave and fend for itself.
31 July 2008
The past few days have been fairly uneventful up until this afternoon. The chick snatched a small perch from its dad as he flew in, but before it could begin wolfing down the morsel it stiffened and flattened itself out on the nest; the normal practice for aerial alarms. This is rather normal but the chick then flew off the nest, which made us wonder if someone was under the nest…
A more likely explanation is that there have been a lot of low-flying aircraft this morning, which may have been scaring the chick. An intruder may have been the last straw, which prompted the chick to seek a little peace and quiet. Everything seems to be back to normal now.
28 July 2008
The chick hasn’t yet been spotted fishing, at least on Lowes. It may be that it is trying elsewhere but as of yet, no joy on this loch. It has been seen circling the loch but it has been doing this for a couple of weeks already. Still, the chick should have about a month, so it’s still got time.
In other news, those of you who are more sharp of eye may have noticed a wee visitor to the nest; a young redstart who is taking advantage of the insects that have been congregating around the nest, and essentially visiting an “all you can eat” buffet. Such behaviour could only be possible at this time when the ospreys are away from the nest for so long.
21 July 2008
It’s another scorching hot day at Loch of the Lowes. This should be ideal hunting weather; hopefully the chick is taking advantage and trying a bit harder to learn… It has been seen folding its wings in the initial stages of the dive but unfortunately it doesn’t quite seem to have the confidence yet. Still, there’s plenty time to learn – although it will have to stop trying to get mum to feed it! That’s just plain lazy. It has certainly taken to flying and hardly seems to be home these days (except for meal times… as usual). In general, things are going great.
15 July 2008
The chick is spending less time on the nest these days and has been feeding itself more often when the male does bring in fish. It certainly is becoming more independent now, which is a great sign as the season moves on. However, whenever the chick gets hungry it still hot-foots (or should that be “hot-wings”?) it back to the nest… it certainly knows where it is still best off!
It isn’t taking flight for granted however; the chick has been spotted flying slowly over the loch, which may very well mean it has started showing an interest in fishing practice.
9 July 2008
It is with great excitement and jubilation that we bring this special announcement to you all!

At 1.54 pm our osprey chick flapped his wings and flew straight off the nest. It was back within minutes but attempted a second flight at around 2.30 pm. This time it was away for a much longer time and after a rather precarious moment, when it missed the nest and got entangled in the side, managed to free itself and fly off again! It is back now and looking understandably confident; it should be pleased with itself!
8 July 2008
Not long after the last entry was submitted did we have a rather strange “intruder” incident… A passing heron got the intruder treatment and was chased away by the female immediately. Ospreys generally only fly off for a small amount of reasons; ospreys being one and even then not immediately. But it seems that ospreys absolutely despise herons for some reason. Maybe it’s the size? The chick is doing really well; it is managing to lift itself off the nest for (very) brief moments. The wing muscles must be getting strong! In fact, it has been observed “hopping” from one side of the nest to the other. Meanwhile the male is bringing in fish still, so everything’s going absolutely fine.
4 July 2008
Everything’s going smoothly at the nest. The chick is more active and much, much bigger, exercising and wandering around the nest. It certainly knows how to let Dad know it’s hungry anyway!
The chick is starting to jump around flapping its wings which is a massive leap in the right direction.
There was an intruder a few days ago but this event seems to be less frequent. It’s not surprising really since this is a prime spot and indeed there are a few other families dotted around the Lunan Loch valley, of which Lowes is one. Although ospreys can be fairly territorial (except for, it seems, the birds living in the Tropics which appear almost colonial) there shouldn’t be any problems by now and it’s entirely possible that these intruders are merely flying to fishing grounds… I wonder how many times our male instills similar reactions from other pairs when flying to the other lochs to fish?
30 June 2008

Things are certainly moving in the right direction now! On Saturday morning for the first time the chick actually fed itself! This is great news, as the chick is getting ever closer to fledging. The chick is also now exercising its wings, building up its muscles. There is still the odd intruder but they have not been any trouble for our resident family. Certainly not bad enough to put the male off, although our female did see off one intruder that was prospecting the loch for a bit of fishing.

26 June 2008
It has been fairly wet, especially yesterday. This change in the weather has allowed the water level of the loch to begin rising again but it’s no fun for a young osprey! Speaking of which, “junior” is looking simply fantastic. Very healthy and active – except for when it’s raining heavily! The chick is getting closer in size to its parents and is taking up quite a lot of nest! The most remarkable thing is that the wings, which previously still looked useless and a bit daft, now have quite considerable flight feathers. These have grown very quickly and already the young osprey has an impressive set of remiges (wing feathers) and rectrices (tail feathers).

22 June 2008
Our chick is exactly 5 weeks old today! It’s doing really well and has gotten much stronger over the last few days. Although it doesn’t quite have its flight feathers yet it is beginning to stand up and exercise its wings!
Some of you may have noticed that the male has not been bringing in as much fish now. This seems to be quite natural behaviour, as the male will be bringing fish in at a steady rate by the time the chick reaches about 30 days old, rather than the frantic deliveries we saw in previous weeks. In fact, according to some experts; there appears to be a small drop just before fledging… are the parents trying to tell the chick something? We’ve still got a few weeks before that happens though.

18 June 2008

Because we’ve been having such a dry spring and summer (so far) the water level on the loch is a bit lower than usual but this doesn’t seem to be affecting our resident ospreys yet.
The chick is still growing at a steady rate; the feathers on its back and wings filling out nicely. It’s still a long way to fledging but we’re getting there. We expect the chick to fledge sometime in mid to late July, whereupon it will hang around close by until ready to migrate in September. For now, our female has taken to standing around the edge of the nest or on the very handy perch just behind, overlooking the loch.
It is not only our ospreys that are doing well; we’ve had a flurry of fledged greenfinch, a sea of siskin and a big band of blue tits all visiting the feeder as well as a fantastic wee family of treecreepers back in May (and yes, they were observed doing “that thing” on a certain BBC nature show where they all huddle together into one big mat!)

9 June 2008
Is this the same chick that flopped out of a tiny egg just over three weeks ago!? The feathers are emerging very quickly and boy is the chick big! Right now it’s looking suitably subdued which is entirely understandable in this new heat wave we’re experiencing here. To put it into broad Scots, the chick is looking a “wee bit trachled”; however, there is quite a wind so it should be a little less intense today than it was yesterday.
The head feathers are out although the chick is still a bit downy everywhere else. It’s talons are starting to look formidable and that beautiful duck-egg blue is beginning to become more apparent.  Some of you may have noticed that the chick’s eyes are orange as opposed to the pale, golden colour of the adults. Young ospreys tend to have darker eyes.

5 June 2008

If there were any doubts as to whether summer had begun, these have certainly now been dispelled. The outstanding choruses of the morning birds are a joy as always.
Not a lot has happened since the last installment except that the weather has improved a bit. Our chick is still growing rapidly and it’s simply amazing to watch this transformation, as I’m sure a lot of you will be doing as well. Looking closely, we’re seeing evidence of real feathers now, with the eye-stripe becoming noticeable and tiny feathers “in pin” (that is, the hard sheathes are coming through with the feathers inside; like they’re “shrink-wrapped”). The chick is now at least beginning to look more like an osprey.
The male is still bringing in plenty of fish so the chick is being well fed – in fact it looks like it’s starting to develop a little paunch!
There was a little excitement on the 3 June when an alarm call picked up. The female became more alert, but not particularly anxious. It was the male a few trees away, making alarm calls generally reserved for potential aerial threats. There was nothing that immediately presented itself as a possible threat, and the call is usually only reserved for other ospreys, but someone had seen a pair of white-tailed sea eagles. Usually the two species are relatively tolerant of each other. Is it possible that the parents are maybe just that little more protective this year of their single offspring?

30 May 2008

Well, the weather has yet again taken another turn. We were enjoying the same gorgeous, if slightly cooler, weather as back at the beginning of the month, but now it’s like someone’s turned on a giant shower. It’s not all bad because it’s not exactly cold, and the plants and trees certainly need all this rain. Our ospreys less so…
We still only have one chick, which basically means that there now isn’t much hope for the other two. Not this late on. While it’s a shame that we’re not going to have a full brood this year, it does mean that the chick that is there is going to get a lot of attention from its parents. The chick is growing at quite an incredible rate and has already been described as a “wee bruiser”. It seems very strong and healthy now; not to mention noisy! It would have been better if the weather was more settled, and the loch calmer, as it would allow the male to carry on bringing in plenty of fish, but there isn’t any cause for alarm; the male will still be hunting, so the worst the chick is going to fare is to be a little bit hungry and grumpy for a while. Ospreys are fantastic parents, and these two are no exception.

25 May 2008

It’s been a full week since the first egg hatched. We still only have one chick though; the other two eggs haven’t hatched yet. Our Osprey Watch is still in operation as usual this week… just in case but we have to prepare ourselves for the worst-case scenario. We are still keeping our hopes up but it is possible that the other two eggs are infertile. If true, then this is a shame, but we have to bear in mind that our female has done extremely well in her life, laying 53 eggs, 50 have hatched of which over 40 have fledged… so she’s done rather well! And she might be back on form next year.
But it’s not over yet; although the eggs are grossly overdue there is still time before we can jump to any conclusions… so watch this space…

22 May 2008

It has been four days now since our first chick hatched so we should really have at least a second chick by now. It might just be a latecomer; we’re certainly hoping the eggs will hatch.
We’ve had intruders, as you all know by now, but none so bold as to actually invade the nest… until yesterday! It seems that a pair were prospecting nest sites and decided to get just a little too close to our pair’s nest – a new female actually landed on the nest almost on top of the chick! Our female was practically screaming but our male managed to valiantly fend off the intruders and thankfully the chick was fine, if a little dazed-looking by the encounter.
Today has been quieter thankfully.

18 May 2008

Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep! Apologies for our obvious egg-centricity but we’ve all become egg-stremely egg-cited; egg-static you could even say, for we are proud to announce that at 4.15 am we received our very first chick of the season… and not only the first chick this year for our pair… but our female’s fiftieth! Well done, old girl! It’s such a great thing to witness and we feel very privileged to have seen it.

15 May 2008

Things really are starting to pick up as we eagerly await the arrival of our first hatchling! It could be any day now but we are still expecting it to be early next week.
These are very exciting times for us and even the ospreys are beginning to act more restless. The eggs are being left unattended for longer periods of time with the chicks inside generating their own heat.
Look out for the female standing around the nest and cocking her head to the side, almost as if she’s listening for something. She is in fact listening for the chirps and peeps of the chicks. The male also appears to be bringing in more fish these days, perhaps preparing himself for when the chicks arrive?
12 May 2008
It’s been a relatively quiet weekend; our ospreys are probably more used to this warm spell by now.
There was a bit of drama on 8 May as a rather persistent intruder (presumably male) kept circling the nest while the female sat in the nest making a racket and looking understandably anxious. The male eventually swooped in and saw the intruder off. But the drama didn’t stop there… it was late afternoon when the male flew back into the nest with a large branch before cracking his beloved mate over the head (Laurel and Hardy style). It got worse as he proceeded to drop it onto the eggs! Thankfully they were fine, although the chicks may have something to say about it when they arrive!
The next day was relatively quiet with more or less the usual routine, although the male did manage to stand on the female while giving the nest a spruce up! That said he has been more attentive recently, bringing in more fish for her so he should be given his due, despite appearing as daft as a brush sometimes.
There have been a couple of other ospreys intruding into our ospreys’ territory but the male seems capable of seeing them off time and again.
This morning the male left the nest for around 8 minutes, leaving the eggs unguarded before the female eventually took over. By now the chicks inside should be generating their own heat and so it’s not quite so important for the pair to be incubating all the time. The only problem at the moment would be predation of the eggs but our ospreys are such great parents that I’m sure they wouldn’t let such a thing happen.
7 May 2008
The ospreys haven’t had much drama or activity to deal with apart from the odd intruder on the 2 May and routine incubation.
It’s May now and it’s almost as if someone’s flipped a switch for the weather! After a cold, wet April we are now enjoying fantastic warm sunshine: perfect fishing weather! The male seems to be bringing in more fish which is a good sign. He’ll have to bring in more food soon enough for when the chicks hatch! Of course the calmer surface of the loch makes it much easier to see his prey so fishing will be easier at mornings and evenings!
With all this great weather we have noticed our poor male panting while sitting on the eggs, just a little bit too warm; does he maybe think he’s back in Africa? It is probably a bit of a shock to the system after the cold April.
We are now over halfway through the incubation and the centre is beginning to buzz with the possibility of the first chick hatching within the next couple of weeks. Of course… in this weather, it could be earlier!
28 April 2008
Welcome to a slightly damp new instalment of the osprey diary! After a fantastic weekend the weather has become, to use the Scottish phrase, “a wee bit dreich”. It’s quite wet but the ospreys are coping fine.
We wish to thank everyone who has contacted us with concern that the female has not been fed but we can assure you all that the male is bringing in fish. He does tend to bring meals in at rather sporadic intervals, but this is entirely natural. To a two-foot tall bird a good-sized trout goes a long way.
Despite being exposed to the elements in the nest, the pair is looking well and healthy and they are doing a grand job of taking care of their eggs. We are now reaching the half-way point, so hopefully it won’t be long until we are hearing the pitter-patter of tiny talons… or at least the chirping of three very hungry little ospreys!

22 April 2008

Not much has happened since the last entry: the third egg being big news in itself! The ospreys have settled down to routine with no more mating, which means that this will probably be the full clutch. A good thing because three chicks is a manageable number for the parents and the chance of survival should be good!
The pair has been taking turns (the female certainly taking the majority of the time) in lovingly incubating the eggs and so far everything has been going great; however, it seems that the female hasn’t eaten since yesterday evening when she was relieved of her duty and headed off for a spot of fishing. She must be hungry by now! So where is the male and why isn’t he bringing any fish?

15 April 2008

Yesterday there was a bit of drama as a little domestic erupted in the nest. In the early evening the male flew into the nest with a fish, where the female was sitting, peeping (or “nagging”?) away as she usually does for fish or more moss. Obviously the male had had enough and pecked her twice on the back of the head… Quite hard and quite deliberate! This seemed to take the female unawares who backed down for a while. We don’t believe this to be common behaviour at all and in fact it has never been recorded at Lowes. This quickly blew over and the male brought the fish back for possibly the third time and so the female had her supper before the male took over incubation for around 45 minutes.
Hopefully soon we will have a 3rd egg. It would be great to have a clutch of this size as the lower the number the higher the chance of survival… plus 3 is, as they say, a magic number…

13 April 2008

The female laid her second egg this evening at two minutes to midnight. The family is getting bigger now!

11 April 2008 – The Big Day!

We told you the next entry would bring some good news… and who are we (or should that be our ospreys) to disappoint?
At about 4.10 am our female laid her first egg of the season, and fiftieth egg altogether; let’s hear it for the old girl!! Right now she’s sitting on the egg looking understandably content and happy with herself; which is entirely understandable since most females lay 30 eggs on average in their lifetime! So all we’re waiting for now is the rest of the clutch to arrive.

10 April 2008

We have been slowly getting more excited since the last installment because the pair are mating less. This can only mean that the female is hopefully getting very close to laying! After watching some rather comical behaviour of the male sorting the moss in the nest (falling face-first into the bowl of the nest and kicking erratically) this must surely confirm it.
Yesterday the male brought several fish back during the morning but the female was not impressed. It is possible that she would rather he brought moss at this stage (“I told you to bring back moss, not fish!”).
There was a little more excitement later on in the morning as three other ospreys intruded into our pair’s territory. But these three were probably just “passing through” to their own breeding grounds.
The nest is looking grand and fit for incubating a brood so hopefully the next entry will bring some good news! 

7 April 2008

Life has been relatively steady over the past few days. Apart from an intruder, again, flying over the nest on Saturday the pair have had a fairly quiet weekend.
Even though the temperature has plummeted (and we had snow in Angus!) this hasn’t stopped the male from managing to bring fish to the nest.
And given the amount of mating, hopefully we’ll have a great wee family! 

4 April 2008

Yesterday came with a bit of drama as another osprey flew into our pair’s airspace just after 10am. The intruder was swiftly seen on its way by our male and life returned to normal.
However… last night the male flew off for a considerably long time, prompting the female to catch her own fish. First thing this morning we checked the cameras to find the female looking rather anxious and peeping away… what had happened to our male? Was he OK? Was he even still alive…?
He was! He arrived not much later and may have in fact been there all night and we just missed him. 

2 April 2008

The osprey pair have settled into a routine now with mating and eating taking up most of the day. It doesn’t seem too bad a life, especially the diet of fresh brown trout!

31 March 2008: He’s back and he means business

Her usual mate arrived this morning at around 9.30 am and quickly saw off his yellow-ringed rival. With no hard feelings, the home improvements began as the nest had been somewhat damaged by the rather stormy winter.
Once the home was up to scratch, the ospreys began mating… nearly ten times in the day with breaks for feeding and bringing back nest material. With this in mind, we eagerly await the eggs.
There was some excitement this afternoon as a buzzard landed a few feet below the nest. The poor ospreys could only watch and wait because they were too big to get through the branches to chase it away.
Keep watching the webcam!

1 April 2008: Female returns with new male!

Loch of the Lowes is buzzing with excitement due to the arrival of two very special guests and we have been glued to our new High Definition screen, funded by Chevron Upstream Europe.
No doubt you will have guessed that our ospreys are now back in residence and again it comes with its share of soap-opera antics!
Our female arrived at around 2pm on the 30 March, only she wasn’t alone: a yellow-ringed male was in tow. Those of you who remember last year’s shenanigans will no doubt smile at what could only be described as a “little bit of just dessert” as the old girl proceeded to mate with this new male. Revenge is sweet? Perhaps…


30 March 2008

The female osprey has arrived!

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Preface

29 August 2008 Welcome to the final entry in this year’s Osprey Diary. It is pretty much accepted now that the ospreys have indeed vacated Lowes for sunnier climes. To …

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