It appears that the mother osprey has finally returned back to equatorial West Africa. We believe that she left last Wednesday (5 August) as she has not been seen by any member of staff here at the centre since then. This is normal for the mother to leave around three weeks after the chicks fledge as she is no longer required to feed or protect the young.
Some viewers have requested an easy way of identifying which juvenile is on the nest. We have come to distinguish them from their size and the markings on their head. The youngest chick appears to be the largest and the brown markings on its head are a lot more splayed than the older chick whose brown patch is more of a barred shaped. The youngest chick also spends the most time on the nest and makes the most noise which, combined with the size, suggests that it is likely to be a female but it is hard to be certain.
Now that it has been over three weeks since the chicks fledged they will be getting alot more adventurous when they fly, using thermals and soaring through the sky. In another two to three weeks, when they reach about 11 or 12 weeks old, they too will also be ready to migrate to Africa for their first experience of seeing and living in their wintering grounds. This is usually done during a period of good weather and can take about a month to get there. It is a very risky trip for juveniles as this is when the highest mortality of fledglings occurs as they are at risk of flying off course and finding themselves out in the sea. Because the oldest chick is now hunting for itself, it relies less heavily on dad and will probably leave a lot sooner than the youngest chick.
As well as deer and the wide variety of birds seen on the reserve we have also had the opportunity to see the otters swimming on the loch at around 4 pm on last Friday. It is always lovely watching them swim past the hides within a few feet of our budding wildlife watchers. The kingfishers are also starting to make an appearance on the loch now that the breeding season has past so there is always plenty to see here.