Thought you all might like this update of the season so far. We’ll update it again at the end of the season.
The female osprey returned to the nest on the 23rd March for her 20th breeding season here at Lowes. She commenced with nest building immediately, scrapping out the old nest material to make room for fresh bedding. She patiently waited for the return of her mate of 14 years, but after 3 weeks and no sign of him, she had to give up and accept a new male. 7Y arrived at the nest on the 4th April and courtship began followed by 10 days of mating. This new male has a green ID ring and from this we found he was a local boy from Ballinluig and is 10 years old. At this age he is a mature bird but appeared to be very inexperienced and unaware of his role, though the ever-successful female soon had him trained to perfection…almost!
The first egg was laid on the 13th April, with the 2nd following on the 16th and the 3rd on the 18th. The eggs are incubated for a period of 35 – 40 days, with the Lowes average being 37 days.
The first chick hatched on the 20th May – 37 days incubated, and the 2nd just one day later on the 21st. Unfortunately the 3rd egg failed to hatch. When chicks hatch they are covered in white down which is replaced by charcoal-coloured down after 10 days. The down is not waterproof so the chicks must be kept warm and dry under mum. By 2 weeks old, feathers start to come through to replace the down and by 1 month they will have reached 70% to 80% of adult size.
The chicks fledge between 50 to 55 days old, males generally fledging first due to their lower body mass. Our chicks will be due to fledge between the 8th – 16th July. Once fledged the chicks begin to practice hunting on their own, sometimes catching a fish. They will continue to return to the nest for anywhere between 2 – 8 weeks to receive food from the parents, until they are ready for migration. The female will leave first, followed by the male, then finally the juveniles. Because ospreys migrate individually, the chicks must be fully independent of their parents before they begin their 3000 mile southward journey from the end of August onwards.
Scottish ospreys spend their winters in west Africa, and juveniles will spend the first 3 years of their lives their until they reach maturity and are ready to breed. They will then return to Scotland and head in the direction of their birth site, ready to continue their mothers legacy.