Wildlife Diary 18th April

After all the excitement over the arrival of our two precious Osprey eggs, things are now settling down to a nice routine on the nest as incubation commences. It will be a long month or so until we hopefully see chicks and there are many risks , such as bad weather, and predators , that our osprey parents will have to be vigilant against to get to that stage.  We have at least 37 days to wait so we will have be be patient- hard I know!

Today though there was still lots to see at the nest, with lots of changeovers between the male and the female birds and a good fish brought in by the male this afternoon at 2.15- though not as large as some of his recent enormous pike! He seems to be having a little trouble letting go of the fish- they keeping getting stuck on his talons, and he is also being still a little reluctant to share.

Several people have asked if a single fish a day is enough for our female to live on- the answer is yes, during incubation, as she is doing little physical activity. The real demand for fish on the nest will be when the chicks hatch- a growing family needs a huge amount of food, so the pressure will be on our male.

You might occasionally glimpse a Blue tit on the webcam- we have discovered it is in fact nesting underneath the osprey nest, so pop into view regularly, seemingly oblivious to its much larger neighbour, which of course is not threat to it- in fact having a huge fish eating raptor living above you might deter other predators so this makes it a clever choice!

Another good osprey question:

Q: Is it possible/conceivable/likely that the male bird could be the offspring (or, given the number of broods she has had, offspring of offspring) of the female ‘Lady’?   Is there anything instinctive in birds to stop inbreeding such as this or does it in fact take place as a natural matter of course?

A: Yes, as our female has bred here for so long, it is entirely possible that many of her offspring have returned to breed in the area and that this new male could be one of them- we certainly can’t discount this idea as he is not ringed so we can’t be sure of his origins or age.

Normally, in nature there are some instinctive behaviours that help prevent inbreeding ( such as one gender of offspring spreading out to leave the ancestral area) and it is generally thought that in Ospreys males are attracted to their natal area, whereas female chicks are more likely to nest elsewhere. There are definitely more records of male chicks sighted on natal nests that female ones. However, this doesn’t prevent mother/ son couplings, which become more likely the older the breeding female is in situ- and as our bird has been around for so long, this is perhaps more likely. There are recent examples of such matings and we are starting to realize it is not that unusual perhaps- an area of ongoing research!

Elsewhere on our Perthshire reserves, we had a wonderful volunteer team on the hill at Balnaguard today putting in the last of this years trees- that makes 1500 trees we have planted this year so far to help diversify the habitat on this site- well done and thank you to everyone who has got involved and worked so hard to make this possible.

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After all the excitement over the arrival of our two precious Osprey eggs, things are now settling down to a nice routine on the nest as incubation commences. It will …

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