Wildlife Diary 5th May

Our HD webcam is back up and running after our volunteer camera technician Lindsay came to the rescue again – many thanks! He has also sorted out our Blue Tit nest box camera so it is available in the centre for all to see and enjoy- currently our wee female tit is on her first eggs, and it is charming to see her cuddled up in a huge pile of feathers and warm moss (this morning she was buried in pheasant feathers wrapped around herself  which made her look rather odd like a mini female pheasant). She is being delicately fed by her mate who is bringing tasty tidbits to her in the box, so she doesn’t have to leave her eggs- if she pops out she cleverly hides the eggs in the bedding so a predator looking in won’t notice them and they stay cosy warm.  

The Ospreys are still enjoying the sunshine and giving us some great views today. This morning early the male was on the eggs, and the female suddenly appeared from the dense trees below and behind the nest- to give chase to two Canada geese that got too close to her nest! She chased them right across the loch in quite a spectacular aerial dogfight- right in front of some of the folk from our Wildlife Photography course- fabulous!

 The male later brought in a large rainbow trout at lunchtime as well as another large stick which he placed on her back again- she whipped it off immediately and told him off!

Elsewhere on the loch, we have again been treated to more wonderful courtship displays by our resident Great Crested Grebes and amazingly one pair has decided to build a new nest right in front of the hides in the lily pads- with the male dragging weeds and stalks with his beak to his mate who is carefully arranging them as she likes it. It will be fascinating to watch this pair as they hopefully lay their eggs and hatch chicks -what privileged view.

Lastly a few more Osprey Q and A’s:

Q: Do the jets flying over we hear disturb the Ospreys?

A: No, though they are very very loud and somewhat annoying, these jets are a fact of life in the Perthshire valleys, and the female is certainly used to them after all these years- though I still jump out of my skin when they fly over!

Q:  The Pike that the male Osprey seems to prefer are a large predator in their own right- are they a risk to the birds?

A: A Pike would be highly unlikely to take an adult osprey (particularly as Ospreys don’t rest on the water and pike are ambush predators) but might take a bite from an injured or submerged one. Certainly they have huge teeth and have been seen biting back at the ospreys legs etc, whilst still alive in their talons.

Q: How many eggs are likely to hatch?

A: We hope all three- this female in particular has a very good history of hatching 2-3 eggs per year, and most chicks survive depending on the food availability (which varies according to the weather and the males fishing ability). Fingers crossed though as we can’t take anything for granted in nature.

Q: Why do they come to Scotland when the weather is so changeable here?

A: Osprey breed in Scotland for several reasons:

  • We have lots of clean healthy rivers and good fish stocks- lots of food
  • We have good nesting sites in large trees in quite places ( not too many people about)
  • We have relatively few predators ( well we have Pine Martens and man, but no monkeys, tree snakes and crocodiles like in Africa)
  • We crucially have long summer daylight- up to 22 hrs a day in midsummer when the chicks are hungriest which is a great advantage to a bird which needs good light to find its food.
  • Although our weather is changeable it isn’t too extreme, hot or cold- ideal for raising a family.

Don’t forget we have another of our fun Family Craft Days at Loch of the Lowes tommorrow: the theme is Otter Mayhem and you can find out more about these amazing creatures, free with Visitor Centre entry, 10am- 5pm.

Preface

Our HD webcam is back up and running after our volunteer camera technician Lindsay came to the rescue again – many thanks! He has also sorted out our Blue Tit …

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