Our apologies for the lateness of this blog, but happily it wasn’t a big news day on our Loch of the Lowes osprey nest yesterday. Our single chick continues to develop well and is getting so big it hardly fits under his mother- though the female will continue to use her body to shield it from the weather until it is fully feathered and more waterproof. This stage is often comical in nests with more than one chicks as they all struggle to fit underneath their parent and she struggles to straddle them.
You may have noticed yesterday the chick is now highly mobile and was having a go at moving sticks around the nest just like mum and dad. The male is still bringing in some sticks and lots of fresh clumps of moss to reline the nest- to keep it clean and cozy presumably.
Close by our Osprey nest our Great Crested Grebes are still doing well- though with the wind getting up today we hope the nest made of lily pads withstands the waves on the Loch. We have been looking into ways of providing artificial nesting rafts for grebes here (that would be less vulnerable to flooding etc) but are struggling to find a design compatible with our rare and protected underwater flora- but we are working on it!
Here are some more facts about Great Crested Grebes:
Latin name: Podiceps cristatus . Number in Britain: 8000 adults (Summer)
A delightfully elegant waterbird with ornate head plumes which led to its being hunted for its feathers, almost leading to its near extermination from theUK, but it has recovered successfully.
The Great Crested Grebe is 46–51 centimeters (18–20 in) long with a 59–73 centimeters (23–29 in) wingspan.
It is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish prey underwater. It feeds mainly on fish, but also small crustaceans, insects and small frogs.
The Great Crested Grebe breeds in vegetated areas of freshwater lakes.
The Great Crested Grebe has an elaborate mating display. Like all grebes, it nests on the water’s edge, since its legs are set relatively far back and it is thus unable to walk very well.
Usually two eggs are laid, but sometimes three or four, and Incubation is 27- 29 days.
The young grebe are often carried on the adult’s back. The young are distinctive because their heads are striped black and white. They lose these markings when they become adults. In a clutch of two or more hatchlings, male and female grebes will each identify their ‘favourites’, which they alone will care for and teach.
Unusually, young grebes are capable of swimming and diving almost at hatching. The adults teach these skills to their young by carrying them on their back and diving, leaving the chicks to float on the surface; they then re-emerge a few feet away so that the chicks may swim back onto them.
The chicks generally take 71 – 79days to fledge.