Wildlife Diary Thursday 28th June

Another soggy day at Loch of the Lowes, but with a few highlights: Common Terns elegantly flying low over the water beneath the mist level and diving for fish in front of the hides; a gang of 12 screaming Swifts hunting over our meadow; Our male Great Crested Grebe busy nest renovating due to water levels rising- delicately tucking more water lilies around his incubating mate.

 Our ospreys are soggy but undaunted! There was an intruder bird around today at around 10am, to which our female reacted with her customary alarm calls and mantling- but she wasn’t going to be unwise enough to leave the nest to give chase and leave her chick undefended, wise old bird that she is.

 Some more good Osprey questions:

 Q: Why does the chick wobble its head from side to side?

A: This is a common sight in ospreys- especially when they are perched up, watching for fish- we believe it is them trying to focus, and pinpoint something. Whilst adults use this to spot fish, this wee chick is probably getting used to his incredible vision which must be maturing about now.

 Q: Why does the chick seem to be sitting stretching mostly on its right side?

A: We don’t know really- but we don’t think there is anything wrong with it, just a preference- perhaps it is right-handed? It uses both legs and wings equally well when standing so it doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about.

 Q: Why is the chick standing on the edge of the nest flapping- it is going to fledge today?

A: No it is not going to fledge today- it ahs at least two more weeks of development before it will be able to fly. It is just starting an intensive period of practice though- lots and lots and lots of flapping, stretching and strengthening those vital wing muscles prior to first flight. They often stand on the edge of the nest to do this- perhaps there is more room that way, but this doesn’t give us some heart stopping moments.

 Q: Why does the mother watch her chick all the time? Is this because there is something wrong with it?

A: No this is completely normal- just part of her extraordinary diligence and devotion as a mum.

 Q: Which countries do Ospreys go to when they migrate for the winter?

A: UK Ospreys go to West Africa, though exactly where our Perthshire birds go, we do not yet know, but are hoping to find out with our satellite tagging project. Countries where UK birds have been seen include: Ghana;  Sierra Leone; Ivory Coast; Senegal; Nigeria; The Gambia; Mauritania; Guinea; Guinea Bissau ;Cape Verde Islands; Togo; Benin; Niger; Cameroon; and Liberia.           

Q: Can you ring and satellite tag “Lady” this year too?

A: No, there are no plans to attempt to catch and ring “Lady”. Generally only chicks are ringed as they can be safely and easily removed form the nest to do this before they fly. Catching and tagging adult ospreys is a much more hazardous, and technically specialsied job which requires a special license. It has been done successfully in the UK by Roy Dennis, particularly where there is a need to identify a problem, such as at Rutland water recently where adult male birds where being lost to illegal persecution. Only the youngest, strongest and mostly male birds are chosen for this technique, so “Lady” is not a candidate.

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Another soggy day at Loch of the Lowes, but with a few highlights: Common Terns elegantly flying low over the water beneath the mist level and diving for fish in …

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