Our single Osprey chick is going from strength to strength and has changed enormously over the last few days. I was away for two days on the weekend and I hardly recognized the wee one when I came back, it had changed so much. No matter how many years I work with these remarkable birds, this incredible growth rate, fuelled by a high protein diet of fish, never ceases to amaze me. It is also the case that this wee one is growing faster and bigger than is often the case, as it has no competition for food and more than it can usually eat: At sixteen days old today, it is already bigger than many chicks at three weeks old!
Over the last few days most obviously the Osprey chick has darkened and turned very deep grey with a characteristic white stripe along its back. You can also see the tiny beginnings of proper adult feathers (known as ‘pinning’) starting to appear on its head and wings. The feet are what seems to grow most at this stage, becoming almost clown like in that they are huge but still awkward and unable to grip yet. That said, the wee one is very mobile, and confidently moving around the nest- no wonder the adults have been adding yet more sticks to the sides on the nest to keep it safely contained.
Our male Osprey has been fishing superbly , with an average of five fish a day- though some over the last day or two have been pretty tiny. Interestingly today he brought in two Rainbow trout, no doubt from nearby Butterstone Loch where the kind owners stock their loch and don’t mind the birds taking a few for dinner. Perhaps with this persistent rain, the usual Pike and Perch were too hard to find. Ospreys will often vary their hunting location according to the weather, for example, switching to lochs when rivers are in spate and fish hard to see etc.
There has been some intruder activity on the nest again over the last couple of days, and of course there has been a lot of speculating over whether or not it is the same bird, and what its motives could be. Whilst it is most likely it is another locally nesting bird just being overly bold, the exciting news below shows us that there are still plenty of unattached juvenile birds around who often ‘drop in’ to established nests out of curiosity or mischief. Could this be one of our intruders?
Exciting news from our colleague Roy Dennis, whose satellite tracked youngster Rothiemurcus migrated for the second time as a three year old this spring: Rothiemurchus is not going to breed this summer but he is looking far and wide for a nest and a mate. On the 31st May he roosted overnight again at Loch an Eilean. Next day he headed south and by 10am on 1st June was in the Blair Athol area. On 2nd June he was around Loch of the Lowes at midday and then returned north to Blair Atholl. On 3rd and 4th he favoured the area east of Aberfeldy and on 5th was back near Dunkeld.