Another exciting day at the Osprey nest at Loch of the Lowes, with yet more developments between our male bird and his new female friend- a female osprey who isn’t his usual mate, our veteran favourite affectionately known to many as “Lady”.
Since this new female arrived a couple of days ago, the male seemed really confused about whether to accept and court her, or react defensively. It seems her charms have begun to win him over as we are seeing lots more classic courtship behavior today.
There have been several successful mating attempts, and the males seems more assured and is mantling less near the female.He has responded to the food begging calls of the female and provided fish at the nest which is classic osprey courtship behavior ( though he has teased her a few times and took off again with it when she tried to snatch it too greedily)The male has also begun to bring in small amounts of nesting material and dig in the nest centre- you may notice him lie down on his chest and kick his legs, which is to create a snug central nest well to lay eggs into.
The big question is: will our regular breeding female still arrive and what will happen if she does?
There is still plenty of time for other birds to arrive- our female has arrived later than this several times before so we shouldn’t write her off just yet. There are still plenty of birds in Scotland not yet back at their nests- the weather is undoubtedly holding up some birds and making migration difficult for many.
If “Lady” arrives, it will be for the 23rd year in a row – a remarkable achievement. She is so closely bonded to this nest, she will fight the other female for it- she has seen off other intruders most years. Whichever bird wins will hold the nest and the males attention- and he will mate again. The unlucky bird won’t then manage to breed unless it can quickly find another nest and mate, as solo parenting isn’t an option for an osprey.
Several people have asked why the ospreys are so keen to court another partner when they are supposed to be monogamous. It actually makes a great deal of sense biologically to ‘hedge your bets’ and ensure a chance to breed , even if your regular partner doesn’t turn up- the male especially has nothing to lose by keeping his options open.
Lastly a quick update on our Satellite tracked ospreys– unfortunately still no news of Blue 44 who we hope is out there somewhere enjoying his youth- even if he has survived we wouldn’t expect to see him back in Scotland for another year or two. Chick Blue YD from Angus still doing well and has remained on the coast of Senegal this week. He is taking short trips to hunt at sea ( about 2km out) and then favours a few regular perches in the dunes and just inland for midday rests and night time roosts. Perhaps he has taken over the prime territory of an adult bird who has left on migration?