A relatively quiet day here on the osprey nest at Loch of the Lowes with our female osprey being remarkably quiet (hardly any food begging calls) and relatively uninterested in the fish her partner has been bringing her. We don’t think is anything to worry about- she has eaten enough to be ok- but may be a sign that he is getting close to egg laying . Just one Osprey intruder today, in a casual flyover, and no big dramas on the nest, but an awful lot of fidgeting and nest rearranging which may be another good sign of imminent eggs.
Some more Osprey Q and A’s today:
Q: What signs will there be she is get close or has laid an egg?
A: She will start to sit in the nest center all the time, and will shuffle and strain when she is laying the actual egg. Confirmation comes when she tips her beak down and rolls and rearranges the egg under her body- and we should then catch a glimpse too,
Q: When doe she usually lay them?
A: eggs can be laid anytime, but this female osprey tends to like overnight and early mornings on average, so keep your eyes peeled on the night cam.
Q: Is “Lady” aware of the webcam?
A: The nest camera moves only fractionally and is nearly silent- it moves within the ball housing very smoothly. This type of camera was chosen to minimise any disturbance to the birds. As ospreys have such keen eyesight, I am sure they can see the camera and its tiny infra red light at night, but they don’t seem disturbed by it at all. However, we are always careful not to over use the pan and tilt functions as these are more noticeable than the zoom.
Q: Is it an artificial nest? What maintenance do you do on it?
A: Partly- many years ago the metal base was attached to the tree by us, and since then the birds have built a huge, solid wood nest on top of this base. To ensure it is stable and secure, we check the nest every winter when the birds are away, and if necessary climb to test it and do any reinforcing necessary (for example after the winter storms in early 2012). Otherwise, we leave well alone- the birds renovate every year when they return, which is an important part of their pair bonding and courtship.
Q: What size is an osprey’s hunting territory? Will it share it with other birds?
A: The size of the birds nesting and hunting territory will depended entirely on the quality of habitat and food availability. In area with lots of food, they can nest as close as a few hundred yards from each other (though they defend their nests fiercely) and share the hunting areas. In areas with less food, they will not take so kindly to overlapping with other birds. Here at Loch of the Lowes we know our male birds can travel up to 8 or 10 miles in search of food( especially if times are hard) and that ospreys from other local nests occasionally hunt at Lowes without harassment- provide they stay away from the nest itself. The North American subspecies of ospreys is known to nest almost colonially, but their behavior is different to our birds in many ways.
Q: What was “Lady” eating last night around 19.30 – There was huge bone in it – Was it an eel?
A: I have reviewed the footage and believe this was the spine of a fish you could see sticking out from the tail end. This is all that remained of the fish the male brought in earlier- a very very large one judging by the size of its tail! You can clearly see the telltale shape of the vertebrae of a fish, still connected by the spinal cord, but as the fish arrived in such an eaten state( only about the back ¼ was left) I can’t be sure what species it was.
Q: Is it not early and very cold still for the ospreys to return?
A: Our ospreys have returned at their usual time this year- in fact “Lady” came back on exactly the same date as last year, whereas the male was a wee bit earlier. This fits in with the historical averages for this nest – though we have had some years of later and earlier arrivals. What I different this year is that our spring is so cold and it is unusual for there to be such low temperatures and so much snow for so long in March and April. Our birds have seen many a cold snap, but seldom this prolonged cold weather- but they are hardy and adaptable.
Q: What is Lady’s weight, wingspan?
A: Our female osprey has never been caught so we don’t have her exact measurements etc but I can tell you that female ospreys have:
Wingspan: between 5 foot (155cm) to 5.5 foot (167cm)
Height: 20inches (52cm) to 24inches (60cm)
Weight: Between 1.4 and 2kg = three to four pounds approx
Q: How many miles has she travelled in her lifetime?
A: We can’t tell exactly as we don’t know her exact destination on migration alas.
However, we can taken an educated guess: If she is an average osprey and travels to west Africa ( let’s say Senegal) every winter, and she has been coming here for 23years, she will have travelled on average approximately 5,000 miles per year( Scotland to Senegal approx 2700miles x2 ) , so that works out at a staggering 115000miles so far! If on the other hand she has been only travelling as far as Spain all this time, she will have travelled over 1000miles each way twice a year so that’s still 46,000miles!