A worrying day at the Loch of the Lowes Osprey nest with the four eggs again left alone by the male bird- thankfully they survived over an hour on their own before the females return to incubation duties this morning.
At 8.32am the male left the nest- why? Well, there were no signs of intruders or disturbance by people on the loch, and there was no agitated behaviour from the male. Was he simply ‘distracted’ or did he think the female was on her way in to take over- there have been times when the birds seem to miss their cue so to speak.
The eggs were left until 9.42am when the female returned and resumed normal incubation. This means a total of 1hr 10mins exposure for the eggs- the big question is: is this long enough to do them damage?
Firstly, we should say, at least they weren’t predated during that time- a real stroke of luck. Secondly, in their favour, it was a glorious warm spring morning with little wind, so the eggs shouldn’t have chilled too much, or conversely dried out too much (eggs need humidity in the shell to make them easy to hatch).
Thirdly, how long is too long for osprey eggs? No one really knows. I have heard stats as varied as 15minutes, and 2hours quoted, but it all depends on the weather at the time. It is even unclear as to whether the stage of development of the embryo inside the eggs makes a difference- that is, if eggs left exposed later during the incubation month are better off than those left early.
All we can do now is wait- it is only just over a week until the first egg is due to hatch so we will soon know if they have survived this unscheduled abandonment.
Otherwise today, the male fished on the loch in front of the hides, taking a nice Perch which he brought back to his mate about an hour later.
Last night one of our local policemen dropped in to the centre to tell us he had just seen our male osprey take a bundle of grass and sticks from the nearby golfcourse. This arrived at the nest last night at around 7pm, and the male then placed it on his mate’s back, which he sometimes does with nesting material- perhaps some protective instinct. However, all this left a very bemused Oystercatcher on the golfcourse looking for a nest that had disappeared into the sky- luckily it had no eggs on board!
On our Webcam stream tonight we are showing the distance view of the Osprey nest. Our camera technician is working on the camera cabling overnight and into tomorrow to try to improve the webcam quality issues which have reared their ugly heads again. Rest assured that the main nest camera is still streaming into the centre perfectly, and our dedicated nightwatch team are using other cameras and the usual hide vigil with nightvision scopes to ensure all is well with the birds overnight.