The osprey nest at Loch of the Lowes has always drawn quite a lot of attention to ospreys and other birds alike. Every year we have a few ospreys visiting the nest before our resident birds arrive. By the time the birds are settled, any other bird flying too close to the nest becomes an intruder and it is chased off mostly by the male osprey. This year has not been any different, but it is not surprising considering that the osprey population has miraculously recovered from 14 breeding pairs in 1976 to almost 200 at present time. We all remember Rothiemurchus long voyage in which he explored not only Scotland – visiting Lowes a few times we should recall – but also England on his way up from Africa last year.
This season Ranger Emma was first in spotting an unringed male on March 18th that only landed on the nest for a brief period of time. At least four different ospreys were seeing around Lowes before our male arrived on March 24th. He was quickly joined by an unringed female which we were very confident had visited the nest in 2012 prior to our female´s arrival. This new unringed female spent five days on the nest trying to be accepted by the male and clearly on the lookout for the real owner of the nest.
When our resident female arrived on March 30th the previous unringed female disappeared. And because she was not ringed, we have not been able to confirm if she could be one of the intruders that have been seeing in Lowes recently. As you can see in the graph below, most of our intruders have been ospreys although our birds have had their fair share of crow mobbing as well. In fact, our male has been harassed by crows a few times especially when carrying fish either to the nest or to his favourite perch. Seagulls were present in the loch in large numbers during March and April and buzzards are often seeing around the loch but rarely disturbing the nest. And even a heron was chased off by the male one early morning in April.
In general, the intruders we have had at Lowes have been seen regularly in the past month – almost every day – circling the nest or flying over the loch, prompting alarm calling and sometimes mantling on our female as a warning signal more than defensive behaviour. But we have also had a few ospreys trying to land on the nest, with one particular occasion in which the female stood up as the intruder briefly landed on the nest that could have been fatal for the eggs if some kind of struggle had taken place. Luckily our female is very experienced and never abandons or exposes the eggs; she will desperately call for the male´s help and mantle over the nest to protect the brood. Here is a short clip of the event from our YouTube´s account:
All in all, our ospreys are doing a good job at incubating the brood as they barely leave the eggs exposed. As we mentioned before, both male and female osprey are sharing incubation tasks, and when the female settles down for the night in the nest, the male remains perched nearby and keeping an eye on the nest… at least until she starts demanding food early in the morning!
Ainoa & Guy
Species Protection Officers