It appeared to be another quiet day in and round the loch but it was lulling us into a false sense of security. But the biggest drama wasn’t on the nest but on the loch where there was a battle royal between two Great Crested Grebe pairs.
There has been a pair displaying in front of the hides and spending alot of time in the lilypads under the Osprey nest for the last few days, it could be the pair that nested there last year scoping out a future nest site. They started displaying right in front of us in the hides but were rudely interrupted by another pair. Well the resident pair didn’t take too kindly to this and battlelines were drawn with both pairs squaring up to each other. We assumed it was male on male and female on female but it’s impossible to tell. First the heads went down stretched snakelike along the water, then they started attacking. In both of the battling pairs clearly one of the birds had the upper hand immediately, in one pair one bird was chased the other round and round the end of the loch. In the other pair it was a bit more viscious, one Grebe was on the others back pecking the back of its head. They went under together many times as the underneath bird tried to shake its attacker and escape the onslaught. Everyone in the hides was transfixed, what would happen next? Would the bird drown? It seemed like the worst had happened when only three Grebe resurfaced. Then after a while we spotted the fourth lurking in the reeds, interestly enough much lower in the water than normal. It disappeared and reappeared amongst the reeds a few times until after a good 30 minutes or so it finally started making its way back across the loch. The long way round. It very slowly, staying low in the water and diving almost as soon as it resurfaced, inched its way round giving the resident Grebes a wide berth. The Lilypad pair stayed around displaying for a while while the defeated pair moved over to the far side of the loch.
On the Osprey nest there’s been two Brown Trout in today so far and a couple of intruder Ospreys including one that tried to land on the nest, only to find a decidedly unimpressed female on there. The male did return to the nest to help defend it which is great news as he’s not always been that good at nest protection.
Talking of Ospreys the latest info from Blue YD is in and he’s not been so adventurous in the last few days, instead sticking to a few favourite spots near St Louis. Here’s a view of what he could be seeing.
Osprey Q & A:
Q: Why is there so much grass in the nest this year?
A: We’re not entirely sure but we think its to do with the weather and having snow so late on. Normally when she arrives back she picks the grass out but perhaps she didn’t get a chance this year.
We have some new arrivals around the Visitor Centre with 7 newly hatched Pheasant Chicks making an appearance and all 10 of ‘Mrs Mallard’s’ ducklings are still with us, yesterday we thought there were only 7 but they were all there today. It would be normal to lose a few of the chicks, particularly to the Pike in the loch but so far they’ve all survived. Last year one of the Mallard females successfully raised her whole brood, perhaps it’ll happen again this year. Thanks to Nick Gordon for these pics of the new arrivals.