Osprey Diary Wed 31st July

As we all watch this year’s young osprey Blue YZ fledge and develop, it is staggering how much of her behaviour is innate and seems to come so easily, despite her tender age (just 2 months old).

However, even the most capable of youngster make mistakes and this evening she came a cropper big style. My colleague Jonathan and some visitors in the hides saw it all just after 5pm:

“The chick tried to land in a tree on the lochisde but missed the branch badly, and tumbled downwards through the foliage, bouncing and flapping. Eventually a larger branch broke her fall and she scrambled up onto it. She sat a few minutes recomposing herself, then comically started to gingerly inch her way out along the branch to get to the end where she could spread her wings to take off, free from the foliage. She eventually took off and returned to the nest, looking rather undignified”

Luckily she seems none the worse for this little misadventure.

Blue YZ has also been taking a few ‘runs’ at a stick that stands just above the waterline in the loch in the bay – most likely practising aiming and calculating flight-lines, but not actually diving in the water, but is great to see.

As you will see from her satellite data, she has confined her flights around the loch mostly to a small triangle on the shore and around her ‘home’ bay. She has not ventured very far yet and is still to build up some more strength and confidence.

Meanwhile Blue YD is still in Senegal going strong- he seems to have settled into a routine of flying a maximum of 5km north or south of his favourite roost on any given day, and up to a maximum of 1km out to sea- preferring the saltwater lagoon  for fishing.

Q:  Is it known how much sleep an adult osprey gets/needs?  When the female was incubating she seldom appeared less than alert and surely she has to be more so at night for fear of predators?

A: This is an area into which very liitle study has been done. Most mammals require sleep similar to human, but birds often ‘nap’ and can move around a lot during the night. You are absolutely right in that a female must be alert during incubation- one of the osprey’s potential predators here in Scotland is the Pine marten which is mostly nocturnal.

Q:  Blue YZ still lies down a good deal presumably to rest?  Will she have found her first night difficult perched in a tree unable to lie down?  Is she unusual in often lying on her side in the nest with her legs visible sticking out sideways?

A: This is considered ‘baby’ behaviour, and decreases as the strength in the chicks leg muscles develops. All adult birds rest perched and the ligaments in their legs allow them to be at rest whilst standing. Adult birds mostly only lie down when incubating.

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As we all watch this year’s young osprey Blue YZ fledge and develop, it is staggering how much of her behaviour is innate and seems to come so easily, despite …

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