Its been HOT here today at Loch of the Lowes, and all our wildlife has been really feeling it. Our male osprey really struggled today to find fish and there have been some big gaps between deliveries to the nest, especially in the heat of the day, presumably as this is when the bright sunlight makes it harder to see the fish and they are deepest in the water
Our osprey chick Blue YZ has been doing so much stretching and flapping today on the nest ,despite the heat- she really looks very strong. This ‘practice period’ is crucial for her in building muscle and coordination, however, it would be unlikely that she will actually leave the nest fully until next week.
Some great Osprey questions today:
Q: Why does the female have stronger legs?
A: As in most birds of prey, female ospreys are always larger than males, in fact up to 30% larger. Presumably this is because there is some advantage to being larger to nest and incubate eggs, whereas males are leaner hunters.
When trying to assess gender of a chick, an older well fed male chick can be bigger than a younger underfed female, so ringers and scientists have found that looking at the proportions of wings and especially legs is the most accurate way to tell. A female chick will have thicker ‘ankles’ (I.e. larger bones proportionally) even if she is not as well grown at the ringing date.
Q: When a female has been satellite tagged, if she still has the aerial in place when she reaches sexual maturity wouldn’t that interfere with mating? Have there been any tagged female chicks who have mated successfully?
A: A great question and yes there have been female ospreys who have gone on to breed and rear families successfully with a transmitter on. For example, Roy Denis’s Highland Foundation for Wildlife has tagged females Logie, Beatrice and Morven, who are all successful breeders. If you look at footage of ospreys mating, you will see that the male does not sit high up on the females back, but rather near her tail, and so the transmitter pack isn’t in the way. The aerial is a very floppy material which easily bends out of the way too.
Lastly an amazing sighting today on the Loch- certainly a first for me! Dennis Buchan one of our volunteers spotted this amazing sight from our hide mid afternoon- an Adder swimming !!!! What a phenomenally lucky picture and a rare sighting of this rather unusual behaviour for this species- but who can blame it in the heat today!