Our first osprey egg of 2014 was most welcome , laid very early Sunday morning- just in time to help us celebrate 50 wonderful years of the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Our visitor centre as packed yesterday with people enjoying watching the birds incubating their new egg- with both adults taking turns. Charmingly the male seems so besotted with his new egg, he was seen yesterday a couple of times pushing the female off so he could have a go incubating!
Sadly the egg’s first day was not uneventful , however, as many of you noticed around 2pm yesterday the female osprey was frightened off the nest. She was away for quite a while, and even on her return, she was unsettled and didn’t resume incubation for another 10minutes. We are so very lucky that in this period an opportunistic predator didn’t happen by, and that the weather was gloriously warm so the egg is unlikely to have suffered any damage.
What caused the disturbance was the irresponsible actions of two people who walked into the small area of the reserve that is off limits this time of year to protect the breeding birds. We always welcome responsible users of our reserves abiding by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, but there are some areas where the legal protection of vulnerable species take precedence for a few weeks each year- as in the area round our osprey nest.
It was the quick thinking and calm professionalism of our wonderful team of volunteers and staff , which enabled the situation to be resolved as quickly as possible with local police assistance. This highlights the reasons we still have a 24hr, 7 day a week Osprey Nest Protection Watch, staffed by over 70 volunteers- whose hard work is so worthwhile and appreciated. It shows that even if human disturbance is unintentional, it can cause serious harm to vulnerable species and can cause breeding failure or even nest abandonment. It is vital if the conservation success of the osprey’s UK recovery is to continue , that nests are protected.
It also highlights why we have gone to such lengths to provide first class viewing facilities at Loch of the Lowes for the birds- to make it safe, enjoyable, and accessible to all, without disturbing or compromising the birds. We also help people understand what a safe and respectful distance is from such nests, wherever they are being found or watched.
I have to say I am immensely proud to lead such a dedicated team of people who share in this important osprey protection task, and hope you will join me is sending out a huge THANK YOU to them all for their sterling work this weekend and during the whole breeding season.