Though I personally hate getting out of bed before 5am, the dawn osprey protection watch shifts do have their compensations- here is a photo we took this morning from the hide whilst we were trying to find the birds in the mist!
It’s been an eventful day at the Loch of the Lowes for our ospreys with two fish deliveries (one to the nest and one to flat top tree), the male osprey chasing a heron who got too close to the nest and an aerial dogfight this evening between the male and a red kite which was really spectacular! The female then treated us to an elegant talon washing session this evening (where they fly along dragging their feet in the water) for a good 2 minutes- so graceful!
What a fascinating response we’ve had to our discussion about strange objects being brought to Osprey nests– thanks to everyone who email and tweeted us with their contributions from all over the world. Here as some of the best so far:
“I saw a child’s stuffed toy skunk, in an osprey nest 2 years ago!” Diana
“At Dyfi Ospreys last year …we all thought they had a hedgehog in the nest but it turned out to be a cowpat!! Another interesting decoration was bladderwrack [a kind of seaweed]” Diane
“On one of the East coast of USA nests a few years ago they had a glove lining the nest and a plastic bag, also an osprey nest at Calgary Zoo had a black glove with fingers as well” Jillian
“There is an Osprey box nest in Calgary Canada [where] the male- known as “Dad” …. was notorious for bringing odd objects for nesting material. I have images of some of the objects: work gloves, gloves, mittens, paper, a diaper, a pair of men’s boxer briefs, and a women’s underwire bra – black! The worst item was a plastic bag. The bag covered an egg and Mom tried her best to uncover it but did not succeed. The egg did not hatch. The best items were koi. Dad had a private pond he would raid – the owner evidently enjoyed feeding him as he kept it stocked – with the least expensive variety. When fishing on the river was poor, Dad supplied his chicks with Koi.” B Kaiser
Dumfries and Galloway rangers: “two things spring to mind: gar fish and a cap!”
Q: Is the current male at Loch of the Lowes the same “Laird “referred to in previous years, and who is “Laddie”- are they the same bird?
A: In 2010 the name for our female osprey “Lady of the Loch” got very popular and some people starting calling her then mate “Laird” to match. Alas this male did not survive very long and was replaced on the nest in 2012 by a new younger male. Whilst he doesn’t have an official name, some people call him “Laddie”. 2014 is his third breeding year on this nest.
Q: Is there a risk of inbreeding if osprey chicks return to the same place they were born to breed?
A: This is possible, and there are some such matings recorded, but generally the birds do spread out when they return. Most will return to the general area of their birth, but not the exact natal nest. Some researchers have found the males slightly more inclined to return most closely, whilst females tend to spread out more, which may be a natural defence against inbreeding.