A beautiful glow has been creeping over Loch of the Lowes this week, as the wildlife acknowledges the arrival of spring with a flurry of activity. The ospreys, already committed to their brood continue to invest their time and energy in protecting the nest and providing for the family. However the male is showing signs that despite his experience he has not learned all the lessons of the past. This morning while the female was away preening after an early bath, he left the eggs without provocation or obvious cause. Curiously, the female returned during his absence but perched away from the nest in one of her favourite trees close by. Nine nail-biting minutes later, the male returned. We expected he must have been chasing off a crow, but alas he returned with a stick! Hardly justification for leaving the eggs but perhaps we should not judge too harshly.
The warm weather and the resulting drop in the water level has allowed the water lilies to emerge, which heralds the beginning of nest building for the great crested grebes. They have been displaying in front of the hide with their characteristic head flicks, swaying and mirroring. Their nests are built on a platform of lily pads which are conjoined by a feat of avian engineering. It is hoped they will have more success than last year, when they were undone by a mix of incompetence and bad fortune. The goldeneye have also been displaying, with the males whipping their necks to and fro accompanied by their nasal ‘quack’. If you have never witnessed this behaviour, it is worth the trip alone!
One swallow does not make a summer, but four swallows might! These iconic birds never fail to put a smile on our faces, just by appearing from their migration. The sand martins have been feasting on the emergent insects as they hurtle above the loch surface at incredible speed. We look forward to being joined by their cousins, the house martins and the swifts. The blue tits have started collecting moss and lichen in earnest in our camera box, and the starlings have set about nest building in boxes and and old woodpecker holes. A pair of reed buntings have been visiting the new reed growth immediately under the main hide providing superb photo opportunities, and blackcaps have returned to our climes. Less common sightings this week include a redpoll in the feeding area and a turnstone on the loch shore, which is quite unusual so far from the coast
Early flowering plants including cowslips and lady’s smock are adding colour to the reserve and the first orange-tip butterflies are fluttering through the grass. Spring brings a new wave of optimism and hopefully good omens for our star attractions, the ospreys.
Species Protection Officer.