We are used to seeing natural intruders including other ospreys invading the territory of our pair and triggering their normal defensive behaviour. Unfortunately on Monday afternoon we had to deal with an intruder of a much more worrying kind.
The staff and volunteers at Loch of the Lowes work tirelessly around the clock at this time of year providing 24 hour security for our ospreys to ensure they are left in peace to breed successfully on our reserve. On Monday we received the alert that we all hope to never hear. Someone was within our osprey exclusion zone and getting closer to their nest.
This person was quickly spotted thanks to our very vigilant and observant volunteers and visitors who immediately raised the alarm. Unfortunately they were also spotted by our ospreys, who are not used to any human disturbance, especially at such close proximity. Sadly the birds were disturbed off the nest for approximately 15 minutes, leaving the eggs unattended and exposed to the cold as well as potential predators.
Such an act, whether deliberate or unintentional is a criminal offence as ospreys are Schedule 1 birds, giving them the highest legal protection while nesting. Our protocols for such an event were initiated, and we would like to thank the police for their help and rapid response to the situation.
While we are unable to disclose further details of the event, we do not believe that this instance was a more sinister attempt to steal our precious eggs but instead was a case of sheer ignorance. This doesn’t alter the fact that our birds were illegally disturbed during this incredibly important time, and we are all very thankfully that no further damage was done.
It is cases like this that highlight that human interference still poses a real threat to the breeding and long term conservation of birds such as our ospreys. Everyone here at Loch of the Lowes is incredibly grateful to all of the staff and volunteers who have contributed their time to our Osprey Watch over the years, helping to ensure that our ospreys have the best possible chance every breeding season.
We are not that long away from entering the potential egg hatching period, so we hope that the rest of this time passes peacefully and uneventfully to allow our ospreys to enter the next phase of hatching and rearing their new chicks.