Since arriving at Loch of the Lowes and meeting up again after their months apart over the winter, our resident ospreys have been settling back in to their Scottish home.
As many of you know, the male (LM12) surprised us by arriving back earlier than usual, a full week before the female (LF15) turned up. Before her arrival, he had done his best with the nest, tidying up damage from storms since last autumn and bringing in moss, twigs and even some pretty hefty branches.
A rare but spectacular sight is when he flies down the edge of the tree rimmed loch, turns sideways, grasps a protruding dead branch and flies on, sending up a shower of splinters as he breaks it off and takes it up to the nest. He has also been known to grab clumps of moss from the local golf course!
The nest is now in good order, lined with moss and reeds and they have each spent time making a deep area in the middle. This is the ‘nest cup’ and will eventually hold the eggs (fingers firmly crossed!). To make this deeper hole in the centre of the nest, they lie down, slightly spread their wings and appear to be rocking from side to side. In fact, all the work is going on underneath with their feet, digging out and then firming up the area.
They have mated dozens of times already and this is continuing. For those who watched LM12 maturing over the years, his early, rather clumsy ‘attempts’ in 2012/13 seem to have been good practise. His fishing skills are still excellent. However, on several occasions he will catch a fish, fly up to the nest and flaunt it in front of his mate and then – fly off and eat it on a nearby silver birch!
Despite this behaviour, he is also supplying her with fish and they both appear very healthy, alert and doing all the right things which bodes well.
A peregrine falcon who often chose to perch in the nest area during the winter, kept his distance for a while (maybe off finding his own mate and nest site on a cliffside?) but he is back again today. There is no reason why peregrines and ospreys would have a conflict (peregrines prefer to take their prey on the wing). Potential threats could come from the buzzards, crows and red kite who have been cruising around, but the male is pretty effective at keeping them away from his nest area.
So, all in all, things are going well so far and we are looking forward to another great season.
Visitor Centre Assistant