It’s come to the time of year when we have an empty osprey nest again. It’s been a wonderful osprey season at Loch of the Lowes where we’ve been treated to watching LM12 and LF15 successfully raise two chicks, PT0 and LN1. The chicks themselves have provided us with some entertaining viewing, from watching PT0 balance on a ball of nest material, to seeing them lose fish out the side of the nest.
We're not sure what yoga videos PT0 has been watching, but we don't think he's got the hang of it quite yet…
Posted by Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve on Tuesday, 10 July 2018
The osprey season started with LF15 returning on 20th March, followed by LM12 on 29th March. They swiftly got on with the task at hand, and very soon after (14th April) the first egg was laid. LF15 went on to lay two more eggs (16th April, 19th April). As osprey eggs are incubated as soon as they are laid, hatching is staggered, with the first chick hatching on 22th May (that we believe to be PT0), and the second on 24th May (LN1). Unfortunately, the third egg did not hatch again this year, though we are very happy with the two beautiful chicks we got!
This year’s offspring mark LM12 and LF15 raising 10 chicks together at Loch of the Lowes, which is no mean feat. Under LM12’s provision and LF15’s protection, we’ve seen the chicks grow from tiny “bobbleheads” to magnificent birds. It’s been wonderful to see the personalities of the two chicks come through and to have them both successfully leave for migration. In the final few days before PT0 left, we saw that the juvenile had surpassed the size of LM12, leading us to believe she may be female. Although it’s hard to determine at a young age, female ospreys are usually larger, so PT0’s large size could indicate that she is in fact female.
It was a very exciting, though nerve-wracking, time in the run up to the juveniles fledging the nest. PT0 seemed much more confident and had fledged by 14th July. LN1 was soon to follow, leaving the nest for the first time on the 17th July. Watch them fledge in the video below:
Thank you to everyone who has watched their progress, to our dedicated volunteers, and to players of People's Postcode Lottery for supporting the osprey protection programme at Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve.
Posted by Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve on Thursday, 19 July 2018
LF15 left Loch of the Lowes to start her migration on the 8th August, which is very close to her leaving date last year. LN1 was gone not long after (11th August), which took us by surprise as he fledged after PT0 and is thought to be the younger chick. PT0 is thought to have left a little while later on the morning of the 20th August, after a week of listening to her calling for fish very persistently. LM12 was the final bird to leave and staff were able to identify him as last seen on 26th August, marking the end of our osprey season. We have seen a number of other ospreys passing through so far this year, with an unringed juvenile sat on the birch perch on 26th August. Seeing these other ospreys is a great indicator that the protection that has been put in place for these birds has been effective and their population is increasing. We can now hope that, although it will always be special to see ospreys, they will become a more common sight across the UK.
It will be a few years until we have the chance of seeing PT0 and LN1 back in the area. Osprey chicks spend a couple of years in their wintering country, which can range from countries such as Senegal and The Gambia in West Africa, to Portugal. Ospreys typically travel up to 5000 miles for their migration, and the birds that we previously satellite tracked traveled to West Africa, a journey of around 3000 miles.They stay there until they reach maturity at around 2-3 years of age, at which point they will return to the UK for the breeding season.
Thanks for everyone’s continued support of the ospreys at Loch of the Lowes, we still hope to see you throughout the rest of the year. We are ever appreciative of all the help we’ve had so far this year from our volunteers, be it through the Osprey Watch, Visitor Centre and Hide Guide, or Reserves team. All that’s left to say now, to quote Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), is: “So long and thanks for all the fish”.
Thanks for reading,
Visitor Centre Assistant
P.S. We have lots of people saying they find it difficult to remember which birds are which with their codes. A useful way to remember the adult birds:
LM12 – Lowes Male 2012 (He first nested at Lowes in 2012)
LF15 – Lowes Female 2015 (She first nested at Lowes in 2015)