It has been a strange start to the season here at Loch of the Lowes. Our four brand new Species Protection Officers have had two weeks to really get to know each other during their isolation together in the onsite eco-bothy!
Whilst we all knew things were going to be different this year the annual return of ospreys remains of life’s few certainties and a plan for their protection has to be in place. Thanks to the impressive organisational skills of the Trust’s Perthshire Ranger Sara Rasmussen, four willing Species Protection Officers, and support from a team of more than 50 dedicated volunteers our watch has begun!
Here’s a little introduction to Hollie, Hayley, Josie, and Helen, the four Species Protection Officers who will be staying in the on–site eco-bothy for the next six months.
After my Masters degree in Ecology and Conservation, I took a Wildlife ID course to improve my identification skills. I would now describe myself as a fully-fledged birder, perhaps even a cheeky ‘twitcher’ at times! I am super stoked to have this amazing opportunity to become a Species Protection Officer, protecting one of the UK’s most incredible migrant species…ospreys!
I am looking forward to learning more about these magnificent birds and hopefully being able to watch them raise and fledge a new generation. I am also looking forward to the arrival of the summer migrant birds to the reserve. So, there is nowhere I would rather spend my summer than immersed in the rich array of species and diverse habitats that Loch of the Lowes has to offer.
After I completed my Zoology Masters, I spent a season working on an island as a Ranger to monitor seabirds and loved it, so I was super excited to get the opportunity to continue working with some of the UK’s amazing bird species and work as a Species Protection Officer for Loch of the Lowes’ Ospreys. It has been great to see the ospreys arrive (my first time seeing one!), reunite after their winter apart in West Africa, and build a fantastic looking nest.
I am looking forward to seeing them lay, seeing their chicks hatch, and watching them grow and hopefully fledge, as well as seeing and learning more about all the other species (including beavers, pine martens and red squirrels to name a few!) that Loch of the Lowes is home to.
Lowes, you just couldn’t get rid of me! Some of our regular volunteers might recognise my face as I volunteered here as an Assistant Ranger in 2019. I had such a great time and learned so much that I’ve come back this year to see in the osprey season! It’s already been a pleasure to see the birds arrive and watch them get settled in, and I can’t wait to see them lay and to follow all the drama up close.
It’s been a long winter for me – as I’m sure it has for many – and it’s great to be back here, back in the Bothy, with the birds returned, the buds just starting to burst and spring in motion. I’m also really excited for June – when we’ll be getting out onto some of our other Perthshire reserves and I’m looking forward to seeing how and if they’ve changed and to finding out if all that balsam pulling did the trick!
After a shared stint of being an Assistant Ranger in 2019 alongside Josie, I‘ve had an unexpectedly long break from practical conservation work (damn Covid). Instead, I offered my help virtually to my local organisations with survey data entry and some GIS work I could do from home to support local wildlife. I’m glad to be back out here at Lowes – well, Scotland in general actually – where I can engage with like-minded folk and interact with nature to preserve specialised habitats and species.
This is a new experience for me in focusing solely on osprey protection for these initial two months, and after the nest abandonment last year, these are set to be uncertain times for everyone following their breeding season. It will be great to have played a part in the ongoing breeding success of a protected species.
Keep up to date with our blog to find out more about ospreys in general and of course our lovely pair NC0 and LM12 on the Trust’s live osprey webcam as they keep us on our toes with their antics throughout the season!
Hollie, Hayley, Josie, and Helen
Species Protection Officer Team
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It has been a strange start to the season here at Loch of the Lowes. Our four brand new Species Protection Officers have had two weeks to really get to know each other …