Osprey Diary at Loch of the Lowes – Week 6

The wind continued over the weekend, but the nor’easterly wasn’t the only thing ruffling feathers at the Loch of the Lowes. Intruding ospreys, dropped fish and military planes flying over were all regular occurrences during the last week.

Friday was a day for intruders, with multiple ospreys attempting to try their luck landing on the nest. But as usual the Lowes male (LM12) and female (NC0) were having none of it, with LM12 showing some especially protective behaviour and being quick to fly into the nest or chase away intruders that got too close to NC0 while she incubated her three eggs.

Male osprey shielding female osprey
LM12 mantling over NC0 when he sees an intruding bird

Windy conditions can make it difficult for ospreys to fish, as the ripples obscure their view of the prey, but despite the wind LM12 was able to start the weekend by bringing in a big brown trout on Saturday morning, which NC0 promptly dropped out of a birch tree. Ospreys will rarely fly down to the ground to retrieve food as this limits their range of view and thick undergrowth can make it difficult for them to take flight again. Nevertheless, NC0 made several desperate attempts to retrieve her fish from below the tree, before finally giving it up and returning to the nest, where she began calling to LM12 for more food. NC0 went to bed hungry that night. The crows, however, dined on trout.

When you’re NC0, you get used to being greeted on a Sunday morning not by a fish, but with a lichen-covered stick, which LM12 insisted on depositing right on top of his mate, before she firmly moved the stick to the side of the nest.

Male osprey places stick on back of female osprey
LM12 tries to place a stick on NC0’s back

When another fish was finally brought in later that day, it was too much even for the hungry NC0 to finish, so she came to the nest that night with the reminder of the tail still firmly grasped in her talon and settled into the nest cup with the leftovers tucked underneath her beside the eggs. LM12 clearly thought this was a waste of a good fish.

Though he was unsuccessful that night, when LM12 came to incubate the next morning, he made the happy discovery that the fish tail was still there and took off immediately to eat it, leaving the eggs uncovered for about twenty minutes. NC0 had her wings full later that morning seeing off an Egyptian goose that flew too close for her liking. Another fish was dropped, this time by LM12 as he was bringing it to the nest.

Regular in his habits, LM12 kept a schedule of coming onto the nest to relieve NC0 at about 5am (whether she wanted to get off the nest or not). Lie-ins are not easy to come by with LM12 around.

Nor did the skies stay quiet, with the ospreys turning their eyes up as the growl of a military plane passed over, these ‘intruders’ racing across the cold Scottish sky at various times during the week.

The breeding season is not only underway for the ospreys. Teal and goldeneye have been observed mating, a pair of grebes have begun to construct their nest in the bay below the osprey nest and the swallows are making their northern homes once again under the Crannog Hide.

Finally on Thursday, NC0 dropped yet another (smaller) fish from her perch in the birch and by the afternoon the rain settled into a steady drizzle, ending the week with two very waterlogged ospreys.

Two wet ospreys
Two very soggy ospreys

Keep up to date with the daily lives of the ospreys by watching the live webcam and by following us on Twitter or Facebook for regular updates about them and the reserve’s many other inhabitants.

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The wind continued over the weekend, but the nor’easterly wasn’t the only thing ruffling feathers at the Loch of the Lowes. Intruding ospreys, dropped fish and military planes flying over …

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