Osprey Diary at Loch of the Lowes – Weeks 15 & 16

It’s been a busy time at the reserve for both humans and wildlife alike. The new Seasonal Ranger team are settled in and there is an abundance of activity on the loch and in the surrounding woodlands. Tawny owlets have been spied branching and clumsily flying about, beaver are enjoying feasting on water lilies in the evenings, the gooseander make regular appearances with their 7 young following them about like wind up toys, and great crested grebe patiently incubate on their ‘floating nests’, whilst the skies above the loch are filled with a feeding frenzy of swift, swallow and martin.

Great Crested Grebe at Loch of the Lowes © Don Beavis

And what of our osprey family?  Since their ringing two weeks ago the young osprey – now known by their blue Darvic colour rings as PF4 (the elder, larger female chick) and PF5 (the younger, smaller male sibling) – have gone from strength to strength. Their days have consisted of yet more napping, plenty of eating and increasing amounts of wing activity.

Both chicks have been strengthening their flying muscles in anticipation of their maiden flight. The breezy conditions have been perfect for both youngsters to get a feel of the uplift their wings provide and practice the skill of beating their wings. Both have been jumping about on the nest, with elder chick PF4 managing a steady helicopter.

The changing weather conditions however haven’t always made life on the nest so easy. After a long period of very dry weather, the last few weeks have brought rain (thankfully) and wind. Watch how male osprey LM12 skillfully copes with adjusting his approach and landing on the nest in very gusty conditions. Meanwhile youngster PF4 learned a valuable lesson about which direction to sit in during a gale!

Rain might not be what the visiting tourists want on their holidays, however for the desperately low rivers and tinder dry ground it has been a welcome relief.  It also seems to have helped stablise the number and variety of fish appearing on the nest.  Young male jack pike and perch are now appearing more regularly on the menu, along with the favoured ‘dish of the day’ this season; brown trout. Indeed on occasion there have been more than one fish on the nest at any one time – not a sight seen so far this year.

Two Fish Are Better Than One! © Scottish Wildlife Trust Webcam

June quickly turned into July and with it one of the regular milestones in the osprey breeding season; the moment when female osprey NC0 begins to fish for her family.

Prior to that moment all of the fish brought to the nest are provided by her mate LM12. It is a sure sign that the chicks are starting to become more independent and NC0 feels confident enough to leave them for periods, although she is always nearby, either on her favoured ‘Split Birch’ perch, or sitting high up in a conifer at ‘The Point’.

Her first fish of the season was brought to the nest on the 30th June. NC0 leapt off the ‘Webcam Perch’ high above the nest and swooped down to the loch below! A loud splash and she returned moments later with a large jack pike in her talons. It is just incredible how she can both spot and accurately dive in on a fish at a distance from the nest!

Later that night she returned with another whopper of a fish!

NC0 On Her Top Hunting Game © Scottish Wildlife Trust Webcam

She has since been seen regularly dropping in on unsuspecting pike and perch from the ‘Split Birch’. Keep your eyes peeled when watching the webcam, if she isn’t on the nest, there’s a good chance she is sitting, waiting patiently for her moment.

Another ‘Whopper’ by NC0 © Scottish Wildlife Trust Webcam

The plentiful supply of fish has provided the youngsters with plenty of opportunities to practice one of the key skills they need to survive – the ability to self feed.

Up until recently female NC0 has undertaken all the feeding duties at meal times. Watch as LM12 delivers a live brown trout, eagerly grabbed by PF4 (please excuse the typo in the video), who manages to hold it securely, dispatch it and begin to self feed. Tough skin can be tricky and both chicks found it hard to make progress on a larger fish, fortunately Mum is still on hand to help them out. Judging by the competitive Tug o’ War though, it won’t be long before the youngsters can self feed on their own. They sure are growing up fast!

Perhaps by the time the ‘ink has dried’ on this blog one of the youngsters will have taken their first brave flight around the Loch?  The question is who will be courageous enough to fledge first and when?

Synchro Wings from siblings PF5 and PF4 © Scottish Wildlife Trust Webcam

Make sure you stay tuned to the live webcam to watch them take their first momentous step into adulthood! You can also keep up to date with the daily lives of the ospreys by following us on Twitter or Facebook for regular updates.

‘Raz’ Rasmussen, Perthshire Ranger

The Trust’s Osprey Protection Programme at Loch of the Lowes is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.


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It’s been a busy time at the reserve for both humans and wildlife alike. The new Seasonal Ranger team are settled in and there is an abundance of activity on …

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