Skydancing, Nestorations and Fish – Positive News from the Nest

Since the sad loss of our breeding male LM12 at the start of the month it has been a tumultuous time on the nest for female NC0. After valiantly incubating her eggs for 5 days, she eventually headed off to feed herself, finally catching a huge fish the next day.

NC0 with a rainbow trout © Scottish Wildlife Trust webcam

With no male to defend the nest, several other osprey started to take an interest in the territory, namely the ‘Pale Male’ and the ‘Dark Intruder’. It was the ‘Pale Male’ who appeared dominant initially and managed to destroy the eggs on the 7th and 8th of May.

Whilst it was sad that the eggs were destroyed, it would have been impossible for NC0 to have incubated the eggs or raised any chicks on her own. It also enabled her to begin hunting and looking after herself again, although the instinct to incubate still persisted for a short while.

With the ‘Pale Male’ and ‘Dark Intruder’ engaged in a battle for the territory, NC0 tucked herself away on her favourite perches and busied herself with fishing, bathing and preening.

Despite having been in the ascendency, it was the ‘Dark Intruder’ who appeared to have turned the tables on the ‘Pale Male’ and was seen regularly sitting on top of the webcam, claiming the territory as his own.

‘Dark Intruder’ © Mark Westgarth

What ensued over the weekend of the 11th May was fascinating. The ‘Dark Intruder’ defended the nest on multiple occasions from the ‘Pale Male’. However, later that afternoon a fish exchange was observed between an osprey (thought to be the ‘Pale Male’) and NC0 away from the nest.

‘Pale Male’ © Mark Westgarth

This osprey took off and left NC0 to her meal. It wasn’t long however before the ‘Dark Intruder’ landed next to her and began trying to beg for food and even tried to pull it from her! Eventually, a spectacular chase ensued and NC0 dropped her fish before landing on the nest, where she sat for some time.

Since last Monday (13th) a cool ‘Entente Cordial’ has developed between NC0 and the ‘Dark Intruder’, with both being seen increasingly around the reserve and NC0 regularly fish calling to him for food, although she got fed up of waiting and headed off to fish for herself, returning with a large rainbow trout.

‘Dark Intruder’ & NC0 starting to get along © Scottish Wildlife Trust webcam

There have been other osprey intruding on the territory throughout the week, with up to four seen in the air at one point! On Wednesday 15th a ringed Scottish bird; Blue 247 landed on the nest for the second year in a row. This bird is thought to be female due to her markings and after being chased off by the ‘Dark Intruder’ it certainly seemed to trigger a change in NC0’s behaviour. Shortly after Blue 247’s visit NC0 has been spending significantly more time on the nest and on top of the webcam, and for the last four nights she has roosted on the nest-perch.

Since that day the ‘Dark Intruder’ appears to have grown in confidence and seems to be beginning to understand what is expected of him if he is to be accepted by NC0 and be the dominant male on the territory. He has been seen regularly and vigorously defending the nest. Encouraged by NC0’s fish calling, he has also made multiple fishing attempts from the ‘Split Birch’ and ‘Point’ perches.

As he looks to be an inexperienced and young bird, no doubt trying to partner up for the first time, his small offerings and timings up until the last few days have been out of sync with NC0, with him often landing on the nest when NC0 has not been about.

However, there was a real turning point on Sunday 19th May, with the ‘Dark Intruder’ not bringing in one, but three (small) fish to the nest for NC0, accompanied by several spectacular skydances in the air!

Whilst the second fish almost went overboard and had to be retrieved by NC0, all three were successfully exchanged and it seems that NC0’s ‘gentle’ audible persuasions seem to be working – though she seems less than impressed with his nest building efforts, which whilst very enthusiastic, are a little haphazard!

All in all, things seem to looking positive for this pair, and with the whole summer ahead of they should be able to settle into a routine that enables them to bond, improve their communication and defend the territory, (hopefully) ahead of returning as a breeding pair next season.

Whilst it is unlikely that the pair will be able to breed this season, with a new bond forming it is still an extremely sensitive and critical time in the reproductive life cycle of the osprey. With that in mind we ask that people are still mindful of the space that the pair require to be able to settle on territory undisturbed.

NC0 putting in her fish order to ‘Dark Intruder’ © Scottish Wildlife TrustwWebcam

It has a been fascinating period of viewing, and a complex jigsaw puzzle to piece together. There are of course bound to be other twists and turns over the coming months, and other osprey vying for the territory, especially with the return of two-year olds currently returning into the country for the first time.

Things though are looking promising for this pair, and we will continue to keep our fingers and talons crossed for the coming months!


You can follow how the season continues to unfold by watching the webcam or popping into the Visitors Centre, which is open each day from 10:30 – 5pm.

The Wildlife Protection Team at Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, with funds awarded by Postcode Planet Trust.

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Since the sad loss of our breeding male LM12 at the start of the month it has been a tumultuous time on the nest for female NC0. After valiantly incubating …

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