Good morning all.
Welcome to a new month. Yes, July already with June being noted as the wettest since records began in 1910. How about that for a summer? Despite this, I hope that you are all making what you can of the intermittent better spells and finding ways to occupy the children as they commence their school summer breaks.
Lady and Laddie’s chick is fast evolving into a ‘proper little osprey’, more of a juvenile now than a chick as we witness much preening and wing flapping from within the nest. Laddie is proving to be an excellent provider (did we ever doubt he would?) and Lady has once again demonstrated in no uncertain terms that she still has what it takes to rear young. She has been incredibly docile with her mate this year, not harassing him in the way that we were accustomed to seeing her do with Laird (7Y) and Eric previously. Has she mellowed or is Laddie simply the perfect mate with no pushing required? Whatever it is, it’s a very welcome interlude and one that I have personally enjoyed witnessing.
Just a reminder for those still waiting, that I have now taken delivery of a second print-run of our book ‘The Lady Returns’. If you would like to purchase one, please send me a PM with your details and I shall organise delivery to you. For ease of payment there is a Paypal facility set up at the side of this page. We have so far raised funds for The Dyfi Osprey Project (http://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/stream) and also Roy Dennis’ Highland Foundation for Wildlife (http://www.roydennis.org/index.asp?id=14), both of which are still collecting donations, further funds are also being raised for The Loch of The Lowes Osprey Project which is currently running.
And so, for those that have been unable to catch the action or would like a little reminder of the weeks’ events I bring you our summary.
© Screenshot pictures copyright Scottish Wildlife Trust
Sunday, 24th June
Laddie arrives at 7:23am with a large headless catch and breakfast gets underway. It is so far a dry but dull morning with not the same degree of wind as yesterday. Feeding finished at 8:05am Lady moves to the side of the nest for a preen then takes a two minute break at 8:20am. Laddie comes in a moment later and, identifying that the morning feed is concluded, removes the remains for his own purposes. As Lady and the chick sit quietly together, the gentle morning breeze ruffles through her head feathers. Laddie is back in at 9:45am and stands at the edge of the nest with a freshly caught pike within his talons. The chick, still full from its previous feed, remains lay down as Lady tempts it with juicy morsels. It takes a little then nibbles at a nearby branch to clean its beak. Standing, it stretches and repositions itself, checking on the two un-hatched eggs before settling down upon them. The song of a chaffinch calls from a nearby tree and all is well around the loch. Having eaten enough for now, Lady takes to the nest side and comically stretches her right leg out behind her, bringing it in to tuck up neatly and stand upon the one remaining as if sat perched upon a monopod. Laddie returns to the nest just before midday and, under the watchful gaze of Junior, polishes off most of the fish remnant, taking to the sky with it in his talons when approached.
It is not long before he is back with a large and difficult branch; it is too much for Lady to contend with and she takes flight leaving him to struggle about the nest deciding where to place it. She seizes the opportunity to bathe in the fresh waters of the loch and returns a short while later saturated, and spreads her wings to dry out in the afternoon breeze. Both she and the chick spend a good deal of time preening through the afternoon and Laddie returns at intervals with more sticks, twigs and soft mossy bedding, at times, staying upon the nest sit with his family. At around 4:30pm Laddie delivers a large fresh catch to the nest and feeding resumes following which the chick undertakes a spot of nest tidying and Lady is able to concentrate of her own meal while it is otherwise occupied.
The evening commences with yet another fish delivery, not as sizeable as of late but welcome all the same. Laddie did not receive any of the previous meal and hopefully this time they will be full enough to leave him a small portion. However, on his return forty minutes later, he scans the nest for a small offering but will be disappointed as there is none left. Taking flight, he leaves, at least the family have been fed and maybe he will secure a catch for himself shortly. The remainder of the evening sees the chick preening and Lady bringing in a branch during one of her breaks. Laddie has been successful with his late night hunting and at 10:20pm deposits a large fish upon the nest; both mum and chick are more than ready for it and happily tuck in. By 11:00pm lady is sat on the edge of the edge of the nest with the chick taking up the central bowl and all has fallen silent.
Monday, 25th June
The wind has picked up as Lady sleeps at the nest side, head tucked beneath her wing. She stirs during the early hours of darkness to stretch her wings and reposition. At 3:40am Laddie is up and about and announcing he has begun his duties for the day. As he leaves the nest he takes the opportunity to remove the small remnant of fish that remained from last night, he will soon locate a fresh meal for them from the waters of one of the nearby lochs. While they wait, Lady and the chick go about some preening and wing exercises. The juvenile’s wings can now stretch across the expanse of the nest and demonstrates its future capabilities with occasional wing flaps. No fish deliveries are yet witnessed although Laddie continues to gather sticks and twigs and Lady goes in search of soft mossy bedding. She will be more comfortable at leaving the chick for longer periods now but will always remain within a short distance of the nest should her protective and defensive actions be required.
The chick spends a little time investigating the nest and becoming dangerously close to the edge as it stands and looks out over the loch. Has it spotted dad coming in with their dinner? It has begun to head-bob and carefully watches something in the distance. Within minutes, Laddie has landed with their lunch and the chick makes its way over for Lady to begin feeding. Laddie departs and continues hunting, securing his second catch of the afternoon before 3:00pm. The family are receiving the very best of what is on offer and Lady has noticeably solicited less and less as the season has progressed. By later afternoon the chick is once again sat looking out over the loch, it will not be too long now before it takes to the skies and will be able to investigate the area within its current range of visibility.
Lady takes an early evening break and returns to undertake nest tidying and preening. The remainder of the evening is quiet with Laddie making a final late visit at 10:45pm to check that all is well before he retires for the night himself and leaving them to settle down to sleep.
Tuesday, 26th June
Lady and the chick are both restless through the night, wing stretching, rustling about and preening. Following a break at 2:00am Lady returns and spends time sat upon her observation perch as the chick takes up the central nest cup. Laddie arrives at 3:50am and is gone a short while later. The chick has now begun the wing-flapping stage, strengthening its flight muscles in preparation for taking that important first flight in what will likely be just two weeks’ time. Just after 9:00am Lady sights an intruder in the vicinity and stands alert, alarm calling and mantling. Her actions are sufficient to ensure that it remains at a safe distance and no further disturbance takes place. As she undertakes some nest tidying tasks, Laddie continues to deliver sticks and twigs but that long-awaited breakfast does not arrive until almost midday and is rather small in comparison to Laddie’s usual catches though just enough to provide the juvenile with a fair meal.
Laddie has been fishing as the afternoon gets underway and lunch is deposited at 12:50pm. Lady takes the fish and feeds the chick though once again, there is only sufficient to quell the hunger of the two nest occupants and Laddie will have to wait until he makes a larger catch in order to garner a meal for himself. At 3:30pm he produces another catch which is immediately taken and dissected for the chick. The weather closes in during late afternoon and by 5:00pm it is raining hard and Lady shelters the chick as best she can.
Laddie has excelled himself and delivers a large headless fish at 7:50pm and has no doubt been successful in securing a meal for himself from this catch and will not go hungry any further. By 8:30pm Lady and the chick have feasted sufficiently and leave the remains at the nest side where Laddie will locate it on his return. As night draws in Lady is stood at the nest edge preening as the chick falls to a peaceful slumber following a tiring day.
Wednesday, 27th June
The chick now lays alone in the nest cup while Lady remains on the upper edge. She moves down during the early hours and manages to settle upon the bulk of the juvenile. The chick becomes fidgety and as it starts to stretch its wings Lady returns to the calm of the nest side once again. As dawn breaks, the loch-life awakens and the chick spots something in the distance, displaying the familiar head-bobbing associated with taking an interest in something and may have spotted dad out on his morning tasks. At 4:20am Laddie arrives and makes straight to a discarded piece of fish at the back of the nest, picks it up and flies off! It is raining around the loch and Lady now shelters the chick beneath the cover of her outstretched wings. At one point during the morning when Laddie pays a brief visit, the juvenile makes its way over to where he lands to stand with him at the far edge of the nest, a lovely picture of the family together. However, it is still better at this time for the chick to remain within the safety of the central nest cup.
The afternoon gets underway with dad gathering nesting materials and mum sheltering the chick from the penetrating rain. Although it has a downy feathery coat now it will not yet be as waterproof as its parents’ and mum still has a protective job to do in this regard. She is soliciting quite strongly later in the afternoon and all is revealed when at 5:00pm Laddie arrives with an immense headless fish. She has no doubt been aware of his catch and witnessed him eating the head on his feeding perch but was reminding him nevertheless that his family were hungry too. Upon his arrival he deposits the meal which she immediately takes and begins feeding to Junior. On his return an hour later, Laddie sees that she is still eating and departs to leave her in peace.
He is however, successful in securing another catch at 7:20pm and flies straight in with the fresh meal, intact and still alive but as Lady does not attempt to retrieve it and the chick takes no interest he takes off with it almost immediately. The fish is not witnessed to return to the nest and Laddie has therefore either consumed the whole meal or cached it for the time-being. For the remainder of the evening, both mum and chick keep busy with their preening and nest tidying activities until they settle in for the night.
Thursday, 28th June
As slumber takes over for the night Lady stirs occasionally to preen and resettle. She sits at the edge of the nest and the chick moves across to lie at her side. It is still raining and she covers it as best she can in an attempt to keep it as dry as possible. Breakfast is not delivered until almost 10:00am when, despite the precipitation of rainfall, Laddie achieves a successful catch and deposits a sizeable headless fish upon the nest. As he arrives, both he and Lady begin to mantle, there could possibly be an intruder around that has witnessed the delivery but any threat does not manifest further and Lady eagerly dissects the meal to feed the hungry and waiting juvenile. There is sufficient left for them both to snack upon through the remainder of the morning as Laddie would appear to have this one entirely for their consumption.
Following their feast the juvenile takes time to preen and attempts to shelter from the rain beneath the warmth and dryness of mum’s wing. During the afternoon both mum and chick are sat at the nest edge looking out over the loch. Can she communicate to it the history of their homeland and how much, if anything, can it actually understand? It will surely know to return to the same area when it commences its first migration back, and it is highly likely that it will navigate directly to the nest. The possibility that we have witnessed the return of many of her offspring is high; could Laddie be one of them? It is not unknown for members of the same bloodline to pair and rear young, though as Laddie remains un-ringed, his history will never be available to us. As the juvenile stretches its now lengthy wings we see how large it has grown in the few short weeks we have been watching it.
As evening commences, Laddie visits with sticks and branches, leaving them for Lady to distribute about the nest, the chick assisting where it is able to with the smallest pieces. At 8:55pm another fish delivery arrives, intact and alive, which Laddie leaves and Lady proceeds to deal with before feeding can commence. He returns at 10:00pm to check out any leftovers but the nest has been thoroughly cleared and he therefore bids them goodnight as he departs.
Friday, 29th June
It has been a windy night and as first light emerges, both Lady and the juvenile are now fully awake. At 4:25am Laddie makes his first visit of the day and sets off in search of breakfast, though spends the next hour and a half coming and going with moss and nesting materials. During his absences the chick amuses itself with moving twigs, preening and wing flapping, exercising and strengthening its flight muscles in preparation for fledging. As the morning progresses nest restorations take precedence and during spells of rain Lady shelters the juvenile beneath her wings.
It is almost 1:00pm before Laddie delivers a fish to the nest, alive and fresh from one of the nearby lochs. Lady takes it and immediately commences feeding the hungry chick. Despite the meal not being too great in size, Laddie sets back off in search of further prey, successfully locating another catch and returning with that a while later. The chick is active throughout the day and mum takes the odd break from the nest but remains in close proximity at such times.
As evening draws in, Lady is once again sheltering the juvenile from the rain and at 8:25pm another small fish is delivered to the nest. The weather will be hampering Laddies attempts at fishing as he relies on being able to demonstrate clear identification of the fish beneath the water. Where the water surface is disturbed, it makes spotting prey far more difficult for him despite his acute visual abilities but he nonetheless undertakes this task to near perfection as at 10:35pm a healthy sized specimen is deposited and his family are able to finally feast with sumptuously. With the juvenile now full, Lady continues to eat until almost 11:30pm. She will sleep well tonight.
Saturday, 30th June
Both Lady and the chick rouse to reposition and preen themselves at intervals throughout the night. At 3:20am she takes a quick break and is back at the nest in less than a minute. As dawn breaks, the loch is wakening and Laddie flies in just after 4:00am, his day has begun. On arrival he spies the remains of last night’s late meal and takes this away to finish before doing anything more constructive. It is a sunny morning at the loch and Lady sits at the edge of the nest while the juvenile occupies the central cup head-bobbing. As Laddie continues to return with nest materials, Lady and Junior work together putting them into place. At 6:25am an intruder has made its presence known and Lady mantles defensively, alarm calling. Her calling distracts it but she remains alert as it does not leave the area immediately and returns ten minutes later. At 7:30am the intruder is around once again and this time, as Laddie is on guard, he takes flight giving chase. All is quiet for the time-being however, the intruder shows no deference and continues to encroach within their territory. Once all threats have been eliminated, mum continues with nest maintenance and the juvenile goes back to wing flapping practice. During the late morning, despite a howling wind roaring through the microphone, a light aircraft can be heard flying over.
There is still an intruder in the area during the afternoon and as Lady alerts Laddie with her distress calls, he takes off over the loch in chase. The intruder turns out to be another osprey and whether it is the same intruder that visited this morning is unknown but it has ventured a little too close to the nest for comfort and attempted to land with just inches to spare. As the afternoon draws to a close Laddie has made a successful fresh catch in the form a large pike which is still alive and deposits this upon the nest for mum and chick. However, the nest is again the subject of interest to intruding eyes as Lady looks skyward alarm calling. It is most likely to be a young returning bird searching out an appropriate nesting area for future use but this nest is occupied and likely to be for some while yet.
Lady is still enjoying her evening meal as Laddie carries out nest maintenance and the chick sits lethargically in the central cup. Following a final feed at around 10:20pm she takes a short break away from the nest and returns within the minute. The Chick has been well catered for today and should not go hungry overnight. It has been an exhausting day on the nest with much to keep the juvenile occupied. What will tomorrow bring?JUST A LITTLE OSPREY I’m just a little Osprey My feathers not quite through My feet as big as mummy’s What a clown I look like too! My wings have grown enormous My eye stripe almost there I preen and peck and flap about I’ll soon be in the air I watch out for my daddy My head bobs back and forth I give a little Osprey cry Carried out toward the north I’m just a little Osprey My body round and plump As mum and dad watch over me I promise not to jump! I’ll soon be down there fishing My dad will tell me when Then mum’s job will be over And south she’ll head again
The Dyfi Osprey Project and the Scottish wildlife Trust have kindly given their permission for us to post still and video images from their webcams. To visit their sites please click on the relevant link. Loch of the Lowes. Dyfi Osprey Project.