Good morning all.
While on a recent visit to Gigrin Red Kite Feeding Station in Powys, Wales, I came across some fabulous pieces of work created by a local cartoonist named Matt Davies. I was so impressed that I made enquiries and eventually located him, making contact and asking if he would be happy to provide us with a couple of pictures. He willingly obliged and I would therefore like to introduce you to his first osprey cartoon, commissioned especially for us, being Blue 44 wing flapping and preparing for take off – but then, I guess you didn’t need to be told that did you? Many thanks indeed Matt, it’s a brilliant introduction to ospreys for you and I sincerely hope we will see a few more.
Here are just a few of of Matt’s superb works, this guy has real talent! http://www.cartoonists.co.uk/mattdavies/index.html
© Screenshot pictures Copyright Scottish Wildlife Trust
Sunday, 8th July
It is wet and miserable night and Lady tries hard to cover Blue 44 from the rain. At 3:00am she takes a break, which consists of a quick circuit of the trees and lands back on the nest whereupon Blue 44 moves across to sit beside her. Laddie is an early visitor as first light breaks, announcing his duties have begun for the day and off he flies in search of their breakfast. Just after 5:30am he returns with a brown trout which Lady removes and commences feeding to the hungry juvenile. Once breakfast is concluded, Lady busies herself with nest tidying and rearranging the soft and now damp mossy bedding. There would appear to be an intruder around as the morning gets underway but Laddie carries out a sterling job in keeping the enemy at bay and no real disturbance takes place. Blue 44 spends his time preening and wing-flapping and demonstrates his near perfection at the art of “the one-legged-stand” just like mum does!
Lady has spent some time sat upon the dead tree perch just below the nest but has kept Blue 44 in her watch at all times. She returns to the nest upon delivery of a fresh fish from Laddie, a pike taken directly from the loch right in front of the visitor hides and still alive. He is deliberately bringing in more live fish now for Blue 44 to become accustomed to. He will be required to learn how to render them immobile prior to eating and can only learn this from his parents. His first experience of a live fish was quite frightening for him but he was very young then and the fish was so much bigger than him and could have flattened him with one flip of its tail. Lady tears into the meal and soon Blue 44 is feeding himself from a chunk of the flesh, standing hard upon it with his foot and pulling at it with the strength of that great beak. During the late afternoon he moves across to the side of the nest, a little too close to the edge, and inspects the outer rim where he had done so previously; perhaps there are a nest of insects in occupation, it is certainly attracting a lot of attention from our birds whatever it is that they are watching so intently. Laddie is again the bearer of great gifts at 4:25pm arriving with another trout which he passes to Lady. Blue 44 once again shows his prowess in being able to feed himself now.
As the evening draws in, Laddie is seen flying past but fails to stop off, he has other things on his mind. He has caught a large fish and is taking it to his feeding perch to consume the head before delivering the body of it to the nest. At 7:45pm he finally swoops in and deposits the meal for Lady and Blue 44 to keep them occupied throughout the remainder of the evening.
Monday, 9th July
At first light Lady takes a break from the nest. Laddie is already up and about and flies in at 4:20am looking around for her. Blue 44 rises and moves over to stand next to him but leaves shortly after to go in search of nesting materials. He is back just before 5:00am carrying a collection of moss but Lady is still not around and he takes off once again. While Blue 44 waits for both mum and breakfast, he puts in some wing flapping practice. He is on the countdown to take off and has concluded that if he continues for long enough then something is bound to happen. He has now begun to stomp and jump slightly in unison with flapping and this seems to have an added benefit for him. Lady does not show back until 6:30am, having been away from the nest for almost two and a half hours but from recent trends, we have seen that she does not go too far away and usually has the nest in her sight for swift return if necessary. Breakfast is delivered at 7:23am and feeding of Blue 44 gets underway. There is an intruder alert during the late morning as Lady alarm calls and mantles and Laddie swoops in together with a clump of moss that he was in the process of collecting but no evasive action is necessary and all returns to normal shortly after. A second alert is issued at around 11:10am and as Laddie is otherwise engaged, Lady manages to successfully fend off the unwelcome passer-by. Laddie has been away fishing and returns with a catch ten minutes later but observes the intruder and gives chase. However it remains within the vicinity, returning twice more and Lady waits a while before resuming feeding of the juvenile. The intruder may simply be looking for a quick and easy meal to purloin but as far as Lady is concerned, this one is theirs!
The afternoon commences with both adults continuing their regular nest maintenance tasks and Blue 44, once he has enjoyed a little siesta, gets back to his flight practice. Afternoon tea is delivered at 3:25pm which Laddie drops off and continues on his way. Lady takes charge and Blue 44 enjoys another meal, following which, she seizes the opportunity to bathe in the loch and returns to the dead tree below the nest to dry off and preen.
At 5:23pm Laddie flies in with a fresh delivery and Blue 44 pushes forward to be at the head of the queue; the queue of just him! He cannot afford to waste a moment and chirps excitedly as he receives each mouthful which to him provides the strength for another wing-flap and spring in his step and he might actually manage lift-off if he gets enough. Once feeding is over, he moves to the outer rim of the nest, cleans his beak on a stick and has a little stomp up and down as he flaps his wings. The food just keeps on coming and by early evening another meal is deposited and the birds, now fully feasted, can settle for the night; their only visitor being a woodcock which can be heard as it calls nearby the nest.
Tuesday, 10th July
Lady and Blue 44 have continued their nightly routine of light sleep interspersed with preening and wing stretching. As dawn breaks, the loch awakens with its resident wildlife which commence their individual duties for the day. Blue 44 begins his lessons in stomping and wing-flapping and Lady keeps careful watch. She spends a good deal of her time away from the nest now, sat atop the perch of the dead tree below which provides an excellent vantage point for both watching Blue 44 and also in perfect sight of at least one of Laddie’s perches. She remains on constant lookout and alert for any signs of potential threat whereupon she can return to the nest to provide protection and defence if necessary. Laddie has been successful in his fishing attempts and delivers a meal just before midday. Lady has spotted his approach and arrives to take delivery and commence feeding. Once feeding is over Lady returns to the dead tree perch and Blue 44 examines the nest and amuses himself with a stick before settling for his afternoon siesta
Her job is almost concluded; Lady has successfully raised her forty ninth chick to the point where he will fledge in a matter of days. Laddie will then take over the training schedule and teach him how to fly, hunt and fish successfully. Lady will step down her duties and prepare herself for heading south which can be any time from late July to mid-August. She has previously commenced her southerly migrations during early August and surprisingly stayed until the 8th last year; having no young to rear, it was presumed that she may have headed off earlier but she stayed around and allowed us all the pleasure of seeing her for as long as was possible.
As evening gets underway, Laddie has secured a fresh supper and, having firstly removed the head for his own consumption, delivers the remainder to the nest for Lady and Blue 44 to finish. He is becoming quite proficient at feeding himself now as he stands on the flesh and tears small pieces away, although still taking food from mum when offered, is increasingly encouraged to feed himself at points during each mealtime. Lady takes a quick comfort break but returns to the nest where she will remain until morning.
Wednesday, 11th July
It has been a wet night and is still raining at 6:00am. Lady and Blue 44 stand together on the nest looking out over the loch before she takes her morning break. Although still very young and just a juvenile, he is mature enough to now be left unsupervised for lengthy periods. During these times he amuses himself with twig nibbling and his daily physical exercise which takes the form of stomping, wing flapping and balancing on one leg. Lady returns to the nest at 8:20am and both sit preening while they await delivery of breakfast from Laddie. He does not disappoint, swooping in at 9:00am with a fresh meal for them and feeding commences. Taking to the skies, he leaves to continue his patriarchal duties. Later in the morning Lady vacates to her currently favoured perch just below the nest tree keeping a vigilant watch of the panorama. Blue 44 is noted to have a thread from his transmitter harness hanging loosely across his soft white downy chest and although this does not appear to be the stitching thread that holds the harness straps in place, it may be a small frayed thread from the body of the harness that could have worked free at such time as preening.
As the afternoon commences Blue 44 locates the tail end of the breakfast fish at the side of the nest and takes advantage of a light snack. Moving it into the central cup, he stands firmly upon the remnant and pulls at the flesh with his sharp beak. Another achievement that did not require mum to be present, she would be proud of him! She returns to sit with him at 1:50pm, landing upon her observation perch but an intruder is around and she immediately mantles, alarm calling. This being sufficient to convey that it is not welcome, it continues on its way. She returns to her tree perch below the nest and Blue 44 is once again in charge of afternoon nest activities.
It is a quiet evening on the nest as Lady spends some time to herself and Blue 44 practices his moves but both are soon settled and preening as dusk descends.
Thursday, 12th July
Both Lady and Blue 44 are fully awake and preening at first light. At 4:00am she takes a break leaving him to wait for Laddie. He occupies his time preparing for take-off with wing flapping and stomping up and down. Laddie arrives at 10:15am with a headless fish and stands looking around for Lady to take it from him. As she fails to appear, he departs complete with fish still clutched tight in his talons and Blue 44 sits back down to wait in the central nest-cup. It is not long before Lady shows up but she does so alarm calling and mantling. Laddie has been alerted and swoops in still clutching his fish and as an intruder sweeps across the nest Laddie takes flight and gives chase – still with his fish! It is almost an hour and a half from when he first arrived on the nest before he finally deposits what is left of their meal following its journey to and from and around the loch; it has indeed been a well-travelled fish!
During the afternoon, small passerines can be heard singing around the nest area and Lady carries out some maintenance involving rearranging sticks and placing them to build up the nest sides. Blue 44 joins in and tugs at an awkward twig but will not be defeated and finally manages to dislodge it. When Lady vacates to her lookout post below the nest, Blue 44 climbs atop the mound of moss and from his now elevated position takes in the vista that lies before him. Lady, having spotted crows that could pose a nuisance, takes flight and chases them across and over the reed-bed down at the loch-side. Laddie spends time on his lookout perch which provides him the perfect vantage point from which to fish but nothing has caught his eye so far and he therefore heads off in the direction of Butterstone Loch where he may be lucky enough to secure a juicy trout.
Laddie is back at the loch on his lookout perch directly opposite the visitor hides. Lady and Blue 44 are in occupation of the nest and a family of oystercatchers are peeping loudly as they fly around. Just before 7:00pm a long-awaited meal is delivered which Lady immediately removes from Laddie and commences feeding Blue 44. With each mouthful she offers, he squeaks excitedly though within fifteen minutes the fish has been completely devoured. Laddie has not finished his day’s work yet though, and at 8:30pm lands with the next course of their evening meal but is careful with his delivery as there has been an intruder present and Lady is still on high alert. He leaves the fish and takes off but is back within twenty minutes with another freshly landed catch. They may only be small but they keep on coming and are gratefully received. His final delivery of the evening takes place at 9:45pm and now he is satisfied that his family will not go hungry overnight.
Friday, 13th July
It is a breezy morning and Blue 44 is preening from an early hour. He sits upon the mossy mound alone while Lady takes her morning break and Laddie sets off on his search for breakfast. Lady spots him on his approach and follows in behind to take delivery of the freshly caught meal and Blue 44 finally gets to eat. Lady vacates at 9:18am to sit upon her lookout post and keep careful watch from beneath the tree. Later in the morning she identifies that Laddie has made another fresh catch and once again swoops in to take safe delivery. Following this, Blue 44 busies himself with light nest maintenance and tests his vocal chords as Lady arrives with sticks and lichen covered branches which are particularly awkward to manœuvre as she lifts them over the bulky juvenile.
It is a wet afternoon and is raining heavily around the loch but Blue 44 occupies his time with vigorous wing flapping combined with Harrier-jumps. On the occasions that Lady returns she is busy with nest duties and Blue 44 joins in with his own version of tidying around and tugs at a stick that is protruding from the edge. He sits upon the rim of the structure and looks down over the side; it’s a long way down and soon he will be exploring the area close-up but in the meantime he continues with nibbling and pecking at the tree branches.
Laddie delivers a whole fresh catch at 6:30pm and departs, allowing Lady to dissect the fish and feed Blue 44. As evening draws in he has settled within the central cup of the nest and Lady has taken to her lookout perch below.
Saturday, 14th July
Blue 44 sits alone in the nest with only the song of a blue tit to keep him company. Lady is taking a noticeable back seat in her level of rearing of him now although remains nearby at all times. She is giving him a taste of the freedom that he will soon experience for real when he has to provide and fend for himself as a juvenile on his first migration south. She arrives back on the nest at 7:52am and Laddie visits with a small branch but doesn’t stay long. He leaves and returns, this time with a far more awkward specimen and proceeds to attempt a little nest maintenance but not before poor Blue 44 has been clambered over and struck with the offending off-cut. As Laddie departs Blue 44 moves to the far side of the nest and sits next to mum to look out over the loch. He carries out a little nest tidying himself as he stands on one leg and bobs his head back and forth demonstrating his ability to multi-task with no problem whatsoever! The oystercatchers are in the vicinity once again and can be heard peeping as they set out on their daily schedules. . Later in the morning Lady spends some time moving about the nesting materials and Laddie is back with more branches.
Lunch is delivered at 12.42pm with Lady tearing into the long-awaited meal in order to feed the hungry juvenile. He takes each bite with a loud chirp of excitement but it is only a small meal and the feed is soon over. Lady vacates once again to her lookout post below the nest and Blue 44 returns to the comfort of the central cup for his afternoon siesta. Lady soon returns to the nest, landing upon her observation perch and alarm calling as she searches skywards. A passing onlooker may well have strayed a little too close to the nest but does not cause any disturbance and continues on its way. It is a sunny afternoon and at 2:30pm Laddie delivers another small but whole fish which Lady retrieves from him and immediately begins to consume. Blue 44 initially shows no interest but as Laddie departs he rises and moves across to mum who begins feeding him. Within ten minutes her task is completed and she takes off leaving him to practice his flight jumps and wing flaps. As the afternoon draws to a close, a light aircraft can be heard in the vicinity and both Blue 44 and his mum look skywards as it passes overhead.
Both Lady and Laddie continue to make short visits back as the evening gets underway and Blue 44 spends time between the cup of the nest and the rim where he preens and practices his take-offs. In the light of the fading sun he returns to the safety of the nest bowl. Mum will not be far away and dad may be on a search for their supper but wherever they are, they can rest assured they have produced a fine young specimen to spread their gene pool further afield ensuring the osprey population continues to thrive.
Finally, we would like to wish a very Happy Birthday to Amanda Peters. Have a lovely day and may all your wishes come true! xxxx
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.