Good morning all,
I hope that you are having a good week and have enjoyed some of the lovely weather that we have witnessed recently. It has been a taxing week on the nest with Blue 44 finally making his maiden flight and enjoying short trips around the loch as his confidence now builds. For those who may have missed any action during the week or simply like to catch up at the weekend, I bring you the summary.
© Screenshot pictures copyright Scottish Wildlife Trust
Sunday, 22nd July
Blue 44 has another restful nest on the nest, standing with his head tilted slightly forward. Laddie arrives at 5:23am with his breakfast and is followed in by mum but he has already secured the fish for himself and begun to feed. She waits with him and when he has eventually had sufficient she finishes off the tail end for herself and junior retreats to the central cup to take his morning nap. He is still resting at 8:50am but soon it will be time to exercise those huge wings and the flapping procedure commences again. He has perfected the art of the helicopter manœuvre and makes another attempt at leaving, managing a very short flight with a well-executed landing. All took less than a minute to complete but at last he has now fledged fully. It is very windy around the loch though this may have proved helpful to him in his take off. He remains around the nest site although at times, out of view but close enough to the microphone to be heard food begging vociferously.
Just after midday he takes to the air landing once again on the ground in front of the nest tree while one of the parent birds remains above him keeping a close watch. The camera pans down toward the ground and around the nest to try and get a fix on his landing location as Lady perches in the tree above. She returns to the nest after a while and watches over the edge listening to his calls when at 1:42pm Laddie arrives with a freshly caught eel. She takes this and flies away but whether she has flown into his line of sight to encourage him to return or flown off to consume the meal herself is not known but all has fallen still and quiet. She returns at 1:58pm with the eel remnant and eats this on the nest as Blue 44 has begun to call again. He finally makes his way back at 2:25pm and this time, has done it with no assistance from mum. She rewards him with a tasty morsel and this time his welcome home is far nicer. Just after 3:00pm she departs leaving him in sole occupation as he stands in the nest cup being buffeted around in the swaying tall Scot’s Pine.
Supper is delivered 7:10pm and a hungry Blue 44 takes it from dad. Lady waits patiently at his side as he tucks in until finally she edges her way over and retrieves the meal from him at 8:45pm flying off with it secure in her talons. She returns at 9:30pm having presumably eaten some of the fish herself, and brings in the tail end for junior. On her arrival he is in the central cup but she moves over to him and commences feeding him, spending a little quality time with her boy before they both settle down for the night.
Monday, 23rd July
The day commences quietly with the nest already standing empty at 6:10am. Blue 44 is off on one of his explorative flights but is back in residence just before 9:00am where he sits preening his plumage and looking out over the loch. Lady joins him later in the morning and together they perform a duet of soliciting and food begging. There is an intruder about that causes a disturbance to their tranquillity as it flies too close to the nest but Laddie is on hand to evict it and does so successfully, returning at 12:20pm to check that all is now well. He departs followed closely by Lady and Blue 44 is left to his own devices. He is becoming more adept at his departures and landings and is steadily building his confidence following his disastrous adventure last week. At 1:58pm he takes another flight around and perches himself in the silver birch tree just below the nest as is visible from the hides. At 3:20pm Lady is back in-situ and twenty minutes later Laddie delivers a fresh fish. She takes it and disappears, possible to one of her favoured feeding perches for personal consumption.
At 5:00pm Blue 44 is still absent from the nest but has spent his time located close-by, as he can be heard calling in the near vicinity. Laddie has secured another successful meal and delivers this to the nest at 5:45pm but on his arrival, no-one is around to take it from him. Blue 44 finally returns for the night and settles himself onto mum’s perch. He’s a grown-up lad now and can sit there only if mum is not home!
SWT have today announced their tagging of a second osprey chick hatched on one of the Angus Reserves. He is two weeks younger than Blue 44 and is issued with the Darvic leg ring Blue YD. His journey can be followed along with that of Blue 44 once their independent migrations take place. It may be interesting to note how close or far these two birds fly, which route they will take given weather conditions, and whether they will migrate to the same region upon their arrival. It is hoped that we will see the return of both of these juveniles sometime in 2014 to begin their own search for a mate and each locate a new nest site though they may have to return a number of times before that finally takes place.
Tuesday, 24th July
A beautiful day dawns at the loch as the resident wildlife undertakes its routine tasks of foraging, feeding and raising of young. Blue 44 is sat upon his mum’s observation perch and making regular flights now, building up his confidence and flight muscles in preparation for that all important maiden migration. Just after 7:30am one of the parent birds is witnessed leaving the nest to swoop down toward the lily pads, successfully catching a pike from the loch in front of the visitor hides, whereupon it takes to a perch in the tree to the right of the nest to consume its prized breakfast. Two intruder ospreys are in the vicinity of the loch during the morning and perched upon a tree to the right of the nest where they remain quietly and unobtrusively for quite some time. While other ospreys occupy the area flying toward Craiglush Loch, Lady remained on her perch in the Silver Birch tree, unaffected by their presence. However, Laddie was not prepared to allow any intruders into his territory and upon his return gave chase, treating the onlookers occupying the hides to an elegant and spectacular aerial display, swiftly evicting the intruders from the area.
Blue 44 continues to enjoy the panoramic vista from the top of the great Scot’s Pine tree and welcomes the arrival of lunch at 12:20pm. As Laddie flies over the nest he skilfully deposits the meal with his protégé and continues on his way. Blue 44 wastes no time in ruthlessly dissecting the prey once firmly grasped within his talons, tearing into it with his razor-sharp beak. Within half an hour another meal is deposited and the juvenile, having only just concluded his starter course, commences with his main. Laddie is without a doubt on a winning streak at this point and has returned to his fishing haunt to secure a third catch which he brings in at 1:24pm. This makes three in the last hour and it is hoped that there is not a bewildered Angler sitting at the loch-side wondering where his line-catches are disappearing to from his keep-net! Lady, having witnessed Laddie bringing in an abundance of fish, joins Blue 44 on the nest at 2:45pm although there is no way that she will be getting even the smallest remnant as the juvenile mantles protectively over his meal and continues to devour it. He does however, allow her to beak feed him upon a fourth delivery which she retains for herself as the juvenile finishes off his own meal, although it will not be long before her mothering instinct is expended and she will be looking to build up lost reserves as her thoughts turn to her own migration.
Blue 44 later departs the nest to spend the remainder of the day and evening at a perching location of his choice. There may be occasions from now onwards where he may roost overnight in a nearby tree, returning to the nest site less frequently as he becomes more familiar with the area.
Wednesday, 25th July
It is a sunny morning around the loch and Lady arrives at 6:07am just as Laddie in on his approach with breakfast. She has him in her sight at all times and comes in either with or closely behind him when there is a fish on view. Following their meal she sits looking out over the loch and a little while later Blue 44 leaves the nest to perch in a nearby tree. He is spending increasing amounts of time away from the nest now exploring the surrounding areas, coming in only to feed and roost overnight.
Both adults have today been witnessed fishing, with Laddie displaying his skills in front of the visitor hides by executing a spectacular catch of a pike. Mum and juvenile are in occupation of the nest as early evening draws in and both are enjoying a meal before they each roost separately as is now becoming the pattern. Lady departs just before 8:00pm leaving Blue 44 to digest his supper and settle himself in. He takes one final short flight and makes his way back where he sits contentedly at the side of the nest for the remainder of the night just like mum used to.
Thursday, 26th July
Blue 44 has roosted upon the edge of the nest overnight sat upright in an adult pose. He is calling for breakfast at 4:55am and a fresh meal is delivered shortly after. By 5:30am he is happily tearing into breakfast while mum sits at his side watching him. At 6:35am she has moved to her observation perch and Blue 44 is still eating when suddenly they are aware of the presence of an intruder in the airspace above them. She jumps down from her perch into the nest and begins to mantle while they both search skyward but no defensive action is necessary at this time. Blue 44 returns to his breakfast and Lady patiently awaits the leftovers. At 8:15am Lady is mothering him and beak feeding, but at least this way she is sure to get some for herself if she takes control of the portion size. She finishes the morning with a spot of nest maintenance before heading off to busy herself elsewhere, leaving Blue 44 to the solitude of his nursery. He takes great interest in a low flying aircraft as it passes above him at 11:27am but other than an inquisitive willow warbler and a flurry of other small perching birds, all remains quiet.
Blue 44 is alone as the afternoon gets underway but busies himself about the nest. Mum appears only to provide assistance when meals are delivered and her purpose here is almost now concluded. She will remain away from the nest for longer periods as the juvenile becomes accustomed to her not being around, until such time as she leaves to commence her southbound migration. Laddie pays an occasional visit during the afternoon, delivering a brown trout which Blue 44 immediately takes possession of and proceeds to dissect.
An intruder has made its presence known at 8:20pm and Lady swoops in mantling defensively closely followed by Laddie who had also witnessed the disturbance. At 8:37pm a fresh meal is deposited and Blue 44 soon forgets about everything else, concentrating only on that which lies before him. He exits for a short flight around at 9:50pm but is back in time to greet mum when she stops by to check on him at 10:40pm. She stays for a while undertaking a spot of light nest maintenance and finally leaves to take roost for the night herself. By 11:30pm Blue 44 is soundly asleep in the central nest cup.
Friday, 27th July
Just after midnight Blue 44 is awake and wing flapping. During the small hours of the night he remains snug in the central cup of the nest other than rising at 3:00am to preen. As first light approaches he is waiting for a visit from either mum or dad but Laddie has already caught breakfast and this appears at 4:27am soon followed in by mum It is a sunny morning and the loch has sprung into life as the residents go about their daily business. Lady has spotted an intruder above them at 6:10am and mantles, alarm calling which appears to be sufficient for the time-being to send it on its way. Laddie has been away on the search for fresh nesting material and brings in a large mound of soft grassy bedding which he places about the bowl. Following his hearty breakfast and a little rest in the sunshine Blue 44 takes a number of regular short flights throughout the morning but does not stray far. Laddie visits later to carry out a little maintenance but Blue44 was rather hoping for another fish. Lady has spotted another intruder in the area at 11:15am and swoops in mantling but the juvenile is unperturbed by this and stands looking skywards as the camera pans up and around catching sight of a bird circling above.
It is a windy afternoon around the loch and Blue 44 has trouble remaining nest-bound. He may possibly have witnessed dad in possession of a fish as he stands food-begging loudly and is soon rewarded by the delivery of a large live trout which Laddie deposits on the nest and leaves him to it. Blue 44 waits a few minutes with it clamped in his talons and continues to call but he must deal with this one himself and dad knows it. He eventually gives in and makes a start on it but mum is not far away and makes an entrance to sit with him but he is already well into shredding it and doing just fine. Once fully feasted Lady retains the remnant and finishes it for herself as Blue 44 picks at bits in the nest. During the late afternoon intruder activity is once again evident and at one point it looks as though another local osprey family are investigating the area as our adult pair take to the skies along with them but there will be no threat from this family as they must already be in occupation of a nest site of their own and are simply on an excursion escorting their newly fledged chick.
Blue 44 spends time continuing with practice take-offs in the evening sunlight as he hovers above the nest in the wind and Lady joins him as supper is delivered. She watches over him as he tucks in but by 10:00pm he is making short work of it and ensuring he does not go hungry overnight.
Saturday, 28th July
At 5:20am Blue 44 takes a quick break and Lady arrives on the nest just ahead of Laddie who has caught them a trout breakfast. Lady makes a grab and snatches it from his talons. She commences feeding Blue 44 and Laddie cleans his beak on sticks at the side of the nest then departs leaving them to enjoy their meal. He returns for the tail end fifty minutes later but Lady pecks at him each time he attempts to take it as she is still eating and not about to give it up no matter how small it now is. Laddie busies himself with some nest tidying while he waits as she strips it bare and Blue 44 looks on from her observation perch. It is a calmer morning than yesterday and Laddie has been back out fishing, bringing in another fresh catch just before 9:00am. Mum and juvenile share the meal with her beak feeding him again despite his ability to feed for himself at this stage although this time, she leaves the tail end in the nest cup for Laddie.
She is back at the nest at 12.25pm but Blue 44 spends most of his afternoon alone, at one point mantling at something above him. Laddie delivers a late afternoon snack which the juvenile takes and enjoys, moving once again to mum’s perch to rest and observe all around. He has taken only short flights from the nest today, preferring to stay in the comfort of his known surroundings and wait to be fed. It won’t be long before he will be out in the big wide world on his own and then Loch of the Lowes will be a distant memory to him. Let’s hope he still gives us plenty to remember him by until it’s time for him to come back home!
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.