Good morning all. What a lovely week it has been weather-wise and I hope that you have all had a taste of sunshine for at least some part of it. It seems that our girl Lady has indeed left on migration now and business around the loch falls to the capable hands of Laddie and Blue 44. We are also seeing more intruders drop by as they head over but no real threat will manifest from these visits and they are probably more of an inquisitive nature than anything else. The season has gone quickly, too quickly and so much has happened in that short space of time. I wish our girl and others well on her journey south and fingers crossed for nest year!
Now to our weekly summary of action around the Loch of The Lowes.
© Screenshot pictures copyright Scottish Wildlife Trust
Sunday, 5th August
Blue 44 arrives on the nest at 6:20am and is calling for breakfast but has spotted an intruder in the airspace above and mantles defensively. Laddie is also around having just caught a huge fish which he brings in at 6:27am and deposits with Blue 44 still flapping. Keeping tight hold within his talons he struggles to render the fish immobile but succeeds and begins to rip into it. At 9:20am dad has landed another large catch delivering this to Blue 44 who doesn’t need to give a second thought before tearing into; his excitement showing as he squeaks with delight at each bite he takes. He occupies most of his morning upon the nest eating.
It is a blustery afternoon and Laddie is in residence during the early part of it undertaking a few light nest duties. He scans the loch then takes flight before Blue 44 returns at 2:30pm. He is food begging loudly and has possibly inherited his mother’s natural instinct to know when a fish has been caught, but for now he continues to call. At 4:18pm that all-important meal arrives in the form of a small but very lively perch and just as Blue 44 makes toward it, it leaps over the side of the nest and is gone!
As evening commences he does however manage to retain the supper that dad delivers at 6:25pm tucking in with vigour. Following a twenty minute break at 7:00pm he comes sweeping back in ahead of Laddie as he deposits another meal for his boy. Once again, a large fish that will no doubt keep him occupied for the remainder of the evening and on through the night. Having made further attempts again at fishing today, he will not be far away from landing his very first catch. Let’s hope he has inherited his dad’s incredible skills at hunting successfully. As Lady has not been witnessed around the loch since Friday morning it would seem that she could now have commenced her southerly migration, this being the case, Blue 44 will no longer receive the personal attention he has been so used to from mum and it will now fall to Laddie to take over the reins.
Monday, 6th August
At 5:00am as daylight breaks, Laddie lands at the nest with a fresh meal closely followed by Blue 44 who has witnessed his arrival. Removing it straight from Laddie’s grasp, he wastes no time and tucks into a hearty breakfast but it is too much to consume in one sitting and he takes flight leaving a large portion to come back to later. However, when he does he will be disappointed as Laddie has dropped in and spotted an easy meal going begging so scoops it up taking flight but returns at 7:30am with the tail end which Blue 44 takes and stands guard over. Not to miss out entirely, there is still a huge portion of last night’s fish at the side of the nest which Laddie turns his attention to and begins to eat as Blue 44 keeps tight hold of the smaller piece just delivered. Later in the morning when the nest stands empty, Laddie drops by and picks up the final remnant taking it away to his private feeding station.
During the afternoon Blue 44 has returned to finish the remains of the fish but loses out on taking delivery of a fresh one when Laddie arrives just after 3:00pm and he is not in residence to take it, therefore lucky Laddie might get this one all to himself. However, at 4:22pm he has caught another and is back with this one which Blue 44 finally gets. He stands with the fish secured tightly in his talons calling to dad, quite possibly hoping that he will feed him but Laddie is having none of it and flies off leaving him to feed himself.
At 4:55pm Blue 44 vacates leaving some leftovers upon the nest which Laddie finishes when he drops by half an hour later. Although there is still something for junior to peck at on his return at 7:30pm keeping him occupied for a further twenty minutes before taking off to his favoured perching area.
Tuesday, 7th August
Laddie arrives at 5.07am and scans around for Blue 44 but there is no sign so of him at this time. He picks up a small piece of discarded fish tail that has been left on the nest and eats it while he waits. Departing when finished he goes about his morning routine while the passerines take up residence until Blue 44 returns. Laddie has been collecting branches and bringing them in to make good the nest, although these no longer serve the purpose of safety rails to retain an inquisitive chick and stop it from falling over the edge, they do however continue to maintain the structure to its best. There will be branches and sticks at the base of the eyrie that have been there for many years, but it is a sound structure and Lady along with each of her mates have maintained it admirably over the last twenty two years.
Blue 44 puts in an appearance around midday and jumps up onto mum’s perch to sit, watch all around and chirp to himself, while web viewers are treated to some magnificent close up images of him doing so. What a handsome bird this juvenile is. Should he be lucky enough to make his return in two or three years’ time and secure himself a mate, he will have the strongest and most splendid of genes to pass on to his own young and may even find himself pairing up with one of Lady’s previous female chicks; wouldn’t that be something to rejoice about? He busies himself with short flights away from the nest but continues to make regular returns and maintain a watch for dad. At 3:20pm he spots him coming into view and begins calling frantically, he is no doubt aware that Laddie has secured him a meal and is on his approach. It is indeed a huge fish which junior grabs from dad’s talons and struggles with before finding a purchase and making headway with his meal. At 4:00pm Laddie returns to remove what remains but as Blue 44 is still in the throes of feasting he leaves him to it for half an hour before coming back at 4:35pm.
As the evening gets underway Blue 44 is back at the nest having spent time around the loch watching for Laddie and keenly studying his fishing techniques which he himself will be required to apply in a very short time. Laddie will continue to fish for him until his own migration beckons but will do so on a reducing scale which will encourage the juvenile to make more regular attempts to fish for himself. At 8:12pm supper is duly delivered and Blue 44 retrieves it from dad, mantling over it protectively as he squeals with delight. Laddie then waits a minute before departing, leaving his boy to enjoy a bed time treat.
Wednesday, 8th August
Blue 44 is roosting in nearby trees as Laddie arrives to greet him good morning at 5:10am. It is almost an hour before he is back at the nest and sits chirping and calling for dad to provide breakfast. The nest receives its now regular visitors that inhabit the tree branches nearby and peck around at the insects and anything else that may be edible to them. Laddie visits at 9:10am and Blue 44 is calling out loudly but the only offering that dad has at the moment is a long branch which he places into position before flying away. Half an hour later he is back followed closely by Blue 44 who thinks he may be carrying a fish but is disappointed when he discovers it is another branch to weave into the nest structure. Blue 44 continues to take short flights around and is keeping mainly between the loch and Craiglush and not straying too far from the nest site. At 11:00am he is on the nest drying out his wings and it is therefore possible that he may have been making more practice attempts at fishing during the late part of the morning.
During the early afternoon the nest receives a visit from a female redstart which lands on Lady’s perch and stays a minute or so looking about her. Intruder activity is later evident when Blue 44 is in sole occupation of the nest as a pair of ospreys has strayed into the territory. He mantles and calls to attract the attention of dad as the ospreys take dives and harangue him but he manages to defend himself well. These could simply be birds passing through on their journey south which pose no threat at this point in the season but may well have been looking for a rest-stop or even be checking out the area with next year in mind. There will likely be more intruders dropping in now as they pass over and he should prepare himself for similar situations. At 4:40pm Laddie delivers a perch to the nest and Blue 44 swoops in just behind him in time to take possession of it for himself.
It is a sunny evening around the loch and Laddie has again been fishing, bringing in supper for Blue 44 at 7:50pm which he snatches and mantles over before watching dad fly away and ripping into the flesh. A perfect end to a busy day in the life of Blue 44.
Thursday, 9th August
The loch wakens with its resident wildlife and another busy day begins. After a brief visit to the nest at 5:03am Laddie departs to go fishing and half an hour later is the proud bearer of breakfast for Blue 44 when he lands upon the nest with a large and very lively meal. Keeping it under control, he stands with it grasped firmly in his talons as Blue 44 tries his best to push dad off by nudging him aside using his entire body weight and finally takes possession enabling him to tackle it alone. There is too much for him to consume in one sitting and having feasted for an hour he decides the time is right to take to the air, keeping what is left of his breakfast tight within his foothold as he flies away. This being the first known instance of him carrying something in flight and placing another tick in the box of Blue 44 development. Laddie returns at 6:36am looking for any leftovers but there is nothing in sight, Blue 44 obviously had this in mind when he took off with it, remembering that dad always removes what he has been saving for later! At 10:45am an intruder is in the area and begins to cause a disturbance. Laddie swoops onto the nest and mantles, watching all around him until the intruder itself lands and Laddie takes flight. It stays long enough to identify that it bears no leg rings or satellite tracker and is therefore an unknown bird either passing through on migration or has simply strayed too far away from its own territory. As it takes to the air Laddie gives chase and Blue 44 flies in mantling and calling as he watches the aerial chase underway. Once all has returned to normal Laddie celebrates by catching a fish and depositing it upon the nest. Having witnessed his approach, Blue 44 flies ahead to meet him and take delivery. Another lively meal that he deals with admirably, demonstrating his skills as passed down by a dedicated dad.
It is a sunny afternoon and Blue 44 enjoys his time away from the nest watching dad hunt but there is a lot of intruder activity taking place and he is treated to some breath-taking aerial battles as Laddie evicts them from his territory. By late afternoon Blue 44 is mantling on the nest and alarm calling for dad as he locks eyes on an interloper overhead that refuses to leave. By 5:40pm all is quiet and Laddie delivers a large and lively meal. However, he does not let go of it fast enough and Blue 44 takes it upon himself to bite hard onto the fish with his razor sharp beak; what he doesn’t realise is that he now has tight hold of dad’s foot and is pulling him across the nest as the fish has been dropped. Escaping from his bite, Laddie takes off and Blue 44 wastes no time in tucking in. Poor Laddie, he is going to have one very sore foot in the morning!
Friday, 10th August
At 6:15am Blue 44 lands on the nest taking a swift check around. With no sign of Laddie or breakfast yet, he makes his way back to his perching area to continue his watch from there. He tries again an hour or so later waiting around for fifteen minutes and keeping himself occupied by pecking at bits of detritus on the nest bed. At 7:50am Laddie arrives with a small meal, landing just behind Blue 44 but there is an intruder in the vicinity and he mantles, alarm calling as does Blue 44. Once the intruder has passed overhead Laddie allows junior to remove the fish but this time, keeping his foot well away from that sharp beak. Once the transfer has taken place Laddie departs to continue his tasks for the morning and maybe do a spot more fishing. Just before midday he arrives with a lunchtime treat for junior in the form of a large headless brown trout. On seeing his approach, Blue 44 follows not far behind securing his lunch which should keep him busy for the next couple of hours.
At 12:50pm Blue 44 is still eating when Laddie swoops in alarm calling. They both turn searching skywards and follow an intruder as it circles the nest getting disturbingly close. Laddie takes flight to give chase and an aerial combat ensues, driving the intruder around the loch a number of times and pursuing it again twenty minutes later, watched keenly from the nest by Blue 44. He is learning many of the skills which will be required of him by studying the actions of his elders and what he learns at this tender age will no doubt carry him successfully through to adulthood.
As the evening draws in, supper is delivered at 6:42pm, removed with relish and soon torn into by the hungry juvenile. Once he has eaten he departs the nest leaving a large portion of tail end tucked just to the rear of Lady’s perching branch; Laddie will surely not find it hidden there, will he? At 7:45pm that question is well and truly answered when in flies dad and makes straight to the perch locating the tail and flying off with it! Today also saw Blue 44 spotting fish and hovering over the loch, a skill which he will need to perfect in order to make that all important successful catch. How nice it would be if we were to witness this prior to his departure!
Saturday, 11th August
Blue 44 has been keeping a careful eye on dad and spots him heading in at 5:40am with breakfast. Ensuring he is there in time to take delivery he arrives just a second ahead of him and waits while Laddie corrects his balance and transfers the meal across. Having made a start he stands a while and looks around before deciding to leave, taking his fish with him. As the nest stands unoccupied during the late morning, there is a visit from a woodland bird that sits upon Lady’s observation perch and also a flying visit from Blue 44 but he has important things to be getting on with around the loch and is in training for his next stage of development.
It is a breezy afternoon though a little dull but Blue 44 is in his element as he soars around, paying occasional visits back to the nest and looking out for Laddie as he does so. At 3:25pm a small fish is delivered and Blue 44 takes charge as he tears into it while Laddie departs to do what he does best.
At 6:00pm Laddie brings a small portion of fish in for Blue 44 but whether this is a remnant from a previous meal or a new one is not known. To Blue 44 it makes no difference and in his haste to rush to dad he trips over a long stick that is lying across the nest bed. The morsel takes just a matter of minutes to consume and he leaves as soon as it is finished. However, Laddie is back a short while later and has with him another small portion. He waits two or three minutes but junior is unaware of his return and fails to show so Laddie takes off without leaving it. A second attempt proves more successful as Blue 44 flies in to meet him and take delivery, retrieving the meal and departing with it to his newly-discovered dining perch to eat. As dusk descends, Laddie is on top form and has made another catch which he delivers at 8:29pm. Once again Blue 44 in on hand to take it and flies off carrying his prized supper.
Although Laddie continues to deliver to the nest he has also been encouraging Blue 44 to eat in an alternative location as he will need to do once he embarks on his maiden migration. We have witnessed a number of occasions where Laddie has made attempts to deliver a fish to Blue 44 whilst perching somewhere but none of which have so far been successful. Now that Blue 44 is choosing to take food away to eat this may provide a better opportunity for Laddie to do so.
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.