Good Morning Villagers,
I hope everyone is well and having a good weekend. As we are witnessing many of our birds commence their journeys south now, my thoughts are drawn to when our little lad Blue 44 will decide the time is right for him. We have already seen Alba and Caledonia leave Loch Garten where Odin was still in residence up to Wednesday. Alba was last tracked as overnighting in Warrington and moving on to pass near Wrexham and further on to Wales while Caledonia made her first sea crossing over the English Channel on Friday leaving the south coast of England at 1:00pm. Last year we watched as Einion left just after Nora and before Monty and siblings demonstrating the strong instinct to migrate is not necessarily borne of being left alone with no-one around to provide the food.
© Screenshot pictures copyright Scottish Wildlife Trust
Sunday, 19th August
It is a bright and sunny morning and Laddie flies in at 6:34am to greet Blue 44 who is waiting for the breakfast that he carries with him. He stands with a large fish clasped tight beneath both feet as it flaps about then transfers it to Blue 44 who gains control and commences breakfast. Even after eating for forty five minutes there is still a huge portion left which he retains as he takes flight. Laddie arrives back a short while later looking for leftovers and pecks around at the scraps that remain but Blue 44 is the lucky recipient keeping hold of that.
During the afternoon Blue 44 sits upon Lady’s perch calling to Laddie and returning on numerous occasions but not until 4:30pm does dad show with a large and lively specimen for his late afternoon meal. Blue 44 pounces on it claiming it for himself as Laddie leaves him to it.
It is a quiet evening both on the nest and around the loch save for the resident wildlife going about their own business. It may still be classed as summer but the nights are definitely beginning to draw in and darkness descend in a noticeably earlier fashion as the days progress.
Monday, 20th August
A flying visit from Blue 44 brings him to the nest at 5:50am looking for dad but fresh breakfast is not delivered until half an hour later. Laddie has just made a successful catch and brings in the lively meal as junior squeaks with anticipation. He eats heartily for over an hour, finally giving up and hopping onto mum’s perch from where he executes his preferred take-off strategy. It is a windy day and he remains away from the nest but stays close to the loch for most of the morning.
As the afternoon commences he is back for a very brief visit just before 1:00pm and then again at 4:30pm when Laddie too drops by but it is merely in passing and he uses the nest purely as a stop-off in the high winds of the now sunnier day. He is tasked to undertake fishing and continues on his way in order to do so, returning at 4:47pm with a much-awaited tea-time treat for Blue 44. As he eats he is blown about, unable to gain a steady hold on the nest, but manages to remain in-situ for almost forty minutes. Laddie stops by just prior to 6:00pm looking for scraps but there are none to be found and he continues on his way.
It is quiet other than a visit from Blue 44 at 6:20pm who sits on the edge of the nest looking out over the loch in the evening sun.
Tuesday, 21st August
At 6:57am Blue 44 arrives for his first visit of the day and stands patiently awaiting Laddie and breakfast. Staying for just five minutes, he vacates to watch from an alternative location around the loch and soon spots that Laddie has secured him a successful catch. Racing ahead to meet him at the nest he is there in time to take delivery as Laddie makes the drop and leaves him with the lively specimen; however, he has somehow caught his foot within some nesting material and is unable to free himself. Picking up the flapping fish with his beak, he attempts to gain a purchase as his foot remains stuck and his widely spread wings flap to keep himself steady. Trying hard to take control of the fish he battles with his entangled foot and drops it, leaving it at the side of the nest to move away and rest. He eventually manages to untangle his foot and returns to make a start on breakfast, taking just under an hour to consume it and leaving only scraps on the nest for Laddie when he returns. Taking time out around the loch following his filling breakfast he is back on the lookout for dad just after 11:00am when Laddie sweeps in carrying another fish, deposits it and takes off. Blue 44 retrieves the catch and follows shortly behind, this time, choosing to eat away from the nest. Laddie returns at 11:30am and as junior has eaten elsewhere he finds that he has sole occupancy of the nest so spends a while pecking around, preening and looking out over the loch from Lady’s perch.
It is a bright but breezy afternoon and Blue 44 swoops in calling. His demeanour suggests that he has witnessed dad with a fish as he jumps up and down squeaking with excitement and minutes later Laddie arrives. Blue 44 gives him no time to even land before jumping on it to take it from him whereupon Laddie departs and Blue 44 continues to call out after him. Whether or not he expected dad to stay and feed him is not known but soon enough he makes the decision to scoop up his meal and take it to his own feeding perch.
The weather around the area closes in during the evening with the threat of a storm brewing overhead and our birds remain away from the nest site taking shelter within the safety of the trees.
Wednesday, 22nd August
Overnight has seen the area hit by a massive thunderstorm and deluged with torrential rain increasing the water level of the loch considerably. This has been a common occurrence during the season but thankfully the nests and water birds around the area are not as badly affected on this occasion as they had been earlier when nests, eggs and chicks were lost to the floods that engulfed the loch.
With electrical supplies now reconnected a brighter and calmer afternoon beckons as Blue 44 lands on the nest. He scans the sky above and around him as he calls out, suggesting that dad is somewhere around but after twenty minutes of calling he concedes and flies away. He is back at 2:00pm and once again trying to attract the attention of dad but his calls fall on deaf ears and it is not until around 3:20pm that he finally has any luck and his cries are rewarded with an afternoon meal. He stays upon the nest to eat as Laddie takes flight and leaves him to it. It takes him a total of thirty five minutes to devour the entire fish, as he steadily edges his way with it to the rim of the nest where he stands on the outer downward slope with the stringy remnant swinging from his beak.
He returns twice more during the early evening and sits upon mum’s perch calling. Laddie is nowhere to be seen and is busying himself elsewhere, but we can be sure he will be back when he feels the time is right and has not cut off Blue 44’s supplies completely as yet. That day though I’m quite sure, won’t be too far away!
Thursday, 23rd August
At 7:45am Blue 44 is waiting on the nest and spots Laddie coming in with a large headless fish, taking it from him the moment he lands and mantling over it before beginning to eat. He drags it over to Lady’s perch and eats for over hour and a quarter until full, leaving a large amount still to finish. Moving away, he cleans his beak on some twigs at the edge of the nest and takes flight in the direction of the trees across from the visitor hides. Shortly after he departs, Laddie pays a swift visit, picks up the fish remnant and flies off to finish it for himself.
Just after midday, Blue 44 lands on the nest chirping, he is watching something in the airspace above him and taking flight a few seconds later can be seen flying in front of the nest in the company of a second osprey. This is likely to be Laddie as they head in the direction of his favoured perching tree across the loch. At 1:05pm Blue 44 approaches from Laddie’s perching area and lands just as a low flying jet skims over. Laddie lands carrying with him the tail end of a fish which could in fact be the same remnant he removed before or a newer, fresher and smaller catch. Either way, junior is not complaining and graciously takes it from him. Laddie cleans his beak at the side of the nest and takes off leaving Blue 44 to decide for himself whether he eats on the nest or departs to his feeding station – the feeding station wins!
The evening gets underway with the delivery of a large and lively fish at 6:40pm. Having just made the fresh catch Laddie comes straight in with it to the eager and waiting Blue 44 who eats until full for over an hour. He moves over to clean his beak on Lady’s perch and Laddie makes an appearance whereupon he finishes the tail end under the watchful eye of junior.
Friday, 24th August
It is a wet and miserable day around the loch and Blue 44 arrives at 6:35am to await a greeting from dad with a hopefully tasty breakfast. He sits patiently watching, head bobbing and waiting for almost forty minutes but as yet there is no sign of Laddie or breakfast to quell his hunger. Although he comes and goes during the morning, Laddie fails to respond to his calls and it would seem that he is now beginning to reduce the visits and deliveries in order for Blue 44 to become more self-sufficient.
At 1:53pm Blue 44 lands on the nest calling. He watches intently at something above and around then jumps onto mum’s perch for a better view. He may well have spotted dad fishing as at 2:10pm Laddie brings in that much-awaited meal which he has been screeching for since early morning. He pushes and shoves at Laddie to remove his hold from it and eventually grasps it together with a lengthy strip of bark which, no matter how much he shakes his leg, refuses to budge. He comically strides across the nest and back again like Eddie The Eagle, his surrogate ski complete with fish attached reaching into the air then finally managing to place his foot down flat and make a start on what looks to be a delicious trout. An intruder has been witnessed to be in the vicinity and he mantles over his meal calling and searching skyward. After the time he has waited for this fish to come his way, there is no way he will lose it to anyone now! Laddie is still around to take defensive action and with any intruder threat now passed, he proceeds to devour his meal until he can eat no more, leaving the tail end on the nest for Laddie to recover when he flies in at 3:19pm.
It is a quiet evening and at 7:00pm Blue 44 sits looking out over the loch. The intuition to leave must surely be beckoning to him now as juveniles from further north begin to make their way over. Both chicks from Loch Garten have already commenced their migration and although travelling independently have maintained a similar flight path. The parent male known affectionately as Odin, although still at the nest site when they left is now thought to have headed south himself. The fact that juveniles can leave ahead of a parent demonstrates that the instinct to migrate is incredibly strong and not necessarily borne of being left alone with no-one around to provide food any longer.
Saturday, 25th August
A bright and sunny day dawns around the loch and Blue 44 is in residence at 7:35am. He looks around and inspects the nest hoping to find something to nibble but with nothing of any interest to him, he takes a quick flight circling around and returns a moment later. Breakfast is forthcoming at 8:28am when Laddie arrives with a small taster for him which he tucks into with enthusiasm for the next twenty minutes. On completing his meal he remains at the side of the nest before taking flight.
He is back at the nest site just before midday and is still around at 1:00pm when he spots dad coming in with something for him. As it transpires it is just the tail end of a fish but it is something to eat all the same and he grabs at it as soon as he lands. Taking just five minutes to consume, he then sits at the edge of the nest and looks out over the loch. However, dad returns with another small offering at 3:51pm providing Blue 44 with a little more than a meagre tail end this time and by 4:07pm he has finished this too. Just snacks today it seems! Unusually for Blue 44, he has spent the greater part of the day upon the nest, either eating or waiting for more food.
As the evening commences Laddie continues to deliver and deposits a large headless meal just after 6:00pm. Junior sets to work immediately and Laddie takes off to continue about his own business. Over an hour later, Blue 44 is still feasting heartily and by 7:25pm he finally gives in with no room left to squeeze any more. He climbs onto mum’s perch, cleans his beak and sits for a short spell before taking off just in time for Laddie to arrive and remove the still sizeable leftover portion. Neither bird will go hungry overnight that’s for certain!
Finally, I’d like to wish Shirley Ann a very Happy Birthday today. Have a fun-filled day and enjoy whatever you have planned. Lots of love from The Villagers.
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.