Each year, the ospreys at Loch Garten have people across the world gripped in their tale of violence, adultery and... well... fishing.
This year's diary, written by the Osprey Information Assistants at the Loch Garten Osprey Centre, picks up the saga where we left off.
We update the blog at least twice a week - more often when there's high drama here. We hope you enjoy reading as the nest-side story unfolds...
Read more about Loch Garten
Right. The up-date you've been waiting for. Firstly though, sorry for not keeping you informed until now, but we've had a very anxious time today, to put it mildly, and rather than give you incomplete piecemeal up-dates, we've awaited developments to see how things would pan-out. But now I'm able to give you, not good news, but GREAT NEWS!!
Chronologically it goes like this, roughly. Odin as you know was trailing this long length of fishing line. He returned with a fish at c.8pm last evening and it seemed like he had lost the majority of the line, but not all. When he flew from the nest after having delivered the fish, the line must have snagged on a nest stick, because he was seen flying away, line still trailing and now a stick attached. Very worrying.
He arrived again at the nest at about 10.50pm with another fish. The volunteers again thought that he had much less line on his legs and feet, but it was dusk, light was fading and the infra-red camera had kicked-in, so the pictures weren't the clearest, but we could at least hope that this was the case. It seemed like the line had snapped at the junction with the swivel. Though this left a shorter length attached to him, the weight of the swivel was now at the end, which could mean this might act as a bolas, whereby, when alighting on a perch, the swinging weighted line could wrap around a branch, Very, very worrying. Anyway, off he went to roost somewhere.
I phoned the duty volunteers at 6am this morning and the word was, no sign of Odin. Currently it is getting light here now at about 03.40am and Odin usually shows up at the nest early on, at say 4am at least, but this morning, no-show, which was a bit odd and all the more worrying. There was no sign of him all morning in fact, until about 11am, when to our huge relief, he arrived at the nest but without a fish. What had taken him so long?
As far as we could see, it did look like the line had indeed gone. But one of his wing feathers was sticking verticaly up in the air, still attached but looking like it had been wrenched out of place. Could he possibly have been strung up over night somewhere, struggling to free himself, hence his very late arrival at the nest and with this feather damage? We'll never know for sure. But it could be that Odin had a very close call.
Anyway, he was only at the nest briefly, to support EJ in repelling an intruding osprey that arrived and landed on the pillar adjacent to the nest. EJ lunged at it and sent it packing. Odin then promptly flew off. To fish, we hoped.
Several hours passed, but no sign of him returning. On such a glorious day of weather, very warm & sunny, we expected him back with a fish in an instant, but no. Again we worried. Why on such a good fishing day was he not coming back? Ordinarily, a male osprey away for several hours would be neither here nor there, but given all that gone before, we were concerned about this period of absence. Did he still have some line? Was he injured in any way as a result of a struggle to free himself?
Finally, at about 3pm this afternoon, he arrived back, and with a fish. To say we were hugely relieved would be an understatement. The tension had been unbearable, but now once again we had the chance to look for line on him and he does indeed appear to be clean. Returning with a fish was a re-assuring sign too. Maybe he's just a bit out of sorts? A little traumatised perhaps? Or possibly his fishing ability has been temporarily impaired? That out-of-align wing feather, could that affect his accuracy, making him less deft in his movements when twisting & turning when diving? Who knows?
For now though, we're back on an even keel, thank goodness. Odin, EJ and the nest seem to be free of fishing tackle, Odin has brought in a fish, chicks have been fed and are enjoying basking in the wonderful sunshine. Phew! What a day. I think I need a lie down.
Finally just to say, thanks for all your concern, support, encouragement and best wishes. It helped. Much appreciated. - Richard
Just when everything was going so smoothly & positively, we now have oursleves a problem. Fishing line.
Because of the low resolution of the live-streaming image you see on your computers, you might not be aware of todays events. This morning the team called me at 9.15am to say that there was fishing line in the nest, brought back by Odin when he returned with a fish. At first, the line was stretched taught across the nest at just above the chick's head height. But when Odin left the nest it apperars that the line is attached to him and luckily when he flew off, it snapped and he took it away with him. He is now trailing a 40ft length of line, attached to his left foot. And there appears to be another shorter length dangling over the back edge of the nest too. At one point EJ also had a short 5 inch length dangling from her mouth. However at 5pm this evening this seems now to have gone.
So we have been watching very closely all day. Thankfully the line Odin is trailing doesn't seem to have affected his fishing abilities so far. He has brought back two other fish unimpeded, safely handed them to EJ, who has successfully fed the fish to all three chicks, who all seem to be doing very well. If you've been watching today, you really wouldn't know or see anything untoward.
Our concerns though, are the potentially horrible scenarios that could befall Odin, EJ and family. It is of course hoped that it all might come to nothing. A few years ago, former Garten male osprey, Henry, ended up with a bit of fishing line too, and somehow he managed to get rid of it. But it was a lot shorter than this 40ft length. Our worries are many; at each and every time when Odin is perched in a tree, this line could snag on a branch, anchoring him, and when he tries to fly off, he could get strung up. The line has a swivel on it joining two lengths of line of different test, and this weight can swing and sway around, so possibly flip over a branch on which he might perch. If this were to happen here on site, then we would hope to be able to go to his aid. But if it happens elsewhere, off-site, when we know not where, then he could end up in more trouble.
If this weren't worrying enough, at each and every time he returns to the nest with a fish, he will be bringing that line to the nest which could lead to it snagging on the nest, entangling the young and/or entangling EJ.
So all in all, it is a very worrying time and the atmosphere at the Centre today was very subdued with great concern and furrowed brows all 'round. This, compared to the jubilation of recent days. It has really taken the wind out of our sails.
All's well for now though, but something bad could potentially happen at any time, that's our worry. So we're on the case, we are considering what options we may have and are consulting with experts about what, if anything, we might be able to do. You out there, I know will be as gutted as us here, at this development, but we are trying to keep up-beat and positive. Things are fine currently, honest they really are. Be re-assured the chicks are doing really well, includng the smallest one, muscling-in to get his piece of the action at feeding time. It's just the angst of what might happen.
We will keep you posted. You'll want to know, we know that, but please bear with us. We're extremely busy at the Centre, rushed off out feet with so many visitors, which is absolutely marvellous (400-500 per day since the weekend), and if you've amongst those who have visited us, then we thank you for doing so and for your support. But we've now all this to occupy us and contend with too, so if we're tardy in our blog writing or responses to your comments, be easy on us, ok?
Thanks. - Richard Thaxton
The third chick has hatched! Unlike its siblings who hatched in the early morning, it decided to exit its egg in the evening! Odin delivered a fish, a whopping 18" rainbow trout, at 21.20 yesterday evening, and when EJ stood up, she revealed not only the two chicks but also the third which was hatching! Yay!
Odin has been busy already this morning, bringing in a 12" brown trout at 7.50! He has flown off now, possibly hunting, the breezy conditions will make it a bit harder for him, but I'm sure he will rise to the challenge!
We await the next fish...and our next glimpse of the three chicks!