Still no pictures for you I'm afraid, due to technical problems. The router that sends the images down the line was struck and fried by lightning. We here and our web-team colleagues at HQ have all been on the case to sort it as soon as, but it now rests with BT. We're chivvying & chasing them to resolve this, but we're not there yet and, dare I say it, with the weekend now upon us.......
You're frustrated we know, we are too, not to be able to share events with you as they happen at such a crucial and exciting stage. Everyone is being understanding and patient - thank you. We are desperate to be back on-air. When that happens, as explained in an earlier blog comment reply, I have switched cameras, so that you will see the picture from the tower camera, giving the wide full shot of the nest which will enable you to see the birds take off.
If we are not sorted before the weekend, then I'm afraid that you will likely miss Mallachie's inaugural flight, as that is very likely to happen this weekend. This is regrettable, but if that is the case, once we are transmitting again, then all chicks will be back & forth to the nest, so you can imagine that when they make subsequent lift-offs, that it is their first (just pretend). It will, after all, be the first one you will have seen. Not ideal I know, but I'm just trying to lift your spirits.
Meantime, Rothes successfully fledged at 10.40am on Wednesday morning, after a spell of vigourous flapping, she took the plunge and launched herself off the nest edge into the unknown. Mercifully, it was a successful maiden flight, she flew around rather awkwardly before alighting in the nearby dead tree. Here she remained for some time, too terrified to try flying again. Until that was, when food arrived at the nest, luring her back. Mallachie and Garten seemed intrigued if not fascinated by their older sister's new-found independence. In contrast Rothes seemed to peer down with disdain at her younger siblings.
Two days on - the gap between them - there is no sign as yet of Mallachie taking to the air, other than a few exploratory leaps up from the nest flight-deck. Torrential rain here on and off over the past few days especailly last night and into the wee small hours this morning, has thoroughly soaked all the birds - enough to dampen their enthusiasm. When I got to the Centre this morning and looked out towards the nest M & G were sat there, whilst Odin, EJ and Rothes were perched in the adjacent dead tree, all looking a tad dejected. Rothes regularly flapped her wings impatiently, eager for another test flight, but was grounded by poor weather.
Fish continue to be delivered; 6 yesterday and 2 so far today as I type this (3pm). EJ continues to feed both M & G though both are also grabbing and eating bits when they can. Rothes, is to grown up now to be fed by mum, and grabs fish and feeds herself.
We are still getting intruder action. There was a good aerial chase this morning, when EJ made several very determined stoops at the interloper.
Apart from that, it has been great to meet so many bloggers at the Centre this week and thank you for all the cakes. Some of you, not members already have joined during your visit, which is great, thank you.
Not a very exciting title I know…but I think it pretty well sums up the past two days, during which we seem to have been more or less swimming in fish up on the nest!
I don’t know where to start with yesterday, it was so exciting, with eight fish in total and two delivered at once, all during fairly inclement weather! Here is a run down of yesterday’s key events;
03.59 – EJ tries to shelter the chicks from heavy rain and wind.
04.49 – Chicks try out early morning exercise moves.
04.55 – Odin arrives with breakfast – 9” brown trout.
05.08 – 07.55 EJ flies off to the south, and rests there, returning a few hours later. In the meantime, a chaffinch is spotted on the side of the nest forging, when it realises it is being watched intently by three chicks, it is understandably more than a little spooked and flies away!
08.45 – Odin delivers the second fish of the day.
10.20 – Odin delivers the third fish of the day & sees off an intruding osprey!
13.04 – Odin arrives with a 16”” brown trout – the fourth fish of the day!
14.40 – EJ flies off.
15.09 – EJ and Odin both return to the nest with fish, number five and six! EJ’s is at least 18”! One of the chicks eats Odin’s smaller fish, while EJ flies to the camera tree to feast on her enormous fish!
16.53 – Odin arrives with the seventh fish of the day. EJ returns, still carrying her enormous fish, difficult to tell which one they are eating!
And finally …. 21.55 Odin arrives with the eighth and final fish of the day! Phew… it makes you tired just writing it!
The feast of fish continues today, with Odin bringing in 5 fish so far, at 05.48, 08.56, 10.26, 12.25 & 16.15!
And now for a few hellos, as we have had several bloggers visiting the centre in recent weeks! It was nice to meet blogger Alison, here at the Osprey Centre, a few weeks back, who has sparked an interest in the Loch Garten ospreys amongst her colleagues at Stour Surgery. "Hi everyone". We hope you're all still watching and thanks for spreading the word Alison. It was great to meet Amy and Trevor when they visited the centre yesterday, and they were lucky enough to be in the Centre when EJ arrived with her giant fish! Quiet Lady it was lovely to meet you again, and thank you very much for the cake and shortbread! And John, I haven’t managed to meet you myself, but great to hear that you had a good time!
Just an aside, but judging by your comments, many more of you are planning to visit us in person in the coming weeks, which is great and we look forward to meeting you. Many of you will undoubtedly be RSPB members, but some, perhaps not. If not, then please consider joining RSPB here on site when you visit, or perhaps consider joining a family member, friend or neighbour, and take advantage of a free limited-edition print of an osprey by wildlife artist Andrew Hutchinson, free when you join us, by Direct Debit here on site only. Doing this is a great way to help the Team LG. Many thanks.
In the meantime…as always…we await the next fish…
Yep, we have ourselves a girl band - all three chicks are female.
Very sorry that you were not able to see some of the event "live" this morning, we just were not able to sort the technical faults in time. However, the video is back now.
Heavy rain overnight and some light drizzle this morning, almost caused us to postpone, but when we set off out to the tree it was dry and on the plus side, it was relatively cool at 17 degrees C which compared to the hot & humid weather of late made for good ringing/tagging conditions.
I don't know if the sound was working (I suspect not, given that the camera wasn't) but you might have heard EJ alarming as she saw us approaching. She high-circled above the nest, and her alarm call was the chicks' cue to lie motionless in the nest.
My colleague, Robert climbed the ladder to bag-up the chicks and bring them to the ground. The youngest/smallest, Garten was weighed, measured and ringed, photographed and them promptly put straight back into the nest.
We then beat a hasty retreat with two boxed-up osprey chicks, back to the Centre for tagging. The chicks were kept cool and in the darkness of the box until it was their turn to be tagged. To calm them further, during tagging Roy places a falconry hood over their heads, which subdues them almost to the point of dozing off. Anyway, rest assured, they were handled very gently, preciously and carefully throughout. In return? They both pooped on Roy and I as we held them for photos!
As hoped and predicted, EJ, who had been overhead throughout, came back towards the nest and perched in the adjacent tree to the nest. I don't think she came back on to the nest, but I wasn't watching all the time, too busy with other things. Whenever I checked she was sat quietly nearby.
The dampness of the morning had made it hellish midgy, so we set up table and chairs inside the Centre building, at which to tag. Roy Dennis ringed both first, then fitted the tags, taking time to explain to those of us gathered to watch, each step in the procedure. Once both birds were fitted with their tags, there was a photo-call for all those with cameras including the local press, and a thrilling once in a lifetime experience for young Alfie, Jack and Erin, children of some of the staff, to actually touch an osprey.
Then it was promptly back out to the tree with Rothes and Mallachie to replace them in the nest, check for any fishing line and clean the camera lens. By this time Odin was back and at one point he valiantly made a half-hearted stoop at Robert at the top of the ladder.
The details are as follows:
Oldest chick: Rothes
Middle chick: Mallachie
Youngest chick: Garten
You will notice that the oldest chick Rothes, is the lightest in weight. Roy explained that on a growth curve they increase in weight with age, obviously, but that once they have reached a certain peak point, they actually lose a bit of weight - heavier fat, converting to lighter muscle, as they prepare to fledge. I am very pleased to report that all three chicks are in very good condition indeed, according to Roy, all of a good, if not decidedly chunky weight, and no sign of "checks" in feather growth which result from food shortages.
We've had two fish today so far, one at 04.30am and another just in at 14.40 pm.
Fledging will likely be between 19-22 July for Rothes, the other to follow a few days later.
Sorry for the delay in posting this blog. Further lightning strikes knocked-out the office computers.
Try as we might to resolve the problem with the web-cam pictures of the Loch Garten osprey nest, we haven't yet managed to do so.
The problem appears to be the piece of kit called the router. I remember stirring in the wee small hours on Thursday to the sound of heavy rain, though I didn't notice or hear any thunder & lightning, but we may have had such conditions and lightning might have knocked-out the router. Something similar happened a few years ago, only on that occasion it struck the nest microphone.
We are still on the case, and may be able to sort this by Monday, but with it being the weekend, some key folk we have to speak to are unavailable. We'll keep trying all that we might be able to do, but it could be Monday before other checks can be made.
I'm afraid the ringing/tagging will still have to go ahead, unless of course the weather is inclement. So I'm guessing now that you'll all be praying for torrential rain come Monday morning and an accompanying postponement!
Sorry for the disappointment for now at least, we just might be able to sort by Monday.
Some good news that you might be interested in though, is that last Monday we were visited at the Osprey Centre by intrepid explorer and TV presenter Ben Fogle. He and a film crew were here at Abernethy, for BBC's Countrytracks, (the new Countryfile, I believe), to re-visit a feature covered by Countryfile, 21 years ago, back in 1988 when RSPB had just acquired the larger chunk of what is now the Abernethy National Nature Reserve. The feature then was presented by Magnus (I've started, so I'll finish) Magnusson, the then President of RSPB.
Ben Fogle's visit was to see & report on what has changed and developed since 1988, whether our plans back then for regeneration of the forest, have come to fruition and been realised. The (previous) Osprey Centre also featured in the 1988 programme, and will again in Ben's up-date and there have certainly been some changes here. Back then there were just 53 pairs of ospreys in Scotland (now c.210), there had been c.1.3 million visitors to the Centre (now over 2 million) and of course there were none of the cameras, web-links, blog and routers etc that we have now (or not, as the case maybe, at the moment!).
It will be on television sometime soon, in the coming weeks, but we don't yet know when , but the crew will let us know and once we know, we'll let you know.
The time has come, well almost. We plan to ring and satellite tag the young ospreys on Monday 6 July at c.8 am. This is somewhat dependent on weather. If conditions are not right, then it will be postponed until that evening possibly or even the next day. But as it stands just now, Monday is the day. Osprey expert Roy Dennis will be ringing and tagging the birds for us.
Many of you I know will be watching, so I thought I would explain what will take place and what you will/might see. I'm afraid that you will not see very much. For safety reasons, both for us involved and of course the birds, ringing and tagging takes place on the ground, not at the nest, so all you will really see is when the chicks are removed from the nest and then a little later, placed back.
Firstly, you will hear EJ give her alarm call and leave the nest. The chicks will respond to this and slump down into the nest and remain motionless. This is a survival strategy whereby their camouflage is such that they might go unnoticed by any airborne predators like crows flying overhead. We though aren't that easily duped.
Next you may here our voices - and before any of you ask, no, we will not be giving anyone a name check over the microphone into cyberspace! The ladder is already in place, left there from a few weeks ago when we had the fishing line incident etc. We ought not need to alter its position, but you might hear the clunking of ladders.
A mysterious pair of hands will then appear. Each chick in turn will be carefully bagged up to be brought to the ground. Our plan is to satellite tag only two of the three chicks, the third chick will be ringed first and promptly, and replaced in the nest complete with bling. The other two will be taken out of sight of the nest, for the longer proceedure of having tags fitted, this will give EJ the chance to return to the nest and the third chick. If EJ doesn't return to the nest, please do not be alarmed, she'll be there, but may well just be perch in the nearby dead tree 10m from the nest, where you will not be able to see her.
Once tagging is complete, the two chicks will then also be returned to the nest, ladder removed and we retreat from site. Whilst we are at the nest we'll have a further opportunity to check for and remove any fishing line, and buff the camera lens.
All three birds will be ringed, weighed, measured, sexed..... and named. I know you've all been clamouring to know the names and thank you for all the suggested names and suggested naming- threads that we might follow. There have been some good suggestions, some.... less good, shall we say. But thanks all the same.
They are to be called:
Rothes (pronounced Roth-es). This is a primary school north of us here, and both last year and this we received a significant contribution towards the project from someone connected with the school. The third chick last year, that died in the nest in mid-June, pre-tagging, was scheduled to be called Rothes, so we are going ahead with that name this year. The other two are to be called Mallachie and Garten, the two lochs here at the reserve. All names are effectively unisex so the, as yet undetermined sexes of our brood does not matter.
I trust you approve. Yes, I know, there'll be those of you out there, who like these names and those that don't, others that wanted Norse names, relatives of Odin etc, but there you have it, Rothes, Mallachie and Garten are this years' birds. The ref's decision is final. Please do not harangue us about these names, it's a done deal. Dissenting, name-debate blog comment will not be published, sorry, but I just envisage heaps of them and we will not, in any case change the names now.
The ringing event is not a public event - the osprey staff team and volunteers will be present, so please do not be tempted to turn up to join us. Ringing and tagging is carried out strictly under-licence and it is not a public event, sorry. Later that day or the next day we will post some details of the sizes, weight and sexes etc plus some photographs of proceedings.
Can I please ask you all again to be patient with all things blog, whether awaiting comments to be published, answers to questions, latest news and up-dates. As if we haven't been run off our feet already so this season so far, July and August are our busiest months, plus staff have annual leave to take which can leave us short-staffed at times, yet with no let up in all that we have to do, servicing the blog included. So bear with us folks, please. Many thanks.