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...
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Good evening. This is the weekly osprey news, brought to you by Katie from the Web Team.
Well, we've not heard from Mallachie again this week, so her whereabouts remains a mystery. As Richard mentioned in his last blog post, it's possible the transmitter has stopped working or fallen off, so please do not despair. Maybe she'll turn up in the UK again in a couple of years?
Rothes seems to have had a steady, rather unspectacular week - at least as far as we can tell from the 9 am and 5 pm snapshots of her location, altitude and speed. She's stayed pretty much in the same small area - near Varela in Guinea-Bissau, so I've added only one new point.
Weather forecasts for the location seem to show that it gets up to about 33 degrees C (91 F) during the day, and down to 23 C (73 F) at night.
By contrast, here at The Lodge, we're 'enjoying' temperatures ranging from +1 C at the warmest, down to about -5 C at night, with about 4-5 inches of snow still in place. Anyone for a snowball fight? (I'm sure that Scots and northerners will scoff at that, but it's making life interesting down here in t'south).
Here's the view from our office window:
So, if you're bored of winter weather and would like to see the climate Rothes is experiencing, have a look at the photos on the Panoramio website. And sigh...
Good news first…..
Rothes seems to be fine, having spent the last week (up until Friday 11th) pottering about in the vicinity of Varela, in Guinea Bissau. Might she spend Christmas there?
And more good news…..
To up-date you on the recent blog ask for support towards the mains power project, of the £7,000 hoped for by 1st February, last Monday the total stood at £2,530, but as of today, it is £3,154 - a brilliant effort so far. Our sincere thanks to all of you who have contributed.
Now, the not such good news…..
It concerns Mallachie. We have waited for a second week to see if any data arrived, but there is still no data for her. Clearly, something must have happened, for there to be, no data for 2 weeks, but we cannot be sure quite what. Please try to be as reassured. It need not mean that it is entirely bad news. The scenarios are as follows;
Tags falling off or failing has happened before. Talking to our technical colleagues at HQ, they tell me that, there have been cases where tags have stopped sending data, perhaps because the battery has got very low, or where the solar panel has become obscured by feathers and isn’t charging, and yet transmitters have resumed transmitting after quite some time. Or where bird have strayed into areas of poor satellite coverage. Also, there does seem to be satellite "blindspots" where heavy radio traffic drowns out the signals.
Examples they gave me were; a Sociable Lapwing, satellite tagged as part of a research programme. It stopped transmitting and the worst was feared. Yet a year later it was seen on its breeding grounds in Kazakhstan, identified by its leg rings, but was not carrying the satellite tag. Other Sociable Lapwings have been 'lost to the satellites” for periods of up to a couple of months.
In another case, the satellite tag, kept issuing data intermittently, and when investigated the tag was found in sand dunes, transmitting when it was exposed to the sun, but not doing so when the wind had blown the sand and covered it over.
So positive thinking please, Mallachie might just be fine, though we cannot ignore the possibility that we have lost her. Sorry to be the bearer of this worrying news in this, the season of festive cheer.
Owing to the festive break, we will not be able to check up on the birds, up-date the map or post a blog until next year – that might sound like a long way off, but in effect, it is just until Tuesday 5th January.
So for now, Alice, myself and the rest of the team here at Abernethy, wish you a Happy Christmas and all the very best for the New Year ahead.
Richard Thaxton - Site manager Loch Garten
Well it's the start of another week. I've input the most recent data for Rothes - she stayed on Ilha de Orango until 9am on 30th Novemeber (last Monday), then headed to I. de Unhocomo for 24 hours. By 5pm on 1st December she was heading back NE, passing Ilha Carache and Ilha de Caravela on 2nd Decemeber. She continued N and was back near Varela on the mainland by 5pm on the 2nd. The latest point I have for her was 5pm on the 5th (Saturday) when she was settled back in the area near Varela. Maybe she'll have another explore next week? - tune in next week to find out.
Mallachie meanwhile - ? it's hard to say. The data didn't come through for last week. This will be due to a transmitter type problem, not a bird problem, so please don't panic. When there is a bird type problem we get data - it just shows no movement or an inability to get a 3D fix. When there is no data at all, that's because something in the transmitter or satellite download isn't working. We'll be looking into it, and hopefully get this resolved as soon as possible. In the meantime, please don't get concerned.
Now to change the subject a bit... If you are stuck for ideas for Christmas presents - have you considered giving a gift memership to RSPB? It's a great present to give because it lasts all year and it helps us to do more to help birds and the environment. If you would like to give a gift membership, go to the link below:
The last order date for Christmas gift membership is 14th December - that's next Monday, so don't delay....
Richard Thaxton Site Manager-Loch Garten