Rothes has stuck with Ilha de Unhocomozinho for another week. The last two points of the week (5pm on 19th, Friday and 9am on 20th, Saturday) caught her over the sea N of the island. On a couple of fishing trips, I'm assuming. So not much to report from her, we'll see what next week brings.
Meanwhile here at Abernethy, some idiot (ie me) wrote that the snow was getting a shift on - so we promptly got another 6 inches and it's properly cold - last night was -17oC according to Richard's thermometer. I don't think it got above freezing all weekend - more importantly my boiler stopped working resulting in ice inside every window this morning... That's now fixed - so I can enjoy the spectacular views - it's sunny during the day and everything is incredibly beautiful and with the birds all singing it's pretty fantastic to be here right now (if you can take the cold...)
More next week.
I've entered the data for last week (up until 9am on Saturday 13th). Rothes spent most of the week on Ilha de Unhocomozinho, and then on Friday 12th both points showed her over the sea to the NE (though not far off shore) - I got excited that she might be heading off somewhere - but the last point showed her back on that same island! It was probably just a fishing trip, but you can imagine her seeing other ospreys starting to head N on migration and the number of ospreys in the area slowly decreasing as the adults head N...
Here at Abernethy the power line route is cleared, so that's one job done. The snow is getting a shift on - though there's a fair few heaps lying about here and there where the tractor was used a snow plough. We're working away at getting the tracks cleared to make them passable. With miles of tracks it'll take a while.
Now since it's February - here's a contribution from Douglas.
It’s great to see a bit of greenery again! The snow has had a good shift up here, though there are still patches. The daylight hours are growing and the birds have found their voice again, spring is just round the corner now….great! I heard a woodpecker drumming on a tree near Forest Lodge just the other day, I mentioned this to the site manager and he said it has started nearly the same week for years, funny how nature’s clock ticks away and keeps great time.
My time here has flown by and I was not looking forward to leaving at the end of March, so was very happy when I was offered an extension to my stay via a short contract doing the Caper Watch at the Osprey Centre. Very early mornings observing these magnificent birds strut their stuff on the Lek and telling the public a bit about them. I have been applying for other conservation jobs and am at least now getting interviews, this voluntary placement and the training given to me has been invaluable. Anybody thinking about voluntary work…go for it!
The forest has taken a hammering, broken limbs and whole trees being displaced from the sheer weight of the snow. We’ve had a good deal of tidying up to do but order is returning and I am always amazed how well the forest disguises damage with new growth in the spring and summer months.
What wildlife have I seen since my last ‘blog’? Several Red squirrels in recent days, I think they have sensed the thaw too, three separate Cock Capercaillie sightings, four Hen Capercaillie, several Buzzard sightings, Bullfinches, Tits and of late, a pair of Raven have regularly flew overhead. Oh and I should mention the three small frogs found in a water filter when we were replacing it, they have been released and am sure are very thankful of their freedom.
We have new volunteers arriving on Saturday and I am looking forward to introducing them to this wonderful place. Not sure what work is on the cards just yet but I am sure Alice will keep us busy.
So thanks again for the comments, I hope you are all getting a feel for how much I have enjoyed myself up here.
Until my next piece of creative writing,
Rothes had another uneventful week - I've entered her data, but the satellite didn't catch her leaving Ilha de Unhocomozinho, though she has been moving about on the island. I wonder if many ospreys have already left from that area to start their migration north?
Meanwhile here at Abernethy everything's been getting a bit manic. With the snow melting enough to get out and achieve things (read that as track clearing, hung up branch sorting etc), plus getting the GO for the mains power, we've been working pretty hard. We've started clearing the route the trench will take - marking the route for the cable laying and clearing the debris from all the snow damage. Once that's finished we just have to hope for a window in the weather - apparently we're expecting more snow...
Anyway, more next week.
Well it's the start of another week, I trust some of you had a enjoyable time at some point over the weekend, counting the birds in your garden for Big Garden Bird Watch
Rothes had a pretty uneventful week, sticking with Ilha de Unhocomozinho for the entire week. She was over the sea on Sunday morning (24th January), I'm assuming fishing, but for the rest of the week the satellite only caught her dodging about on the island. Anyway, the data is in and the map should update sometime this evening.
And now for a contribution from Richard:
Hope for Mallachie?
Richard was talking to Claire Buchanan who works for us from the North Scotland Office in Inverness, who is tracking 12 red kites. What she had to say gives us hope that just possibly, all could be well for Mallachie. From early-mid Nov Claire began losing contact with some of her birds. It was as if they had simply switched off and gone all quiet for weeks on end, with only the occasional bit of no-quality data leaking through. Lately though, Claire has started to hear back from 9 of the tags which has been a good sign, though there are still 3 out there with which there has been no contact from since before Christmas, whereabouts unknown.
As well as tracking the kites and being able to literally check up on any fixes received, Claire has the luxury of being able to go and look for birds that she isn't hearing from and so has been able to determine that her birds are at least ok - she's seen them - but for some reason they are just not transmitting. The possible explanation for her birds is that the solar-powered tags just aren't getting enough battery charge given the very short, dull winter days up here in hyperborea - at least not enough to charge up to a level where they can transmit any data. The extreme cold temperatures up here will not help either.
Now this scenario would of course apply far less to Mallachie, down there in warm, sunny West Africa, but if the tag on her back has become obscured by her feathers, or perhaps mucky with mud or algae from fishing maybe, or poo-ed on by another bird perhaps - imagine if she perched in amongst a cormorant or pelican colony for example - though unlikely, I know. But who knows? It does at least give us some hope that we may not have heard the last from Mallachie.
Claire has a website http://www.eyestotheskies.org.uk where you can follow what the kites are up to.
Up-date on the mains power project.
The latest up-date on monies received from the blog towards the mains power project at Loch Garten is now a magnificent £4,975. This is a tremendous effort, thank you so much. It has helped enormously and is very much appreciated.
There's more good news too. We have been awaiting word from two potential funding pots; Cairngorm National Park Authority and LEADER+ and both have just confirmed that they will indeed be contributing to this project. Phew!
Originally we asked you to help raise £7,000 towards the project costs and so far you've raised almost £5,000 of this which is fantastic, but with these two grants, the project funding package is now in place, so thank you. However, we would like to continue satellite tagging young ospreys at Loch Garten and need to find funding for tags for this year, so any further donations can be directed towards these costs, and would be much appreciated too.
Once again, thank you for all your support, you've been brilliant. - Richard