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
Fish, fish and more fish!
We have been having an eventful time here at the Osprey Centre at Loch Garten. All three chicks continue to do very well on the nest, including our youngest (but very cunning) chick, which seems to have worked out the best position to be in at feeding time. The older chicks will always be at an advantage, but as long as Odin keeps the fish coming and EJ continues to protect them then we should hopefully see all three surviving. On that note Odin has been a wonderful father, bringing in lots of fish (normally 5 or 6 fish per day!).
Bandits…12 O’Clock high!
For a while now we have had an intruder female (unringed) making regular visits to the area around the nest. In the past she has been seen off by both Odin and EJ, but yesterday she was joined by reinforcements in the form of a male (unringed).
Odin was away fishing and it was left to EJ to fend off the intruders, which she managed to do with little difficulty. EJ has been the breeding female at Loch Garten since 2003 and she is not stepping aside for anyone!!
It is however, nice to see more Osprey in the area and the intruder pair are probably young birds who do not have their own nest site this year. Hopefully they will find (or build) a nest site in the area and next year breed, increase the population still further.
News from the South
Rothes continues to prosper on Ilha de Unhocomozinho where she has been for several weeks now. Unless she decides to go off on any adventures, she will probably continue to spend much of her time here.
We look forward to seeing more of you visiting us over the summer as the school holidays start, when hopefully we will eventually get some summer weather. (I still had my fingerless gloves on this morning!!) - If you do have nice weather where you are then please bring it with you!!
On May 21st 2010 the Loch Garten Osprey Centre, finally moved into 21st Century when we were connected to mains power. Phew! We got there.
I has been a longtime coming (50 years to be precise!), so the delays this Spring in completing the project seem insignificant in comparison. The plan had been to be connected to the National Grid by the time we opened for the season on 1st April, but we have been beset with problems, having chosen to go ahead with the project during the worst winter for decades. However, the key thing is we're wired now, and all the better for it, immediately, let alone our future.
It has been a collective effort and I would like to thank all who have helped make this happen.
In the planning stage, staff at; Highland Council (Planners & Roads Depts), Cairngorms National Park Authority and Scottish Natural Heritage). At the implementation stage, the contractors, Dulnain Bridge Plant, who in a previous blog I have applauded the trenching work undertaken by Dulnain Bridge Plant, who have done a magnificent job. Their groundwork reinstatement can best be described as "invisible mending". I was leading a guided walk the other day and a participant who had heard of the project, asked me exactly where it had taken place. My reply was "your standing on it" to which his response was total incredulity. Also of course Scottish & Southern Energy who have been great too, in keeping to time when delivering cable and making all the joints in the 2.5km total length and of course making the finally connection to the transformer.
Of course the project could not have taken place if it wasn't for the project support and the associated funding from the following;
The project was part-financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community (Cairngorms Local Action Group) LEADER 2007-2013 Programme, with additional support from Cairngorm National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage (who also contributed to the allied project of camera system & cabling up-grade, as did The Gillman Trusts), BG Group, Turcan Connell and other private individuals. Plus last but not least of course, those of you who chipped in towards the RSPB's contribution to the project.
Thanks to all for helping make this project happen
Wow what an amazing couple of days.
Yesterday Odin broke his own record for bringing in fish this year... a phenomonal 8 fish in one day! Most of them have been rather sizable trout, there have even been times when EJ has sent Odin away to eat the fish himself as she already had some on the nest. She certainly wasn't hungry.
We're starting to see increasing competition between the chicks as they sort out there own pecking order. This does result in a lot of bullying by the oldest chick to the youngest chick, and is very normal if a little distressing to watch at times. If EJ were to have all the chicks the same age and something were to happen, eg difficulties fishing, a severe bout of prolonged bad weather etc, she could lose the entire brood. By having chicks of different ages mother nature ensures that there is always one chick (normally the eldest and most dominant) which is more able to withstand the hardships on the nest and has a higher chance of survival, it has had the most food and is the most well developed. Thinking back to 2008 if Deshar, Nethy and 'titch' were all the same age when EJ was having to leave the nest to do a bit of fishing, since OVS was such a lazy fisherman, we could have lost the whole brood rather than just the youngest. Deshar and Nethy were better able to withstand the weather they managed to survive.
As long as Odin can keep living up to his name and bringing in the fish to the chicks there will be enough food to go around and everyone will get fed. EJ won't feed the chicks in any particular oder she'll put food in the nearest mouth, this increases the competition making sure that the eldest chicks remain strong and the youngest chick gets stronger. If you watch carefully, espcially on the longer feeds, you'll see youngest chick pushing forward and stretching to receive a feed as the elder and more dominant two fall back as they become full, thus everyone gets a chance of food.
Outside random acts of God i.e. Odin goes missing (again), UFOs etc. It's worth remembering that the weather that is the biggest killer of Osprey chicks (and a lot of other animal) rather than the 'bullying' between the chicks.
Today we have already had 2 fish delivered to the nest and there will definitely be more on the way. We had an early morning intruder on the nest today eventually chased off by Odin after a little prompting by EJ.
Further record breaking numbers came in last saturday when we received more than 2000 visitors to the site in a single week and had over 500 people visiting on the bank holiday sunday. Our busiest week so far this season.
Can Odin break his record from 2009 (9 fish in a day)? Will the Loch Garten staff have enough cake to survive the half term holidays? Stay tuned to find out.