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
We saw amazing sights of a buzzard and a sparrowhawk yesterday, but not a single osprey!
EJ did indeed start her migration on Saturday, 21st August, having first brought each of her two remaining juveniles a very large rainbow trout. This kept them happy all day, but on Sunday they were both hungry again! There was no breakfast! There was no sign of Odin! Had he seen EJ go and decided to follow her, as Orange VS did in 2008? Surely not! We had last seen Odin on Friday evening. Earlier in the day, he had sat in view of the juveniles, eating a fish, trying to tempt them to have a go at fishing themselves.
On Sunday morning, the juveniles sat mantling and screaming at a male intruder osprey, which landed on the nest. The juvenile on the nest lunged at him and forced him off the nest, but he went and sat on the camera tree. Then, we heard a shrill alarm call and Odin came into view! He lunged at the intruder, forcing him off the tree and gave chase! We were so happy to see him! Our juveniles begged for food, but Odin’s job was to try to get them to have a go at fishing themselves. Perhaps he succeeded, for on Wednesday, at 07.46, one of the juveniles was seen looking very wet, even for the soggy weather. At 09.07, one of the juveniles brought in a large stick to the nest, just as Odin would have. At 10.00, one juvenile sat on the nest, the other in the camera tree. Both were calling for food. We weren’t able to see Odin, but they obviously could. At 10.20, the middle juvenile left the nest and started to soar, circling ever higher, until it was a tiny dot. Surely it must be on it’s way! The youngest juvenile sat in the camera tree, quietly for a while, before flying away at 11.00. Later in the day, at 15.34, an osprey appeared from behind the nest and flew around, before heading away again. Was it Odin checking that the juveniles had gone, before stating his own migration?
There has been no sign of the family since, although today an osprey was spotted flying above the nest. Last year we saw the indruder, White TF, take up residence for the last week. The nest is very popular with spotted flycatchers!
We wish all ospreys a safe journey and an abundance of tasty fish!
It has now been exactly a week since we have seen all 3 of our juveniles together, so we can only assume that our eldest chick has begun his long journey south to West Africa! Good luck chick! Both EJ and Odin are still here though, and the 2 younger juveniles, both of whom are still being brought fish by their parents.
EJ has been on breakfast duty this morning, bringing in the first fish of the day at 7.21 and then another at 9.31. When we opened the centre this morning, we had a great view of the 2 chicks sitting side by side on the nest in the morning sun, not a sight we see very often anymore! As I type, one of them is still sitting on the nest clutching the remainder of its fish, and the other is perched in the camera tree eating away.
UPDATE! (22 Aug, 12pm): Odin and the 2 juveniles around this morning, but we haven't seen EJ since those fish deliveries yesterday morning. Has she gone? We'll keep you updated!
We are already noticing that EJ & Odin are bringing less fish to the nest now, perhaps trying to encourage the juveniles to go fishing for themselves. Yesterday, Odin caught a fish and then sat on a perch down behind the nest where he proceeded to eat it all by himself, even though one of the chicks was sitting on the nest calling and calling!
On many nests the female will leave for migration first, then the chicks will go one by one, with the male staying to look after them until the last chick has gone. However, here at Loch Garten our family like to rewrite the rules! Last year Rothes (the eldest chick) left first, followed in order by Odin, Garten (the youngest chick), EJ, and finally Mallachie (the middle chick). So who knows what order they will leave in this year?!
Unfortunately for us, the ospreys show no telltale signs that they are thinking of starting their migration. One day, when they know the time is right, they just leave the area and begin their amazing journey – up to 3500 miles across vast lands, oceans and deserts.
Perhaps the most amazing journey is that of our young birds; never having flown very far from the nest before, perhaps never even having caught their own fish, they undertake this huge migration completely alone, not following their parents or flying with their siblings. Yet, they instinctively know where to go. What incredible birds!
In the meantime, we just have to enjoy every sighting of EJ, Odin and the last 2 chicks – you just never know if this will be the last time you’ll see them!
PS. Welcome to Tracey, who has come up from the Edinburgh office to help us out in the centre for a few days while David swans off on holiday!
…after all it’s been so warm today EJ was seen to be panting, with eyes closed! What a change from the recent weather! The juveniles seem to have been making the most of the big improvement over the last two days as we have seen much less of them. Over the last two days, EJ and Odin have brought in just eight fish, three yesterday and four today. Only about half have been handed to the juveniles. They are just not there or don’t seem hungry. We had decided that it seemed unlikely that a juvenile had caught it’s own fish, but you never know. They still seem to look quite clumsy when they eat a fish on a perch, often flapping their wings as they try to balance. EJ sat on one of her favourite perches to the right of the centre, eating a rainbow trout, as we opened up today. There was a juvenile sat in the camera tree, which later flew right past her. Later, there were some brilliant close-up views of a young buzzard hunting. EJ kept a close eye on it!
Last night, EJ brought in a huge rainbow trout at 20.48 and sat, eating away, over the back. We heard Odin call as he arrived on the camera tree, but there were no juveniles around to share the meal. During the day one of the juveniles had sat out on the same perch EJ used today, but we hardly saw any of the others. There was a strange eerie feeling as though they were all away. At 21.30 another osprey appeared and Odin gave chase, alarm calling. They were so close, but we could barely see as it was so dark.
Today the loch and forest looked beautiful, with the hills, trees and clouds reflected in the still water. Click on the attachent below for a look! The small birds sounded very happy too! The squirrels are showing signs of cooler weather approaching though, as the darker tail colour grows in. One jumped into the feeder today and was trapped by another jumping on top of the lid!