There's not been much change in the respective positions of our two young ospreys since we last looked, both are exploring the areas where they seem to have settled.
Alba seems to have established some sort of pattern in which in the afternoon she explores the islands off the coast of Senegal particularly the first small island S of the large island and roosts overnight on the mainland.
Caledonia has settled on roosting overnight in the trees on the Canal de Alfonso XIII. She has made at least one ‘long hop’ 6km SSW of her roost to the bank of the Rio Guadalquivir as she did earlier this week. She also may be showing a penchant for football! On 13 September she was near the Estadio Benito Villamarrin stadium which is the home ground of Real Betis. However, there was obviously no game on as she quickly turned away! The stadium is in a very built up area of S Seville.
Meanwhile back on the Rez, at last I managed to write myself into the reserve history books with a reserve "first", a new species to be recorded for the reserve. Now this is probably every reserve-based staff member's unwritten objective, to clock up a species not seen before on a reserve, anywhere, by anyone else. Here at Abernethy / Loch Garten, a long-established reserve, this becomes increasing harder, especially for the more obvious taxa like birds.
We are though discovering new critters all the time. At Abernethy, in total, we have recorded more than 4700 taxa (species, subspecies and hybrids). On average we record an additional 50 or so taxa per year, and so far in 2012 we have added over 30. In general these are taxa that have so far been overlooked, requiring a specialist to notice or identify them. So, for example, an odd looking sedge noticed on the Ben Macdui plateau c.15 years ago, was finally determined as the hybrid Carex x decolorans (C. bigelowii x nigra) – a rather tricky thing to identify. Other ‘new’ species are instantly recognisable, and have just never been spotted before. Examples found in 2012 at Abernethy are Equisetum hyemale (Rough Horsetail) and Meum athamanticum (Spignel – a species of umbellifer). Both are notable additions to the Abernethy list, and have presumably long been present, just never noticed.
Some of my colleagues here have become experts on some of the more obscure and / or lesser known and understood taxa, like lower-plant groups or tooth fungi for example, and with so much to go at, they are routinely adding new species to the reserve list, much to my chagrin. For me, first & foremost a birder, I'm up against it, to likely ever add a new bird species to the reserve record books, but yesterday I finally did it. Cue the drum roll.................... Gannnet !!
An unlikely bird to see, if ever there was one, in the forests, mountains and moorland of Abernethy. Yet, whilst out for a walk with friends yesterday afternoon at 5pm, I spotted a bird flying towards us, and at first, obviously not expecting it to be a gannet, 50 miles inland, I was at a loss to identify it. Eventually though, it got closer and closer and passed right overhead, and lo, it proved to be a gannet, a brown juvenile bird. Quite what it was doing here, who knows, maybe blown off course / inland by the strong winds over the weekend? It seemed to be struggling and battling with yesterday's gusts, yet you'd expect it to be used to such conditions with a life at sea. Quite where it ended up last night, I don't know, my guess would be that it pitched down onto Loch Morlich in Glenmore, as it was heading that way, or maybe it manage to gain height and clear the Cairngorm massif and head onwards further south, who knows?
Anyway, it was an unexpected and intruiging sighting, and takes the reserve bird species list from 186 to 187 and the total reserve species list from 4700 to 4701 and as it passed through the airspace of my garden, I'm claiming it as an addition to my garden list, taking me to 96 species. Reeeezult!
Next up-date on our ospreys will be on Wednesday.
Since posting the above blog I've spoken to a friend of mine, who it happens, also saw the (almost certainly) same juvenile gannet earlier yesterday, in the morning, in the Findhorn Valley 20 miles away from Abernethy. He phoned another friend who decided to go and look this morning to see if it had perhaps dropped-in on to Loch Insh (part of Insh Marshes RSPB reserve), but no. Instead he discovered another storm-blown seabird, a gulliemot !! So there could be other stuff out there in unusual places, so where ever you live -even inland- maybe take up sea-watching! You never know what you might find on your local loch, lake or reservoir after the strong winds we have had. Good luck looking.
Thank You for the update on Caledonia and Alba, both seem quite settled where we are. Look forward to the next update on Wednesday. Congratulations on the Gannet passing through your air space, hope it makes it all the way back to the coast OK.
Glad to know all's ok. Thinking with positive thoughts for Lucky 13 and Rutlands 09 at the moment. Awaiting more data to come through, what a nerve wracking time for all involved in keeping them safe in the British reserves during the summer.
Interesting to hear about the gannet, you never know Richard you might see a sea eagle flying past one day.
Congrats to you Richard, on a new sighting. I often scan the skies, but the only seabirds we see here, miles from the sea, are Gulls! But you just never know, apparently....
Thanks for the update on The Girls who seem to be happily enjoying their new surroundings.
Oops. Sheila, I think I accidentally deleted a comment from you. Sorry.
Was it something I said, Richard? :-) I think I was probably going on about the Girls, as usual! Thanks.....
Alba and Cally seem to be enjoying themselves at the moment, which is a relief having heard about 09. Wow Richard great to hear you have seen a gannet, but perhaps a bit worrying for the bird itself! I wonder whether an EJ whopper might be a bit big for it to cope with. But nevertheless, a brilliant addition to your garden list!
Oh Richard you made me smile nice one !!!! 4701 that is some total of birds . So pleased the girls are doing well wonder if Caley will move ? time will tell
Thanks Richard for the latest on the two young 'uns. Interesting blog re gannet and gulliemot, you never know then , maybe there are seabirds on our own local resevoir!!
Pleased that Alba and Caledonia are doing so well, but quite bemused by the gannet and guillemot..... I hope they find their way home. What next I wonder? Whales in Loch Morlich!? Thank you for the update Richard, and great for the statistics.
Great news that the girls are well and settled...quite disturbing about the poor Gannet and Guillemot, let's hope they get back to the coast soon.
Does that 96 for your garden include a ptarmigan?
Congratulations, Richard!!! Gannets are one of my favourite birds; it's amazing to see them at Troup Head. A gannet, a guillemot.... what's next? A razorbill?
Thanks for the up-date. Waiting for more good news about the girls today.
There is drama over the Atlantic again with one of Roy Dennis' birds trying to do a Deshar!
It is brilliant to know there are birds out there but I am really worried about the eerie absence of birds to my garden. Wood pigeons, Rooks and Magpies are spotted in the field to the rear of my home but my feeders are not being visited by anything at all.. Not even a Robin! I am so glad 'the girls' are doing well..
Trying to catch up, I have just noticed your later note about the further sighting of the juv. gannet and then the guillemot, Richard. Hopefully they have found their way back to the sea by now. Too far inland for them. I presume there have been no further sightings.