Ringing & tagging

Loch Garten ospreys

Loch Garten ospreys
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Loch Garten osprey diary

The ospreys at Loch Garten have people across the world gripped in their tale of violence, adultery and... well... fishing.

Ringing & tagging

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As by now you are no-doubt aware, on Saturday evening we leg-ringed and satellite tagged our young ospreys here at Loch Garten.


If only you knew what an anxious time it has been. Well you're about to know, because I shall tell you. Tagging was looking a bit touch & go there for a while. The tags only arrived on Friday at 5pm. Though ordered from USA in good time, entered into the Company's production schedule, and we had assurances that they would be here by mid-June, when I got back from leave on Monday 23rd June there was no sign of them!


I immediately e-mailed the US to enquire as to their whereabouts to be told that they had not yet been shipped! They were promptly shipped the next day, but with a likely 6 day delivery schedule it was looking like they wouldn't arrive until 1-2 July. Even then, that could just mean that they had arrived in Blighty but were sat at Stanstead Airport or some such, but had not been released by HMC until any duties had been paid. After a few phone calls I was assured that they would be with us here by 6pm on Monday 30th June. That would have made things very tight time-wise as the birds were already beginning to flap about, plus if we then happened to get held up by inclement weather, as has happened before, tagging could be in jeopardy. Panic hadn't quite fully set in, but we were getting worried about getting the tagging done. However at 5pm on Friday 27th June they arrived, giving us options and some leeway. Phew!


Evenings are better for tagging than mornings because at the end of the day chicks are at their heaviest, having been fed throughout the day, and if they are that bit heavier they are therefore less likely to make an unscheduled leap when surprised at the nest. On Saturday evening the conditions were nice and still and a bit damp too, again counting in our favour, conditions that would likely lie them low in the nest. This plus Roy Dennis' availability meant that we were good to go.

Because of the uncertainly surrounding all this we a) couldn't give you the heads-up as to when it would take place (if at all!) and b) as you know we usually invite our local schoolchildren to come up with suggested names but again because of uncertainty, we did not want to excite and raise their expectations, in case we did not go ahead.



My colleague Ian climbed the nesting tree - you'll have seen his hands in the nest, to find all three chicks lying flat in the nest in response to EJ's alarm calls to them from aloft as she circled overhead. He carefully bagged each one in turn bringing all three to the ground below the nest.  So for 5 minutes or so the nest was empty which prompted an e-mail from a viewer who hadn't seen the chicks removed, asking if they had all suddenly fledged!



Once on the ground, the younger, smaller chick was fitted with a metal BTO ring.......



.....a plastic colour-coded leg ring.....



....... and weighed

It was only our intention to tag two of the brood of three, choosing the bigger of the two. The smaller of the brood would, in any case have been that bit less advanced in its growth and size to take a tag, and if we waited for it to catch up, chicks one and two would or could be that bit closer to fledging. So all there young ospreys were brought down from the nest. The smallest was weighed, measured and leg-ringed then promptly put back in the nest. This would help reassure EJ circling high overhead. The other two were taken back to the Osprey Centre to be fitted with their bling.

Back at the Centre, the tagging went well. All three were found to be in good condition. Checks were made for "checks" in the feather growth, lines that indicate days of less food being provided and there very little sign of this, Odin, the boy done good, in providing plenty of fish, so far.

Roy demonstrated this and other checks made on the birds to those assembled Below he shows the blood-filled feather sheaths of the growing tail feathers.


..............and the osprey's reversible outer toe, an adaptation for catching live fish.


The two larger chicks were then fitted with their satellite tags.


Roy concentrating on his embroidery skills.


Our three young ospreys are believed to be all girls. To be honest, the smaller of the three weighed-in at either a big boy weight or a small girl weight, but all things considered, Roy hedged his bets and pronounced it a girl, probably! Hence an asexual name - more on that in a moment.


And here they are.


And the details are as follows;

Chick 1 (longer in the wing and the tail at this stage, though a bit lighter than chick 2)

Sat Tag No. 139178

Colour ring   AN0 (left leg)

Metal ring    141072

Wing           364mm

Tail             162mm

Weight        1720g


Chick 2

Sat Tag No. 139177

Colour ring   AN9 (left leg)

Metal ring    140601

Wing           348mm

Tail             136mm

Weight        1885g


Chick 3

Colour ring   AN8 (left leg)

Metal ring     1410670

Wing            302mm

Tail              110mm

Weight         1690g


The names? Well, there are two significant events that we wanted the names to celebrate.

All being well, the first of these three to fledge the nest will be the 100th osprey to do so from the Loch Garten nest - a hugely successful milestone in the osprey's story here. So we toyed and conjured with 100-type relevant names including Century, Centurion, Furmium (100th element in the Priodic Table!) and also derivations from Cent (as in 100). Had the largest chick been deemed male then we might have run with VinCENT, get it? But as it was a girl we've opted for Millicent (AN0), henceforth Millie for short, no doubt.

To mark 2014 being the 60th anniversary of the osprey's return to Scotland in 1954, the name of the second chick is the Gaelic word for 60, Seasca (AN9). The third, smallest chick, ringed but not satellite tagged has been names Druie (AN8) as in the River Druie which flows through the Rothiemurchus fish farm from whence no doubt most of their nourishment has been purloined!

It'll be just our luck eh, if Seasca now goes and fledges before Millicent?!  Hey-ho.


And finally...................................


Now there's gratitude for you! Me blathered in osprey poo. Again. I'm the recipient of this osprey gesture every year!

Can I take this opportunity to thank all of you out there who helped make this happen by contributing to the tagging funding pot. Very much appreciated. Stars, all.



  • Deveronside, I think the visitor centre is very busy at this time of the year.

  • Quote: 'We update the blog at least twice a week'

    Just wondering...

  • I don't know who I spoke to earlier but about five minutes after I called the live cam zoomed out.  Many thanks!

  • I have been away on holiday with very bad internet connection so am just catching up now.  Really sorry to have missed all this but thank you for such an excellent blog so I can catch up!!

  • Great to chat with you today Richard and thank's for all the info on the girls, they did look a bit wet with all that rain we had,also good to see Odin bringing in the fish for them,they've both been really good with their chicks as always.Bye the way that was a lovely woodpecker.Keep up the good work.

  • Thanks Richard for the pictures,you all do a wonderful job. Coming up there tomorrow and just hope they don't fledge before then.Have a nice day all.

  • Thank You Richard for an excellent detailed blog.  

    Love the names and the photographs.   Now why is that it is always you that is poohed upon and never Roy LOL....  

    Exciting times ahead waiting on the first fledge, will be up to visit next week, so looking forward to seeing three beautiful juveniles on the nest, and EJ & Odin too.  

  • Congratulations on reaching over £5000.00 with the donations now.

  • Are you going to have to change the colour of the fish on the carpark sign?

  • Excellent blog and pics. Thank you. If the names are really going to be relevant to the 100th fledged, I don't see a problem in swopping them around. We can continue calling them C1 & C2 until the first fledging, otherwise we will be explaining for years to come, that Millicent is not actually the 100th but the 101st. LOL

  • very interesting blog thank you. I love the names Millicent and Druie, I've no idea how to pronounce the second chicks name, but i'll it's pronunciation. Beautiful picture of chick having her backpack sewn on. They really look huge compared to a human!  Also great shot of the nest, you really do get an idea of the sheer scale of the construction. Super & great title!

  • Fantastic detailed blog, Richard.  Thank you so very much.  Us watchers have no idea all this is going on, and it's great to see the pics and detail.  What an anxious time for you.

    I must also say a big thank you to Ian (I think that's right), for cleaning the camera lens for us.  Makes a big difference to viewing.  Love the names, incidentally.

  • I have to ask, Richard, why you're grinning much more when you've been covered in poo - and keeping a straight face as you're holding the young birds?  I know which way around it would be for me!!

  • Thank you "LG Team" for letting me share an amazing Saturday evening at the centre. After a great week in the hide it totally capped off my week. I do also have my own personal photos of the poo event. Over the week I grew close to Druie as she blossomed from bobble head to little girl. Fingers crossed we will all see your leg ring one day.

  • Ooops ~ sorry about duplicate Richard ~ really, I only 'posted' once ~ perhaps it was the vibration on my laughter!!!!!