This blog is written by Abernethy staff throughout the changing seasons here on the reserve.
During summer it's likely there'll be more frequent blogs as the ospreys return to breed at the Loch Garten nest and the drama unfolds.
We hope you enjoy following life at Abernethy reserve.
Thanks for reading!
Not just better news, but fantastic new!
Millicent has made it to Spain - and having done so by crossing the Bay of Biscay! Compared to poor Seasca, luck was mercifully on Millie's side.
This is a huge relief to us all, I'm quite sure of that, but for the near-departing Team LG 2104, it's a massive relief. Since losing Seasca so soon, and before our season here was over, understandably we were despondent and very worried for Millie too. We took some comfort from her chosen more easterly route, fetching up in Derbyshire. We hoped that by continuing to head due south from there, this would drop her nicely down to the Channel coast and then make for a convenient, short, risk-averse sea crossing into France, then in time, surely down to Spain, before a likely short hop across the Strait of Gibraltar into Africa.
But oh no! Instead she chose to scare the living daylights out of us by veering more south-west from Derbyshire to the Gloucestershire/Monmouthshire border area. All a bit too far west for my liking, appearing as it did, to be tee-ing herself up also for a possible Bay of Biscay onward leg. I kept my thoughts on this from the team, and they no-doubt kept theirs from me, and each other, fearing for a risky crossing of the Bay, like Seasca.
Thankfully though, luck was on Millie's side, or maybe the weather was just more favourable out there for her at the time, than it was for Seasca, or simply that she took the sensible option of stopping for roosting mid-afternoon over the last few days to gather her strength, to brace herself for the next leg. This probably put her in good stead for what was a mammoth overnight flight across the Bay of Biscay.
On 27 August she flew some 170 km travelling W of Bridgewater, N Devon at 09.00 GMT, W of Exeter at 11.00 GMT where she stopped. She then flew S stopping again at 13.00 GMT W of Widecombe in the Moor before changing direction to a more southerly route coming to roost at 15.00 GMT in woods 2 km W of Buckfastleigh at the edge of the Dartmoor NP. She was close to water at the reservoir on the River Avon and a lake in Buckfastleigh.
She started early at 05.00 GMT on 28 August setting off in a SW direction towards Bigbury Bay, S Devon changing to a SE direction to fly over Salcombe before leaving the coast at 07.00 GMT to cross the English Channel. At 11.00 GMT she changed direction to S and crossed the French coast at around 12.30 GMT near Plouézec in the Côtes d’Amour region of Brittany. At 15.00 GMT she came to roost in a wooded area just N of Pleto having covered a total of 235 km for the day.
The 29 August was to see her complete an incredible journey of 635 km. She left early and flew S, perching at 09.00 GMT near a lake at Le Quélennec and may have also stopped at Le Blavel River which she passed over at around 15.00 GMT. At around 16.45 GMT she left France passing close to Quiberon before starting what turned out to be a 13 hour night flight over the Bay of Biscay! She initially headed for the short route to N Spain but at 21.00 GMT changed to a SW direction. She eventually arrived on the N Spain coast between Avilés and Candas at 05.00 GMT on 30 August.
At 07.00 GMT on 30 August she was perched a little distance further S then flew S over an industrial area of Avilés where there are some large bodies of water. The last downloaded data point had her flying S at 11.00 GMT over a mountainous region. Overall, Millie had flown around 1100 km over the last 3 days.
You, like us, will be hugely relieved at this news. Ok, as we know, these young ospreys are never completely out of the woods, as they say, but to have put the dreaded Bay of Biscay behind her, is uplifting, and give us hope. Phew!
My thanks to data-Mike for the latest. He was as anxious as the rest of us and though the data download was this morning, Mike couldn't wait to know the latest, so he thought he'd take a look to see if any data had come in yesterday (Saturday). Some had, it was incomplete, but some of what arrived said SPAIN! He texted me to let me know, but we've waited overnight for a more complete data-picture, to be sure, before giving you the full up-date.
Though we didn't know that Millie was safe, for now, in Spain, Team LG 2014 put their worries for her and their disappointment at the loss of Seasca behind them and partied heavily on Friday night, dancing the night away. Amongst some somewhat less than elegant performances (Chris), Rachel, a trained dancer, blew us away with her own balletic interpretation of ospreys, in tribute to Seasca. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Rachel's performance was beautiful.
I've now added some cake pictures, below.
Meanwhile, Breagha continues with his somewhat less exciting travels around his home area in S. Senegal. Next download is on Wednesday 3rd September.
Today is our last day of the 2014 season, we close the Osprey Centre doors at 6pm tonight, until April 2015. Next week is pack-up week, so we'll be about the Centre putting the season to bed. What follows is the latest edition of Osprey Times, the notice we put up at the entrance gate tonight, on closure.
Osprey Times 2014
This year at Loch Garten we celebrated the 60th anniversary of ospreys returning to Scotland. The 24th March saw the arrival of our first Loch Garten osprey – our regular female, EJ, back for her twelfth season. She settled back in quickly and began bringing in some fresh sticks and moss to the nest. Odin, our regular male, soon followed and arrived back on the 30th March, returning for his sixth season. A loyal and dutiful male, he showed up with a fish for his mate and impressed her with a flight display known as skydancing. EJ was suitably impressed and no time was wasted as both birds began mating and preparing the nest for eggs.
On 11th April EJ laid her first egg. Incubation started and EJ began to rely on Odin for fish as she kept the egg warm. The second egg was laid on 14th April, shortly followed by the third and final egg three days later on 17th April.
After five weeks of dedicated incubation, the first egg hatched on 17th May. Chick 2 followed three days later on 19th May and last but not least, Chick 3 arrived 22nd May. Chick 3 had an uncertain start to life when she got her head trapped in the egg shell she had hatched from only moments earlier. We watched on in despair as her siblings were fed regularly throughout the day whilst she struggled to wriggle free. Clearly a fighter from the start, she managed to break free and quickly caught up with her sisters by pushing in front at feeding time. We watched avidly as they grew and grew. Odin has built up a reputation for providing plenty of food for his family, and this year he brought in some of the biggest fish he has ever carried back to the nest. A grand total of 388 fish were faithfully delivered to the Loch Garten nest. A warm and relatively dry summer allowed for a good breeding season and the chicks grew healthy and strong.
We had luck on our side again this year with regards to the weather and on 28th June were able to climb up to the nest to ring the chicks and fit the eldest two with satellite trackers. You can follow their migration routes on our website at: www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/tracking/lochgartenospreys/index.asp
At ringing we discovered that all three chicks were female. In anticipation of Chick 1 being the first to fly the nest, she was named Millicent (cent meaning 100), as she would be the 100th chick to fledge the Loch Garten nest. Chick 2 was named Seasca (Gaelic for 60) in celebration of the 60th anniversary of ospreys returning to Scotland. Chick 3 was named Druie, after the River Druie, which runs into the fish farm at Rothiemurchus, where EJ does her fishing. True to her name, Millicent fledged first on 12th July, making her the 100th Loch Garten chick. Seasca took her first flight 15th July and Druie fledged 17th July. They then spent several weeks practicing and preparing before beginning their migration south towards Africa.
EJ was last seen at the nest on 18th August, Seasca soon followed and started her journey the following day. Millicent and Druie were both last seen 23rd August and Odin was last to leave, last seen on 25th August.
The team here would like to thank all the visitors, volunteers and on-line viewers who have supported our work this year. Hopefully we will see a safe return of our birds in 2015. The Osprey Centre will open its doors once again on 1st April.
I just thought we'd share with you some pictures of our end-of-season party cakes.
How amazing is this cake, made by Julie Quirie! Look at the attention to detail - it's even got the metal straps holding the nest-camera wooden block housing.
These osprey fairy cakes were made by Lizzie and Jenna
These osprey nests complete with eggs were made by Jen and Rachel - 100 of them, one for each osprey fledged from the Loch Garten nest.
Julie is truly a person of many talents - that cake is amazing. And all the other cakes look such fun.
Thanks to all who have looked after our Ospreys in 2014 - and here's to next year!
Well done on the cakes Julies is amazing and love all the ones from Lizzie Jenna Jen and Rachel but what I want to know is where are Chris's ????
Amazing cakes. Thanks for all you do on site and online to let us share this experience every year and see you next year...
Thankyou Richard for the much needed good news about Millie, she seems to have taken a long route over the Bay of Biscay! Shes done so well long may it continue! Love the cakes, talented bakers ! Maybe they will join the "Gabfest Bake off" ! Thankyou brilliant news!
Truly awesome cakes, and truly awesome news of Millie's progress.
Here's to an equally successful 2015 season, but it would be hard to match this one.
Fabulous cakes, well done the girls.
Wow, what amazing decorations on your cake, Julie. The butterfly cakes look almost too good to eat, Lizzie and Jenna, and I love the idea of one hundred nests, each with a Darvic number of name. Well done Jen and Rachel. Just fabulous.
Perhaps we could have a list of the numbers some day, and who the parents were/are and in which year they fledged? I appreciate that this would be somewhat time-consuming, but perhaps when it is pouring with rain, or the midges keep you bound to your desk....!
Richard, thanks for the great blog and such wonderful news of Millie. I really feel for all the Loch Garten Team for losing dear Seasca, and I can't thank you enough for the amazing job you do throughout the season. I love the details on the cake by Julie, the fairy cakes by Lizzie and Jenna are just so sweet and the osprey eggs by Jen and Rachel a lovely tribute to all the chicks that have made and still make Loch Garten so special. To all the lovely LG team my very best wishes. Can't wait for EJ and Odin's safe return in 2015.
I was watching 3 osprey fish at Spey Bay 31st August having failed to catch the Ospreys at Loch Garten 29th, from this I gather it was not that three - so whose were they. Definitely identified by the Dolphin Watch folk.
Only just seen the LG Tweet - so relieved Millie made it across the Bay of Biscay, didn't realise I should have checked the Blog yesterday without the DU to remind me!
Thanks for an excellent end of season blog - good news, fantastic cakes and a lovely summary. Will tune in next season and, fingers crossed will see and hear the LG family of 2015 :-)
Well done Millicent and well done to all who made those lovely cakes. Excellent! :)
Brilliant! How could you possible have eaten these works of art??? Thank you for the pictures!!
It seems such a shame to have eaten Julie's cake. It is fantastic. Love the osprey fairy cakes and nests. Well done to Lizzie, Jenna, Rachel and Jen. Thanks also for showing them all to us. I guess everything was eaten :-))
WOW, beautiful cakes!! You haven't eaten 'our' osprey eggs, have you? ;-) It must have been a great party.
Oh thank you! That is so cheering, but I feel for you all having your private thoughts about Millie's westerly route. I'm so glad there is good news. Would loved to have seen Rachel's dance, and glad to hear you all partied well. Thank you all for everything you continue to do.