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!
Good morning all from me (Chris) and the team.
Today started like any other - the team arrived at the centre at 9:30 sharp (Nimrod's away at the moment) to prepare ourselves for another day of meeting and entertaining visitors. As we skipped gleefully up the path, anticipating a fun filled day, Fergus was even singing a little self-penned ditty about the joys of wildflowers. We unlocked the doors to the centre and began, as we always do, to open up the viewing hatches looking out onto the nest. As I opened one I noticed a large piece of bark that had been wedged into the closed shutter, fall to the ground. Curiously, I picked it up and turned it over. The reverse was covered in scrawled, untidy writing which looked (and smelled) like it had been done using ink derived somehow from fish (I don't know how this is possible, so don't ask, just go with it). As I read the fish ink-on-bark letter, I couldn't believe my eyes...
Dear Osprey Team,
Just a quick note to say that I have left for my Winter holiday. I had planned to go with EJ but she must have misunderstood our travel plans as she left over a week ago without telling me. It's strange that this is the 8th year in a row that she's left alone...I definitely told her exactly when I would be leaving. Oh well, I'm sure it was just an innocent mistake. The boys both got off fine - Rowan left pretty soon after EJ, as you know, but little Willow took a bit longer to build up the courage. He finally left just the other day though and I couldn't be prouder of him (I call him Daddy's Little Soldier which he hates, especially as the Chaffinches tease him about it. They can be so cruel). Anyway, just to say we'll be gone until next Spring, keep an eye on our nest will you? EJ will try and get back by the end of March as usual but I'll be later as I tend to do most of the duty free shopping. Hope you all have a great Winter (good luck trying to catch fish in the frozen Scottish lochs) and thanks to all the volunteers and forum members who kept watch over us, our eggs and our little guys over the course of the season. See you all in 2017!
P.S. As always, please forward any fan mail onto me at the usual address.
So, there we go, it's official. The birds have all left us on migration and are on their way to a warmer winter. We were all very touched by Odin leaving us a note, and were amazed by the quality of his handwriting - that reversible toe of his really is amazing! The spelling and grammar were also excellent, something Ospreys are not necessarily known for. Honestly, look in any bird book and there'll be no mention of it on the Osprey page.
Our nest is now empty with no signs of life, or should I say, almost no signs of life. Many of our eagle-eyed forum members spotted a mischievous Pine Marten on the nest late yesterday evening, making the most of the lack of Osprey activity. Pine Martens have made dens inside the nest in previous years so this could have been an early reconnaissance mission, or it could just have been a fame hungry individual who was sick of the Ospreys getting all the attention! Probably the former if I'm honest.
My time to shine...Pine Marten on the Loch Garten Osprey nest!
The centre here is open until the 4th of September and, if you're in the area, it's still worth a visit. There are plenty of Red Squirrels, Woodpeckers and Bank Voles to spot, alongside the regular forest birds on our feeders. The team are still here and would love to chat to you about pretty much anything (we don't get out much) and we've also got plenty of footage to show you, detailing the events of this, and many previous seasons. Of course, the departure of our Ospreys is a major loss to us but don't feel that there is nothing else to see or do if you visit...come and see for yourself!
Good morning everyone. Chris here with a quick update from the Osprey Centre.
It appears that our oldest juvenile, Rowan, has departed on his migration. We have not seen him since Tuesday morning and it is very likely that he has made the most of this spell of fine weather to follow hot on EJ's heels. For most of yesterday morning there was a large portion of fish lying unattended on the nest (the remains of Willow's breakfast). If Rowan were in the area we would have expected him to come to the nest at some point and help himself to this free meal. The fact that he didn't suggests he is almost certainly on his way to warmer climes. This was, however, great news for our resident Jay who couldn't believe his luck, happily picking away at the fish all morning before eventually dragging it over the side of the nest and disappearing. We have also had a couple of Redstarts visiting the nest this morning. We were disappointed that no Redstarts nested in our nestbox this year but they have been breeding in the forest around the centre and it is always a treat to see these beautiful birds, especially as they too will be heading south for winter.
The departure of our juveniles is always a bittersweet moment; it is tough to watch a young bird that we have seen everyday for 3 and a half months disappear into the big, wide world, his future unpredictable and delicately balanced, but at the same time, this is what Ospreys do! It's all part of their life cycle and it's great news that Rowan has left nice and early, avoiding the onset of autumnal storms and winter cold, and that his instincts are fully developed and guiding him well. The force is strong with this one! With only two young this year, there will have been more food to go around and each of our boys will hopefully be that little bit stronger when it comes to this massive journey they are about to undertake. We all wish Rowan well and I like to imagine that one late Spring day in 2019, I'll catch sight of an Osprey soaring over my head, grab my binoculars and, just before he disappears over the trees with an enormous fish in his talons, get the quickest glimpse of a blue leg ring bearing the code PP0.
Great memories...the changing faces of Rowan
Willow and Odin are still present in the area and we have seen them both this morning - Odin delivering a fish for his youngest son. We'll try to let you know when Willow leaves (Odin is always the last to go) but as usual it isn't until we don't see him for a couple of days that we can be sure he is gone. Does that make sense? Clear as mud, right?
Have a lovely Thursday!
Morning bloggers. Just a quickie to say that your suspicions have surely been confirmed, and our precious EJ hasn't been seen since Saturday morning (August 13), when she brought the remains of a fish to the nest. After that she presumably began her migration and hopefully will be able to make the most of the fine weather which is forecast. It doesn't need saying that this is a bitter sweet moment - she's had a great season and, with the trusty Odin, has successfully reared two beautiful osprey chicks in her 19th year, providing us all with plenty of wonderful moments along the way. But, as ever, we are always left wondering whether she will return and can only cross our fingers and wish her well.
Rowan, Willow and Odin remain around the nest, and we anticipate they'll be around for another week at least, but who can tell? Roy Dennis thinks that the early hatching date won't impact on the migration date, but with good weather conditions and the fact that Rowan was the earliest ever osprey chick hatched at Loch Garten, maybe their migration will start sooner than recent years? We'll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, there are still birds to be seen around the nest or on nearby perches, giving visitors wonderful views, as ever.
The happy couple. Odin takes his turn incubating, April 2016.
Proud mum, EJ, feeding her two chicks in May 2016.
Fare thee well, EJ!