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!
Tuesday May 24th: A new blog, a new team member. Enjoy!
Hello everyone! I am very happy to introduce myself. I am the second half of “Team Sarah” (we’re making it easy for you this year – if you visit the centre just shout “Sarah” and one of us will answer)! I am Sarah Loudon and I graduated from St. Andrews a few years ago. I then headed to Australia and living ‘Down Under’ is where I realised how much I love birds. It quickly amazed me how every species seems to have a different character. It was impossible not to fall in love with the cheeky Galahs or even the crafty Kookaburras! I spent time working in zoos, bonding with the Cockatoos and building up a healthy respect for all of the animals. One parrot in particular springs to mind who, whenever I entered his enclosure to top up his food and water, would repeatedly dive bomb my head!
So, when I came back to Scotland, I figured who better to work for than the RSPB and I was ecstatic when I was offered a job here at Loch Garten. You see, this place was a part of my childhood – every year my family comes up to the Cairngorms for our summer holiday. I remember running up the path to the Osprey Centre to find out how EJ and her chicks were doing. Now I’m here for the season and plan to make the most of it (with my new RSPB binoculars constantly round my neck)!
So if you visit the centre this year, please find me and introduce yourself. I might be sat in the kiosk, trying to attract little birdie visitors to the window like Snow White (minus the singing...trust me no-one wants to hear that). Actually, I’d like to tell you a bit about what happens here at the kiosk. Many people think it’s just the way in to the centre but there’s an amazing array of things to see here and it should be an important part of your visit. As you come in, be sure to have a chat with whoever is in the kiosk. Not only will they be happy to have some company but you they can also give you the latest gossip from the nest and advise you on what to look out for on your way up the path. Kids can also grab a 'Bird Bingo' sheet. Trying to see everything on the list is challenging but definitely acheivable! There is also plenty of wildlife that can be seen on the feeders here. I regularly see wee Bank Voles collecting fallen seeds from the ground, brilliantly camouflaged Treecreepers climbing vertically up tree trunks and even a Sparrowhawk looking for a snack! All this plus an abundance of small birds like Chaffinches, Tits and Siskins and regular appearances by Red Squirrels. Often, the smaller birds will visit my window ledge for the seed I put down and my scientific background led me to set up an experiment to find out which food the birds prefer. The results proved conclusive (if unsurprising); everything loves sunflower hearts!
The nest has been a hive of activity over the last day or two. Odin has been incredibly busy fishing and has brought in as many as 8 fish in the last 24 hours or so! This morning when we opened the centre there were two fish tails on the nest! All this food means the chicks are growing unbelievably quickly (sometimes we’re sure we can see them getting bigger in front of our eyes) and the younger sibling is getting plenty to eat.
EJ feeding her ever-growing babies!
On the loch this morning I noticed a Goldeneye duck with at least 6 little ducklings (she’s got her hands full). Our nest box camera confirms that this isn’t Gloria (our nesting female) as she is still on her eggs and they aren’t due to hatch until the first week of June. We’ve had two Red Squirrels on the feeders this morning and Fergus has also spotted a Crested Tit!
So with plenty going on and plenty to see, now is a great time for a visit. I can’t wait to meet you all.
Good afternoon. Todays blog comes courtesy of another member of the team. I'll let him introduce himself to you.
Hello everyone. My name is Nimrod Mifsud and I am back at Loch Garten for the summer. Just like the Ospreys, I was here last year but disappeared over the winter, headed for warmer climes!
Yes, as some of you may know I am not a native of these shores, but from a much smaller (but no less Great) island, the Republic of Malta. My home is always close to my heart, not least because of the thousands of migrating birds we have passing through every year. These birds form a part of our shared natural heritage as many of them will have started their journey in Scotland and it is amazing for me to be here and experience another aspect of their incredible stories. The reason I became involved in conservation, and especially bird conservation, was because in Malta I was disgusted by the amount of birds I would see being hunted or poached. This included my first ever sighting of an Osprey, shot just minutes after I first glimpsed it! Thankfully, the RSPB and Birdlife Malta are slowly pushing back the tide of ignorance by improving local communities’ knowledge of, and respect for, the natural world.
I have known about Loch Garten since I was a boy and always pictured a beacon of hope, a haven for Ospreys to breed peacefully and happily. When I found out about the opportunity of a job here I was determined to come. I love talking to people about the natural world (and many, many other things) and here at Loch Garten I have chatted to so many interesting visitors with whom I love swapping stories. It still amazes me that I get paid to do something I love to do for free (just don’t tell the RSPB that!).
I am so proud to be part of the RSPB family.
So, onto the latest news from Loch Garten. The two chicks are both doing well and have been receiving regular feeds from their doting mum, EJ. The size difference between the two chicks is quite remarkable but this is to be expected due to the 5 days between hatchings. We are likely to see a bit of bullying by the older sibling during mealtimes but hopefully, with Odin bringing in fish by the cartload and EJ carefully sharing food out evenly, both chicks will have plenty of to eat. We suspect that the second egg this year may not hatch as it is well past its “due date” but never-say-never. We will keep our eyes peeled, as I’m sure will you, but at least with just two chicks there will be even more food to go around and both will be especially strong when fledging time comes. This morning EJ has fed both of her babies from the tail of a trout brought in last night but we are still waiting for the first fish delivery of the day.
We did have an intruding Osprey flying over the nest, eliciting some loud alarm calls from both of our protective parents. Odin was swiftly back onto the nest where we saw some typical mantling behaviour - making himself look bigger and therefore more formidable to the intruder. Luckily, it seemed the bird was just passing through and didn’t hang around too long!
Finally, we would like to say thank you to Lady Ellen Robertson (aka Twinkle) who, as part of the Diamond Jubilee Wood project at Duror, has dedicated a newly planted tree to EJ and Odin. This is a lovely gesture and the certificate Ellen has kindly sent us will be proudly displayed in the Visitor Centre for all to see. Be sure to look out for it next time you visit! Thank you Twinkle, from all at Loch Garten (Humans and Ospreys!).
Yay! As many of you will know we now have chick number two (from egg number 3?) hatched at some point overnight (do we have a time, bloggers?) This is obviously a huge relief as we were (well, I was) starting to get a bit twitchy and kept saying to myself "Well, one is better than nothing!" so to have two osprey chicks at the Loch Garten nest is really fabulous. I can't wait to get down to the centre to see the new arrival and introduce him/her to all our visitors. The centre, as ever, has a wonderful buzz about it, and I can only imagine this will grow as the season progresses.
Thank you for your captures on screen, bloggers...here's one of the littlest one and the biggest one having a snack...