Each year, the ospreys at Loch Garten have people across the world gripped in their tale of violence, adultery and... well... fishing.
This year's diary, written by the Osprey Information Assistants at the Loch Garten Osprey Centre, picks up the saga where we left off.
We update the blog at least twice a week - more often when there's high drama here. We hope you enjoy reading as the nest-side story unfolds...
Read more about Loch Garten.
After a long spell of cold, unsummer like weather, we are happy to back in short sleeves and sunglasses at Loch Garten. This change in the weather has offered a much missed opportunity to enjoy the reserve on these long summer evenings. The overwhelming beauty of Abernethy can sometimes make it easy to miss the smaller things that dwell on the forest floor. With crested tits calling overhead, it is easy to walk around with binoculars pointing skywards and therefore missing out on what is right by your feet, sometimes things that aren’t always obvious. Like the lesser twayblade, for example (twayblade referring to its two leaves – two blades) – a very small orchid that grows on boggy, mossy ground and can easily be overlooked due to its small size. Its preference for shady sites, usually underneath heather, can also make it harder to locate. The necessity to look a littler harder to find it makes it even more exciting when you come across one. Not as showy as some orchids but with small, reddish, star-like flowers, it is still stunning in its simplicity.
Another easy to miss orchid and one that is mostly found in Scotland is the creeping lady’s tresses. It will be another few weeks before it makes an appearance and the Osprey Centre is one of the best places to see it. It is mostly found in remnants of the Caledonian pine forest, making Abernethy an important home for this tiny orchid. If visiting in a month’s time ask staff to point out this blink-and-you’ll-miss it orchid, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to miss something so special. Another Osprey Centre flower that will have you on your hands and knees to admire its miniature beauty is the common wintergreen, which again, staff at the Osprey Centre can show you.
Creeping Lady's Tresses by Ian Maltravers
One more iconic Abernethy and Caledonian pinewood speciality is the twinflower, which is also small in stature at only 5cm but a single plant can spread for up for a metre across the forest floor. The twinflower spreads by vegetative clonal reproduction and cannot self fertilise. It therefore requires cross pollination by insects to produce viable seeds but the distance between twinflower patches is too great for insects to travel between, making twinflower even more precious.
Twinflower by Ian Maltravers
So next time you go for a walk, especially at Abernethy, don’t forget to look at what is by your feet!
Breagha is still in France. On 20 June between 05.00 and 13.00 GMT he moved north to the Loire River close to a nuclear power station west of Le Némen. Over the next six days he has travelled leisurely along a 9 km stretch of the Loire from Chouzé-Sur-Loire in the west to Le Batardeau in the east. He has not shown a preferred roost site.
What a difference a couple of days make! I had my ‘weekend’ on Tuesday and Wednesday, and was away from Loch Garten visiting the bright lights of Edinburgh, so imagine my surprise to get to work this morning and find out that there’s been another female on the nest. And Odin’s been feeding her!
We’ve managed to get a good recording of the female’s leg ring, she is Blue YA and so far she has had 2 fish from Odin as well as being treated to one of his fabulous sky dancing displays.
EJ was only seen briefly on Tuesday morning perched on the camera tree and then again this morning when she landed on the nest around 9.40, only to fly off again in hot pursuit of the intruding female Blue YA. I wonder what the rest of the day will bring...?
We have the latest on Breagha’s movements from Mike. But before you read that, take a read at this blog from Jill Harden, who is an archaeologist for RSPB Scotland and gives an interesting insight into the historical features of Abernethy Forest.
Well Breagha did not make it to the UK this week. Instead he stopped at the confluence of the Loire and Vienne Rivers in Western France near the town of Saint-Germaine-sur-Vienne in the Indre-et-Loire region of France. This is exactly the area where he spent a month between 1 September and 5 October 2013 on his first migration south.
After leaving northern Spain around 05.00 GMT on 12 June he took a leisurely journey N to the Loire/Vienne river system. At 21.00 GMT on 12 June he roosted at a small lake 2.5 km W of Pontonx-sur-L’Adour in Aquitaine. On 13 June he rested in this area before setting off NE at around 05.00 GMT on 14 June ending the day on another small lake 0.8 km SE of Eygurande-et-Gardedeuill in the Gironde region of France. On 15 June he continued N ending the day on the Charente River, 3 km NW of Mansle. He continued N on 16 June and roosted overnight in a wood 1.6 km SE of Mollay in the Loire region. Early next morning at 05.00 GMT he made a diversion the Thouet River to breakfast before flying E arriving at 13.00 GMT at the Vienne River 2.5 km SE of Saint-Germaine-sue-Vienne in the Indre-et-Loire region. The last data point at 13.00 GMT on 19 June showed him still in this region. Overall, Breagha only travelled around 500 km over the last week compared with his lengthy weekly journeys since leaving Senegal.
This behaviour mirrors what Rothes did as a two year old in June-August 2013. Is Breagha going to stay in France for a month or two before returning to West Africa?
Our two adult ospreys, EJ and Odin, continue to stick close to their chickless nest. Odin is regularly seen on his favourite perch in the camera tree. EJ seems to never be without a fish, taking her time to savour what was initially her breakfast but as the day progresses, and she is still leisurely picking away at the trout and it isn’t long until we can also call it her lunch. She was seen relaxing on a perch below the nest yesterday, taking her time over another fish whilst Odin raced back and forth to the nest, gathering stick after stick. Some of the biggest sticks I’ve ever seen him bring to the nest, in fact! Trying to show off to EJ, possibly? She did take the time to glance up at him from her fish as he soared overhead with the next piece of nest furniture. His daily sky dances this week would certainly suggest that he is in the mood for showing off to his girl. Although without young and having experienced a lot of distress at the nest this year, these two certainly look geared up to return and try again next year.