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...
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Fundraising for satellite tags
We need to raise funds to enable us to track this year's Loch Garten ospreys. To donate to our appeal, please go to our JustGiving page. Thank you for your support.
Downloading information from the osprey’s trackers is like waiting for exam results. I have to refrain from hiding behind my fingers as I wait for the points to pop up on the screen, hoping to see that there has been movement from our birds. There is a sigh of relief as the data comes through showing that the bird has moved, even if it isn’t very far, which is often the case with our boy, Breagha. And although his movements aren’t as exciting as the current year’s osprey chicks as they pass from country to country, passing over large bodies of water, risking their young lives as they go it alone for the first time, he is at least safe and that is really what we care about.
This was the case with today’s download, as we downloaded Breagha first, hoping not for the unexpected and thankful to find out that he is still doing well, no change to his usual pattern. I could show you the map but it looks not much different to the one in the last blog. He is still spending time in Senegal by the River Casamance.
Millicent is up next, her download a little bit more nerve-wracking as she is the more unpredictable of the two...or so we might presume. In fact, she hasn’t changed her routine since the last download. She is still on the Mauritania-Senegal border just north of Richard Toll, on the Mauritania side of the border. Her pattern hasn’t changed, spending her days on the same body of water on the north side of the Senegal River at Richard Toll, and going to an arid, drier region about 10km north of here to roost in the evenings. At 18.00 GMT on both the 18th and 19th Sept she spent time on a tributary to the Senegal River, hopefully catching some fish but whether they are as tasty as a trout from the Spey, I cannot say.
We can only guess as to how Druie is getting on and hope that she too has found a safe place to settle in Africa.
Millie and Druie on the nest back in August.
Autumn is hitting the forest and it looks spectacular, thus reminding me of why it is my favourite of the four seasons. Crisp, misty mornings with bejewelled spider webs, the fading purple of the heather, the glow of the low autumnal sun between the trees and an abundance of fabulous looking fungi. This was exactly what my bike ride to work looked like yesterday morning, so when I bumped into Desmond with his camera, photographing the fungi and dewy spider webs, I asked for a copy of his photos since my cameraphone failed to capture the beauty of it.
Abernethy forest in the morning mist - by Desmond Dugan
Dewy spider web - by Desmond Dugan
Fungi are cool for so many different reasons – some are medicines such as penicillin, some help make bread, wine, cheese, quorn (for all you veggies!) and marmite (if you are that way inclined!), some are a food source for snails, deer, squirrels and even us, some help trees to grow but my favourite reason is that they look incredible (take a look at some of the pictures below)! Abernethy is currently awash with more species than you ever thought existed, one of the reasons that makes this time of year so special, and this year seems to be a bumper year for them. In fact, Abernethy is one of the richest sites in the UK for a special type of fungi called tooth fungi, named so because of the teeth like projections that bear their spores, rather than gills or pores. So if you are into fungi, this is the place to be.
Fungi love deadwood and here at Abernethy, we love deadwood too, hence the abundance of fungi. Fungi’s love for the forest isn’t unrequited, the forest also benefits from these incredible organisms. In a natural forest, trees die, tress fall over, branches fall off and fungi break down this dead material, which is important for recycling nutrients and enriching the soil. So as well as looking spectacular, they’re an important part of the forest ecosystem.
The attractive part that we see and often refer to as mushrooms or toadstools is the fruiting body of the fungi, hence why we don’t see mushrooms all year round. The rest of the fungi exists in the soil as a large branching, vegetative structure known as the mycelium. They not only look great but they also have some great names like jelly ear, black witches butter, devil’s tooth, shingled hedgehog. These evocative names are often a vivid and accurate description of what the fungi looks like. And don't they just look stunning?
Fly agaric Amanita muscaria - by Desmond Dugan
Fleecy milk cap Lactarius vellereus by Desmond Dugan
With the mist so thick yesterday morning that I couldn’t even see the Loch, despite being stood on it’s banks, the ospreys are probably glad that they are in Africa. And from the latest satellite tracking, we know exactly where they are...
We last seen Millie do a U-turn and head back to the Senegal-Mauritania border. She seems to have settled here as today’s download showed she hasn’t moved from this area. On the 14th September she roosted 13km north of Richard Toll, on the Mauritanian side of the border in what looks like a dry area. She remained there until 10.00 GMT the following day before flying 10km south to a body of water on the north side of the River Senegal, still on the Mauritanian side of the border, just north of Richard Toll.
On the 15th she returned north to roost at the same spot as the previous night, before returning south to the same body of water on the following morning of the 16th. Millie remained in this area all day, and roosted here on the night of the 16th and stayed here until 18.00 GMT on the 17th Sept when she returned north to her previous roost site of the 14thand 15th.
It looks like Millie might become as reliable as Breagha, moving up and down between a roosting and feeding ground.
Breagha hasn’t changed, and is still cruising around his usual haunts. And who can blame him, it looks like a great place to be if you are an osprey...look at all that water!
More news from our young satellite tagged ospreys courtesy of Mike. It looks like Millie is doing a bit of border hopping whilst Breagha is being as predictable as ever – which really isn’t something to complain about! It looks like Millie can't quite decide where she wants to settle, having explored Senegal, she has made her way back to Mauritania and is now swithering on the border of the two countries.
Over to Mike:
Millicent has returned to Mauritania after a few days exploring what might have been a dry region of North Senegal.
The last report on 11th September at 14.00 GMT showed her flying SSE where she roosted at 18.00 GMT in what may be an area with an active or dried up river. Overall she had travelled 135 km on this day. She left the roost at around 10.00 GMT the next day and travelled only 20 km or so before turning N at 12.00 GMT and then NW at 14.00 GMT heading towards the Mauritania border eventually going to roost at 20.00 GMT to the W of the town of Mbilor Dieri, Senegal close to the Senegal River and the Mauritania border. Another 220 km had been covered on 12th September. At 10.00 GMT on 13th September she was flying over the Senegal River near the town of Richard Toll and into Mauritania where she proceeded to explore a small area over the next two days. At 14.00 GMT on 13th she was perched at the side of a small lake on a tributary of the Senegal River and she had returned to this area by 14.00 GMT on 14th September where she was perched between 14.00 and 18.00 GMT on the tributary 2.5 km NE of the town of Keur Madike on the Mauritania – Senegal border.
Meanwhile, Breagha still appears to be healthy and not doing much more than short trips around his favoured area close to the Casamance River.