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.
Famous last words! The day after posting this blog we saw Fenrir make a brief reappearance at Loch Garten to bother EJ and Odin some more. Fortunately he didn’t stick around for long, and didn’t look to pose any real threat. This event was followed by EJ’s sudden decision to cease incubating her failed egg on Wednesday afternoon. She left the nest and we weren’t able to find her on any of her regular perches, and so it could be that she gave into hunger and went to feed herself.
Odin has continued to bring EJ fish but still insists on eating most of it himself, in plain view of EJ, before letting her have his leftovers. However on Friday evening he returned with a monster of a fish, which he looked ready to offer whole to his girl but EJ was nowhere to be seen. He proudly presented his catch to an empty nest and before he could decide whether to eat it himself or not, an intruder appeared and threw Odin into a fish quandary – should he hold onto his fish or should he let it go and chase the intruder away? Taking the sensible approach, he unhooked his talons from the fish and flew off in pursuit of the intruder, leaving the fish abandoned. It was a sorry sight indeed, an abandoned fish set next to an abandoned egg on an ospreyless nest.
Odin was back up to his old tricks yesterday when once again he returned with a trout and looked set to eat the whole thing in front of EJ’s eyes. EJ called persistently from the nest, and even backed up to give him room to land when he first flew back, but he ignored her calls and sat defiantly in his tree with his fish. It was another giant fish but it was gradually disappearing as Odin pulled large chunks off and devoured them, causing EJ’s calls to become more and more frantic with every bite he took. He looked like he might eat the entire thing when suddenly an intruder approached, which EJ spotted first – Odin was too busy stuffing his face to notice! When he did look up from his trout, he made the quick decision to pursue the intruder whilst still carrying his fish - who knew that ospreys could multitask? You could almost see EJ’s jaw drop as she watched her lunch fly off. However, the boy did good and after seeing the intruder off, he returned with the fish and swiftly brought it to the nest for EJ. EJ was like a woman possessed and almost tore his talons out as she snatched the fish from him.
EJ has been missing for most of today, whilst Odin has been perched in the camera tree. She may have decided that it is more worth her while to get her own fish rather than rely upon Odin, and that is possibly what she has been doing today.
Although both our birds are remaining close to the nest throughout most of the day, they are not always on the nest. For this reason I have switched the webcam from the nest camera to the Camera Tree camera. This is controlled by staff in the Osprey Centre during the day when we are able to locate the birds on their various perches during work hours. Therefore, if the birds are around during the hours of 10am and 6pm then we will switch the camera to the Camera Tree camera but come 6pm, we will return the webcam to the nest camera.
Dare I say that the drama has died down at our nest? Fenrir has not been seen for several days now. In fact, we have seen very few ospreys intruding at our nest compared to the invariable daily, almost hourly, intrusions we have been experiencing throughout April and May.
Despite this relatively calm period, EJ is still having a hard time of it. She is still intent on incubating her one remaining egg, despite the time it spent chilling at the side of the nest, and continues to look to Odin for food. Odin, to EJ’s further misfortune, has not been his usual obliging self. In turn, she has not been receptive to his mating attempts, with none of them being successful since his disappearing act two weeks ago. Saturday evening seen him provide a fish for EJ but it was a long wait before she received another fish from him. On Sunday her persistent food calls fell on deaf ears but Odin did appear to be attempting to fish. Throughout he day he disappeared intermittently to then return to the Camera Tree, looking wet but fishless. Then yesterday, to our shock, he finally brought back a fish but ate the entire thing himself!
Finally, this morning he gave into her pleas and brought her the tail end of a fish, and it really was the tail end. EJ swiftly flew off with it and gulped it down in a matter of minutes. Her appetite not quite satisfied, she resumed food soliciting after sitting back down on the egg. Making up for lost time, Odin brought a second fish back in the afternoon but once again, he made sure he got his fair share of it as he ate most of it in a nearby tree before letting EJ have the rest.
Each time Odin has brought a fish to the nest he is left alone with the egg but he appears to be as unsure about this egg as we are. He doesn’t want to incubate it yet he hasn’t kicked it out. This year has been an unpredictable one and we couldn’t have made up what has happened here. With EJ doing as instinct dictates by incubating her egg, and the season getting later and later with no successful mating attempts, it is looking less likely that will see EJ lay a second clutch of eggs. And maybe Odin knows this fate, resulting in his lack of food provision at the moment? The first egg was due to hatch around the 23rd May, and although we don't expect to see this egg hatch, we would expect to see EJ continue to succumb to her instincts and to therefore incubate past the hatching due date.
Odin ignoring EJ's demands for a fish.
...if you can ignore the loud and persistent food soliciting call of EJ!
The situation has settled down at our nest, for now at least. After Odin’s miraculous return last Sunday we have seen him continue to fight with Fenrir for the nest but Fenrir has worked hard to stand his ground. As well as fighting off Fenrir, and another male osprey (with a blue ring), Odin has sky danced for EJ, determined not to give up on his nest or his mate and it looks like it might have worked? Fenrir has not been seen at the nest since Thursday whilst Odin has been present for most of yesterday, and all of today. Yesterday we seen Odin bring a fish for EJ just after 6am, and boy was she hungry! Unlike Fen, who has been lousy at giving EJ his fish, Odin willingly offered up his catch for his girl. Making up for lost time, and lost fish, Odin brought EJ a second fish just after 16.30, and it was a whopper that she was more than grateful to receive.
Sadly, EJ continues to incubate an egg that was kicked out (and then rolled back in with the help of the wind) over a week ago. After spending several days abandoned on the periphery of the nest, cold and exposed, it is unlikely to hatch. Odin, however, is not fooled by this egg and has not tried to incubate it. In fact, when he brought a fish for EJ yesterday morning and was therefore left alone with the egg, he made an unsuccessful attempt to remove it.
Today Odin has been perched in the camera tree, preening and casually ignoring EJ’s demanding pleas for food. He flew off briefly to chase away an intruding osprey, but this one didn’t look to pose any serious threat, not flying close to the nest, but close enough to get Odin’s back up. And as for Fenrir, he has not been seen today. Has peace been restored to the Loch Garten nest? Only time can tell!