Loch Garten osprey diary

Loch Garten ospreys

Loch Garten ospreys
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Loch Garten osprey diary

The ospreys at Loch Garten have people across the world gripped in their tale of violence, adultery and... well... fishing.
  • Farewell Odin!

    Good morning!

    So it’s official folks, Odin has left the building (eyrie). He was last sighted on Friday afternoon (21st August) at around 3pm. It has been a good window of weather this week, with clear skies and a good gust of wind, so ideal conditions to start that long journey south. EJ has been gone for over a week now so there’s not much to keep him here.

    It’s been a bit of a quiet season for our pair, with no chicks to feed but hopefully the lack of extra hungry mouths to feed will have given them the opportunity to make sure they are in good condition for their migration.

    It is of course sad to see them go again but I look forward to seeing what next year will bring from the pair and I wish them a safe winter and return migration. So here’s one last picture for you all (for this season at least) of our favourite boy !

    Odin having a snooze (by Rachel Coyle)


    In other news, Breagha is on the move again. Here’s the latest from Mike.

    He started his migration south, changed his mind and then changed his mind again!  Over the last three days Breagha has been somewhat indecisive but finally on 21 August it looks like he really has decided to return to Africa for the winter.

    On 19 August he left the Loire between 07.00 and 09.00 GMT flying SW and between 13.00 and 15.00 GMT he flew SE and at 15.00 GMT he was over the River Thouet 1 km NE of the small village of La Chagnalle.  He then returned via the reverse route NW to stop at 17.00 GMT before flying S to roost 1.3 km NE of the town of Lageon in the Poitou-Charentes region of France.  He flew around 90 km during the day. 

    On 20 August he was all over the place!  He left the roost between 05.00 and 07.00 GMT flying SSW for 4km to visit a lake near La Rimoire but he then retraced his steps and at 09.00 GMT he was flying over a reservoir near Naide and at the confluence of the Cébron and Taconnière rivers.  After some further erratic moving around he again visited the lake near Lake Rimoire and the reservoir before settling to roost at the same spot as on 19 August.

    On 21 August at 05.00 GMT he was flying NE but between 07.00 and 09.00 GMT he had changed direction to SSE.  At 11.00 GMT he again made a marked change of direction to WSW and at 13.00 GMT he was flying over the northern end of the town of Rochefort on the Charente River near the French coast where he again changed direction to continue S.  The last data point was at 13.00 GMT when he was still flying S near the Lac de Cadeuil, 4 km W of the town of Sainte-Gemma in the Charente-Maritime region of France.


    Although the ospreys have now departed, there is still plenty of other wildlife around the Osprey Centre. We are still getting lots of sightings of a red squirrels and a variety of other woodland birds at our feeders. The feeding stations are very busy at the moment and we often get birds queuing up for the prime feeding spots.

    Squirrel on feeders (by Rachel Coyle)

    Now the osprey nest is vacant many of the smaller bird species have been coming in for a bit of a poke around. Our visitors this week have been delighted by some fantastic views of both redstart and crested tit sitting on top of the nest. So please do stop by if you are in the area, as there is still plenty to see and do. Our friendly staff (and wildlife) will be here to give you a warm welcome!

    Welcome chaffinch (by Rachel Coyle)

  • A visit from Emily Dodd...and has EJ gone?

    Last Sunday we had a visit from the delightful children’s author, Emily Dodd, who shared her capercaillie dance routine with some rhythmic children before reading her entertaining book, Can’t Dance Cameron.

    Before beginning her story of a capercaillie that can’t dance, Emily told the children about the other animals that feature in her book, all of which are found at Abernethy.  There was even a cheeky red squirrel that squirted water at the children and a pine cone kicking wild cat!  We then watched footage of a lekking capercaillie (taken from our own caper-cameras from Caper-Watch) and Emily taught the children how to flutter jump and dance like a capercaillie!  Once the music started, adults couldn’t resist joining in too and the Osprey Centre turned into a human lek with flutter jumps galore!  After shaking our tails, everyone settled down to listen to Emily tell the story of Cameron, his woodland friend Hazel the squirrel and how Cameron learned to dance.  Afterwards, in honour of Emily’s new book, the Grouse and the Mouse, Nimrod donned a black grouse outfit and danced with the children – which had a mixed reaction, who knew a human sized Maltese black grouse could be so terrifying!

    Emily signed books for everyone, and signed some of the books in the shop too.  We still have a few signed copies left so if you would like one, get down to the Osprey Centre shop quickly before they all go!

    Children's author, Emily Dodd and Nimrod aka Bagpipe the Black Grouse


    We also took Emily on a late night walk through the forest to look for pine marten but all we encountered was a very vocal deer!  Thank you for visiting us, Emily!  Read more about Emily  here:  https://auntyemily.wordpress.com/


    It looks like EJ has left us for another season.  Her last official sighting was on 12th August just before 6am when she returned to the nest to receive a fish from Odin.  Did he know that this would be a parting gift for his girl?  He was seen (and heard!) sky dancing by volunteers at 5am the following morning, Wednesday 13th August – was EJ around and was this his farewell message, a reminder to EJ of his strength and suitability as a mate?  The weather here on both Wednesday and Thursday was glorious and if I were an osprey, I think I would choose these two clear days to start my journey south.  The past four/five years have seen EJ leave on 18th or 19th August, and even in 2007 when she had no chicks EJ was last seen on 19th August.  So this is an early departure for EJ but not the earliest we have ever seen her leave, in 2004 she was last seen on the 10th August.  13 has clearly been her unlucky number with no chicks in her 13th season at Loch Garten.  We all hope to see her back next year, with Odin, for a more successful season.

    EJ on nest camera perch

    In the meantime, Odin continues to stand by his nest and keeps us entertained.  He has being doing a very good impression of a drowned rat in the recent bad weather.  His average departure date is 22nd August and so we hope to hang onto this handsome osprey for another week!

    One of our volunteers this year, Fiona, took a particular shine to Odin when she was here volunteering during that difficult week when he went missing and we lost our eggs.  Fiona was so moved by what happened and what she witnessed Odin go through this year that she asked her friend, Rachel, to make a needle felted Odin.  Her wonderful creation made it safely to Loch Garten and we are thrilled to have a mini Odin in our possession – so thrilled that we even made a perch for him to stand on!  Isn’t he fantastic?

    Thank you Rachel and Fiona!


    The satellite data has now changed to provide more detail every three days so we are able to get a better view of what Breagha is doing.  Over the last week he has still remained largely around the Loire but has made a few significant trips.  The longest being on 7th August when he did a round trip SW of around 130 km.  At 11.00 hrs GMT on this day he was on a small lake in Les Bois de Bressuire just west of Saint-Sauveur.  He made two other shorter trips of 35 km north between 09.00 and 15.00 hours on 10 August and 30 km south west between 07.00 and 17.00 hrs GMT on 11 August.  Is he getting twitchy wings ready to fly back to Africa?  

  • Dancing Capercaillies and The Risk of Fire

    A wonderful children’s author called Emily Dodd has written two books that are close to Abernethy’s heart.  One is Can’t Dance Cameron and the other is the Grouse and the Mouse.  Both set in the highlands of Scotland and featuring some well known Abernethy wildlife – like wild cats, red squirrels, black grouse and capercaillie – making Loch Garten the perfect setting to hear these stories told by Emily. 

    Can’t Dance Cameron is about a capercaillie named Cameron.  He is the worst dancer in the Scottish Cairngorms, but maybe with the help of his new friend, Hazel the red squirrel, he’ll learn some great moves!  It is a brilliant story about believing in yourself, full of fun actions, sounds and dancing.

    Emily Dodd is passionate about science and wildlife, and writes for CBeebies show Nina and the Neurons. With over ten years experience of delivering workshops in schools, museums and other venues, her events are a mixture of learning and fun sure to engage children.

    Emily will be at the Osprey Centre on 9th August at 1pm to read this fun, interactive story.  There will also be dancing, music and pine cone football.  Emily will be available to sign books afterwards.  And you might even have a chance to meet some of Cameron’s real life friends who live at Loch Garten!

    Watch this trailer to find out more:


    Ross, our Operations Team Leader at Abernethy (you might remember he wrote a fantastic piece on geese in the winter http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/lochgartenospreys/b/lochgartenospreys/archive/2014/09/25/wink-wink.aspx) has a few words to say on the risk of fire at somewhere as special as Abernethy.

    I’m laid facing a cool summer breeze off Loch Mallachie, the smell of the near flowering heather accompanies the shrill call of a curlew overhead and the low buzz of insects working through the carpets of blaeberry and cowberry.  The dark looming clouds above the fading summer sun make the dark green pine trees all the more splendid.  Beyond the grey undulating surface of the Loch, lies the rounded hills of Craigowrie and Creagan Gorm with further views of larger hills beyond being teased by the playful clouds.  I am sharing this experience with friends, what a place, a unique setting and times never forgotten.

    Many thousands of visitors experience the majesty of Abernethy, as my friends and I did sitting there.  A few of these visitors decide to make a fire.  While having a fire can be a great way to keep the chill off, or keep the midges away, the risk to this unique and beautiful place is so great.  At the very site we sat, just two weeks before a small camp fire smouldered for days unchecked and has burnt a large hole in the peat undermining a pine tree more than 200 years old.  Should a fire take hold, it risks the habitat for thousands of species, people’s homes and lives. 

    Surely the brilliance of this place and the experiences taken from it are enough, without risking its existence through our own selfish actions?  Please, do not light fires in woodland, or on peat.  This place is so special, please make sure you are not the person that spoils it for everyone. 

    Further information can be found at www.outdoor-access.com



    Last week we reported on a satellite tracked osprey that made a landing attempt at the nest.  EJ, who was sat on the camera post, thwarted its attempts.  And so the bird flew off to a distant tree before we could get a look at any rings, but we did spot a tracker!  To our surprise, the bird perched up beside Odin who appeared nonchalant about this intruder.  Was this an old friend of Odin’s?  Well, not exactly!  We now know that it was none other than his arch enemy, Blue XD!  For those of you who haven’t been following the story of Ej and Odin for long, Blue XD is a male osprey from a nearby nest.  He turned up at the Loch Garten nest in 2012 when his nest was blown out by high winds.  EJ, a lady who likes to keep her options open, accepted his fish and mating attempts.  However, when Odin returned from migration to find another man in his nest, Blue XD was swiftly kicked out of the nest.  2013 seen Blue XD return to try his luck again with EJ, and it looked like he might be successful!  However, Odin won EJ back with an epic sky dance but he was unimpressed when she laid an egg sooner than he expected.  Suspecting the parentage, he kicked the first egg out of the nest.  Another egg was laid and this was also turfed out.  All came good in the end though when EJ laid a third and fourth egg, which Odin accepted.  And from that fourth egg we got Breagha, who is still doing well in France.  Mike reports on the latest on Breagha:

    Breagha has continued to explore the Loire River in France this week.  The only change is that he has extended his range to around 10 km of the length of the river.