Back in residence…

Following last week’s return of the resident female to the Loch Garten osprey nest, today saw the return of the resident female to the site at Loch of the Lowes: after hopes were raised earlier in the day by an unidentified visitor, the ‘right’ bird turned up later in the day (still not confirmed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, which runs the site, but confirmed by twitchers here and here – the Peter Finch referred to in the latter is a former Loch of the Lowes SWT site manager involved with organising the first round-the-clock watches over the site).

Every returning osprey is a success story – a migration of 3,000 miles twice per year between Scotland (and Scandinavia) and western Africa across the Sahara is a hazardous enough journey, especially for a species relying solely on its ability to catch fish, but the story of the Loch of the Lowes female is a fantastic one. This is now its 21st season, when ospreys tend to have just eight, and, should the season go well, we may see the 50th chick raised from the site: 48 have already been successfully fledged, including two last year when the female appeared to be on her way to checking out. Given that Scotland (largely) has just 150 breeding pairs of ospreys (though that figure may be a little old…), that’s some contribution to the re-establishment of the species in this country.

So, we just need the blokes to turn up and another rollercoaster season of soap opera and, no doubt, copious quantities of anthropomorphism (not on this blog, though!) can get underway…


Old chick on the block?

Quite amazing drama over 19-22 June involving the elderly female osprey recorded at the Loch of the Lowes osprey website.

The tenacity with which birds – and other animals – cling to life when they have young to protect is quite astonishing: even if it ends sadly for this bird, the legacy of two more ospreys brought almost to the point of independence, if not yet fledging, seems secure.

New chick on the blog

At a talk tonight in the local village hall being given by Peter, one of the wardens up at Loch of the Lowes, Dunkeld, where they have a notable osprey nest, or eyrie (one of several throughout Perthshire).

Ospreys are fish eagles and there are around 220 breeding pairs in Scotland – thus they are much rarer than golden eagles, where the breeding population is thought to be around 600 pairs. The good news is that the first chick had hatched that day [Edit 21 May: closely followed by a second] – remarkably, this is the 47th [and now 48th] chick to hatch from the same female, which has now returned to the site at the Loch for 20 years in a row. The female is thought to be 25, when the average osprey life is just 8 years, and this year has a new male partner.

Osprey chicks spend about three months on the nest before fledging, when they then almost immediately undertake a hazardous 3,000 mile migration to the coast of western Africa. Here they spend their juvenile years – the fishing is better than in northern Europe, not least in the winter – before commencing annual summer migrations back to the lands of their birth as adult birds specifically for breeding.

The Loch of the Lowes female has an astonishing history and the news of the hatching of (yet) another chick is fantastic news for the population of these quite amazing birds.