This blog is written by Abernethy staff throughout the changing seasons here on the reserve.
During summer it's likely there'll be more frequent blogs as the ospreys return to breed at the Loch Garten nest and the drama unfolds.
We hope you enjoy following life at Abernethy reserve.
Thanks for reading!
Hello people of the blog,
I trust you are all well. It's been a while since I wrote to you so I thought I'd send a quick update from Loch Garten. Osprey-wise, it's very much as you were. EJ is still in residence, spending her days perched on a low tree behind the nest, often slowly devouring a large trout. Today, she has been onto the nest once or twice and was even joined by George for a short while. He is coming and going with consistent inconsistency (is that a thing?) and occasionally even still attempts to mate with EJ. None of us are quite sure why, as the window for breeding has long since passed - any eggs laid now would require 5-6 weeks incubation with the ensuing chicks needing about 3 months to grow and strengthen before migration. That, by my calculations (i.e. using a calculator and a calendar), would take us up to the end of November! No osprey in their right mind would still be here by then and the prospect of a 3000 mile flight through wintry storms and cold winds is enough to make your talons curl! (I've just realised that ospreys' talons are curled but, you get my meaning...).
EJ on her regular perch.
So, despite Georges' misguided mating, EJ seems to tolerate him and has now stayed at Loch Garten for longer than last season (she was gone by the 14th July 2017). She is no doubt enjoying the fine weather we, and the rest of the UK, have been enjoying and making the most of the sunny skies. There is, however, no telling when she will depart so if you're contemplating a trip to see her this summer, my advice would be to do it sooner rather than later. She is visible from the centre or on our cameras on most days and you might even be lucky enough to witness one of the many intruding ospreys we've been seeing over the past few weeks. Always exciting!
The rest of the Caledonian Pine forest around Loch Garten is thriving as usual. Our feeders are currently inundated with freshly fledged juvenile birds, either gorging themselves or sitting nearby and begging their parents for food. The tit species are lovely to watch at this time of year - the juveniles have similar markings to the adults but are yellow and grey in colour - and the young great spotted woodpeckers are brilliant too, as they scamper down the tree trunks to find our peanut feeders.
Juvenile great spotted woodpecker at our feeder.
Our daily activities are in full flow too. On Tuesdays we have owl pellet dissection to enjoy, picking out tiny shrew and vole bones eaten and then spat out by hungry owls, while on Tuesdays and Thursdays we look through our moth trap from the night before to discover beautiful moths of all sizes and colours. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays you can join us as we go through our camera trap, set around the visitor centre overnight. Will we have videos of badgers? Maybe. Pine martens? Possibly. Woodpigeons? Almost certainly... Weekends are great fun with sweep netting and bug hunting available on the path for all to enjoy. On the 5th and 6th of August we are holding our Euro-pine Championships event, giving you the chance to test your sporting prowess against natures champions. Gold medals are up for grabs so see you then!
That's all from me for now, another update to follow shortly, and we'll let you know if EJ decides to head off anytime soon.
Bye for now!
It's been a busy morning here at the osprey centre, with my questionable camera skills put to the test. There have been two intruding ospreys: one male (PP7 aka Cromarty) and one female (unringed). You may remember PP7 from last year: he was the male that was around when Odin disappeared, so it is interesting to see him around again. Notice the satellite tracker on his back: this no longer works but helps us to identify that it is indeed Cromarty.
The female is unringed and so we are unsure of where she has come from but they were flying around together, sat on the camera tree together and were even cheeky enough to sit on the nest together before EJ saw them off:
However, Cromarty came back around half an hour later on his own, just circling above the nest, while EJ stayed on the fish perch mantling. Our EJ has settled down now to continue eating her fish after a busy morning defending her nest. Through all of this drama, EJ held on to her fish: nothing comes between EJ and her food.
Stay tuned for more,
My name is Lorna and I am the new intern at RSPB Loch Garten, strolling in from Glasgow halfway through the season. Better late than never, eh? I have recently graduated (last week in fact) from the University of Glasgow studying Geography, covering the likes of Biogeographies of Europe, Nature Conservation and Coastal Erosion. However much I loved my degree, there comes a time that you can no longer learn about what’s wrong with the world without wanting to go out and make a difference.
It is here at Loch Garten that I am hoping to make this difference. I believe that engaging people with the beauty of the Caledonian Pine Forest and the incredible wildlife found within it is the key to its conservation. In particular educating children, who perhaps do not appreciate how scarce this nature is, can unlock a whole future of conservationists.
As well as being an avid birdwatcher, I love photography, and luckily for me these two hobbies go hand in hand. Already my camera is full of cute red squirrels, bold siskins and the majestic osprey. Next on the list is the crested tit and crossbill, so fingers crossed I’ll get my photo by the end of the season.
Last summer I was lucky enough to be a residential volunteer at RSPB Loch Lomond: I went for 2 weeks and stayed for 3 months. I loved waking up each day on the reserve and felt that I learnt more in the field than I ever could in a classroom. And so when the opportunity came to live and work at RSPB Loch Garten for 3 months (perhaps I’ll stay for 3 years this time) I simply couldn’t turn down the opportunity. Although I have only been here for a month I already feel settled in. The incredible forest that I see outside the bungalow window is a far cry from the jungle of concrete that I am used to in Glasgow and it makes a nice change to be woken by bird song instead of speeding trains. Already this place feels like a second home, and EJ like an old friend. It’s hard not to become attached to the gracious birds we see every day, and although she has not had a successful nest, I am loving seeing her behaviours and meeting other people who adore her or have only just clapped eyes on her for the first time. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the season brings and to meet other like-minded people here at the centre.