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 again bloggers, I’m writing this blog on one of the calmest, sunniest days we’ve had so far this year. The insects are out, bees are buzzing, birds are chirping and visitors are smiling. But this isn’t the only reason for us to be happy today. Today we welcomed EJ’s second egg of the season, EJ and the male have both just started to incubate the eggs and the male has just brought her another fish!! Wooooohooooooo! Although I know some of you are sceptical of the new male and the eggs’ chances, I’m more than optimistic that this is going to be a successful season. And why shouldn’t it be, the young (presumably) male has started bringing fish to the nest, he is also shooing off other males in the area, EJ looks far less grumpy than she normally does, and have I mentioned THE MALE IS BRING EJ MORE FISH... WOOOOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!
Big fish brought in this morning! (image taken from the forum)
Anyways, since there is a new male in town, there needs to be a new name. Although it’s highly unlikely that we will end up calling the osprey any of your suggestions (haha!), we can still have a little bit of fun.
Here at the Osprey Centre we have already came up with a few suggestions:
Emma and Raquel have suggested the osprey be named ‘Johnston’ – named after me... probably because he is young, handsome and devilish, and not because the number of failed mating attempts and the fact he keeps most of the food to himself. Although I would love an osprey to be named after me, I already think my head is big enough.
The new male has finally learnt how to incubate (Image taken from the forum)
Steven thinks it should be called JE just to confuse people... typical Steven.
Whilst Jess and Chris thinks the new male should be called George, to mark the 60th anniversary of George Waterston organising Operation Osprey at Loch Garten.
I, personal would like to keep going down the track of naming them after gods. Yes, I now the male seems young, and inexperienced and many of you aren’t keen on him but they are such godly creatures. You tune in most days of every season, whether or not it is a successful season, whether or not the male/females are little bit slow in learning, and for that reason I think they deserve a lot of respect. Just remember Odin was once a young male who had to learn the ways, so why can’t this male do the same?? So my choice of name would be Poseidon – king of the sea. Who knows he may have already conquered the River Spey.
The happy couple! (image taken from the forum)
As I say, this is just a bit of fun, so I would ask you guys to be kind. So, tell what you lot think he should called and why? We really appreciate all the comments we get, but I think this year we should be optimistic, not pessimistic. Afterall, it takes a lot less effort to smile than to frown and everyone will enjoy the season more this way! ;)
What an interesting few days it's been here at Loch Garten. I'll fill you in as best I can!
After not seeing EJ at all for about two days towards the end of last week, she promptly turned up and laid an egg in the early hours of Tuesday morning! Of course, we were delighted and the news was met with excitement by the team and visitors alike. However, EJ soon started demonstrating rather strange behaviour. She has been standing on the nest next tot the egg but has not incubated it at all. Normally, when eggs are laid, she'll sit on them for the majority of the time, keeping them warm and safe from predators. Even today, however, she still shows no sign of incubating and is remaining standing on the nest, occasionally giving food soliciting calls. She has been joined frequently by the unringed male we've been seeing around but as of yet, he hasn't brought her a fish. When female ospreys lay, their male will take up all fishing duties and supply a regular helping of trout (or other local delicacy). EJ hasn't eaten for at least two days now so she must be getting pretty hungry. If it goes on much longer, she'll be forced to go and fish for herself, leaving the egg (or potentially eggs) at the mercy of the elements and opportunistic crows!
EJ and her egg (hidden behind the stick in the centre of the nest)
Today we've seen another unringed bird around, causing EJ to alarm call and mantle, and the young male to sit next to her on the nest in an apparent show of defence. He seems pretty set on this nest. We've also seen a blue-ringed bird (as yet unidentified) dive bombing EJ, potentially staking a claim for the nest! The big mystery, though, and possibly the reason EJ isn't incubating, is whose egg it actually is! It is possible that EJ, frustrated by a lack of activity at Loch Garten throughout last week, ventured to a nearby nest and began mating with a male there. If another female then returned to that nest and chased EJ away, she might have come back to LG to lay. Her reluctance to incubate might be some instinct telling her that the father is not around and will therefore not be providing fish. She does seem very unsettled and unwilling to commit to any serious incubation so this might be the reason. Potentially, the egg might still be OK at this early stage of incubation and if EJ decides to sit, it could still successfully hatch. We'll have to wait and see.
EJ surveying the skies for rival females and interested males
The take home message from this - we don't really know what's going on. Theories abound but, at this stage, there is no definitive answer or reason for EJ's behaviour. I think it's so exciting to wonder at what will happen next and the fact that I don't have a clue what that might be is brilliant. I hope you'll all stay with us as we find out!
Another quick update from me, rounding up the latest activity at Loch Garten. Sort of like the 6'o'loch news...
At the weekend a young male osprey arrived at the nest, eliciting excitement among the team here and, no doubt, many of you. Almost as soon as he turned up at the nest, he attempted to mate with EJ which she seemed fairly receptive to although we don't think there were any successful attempts (indicated by her lifting her tail immediately afterwards). Since then, this young male (shall we call him Chris?) has been hanging around the nest and coming and going quite happily. Unfortunately, it appears that EJ isn't particularly keen on him, as she has been absent for long periods, apparently only turning up when he has gone! Yesterday, the love struck boy sat in a tree with a huge trout, seemingly waiting for EJ to return so he could present her with it. She, however, never got the message and, after a good couple of hours, he eventually disappeared with his fishy offering.
Waiting for EJ - the new male perches near the nest.
EJ has been around this morning, flitting between the nest and the camera tree, although she has now vacated the area. We are still keeping our eyes on the skies for arriving males but so far all is relatively quiet. There is still plenty of time for mating and laying so we're not panicking just yet - as long as we have eggs in the nest by early-mid May, there's a good chance of success. We'll keep you updated!
We've had a few more red squirrels visiting the centre over the past few days (I mean to eat peanuts from the feeders, not to look at the ospreys and browse in the shop...). As the weather continues to warm up, squirrel sightings will hopefully become much regular. If you're planning to visit in the hope of seeing a red squirrel, I would advise coming in the morning, as they tend to be more active earlier in the day and are usually long gone by 11am.
Don't forget, we've got our "Wake Up with Wildlife" event on Saturday and Sunday every week. The centre will be open from 5:30-8am, offering you the chance to watch ospreys in the sunrise and listen to the amazing dawn chorus as the forest wakes up. The event is absolutely free, so just turn up when you want and make your way up to the Osprey Centre. We'll be happy to welcome you!
That's all from me, see you all soon!