A trip to see Ospreys in Scotland…

One of the most famous sites for Ospreys in the UK has to be Loch Garten in Scotland and Osprey volunteer Linda Jones managed to squeeze in a visit during a recent bird watching holiday. Here is Linda’s report…

Last week, I enjoyed a wonderful time in the highlands and west coast of Scotland with Heatherlea, bird and wildlife watching. We saw 21 species of animals and over 100 of birds! There were so many highlights, with minke whale breaching right next to the boat, pine martin and otter. The birds were fantastic: 5 Golden Eagles, 2 White Tailed Eagles, and, up on the mountains, Ptarmigan and Dotterel!

But I couldn’t go to Scotland without visiting the Ospreys! There are about 200 breeding pairs in the country. On Wednesday, we called into Loch Insh to see a nest. There was one chick present, no sign of the male or female or the second chick, but it was great to see. Later that day, it was reported that the male from that nest had been found caught up in fishing line, fortunately after drying out he was fine.

On Thursday, after a lot of encouragement from me, we visited Loch Garten. In Abernethey and run by the RSPB, there is a good Osprey visitor centre, and an Osprey nest clearly visible from it. Like at Lyndon, there are live webcams of the nest, but they also have other monitors showing the movements of the birds that are GPS tagged. This year they have also GPS tagged the two chicks.

In Scotland, they name their Ospreys. The male at Loch Garten is Odin and the female is called EJ. They have had two chicks this year, Bynack and Tore; both are thriving. Whilst I was there both adults were present but I didn’t see the chicks. Like our Ospreys at Rutland Water, all of the birds are spending increasing amounts of time away from the nest, in preparation for their migration. It was good to see this established pair, with friendly attempts at copulation to aid bonding – just as I have witnessed at Manton Bay by 5R and his mate. Apparently, these Ospreys arrived early in April and EJ is expected to head south any day now.

As the chicks have GPS tracking, they have been monitoring their movements:

Between August 5th to early on the 8th – Tore flew from the nest to the moors north of Carrbridge and Grantown-on-Spey, before returning to the nest area. Total distance approximately 30 miles.

Initially, less far ranging, Bynack, between August 5th August to early on the August 8th, flew from the nest area to Loch Garten itself, before returning. However, he has since flown up to the moors above Carrbridge, similar to Tore and perhaps with her, but then returned to the nest area.

It will be really good to follow the movements of the Ospreys the staff have tagged at Rutland Water.

The Scottish Ospreys, like ours, have to cope with intruders. Bynack was sitting on the camera tree the other day, minding his own business, when an unknown Osprey appeared from nowhere and tried dive-bombing him! Bynack was unperturbed by this and saw off the interloper without too much trouble. It apparently takes more than that to disturb the Loch Garten Ospreys!

I spent an excellent 2 hours at Loch Garten, speaking with one of the staff, John Ingham, and the volunteers. It was great to hear about what they were doing and they were equally interested to catch up on the news from Rutland Water. It was lovely to see the Scottish Ospreys – but I can’t wait for my next sessions at Site B and Manton Bay.

Linda Jones

2 responses to “A trip to see Ospreys in Scotland…”

  1. Lynda Berry

    Hi Linda, I really enjoyed reading your report and am highly envious of your trip but I can’t persuade my other half to venture up there, YET!

  2. Liz May, Canada

    Hi Linda & Michelle: I really think it is wonderful that staff from reserves are visiting each others turf & sharing information & experiences. It is educatinal for you & great for those of us that watch the ospreys because we benefit in the end from the information you collectively gather. Keep up the good work. There are many of us out here who really have learned alot through your blogs.