Friday, 12 September 2008

Recent sightings

The ospreys were still here on the 31st August (the adult male and 2 juveniles). The camera was then off all week and wasn't fixed till Friday 5th September. Nothing was seen the whole of last weekend. Then on Tues 9th September one of our volunteers spotted one of the birds. So we're not quite finished yet!

At David Marshall Lodge our live cameras are now pointed at the squirrel feeders - the squirrels are providing regular entertainment for visitors!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Still here!

The female osprey has not been seen for a while but there is still at least one juvenile and the adult male hanging about. One of the juveniles came onto the nest yesterday several times, shouting for food. However, it wasnt until 3 o'clock that I noticed it was feeding on a pike. So the male obviously had brought a fish in.
This morning one bird was sitting to the back of the nest but I couldnt see whether it was an adult or a juvenile because it was so far away.

Me and my shadow!

On Aug 9th I took 14 people to a nearby loch to see if we could see our ospreys fishing. It didnt bode well as the rain poured all day. Yet as we stepped out the minibus the rain eased off and we started looking for our feathered chums. After about 15 minutes we saw a pair of ospreys flying over the loch, one behind the other. From the colour of the plumage it looked like an adult being closely followed by a juvenile. The adult bird washed its talons several times in the loch in front of us and even went in for a "dook" a couple of times. It seemd to be having a bath as no fishing behaviour was observed. After watching these two for a wee while it was time to go and as soon as we got back on the bus, the heavens opened. Talk about good timing!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

I need to put on weight!

We had a nice view of the osprey female today sitting on a dead tree feeding on a good sized trout. She seemed to be in no hurry to eat it as she spent about 3 hours sitting there and most of the time was looking round about her. It was nice to see the female getting such a good feed. Whilst she is looking after chicks she only gets around 40% of her normal food intake. She uses the time after the chicks have fledged to build up her own body weight, to make herself fit for the 3000 mile migration back. After all she will be the first to go.

Woody woodpecker x 3

Two woodpeckers were seen, one on each feeder, today. However, I know at least three have been there as there has been a female, a male and a juvenile. For those of you who dont know, a female Great Spotted Woodpecker has no red on her head, the male has a little bit of red on the back of his head and the juvenile has a red cap. As the juveniles age this red cap gradually disappears and changes to either a male or female markings.

Barn Owl chick- its lonely in here

We have only seen one Barn Owl chick all day, so can only assume the oldest chick had fledged before the camera came on. The camera doesnt cover the whole of the base of the Barn Owl box so sometimes the chicks can be hiding up one end of the box and remain invisible to the camera. However, normally at some point during the day they move and you see at least the part of their bodies on screen. This hasnt happened today and one chick has remained visible throughout and its behaviour has suggested that it is on its own. (Awww!) This chick has also started to look out the entrance hole and at one point, we only saw its tail feathers, like it too was on the point of fledging. It wont be long now.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Squirrels galore

It seems now as the ospreys are becoming harder to spot the red squirrels are becoming less so. Up to 8 have been seen from the squirrel hide off the Waterfall Walk. We have seen up to four on the live cameras and our whiteboard becomes choc a block with the sightings as they are about every 5 minutes at times. We now have a second live camera from the feeders, as the one on the live nest boxes proved rather fruitless once the great tits had fledged. This is doubling visitors chances of seeing a red squirrel, when they come into the wildlife room. For many English visitors it is their first sighting of a red squirrel in years and they recall the times when they used to see them as a child at home but unfortunately they no longer do. If you compare a map of the distribution of the red squirrel between 1954 and now, that area has almost halfed. Whereas in 1954 there was a good distribution from Scotland down to the south of England, now it only goes as far as the north of England. Sad times.

Are you there?

After the last entry our male did go off and get another fish and sat and ate the head before bringing it in to the female. Then the two chicks landed on the nest and that was the first time I had seen them both all day. The female started the proceedings off by feeding the juveniles but pretty soon they were ripping bits of fish off for themselves. One juvenile ate while mantling his wings and guarding the fish from the other juvenile. Only when it was finished did the second juvenile get a shot.
At one point it was hard to tell who was who as the female intruder flew in scaring the juvenile off the nest and then our female landed then took off, then landed again with the male coming and going and the intruder flying in and out.
How am I meant to see rings or head markings if they wont sit still!!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Come fly with me......

I've got empty nest syndrome! As soon as the cameras came on this morning, an empty nest greeted me. Both chicks had fledged. When? I dont know. All I know was that yesterday at 5:30pm they were still on the nest and hadnt fledged tho' one had been looking ready to go all day. I am quite surprised that both chicks had gone together, although one might have went last night and one this morning. I am also surprised that they are both off the nest,as in my experience they normally hang around on the nest. However, one has been spotted sitting off to the side in a dead tree.
"Mum" has been on and off the nest in response to our osprey intruder who keeps flying in. We had an excellent view of the male sitting in the same dead tree as the juvenile. He was sitting in a branch below the juvenile feasting on the head of a large fish. His meal was rudely interrupted however, when the intruder came down on top of him, he reacted but much to our consternation dropped the fish. I guess he better go off fishing again!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Feet firmly on the ground

Just to let you know that there is still no fledging here at DML either from the ospreys or the two remaining Barn Owl chicks.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Marked improvement

One chick seems to be determined to master this flying malarkey. It has been quite active when allowed and started with some rapid wing flapping. Then this was followed by wing flapping followed by a little jump. Next we had a little lift off. Now it has progressed to rising about 6 inches above the nest. The second chick watches on bemused.
This has all been done with repeated interruptions from our osprey intruder who seems to want to make her presence known. Everytime she comes in the chicks instinctively go down into the nest cup and flying lessons are disbanded until it is safe to come out again.
At 53 and 51 days old they are ripe for take off. Watch this space.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Heated argument!

Well the weather has improved finally, with today and yesterday being glorious sunshine. This has encouraged the chicks to get up and be active. The older chick was up practising its wing flapping movements this morning but he accidentally stepped back and stood on his sibling. This chick then got up and an argument ensued. They were pecking at each other with wings out and were vying for space on the nest. "This nest ain't big enough for the both of us..."

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Are you sure its summer?

Our osprey chicks have been very quiet this week considering that it is nearly time for them to be flying. However, I don't think the weather has helped. We have had one very blustery day where the chicks both stood up in the wind with their wings outstretched. They stood there getting buffeted by the wind which was just about knocking them off their feet and after a couple of minutes decided that actually maybe it wasn't a good day to practice and went down and lay in the nest cup. That was them for the rest of the day.

The next two days were much the same, apart from it was torrential rain rather than wind putting them off. The female sat off to the side on a nearby tree so people coming in to the room thought that everyone had abandoned the nest! When will these birds fly?

Friday, 11 July 2008

Barn Owl... and then there were two.

(Photo of another barn owl chick by Allison Henderson).

Unfortunately it seems our youngest Barn owl has died in the box. All three were seen on Wednesday but yesterday our volunteer noted this one lying prostrate on the floor of the box.

On Wednesday it did seem the two older ones were "ganging up" on the younger but no real aggression was seen. If anything I thought this one might have been eaten by its siblings so it seems a shame that it has just seemed to succumb in the box.

That's what these are for.....

Our oldest osprey chick has been getting more active on the nest the past week. It has been starting to stand up more on the nest and gingerly flap its wings. Its sibling has so far shown no interest in such matters and keeps well out of the way, lying in the nest cup. The chicks are now 40 and 38 days old, so it is now only just over a week till fledging age.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Ringing accomplished!

(Photo copyright Robert Scott)
The two chicks were ringed yesterday at 33 and 31 days old and all went well. The female knew something was in the offing as she was unusually absent from the nest when the camera first came on (10am) but the weather was kind, being bright but not too hot or windy, and the chicks were at little risk.

The chicks were removed from the nest about 12:30pm and taken down to ground level to have their rings put on. They lay quite flat against the ground, which is their instinct on the nest when predators approach. However, unlike the nest they didn't quite camouflage in as well. Feathers were taken from the birds for analysis to determine sex and once we know the results I will let you know on here.

Once all the measurements were taken they were put back into the nest after about 40 minutes. The chicks immediately lay flat on the nest and after a while were seen to poke their heads up. The female stayed away until 4pm until she was sure all was well and when she did come in she was quickly followed by the male with a fish. She then fed her chicks while keeping an eye out to check that the humans had definitely gone home.

Foxy lady!

Yesterday morning while waiting for the ringing to occur we were treated to a view of a fox on the live squirrel feeder camera. It came out of the bracken and sniffed around the mown area behind the feeders. It seemed quite relaxed and was there for about 15 mintues rooting in amongst the vegetation. It had very dark fur looking almost black in places, which one member of staff suggested that it meant it was a male. So maybe the title should instead read "Foxy laddie"!!

Friday, 27 June 2008


The ringing of the osprey chicks will occur on Friday 4th July at midday. This can be viewed live from the wildlife room. The ringing will be carried out by Dave Anderson of the Forestry Commission who is a licensed ringer. Because Ospreys are a Schedule 1 species it is against the law to recklessly disturb them and even experienced bird ringers have to apply for a licence from SNH to do this.

Now how do I get out of here?

Today a couple that were visiting the red squirrel hide last night said they were watching a red squirrel inside a tubular bird feeder that had fallen onto the ground. They assumed it was feeding on the seed inside and watched for a while and even took a picture. However, they eventually realised that the poor thing was stuck and couldnt manage to get back out. The squirrel's tail was switching about like mad and was the only thing they could get a hold of, so they grabbed the tail and managed to pull it out of the feeder. Otherwise it might have been in for a long night!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008


.....for the lack of webcam, we are continually having problems with our ISP and we are trying to resolve this.

Double delight!

Yesterday two red squirrels and two great spotted woodpeckers were seen on the nut feeders at the same time!
At first I thought one of the woodpeckers must be a juvenile as it was being fed by the other but on closer inspection it appeared to be a male feeding a female.
As for the squirrels, one was on the feeder at the front and one was on the bird table. Today this was topped by seeing three red squirrels; two chasing each other in the grounds while one fed quite happily on the peanuts.

Speckled twosome

The osprey chicks are now 24 and 22 days old and are looking about half size now. Ospreys get 80% of their body weight in 30 days due to their high protein diet. The chicks are now out of their reptilian phase and look quite speckly with a white stripe running down their back. Apart from some sibling rivalry about a week ago, where the oldest was viciously pecking the other,the chicks have been appearing alert and healthy. Despite the miserable weather today, plenty of fish has been coming in and a nice family shot was seen on the live camera with the parents and two chicks visible to all.
At 4-6 weeks old the chicks will be ringed by a licenced ringer from the Forestry Commission.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Weasely does it

Out with a school group today, we were attempting to measure the man-made osprey nest near the visitor centre, when a weasel came running along the track oblivious. As it approached closer it suddenly realised quite a few eyes were watching it and jumped into the undergrowth.
Weasels can be told from stoats because as well as being smaller they have no black tip on the end of their tail.

Dad gets the cold shoulder

The male osprey came in with a fish the other day and didnt give it to the female. Instead he took the fish into the nest cup and tried to feed the chicks. The chicks were obviously having nothing to do with him, as everytime a morsel of fish was held into the nest cup, it wasnt taken and the male then ate it himself. The female watched all this going on for a short while, then appearing "disgruntled",she walked over to get the fish and practically shouldered the male out of the way. The chicks then fed from the mother quite happily.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Anyway, three's a crowd!

Still only two heads showing from the nest so I reckon now we haven't got a third chick as hoped. The two heads were seen behind the wall of twigs this morning. The chicks are now 15 and 13 days old and are starting to look quite dark. This is when the chicks go through their "reptilian" phase. When they first hatch the chicks have only soft down for protection. As they get older they start developing their own flight feathers and as these feathers come in they almost look like scales. Thus, this scaly dark look along with their habit of crouching at danger gives them the appearance of reptiles. As their feathers come all the way through they start to lighten up and almost resemble the adults apart from the fact that their feathers have light edges giving them a more speckled look.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Red squirrels aplenty

Four red squirrels were seen at the Squirrel Hide on Monday. Two were seen on the live cameras. One looked alot smaller so could be this years juveniles, as squirrels tend to give birth to their first litter from February onwards.

Only two?

So far there are still only two osprey chick heads showing from the nest. If the third chick hasnt hatched now, it will be unlikely to do so. Thats if there were three eggs in the first place! The female is also making things even more difficult as she has been building up the front of the nest and deepening the nest cup. This is making it increasingly difficult to see any chicks. However, visitors yesterday said when the male came in with a fish, she was feeding both chicks and they got great views of both heads.
The weather has turned a bit inclement and the wind was so blustery yesterday that when the male went to leave the nest he went flying off BACKWARDS! Never knew you got "moonwalking" in the osprey world!

Barn owl camera now online

We've added a link to the camera showing images from inside the barn owl nesting box at David Marshall Lodge. The images are in black and white and are taken with an infra-red camera, so they are a little grainy, but there are some great images of the birds.

The camera is live from 10.00am to 5.00pm every day at

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Great Tits fledged

When I switched on the cameras this morning all looked normal in the Great Tit box. The next minute there was only one left. It flappped about at the nest hole for a minute then left. All 4 had successfully fledged. Good luck wee ones.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Other news

We have three other live cameras at DML: Barn Owl nest box, Great Tit nest box and Red Squirrel feeders.

The Barn Owls now have three big chicks and are progressing well. The female can be seen feeding the young during the day with small mammmals that the male has left during the night.

The Great Tits have 4 young after laying five eggs. I dont know what happened to the other egg as I have neither seen this nor a dead chick in the nest. The chicks are quite well feathered now and should be fledging any day now. In fact i am surprised they are still there! One of the adults just brought in a Thorn moth which one of the chicks devoured wings and all.

The feeders had two Red Squirrels on them the other day. One looked quite small, like a juvenile. The red squirrel comes daily and generally can be seen between 9-10am and 4-5pm. Other visitors include the Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker and apparently the Pine Marten which I have yet to see.

Hopefully we may get these feeds on the web soon too.

2nd Chick!

The head of the second chick was seen for the first time on Tuesday by a volunteer.
On Wednesday I saw the heads of both chicks, one holding up much stronger than the other. In fact the head of the second chick was only seen briefly as it veered back and forward.
The female was then quite preoccupied for the next hour trying to defend the chicks against a determined osprey intruder. This osprey which looked like a large female kept swooping on Red 6A on the nest. It was quite aggressive in its actions and even had her talons outstretched narrowly missing Red 6A's head. Our female was frantically alarm calling but the male was nowhere in sight. As the fracas progressed the intruder landed on the stump above the nest and Red 6A flew up towards her, chasing her away. Three times our female left the nest (and the chicks vulnerable) to ward off this intruder. After an hour of this, the intruder finally left and the female settled into the nest cup.
Shortly after the male came in with a fish and the female fed the youngsters. As shown on Springwatch the other night, the oldest chick got the majority of the food.
However,clever Dad came in with a fish on the hour for the next two hours.
Red 6A then brooded the chicks and took a well deserved nap!

Sunday, 1 June 2008


At 10am this morning the female was busy rearranging twigs on the nest and was standing well out of the nest cup. Then I saw it, a little white blob moving back and forward in the nest. There was a second movement a bit further away but I was unable to confirm what this was. I shouted a colleague and they too saw the movement which looked like the top of an unsteady chick's head moving back and forward. (The things you rely on when you cant see in the nest!!) The female then went back into the nest cup and brooded what was in there. Ten minutes later the male arrived. He started alarm calling and mantling his wings....obviously an osprey intruder about. The female then remained tight on the nest the rest of the day which was just as well as it poured of rain. Hopefully, over the next few days we will begin to see more of the secret that is in the nest!

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Nearly there!

Yesterday I thought the egg had hatched! The male came onto the nest about 10am and the female didnt want to change with him. She then sat ALL day without the male visiting the nest. 6 HOURS! I thought, she MUST have hatched one. She was fidgetting most of the day, looking down into the nest cup and nibbling on something. It looked very promising. Then at 16:30 the male arrived with a fish. What was going to happen next, would she feed a chick? No, she promptly got up took the fish and flew off. The male then took over incubation. Bah!
Today, I thought it's 38 days. It MUST be today. But it seemed to be a reversal of roles today. At about 2pm the male came and took over incubation. He then had to wait for 2 hours for the female to come back. What on earth was going on? So at close of play today, still no hatched egg!
Surely it must be tomorrow.......

Friday, 23 May 2008

All quiet

Only five days to go until our first egg can hatch!

Other nest sites have had their first chick but we are still awaiting ours.
The male and female have been sharing incubation duties, although it is always the female that does the overnight shift.

We have had some osprey intruders in yesterday and both male and female were heard to be alarm calling throughout the day. One intruder even landed close to the nest.

Today a crow was harassing the birds and eventually flew off but came straight towards the camera! The picture from the camera was then bouncing up and down and we can only assume the crow had landed on the top of it.

Friday, 16 May 2008

The story so far....

Ospreys were first sighted at Aberfoyle in the first weeks of April. Our "usual suspects" returned about the 13th/14th April.

Yellow OU our old female returned to the nest first but, as has happened the last four years, She was ousted by Red 6A.

Red 6A went on to mate with an unringed male who we assume to be her partner from previous years and on April 23rd she laid her first egg.

Unfortunately our female did such a good job of building up the nest, that she has now obscured the nest cam on the edge of the nest and we cant see her eggs (or anything else for that matter!). We are assuming, the female has laid three eggs,as per usual and the first egg should be due to hatch about the 28th-31st of May, after 35-38 days incubation.

Aberfoyle Ospreys 2008 -New Staff

Welcome to the Aberfoyle Ospreys and sorry for the delay to the Osprey Blog.

My name is Andrea Williams and I am the newly appointed Information and Education Officer working at David Marshall Lodge for the RSPB and Forestry Commission partnership. I previously worked for 6 years with the ospreys at Loch of the Lowes and updated the osprey diary there, so ospreys are a bit of a passion of mine.

If anyone has any questions regarding the Aberfoyle Ospreys, please dont hesitate to get in touch. My volunteers and I will do our best to keep you updated