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!