Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Squirrels abound

Unfortunately, although the red squirrels have been keeping us entertained, there have been no sightings of the Pine marten, which is a shame.
There is still a chance it might turn up in Nov, so we will just have to wait and see.

Huge flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares have been viewed from the centre, flying over the trees and stripping the Rowans of their berries.
Autumn is here. :-)

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Change of Focus

No more ospreys were seen on live camera for 2 weeks after the 28th, when we last seen our own ospreys. Ospreys were still reported locally fishing on lochs but I was surprised we didn't see any ospreys on camera, as you normally get visitors from further north stopping off on their migration south.
For those who are still interested in following something, the 3 chicks from Loch Garten have been satellite trakced and can be followed via the RSPB website:

While here at the lodge our focus now changes to the mammal population: Red Squirrels and hopefully Pine Marten. Last year Pine Marten appeared every second day on our feeders during Oct and Nov and hopefully this year will be the same. Red Squirrels are nearly always seen on live camera and on Sun 4th Oct we have a Red Squirrel fun day here at the lodge. On sat 4th and 11th we have trips to see the Red Deer rut. For more info phone the lodge on 01877 382258.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

It's very quiet now.

The last ospreys were seen at the nest site on the 28th August, where a lone bird was sitting in trees at the back of the nest. The preceding week there had been up to three ospreys hanging round the trees at the back, making it quite difficult to identify them as, even with maximum zoom, we couldn't make out their rings.
Red 6A was identified on the 23rd Aug which would have meant she was here alot later than last year, as she had left by the 6th Aug in 2008. There was also a green ringed bird which we assumed to be the new male but since we had alot of green ringed birds sighted this year we cannot be certain.
One of the birds that had been sitting at the back was practising some nest building techniques by flying in and taking a couple of swoops at the nest to pull out long sticks. It was quite interesting to watch this, as ospreys would use this technique to collect sticks for a nest but would normally use a dead tree to swoop down on.
Today on the nest a flock of blue and great tits landed on the nest and were rooting about for something to eat. Once they had left a lone Dunnock sat perched on one of the twigs for a while surveying all below.
And so ends another osprey season. Who will return next year now our resident male has gone? Will it be the immature green ring that didnt impress the female or will she take on a new partner for life? Unfortunately we will now have to wait until 2010 to have these questions answered.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Ospreys-a farewell?

Red 6A (our female) was still around as of the 1st August. Last year she was last seen about the 6th before she off on her migration.

The green ringed male is also still around and still defending the nest.

I had an osprey First Flight, First Splash event at the weekend and took 12 people down to the Lake of Menteith to see if we could see an osprey fishing. Luck was on our side as 2 ospreys were present when we arrived. However, they simply displayed territorial behaviour until one took off. The first osprey then sat in a tree for a good half hour then suddenly plunged into the water for food. Our group was very happy; several hadn't even seen an osprey before, never mind seeing one fish. Even the rain stayed off until it was time to leave.

Other events coming up soon are two bird of prey talks. On the 14th Aug at 7pm, Mike McDonnell will talk about Red Kites at David Marshall Lodge, and on the 28th Aug, Elaine Fraser will talk about the Sea Eagle Reintroduction in the North East of Scotland.

To book call 01877 382258 or email:

Barn Owls are go!

Out of our 5 Barn owl chicks, 3 fledged.

The first fledged on Friday 31st July after flapping a lot and peering out of the Barn Owl box hole, and the other two had gone by the 5th August. The last 2 then returned to the box for a couple of days but now have not been seen for about a week.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Nest box update- fly away Peter fly away Paul

Our Great Tits all fledged successfully on the 4th June.

Our Blue Tits were another story! All 8 eggs hatched, although it was difficult to determine this at first as they were SO tiny. As they got bigger, it was easy to count the open gapes as their parents came in to feed them. One chick seemed to die in the box around the time of the very hot weather. Then on June 9th, I came in one morning to fine the blue tits at the top of the picture on the monitor rather than at the bottom as previously. Also, there only seemed to be 4 chicks! What had happened? Did a predator enter the nest box, knock the camera and eat the chicks? Maybe a stoat or weasel? Who knows? The remaining 4 chicks went on to successfully fledged on June 17th.

The Barn Owls are doing well although there now only seems to be 4 chicks. Food has seemed a little sparse of late, although one chick was seen trying to swallow a whole vole! Its possible that the 5th chick was eaten since food was scarce as no body has been seen in the box. How many will remain until the end?

All quiet on the osprey front.....

Its still been fairly quiet on our nest but Red 6A is still in evidence. We have had some nice shots of her feeding herself on the dead trees to either side of the nest. We wouldnt really see this so much at this time of the year normally as she would be staying at the nest feeding the chicks. The green ringed male is still about and an unringed bird has been coming and going intermittently. No new rings have been sighted and things seem to be quietening down again. In fact there has been some nest building going on! Both male and female have been bringing in new material to the nest. Ospreys have been known to build frustration eeyries when breeding has failed, so maybe this is kind of like that.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Nest box update

Our Great Tits have hatched 6 chicks and one egg remains unhatched. These hatched about 1 week ago and are feathering up quite nicely.

The Blue tits have hatched just hatched on Tuesday but are so tiny I am unsure how many we have, at least 5.

The Barn owl definitely has 2 chicks and 2 eggs but whether there is a third egg or a third chick I was unable to see.

Cuckoos have been having population crashes and Springwatch has been asking for your Cuckoo sightings/calls. Look on their website for more info.

Ospreys galore

Well although it looks like we aren't going to get any more eggs this year, we have had numerous ospreys approaching the nest. In fact we have managed to get 5 new ring numbers!

Three of these have turned out to be birds from other local nests that were hatched in 2004 or 2005. So this is probably the first year that some of them have come back, as osprey chicks normally stay in Africa for 3-4 years until they are mature enough to breed.

One of the rings has still to be identified and another came from a chick that was found caught in the fish cages at Lake of Menteith. This one came down to fish, got caught up in the netting and had to be rescued by the workers at the fishery. They put it to the side but when it was still there several hours later they called for help. The osprey has now been taken to a wildlife rescue centre and the last I heard it was holding its own. Apparently it has an injured elbow and shoulder, so may not be well enough to be re-released. The interesting thing about this bird was that although it didnt come anywhere near our nest, its sibling turned up there about the same time. This also means that 2 chicks survived the return journey when they say only 1 out of 3 normally do. Interesting stuff!

Even more interesting for our nest was that yesterday an unringed osprey turned up at the nest eating a fish. Could this be our resident male? The mystery deepens...

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Time is running out..

After last week's promising start it seems to have all come to nothing. The ospreys have hardly been seen at the nest at all. Today we have seen one bird on the nest - a new green-ringed bird whose Darvic ring I managed to identify. The details have been sent off to BTO to see where this one has come from.

I had said that the female osprey has to lay a new clutch before the end of May but after reading Roy Dennis's book, he says the latest known laying of osprey eggs has been the 23rd May! Groan! It doesnt look like its going to happen here this year. :-(

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Eggs aplenty- although not ospreys!

So far on our live nest box cameras, we have:

  • Barn Owl on 5 eggs
  • Great Tit just hatched 6 chicks and one unhatched egg and
  • Blue Tit on 7 eggs so far.

I can't keep up!

Our ospreys have rarely been at the nest the past 2 weeks. When there have been ospreys on the nest it has been our Red 6A female and Green-ringed male. He has been trying to mate with her but she has been reticent to stay near the nest.

Today however, was the best sightings I have seen of the birds all week. And there was a surprise in store. A pair of ospreys were on the nest alarm calling and mantling against and intruder osprey and I was trying to identify who was who on the nest. Yes, there was the female Red 6A and surely the male was the green-ringed male but I couldnt see the Darvic. Later on I realised why, when I saw he had no Darvic ring but only a metal ring. Welcome back the silver ringed male. The 2 birds mated and the female was hanging around the nest alot more than normal, so hopefully this will be a positive sign.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Web cam live at last

We've now got the web cam up and running, both here (on the right of the page) and a larger version on the main Aberfoyle Ospreys pages at

The camera is live from 10.00am to 5.00pm every day. It shows stills from the nest updated every couple of minutes, rather than a live stream, but it gives you a taste of what's going on.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Bad news...

Yesterday an osprey egg was found on the ground near to the osprey nest. So as suspected it looks like green-ring has kicked the unringed males egg(s) out the nest. The egg was showing signs of predation so whether this was done after being kicked out or was in fact the real reason behind the eggs disappearance, we'll never know.

Red 6A and the green-ringed male have been on the nest very intermittently today and never together. Hopefully our female will hold off until the cold weather is over until laying a new clutch of eggs. If she hasnt done this by the end of May, then its pretty much game over for this season.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Nest box update

The Barn owls are now on 5 eggs and we have a Great Tit on 7.

Too many cooks.......

Everything was going quite well with the silver-ringed male and our female for about a week until a green-ringed male came in and took over. This male was with her for a couple of days mating and feeding her but on Saturday, she seemed to be off the nest alot but not too long for the eggs. Then on Sunday 3rd May, she was off the nest practically all day. An osprey kept coming into the nest but couldn't be identified whereas our female was sitting on the dead tree off to the left for the majority of the day. She seemed totally non-plussed and didn't react at all to the bird on the nest. No alarm calling or food-soliciting, she just sat and preened and preened. From this behaviour I can only suppose that one of the males, probably the green-ringed, had kicked the eggs out the nest. She had been so tight on the nest previously and hadn't been off it for long at any stage at all, so seems strange that she would just suddenly decide to go off,unless the eggs had been removed.

Since then the female and green ringed male have been mating but seem reticent to stay at the nest for any length of time. She really needs to lay again before the end of May if we have any chance of having chicks this season. Stay posted!

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Barn Owls

A quick update: the barn owls laid their third egg yesterday and both adults are in the box this morning as its very heavy rain.

Its not good news........but there is a sliver (ringed) lining!

Our resident male osprey (unringed) has not been seen for about 10 days now and at about the time he disappeared the female appeared to be sitting on eggs. As said in my previous post she is sitting tight most of the time but is getting on and off the nest to chase intruders. This is not good due to the risk to the eggs.

The silver-ringed male has at last been seen providing her with fish. He flew in on Monday with a fish, gave it to her and she flew off. He looked as if he was going to take over incubation but stood in the nest cup then didn't sit down. He poked around in the nest and I watched him with baited breath, half expecting any eggs in the nest to come flying out any minute. Instead he stood there for a moment then took off. The female was sitting in a dead tree to the left and sat there eating her fish for 5 minutes then flew down to the nest with the fish and continued to eat it there. I breathed a sigh of relief and was at least glad to see that she is getting fed. The silver-ringed bird continues to try and mate with her but she is not receptive.

On Tuesday a green-ringed bird landed on the nest and the silver-ringed bird was very quick to defend the female and the nest and actually locked talons with the intruding male. The female joined in quite aggressively and forced them both off the nest. I haven't seen such physical contact in a long time. Ospreys like most animals tend to avoid aggressive contact as it may result in injury; which can sometimes be too costly.

To say our female is having a hard time is to put it mildly, trying to incubate the unringed male's eggs, while trying to defend the nest, most of the time alone. The only good thing is she is actually being fed by the silver ringed male, which is allowing her, for the moment, to continue to sit tight.

I have asked that the cameras be switched from the overview camera to the nest cup camera so we can definitely see if we have eggs and how many. This hopefully should be done today or tomorrow. I'll let you know when I do.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Barn Owls now on

The live camera on the Barn Owl nest box is now up and running and they have gratified us with an egg on Friday 24th April and a second egg today!

Confused? You will be!

Sorry for the delay in updating the blog but things have been rather confusing of late. On the 17th April the female looked good for laying an egg but there hadn't been a changeover; normally the first definite behaviour that there is an egg. Then midweek the unringed male (our resident bird) seemed to have vanished!

Shortly after that we had various other birds coming into the nest including a green-ringed bird and a silver-ringed male. The silver-ringed male seems to have taken over the female and is seen with fish, but it's uncertain as to whether the female is being fed by him or by another male.

The silver-ringed bird keeps attempting to mate with Red 6A but is always unsuccessful. Red 6A, although she appears to have an egg in the nest (she looks like she is incubating and turning an egg), is also leaving the nest for short periods probably because her regular male is not around. Today is not proving to shed any light as the female is tight on the nest due to the heavy rain and no other birds have been seen. Hopefully this week will clarify things and won't result in an egg being kicked out the nest!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

No eggs yet! :-(

The female has still been sitting low on the nest but there has been no changeover as yet, when the male has come in with a fish.
We are not impatient, are we?

Friday, 17 April 2009

Nearly there?

Tomorrow will be a week since the original male returned and we normally say eggs will appear 7-10 days after mating! The female has been sitting quite low today and fussing about the nest which is a good indication she is getting broody.

The male on the other hand has been very lacklustre today, although he has mated successfully several times with the female.

Both ospreys were alarm calling at certain points throughout the day but no osprey intruder was seen on camera, although a pheasant was seen strolling in the background.

So will tomorrow be the day we see an egg?

Thursday, 16 April 2009

All change... again!

The mating between Red 6A and the green-ringed male was improving and seemed to be going well all week. He was adding the occassional branch to the nest and bringing in fish, although I was a bit surprised by his laissez-faire attitude.

Then on Saturday, as soon as the cameras were on, it was an unringed male who was on the nest and green ring was nowhere to be seen. Was this our original bird or another unringed male? The fact our female was so relaxed with him indicated the former, and on checking footage from 2007, it is indeed our resident male. He is quite distinctive as he has 2 stripes coming up from each eye to the top of his head. A marking I have never seen before in another osprey.

It's funny how when you have resident birds together their behaviour just gels and things progress so much faster. This male is on a mission and keeps bringing stick after stick back to the nest. After being off for 2 days I notice a definite improvement in the nest; it is much more formed and is greener, having been lined with moss and lichen. The male has been successfully mating with the female all week and bringing numerous fish to her, including a jack pike. Now that this male is in, things seemed to have settled down on the nest with no other ospreys venturing in for a while now.

Now we can get on with the business in hand!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Menage a ...quatre?

On Monday when Red 6A arrived, the green ringed male tried to mate with her but she was having none of it and kept shrugging him off. She then did have a successful mating, but with which male we are unsure. It seemed too adept to be the green-ringed male and shortly after this mating he did try and was shrugged off again.

On Tuesday there was alot of to and fro'ing on the nest by Red 6A and the green-ringed male, with quite a few sticks brought in.

On Wednesday we finally got to see a fish being brought in by the green-ringed male. He was sitting eating it quite happily at the top of the nest when he dropped it. Red 6A, not one to miss an opportunity, nipped in and took the fish off to a nearby tree to eat it.

Shortly after when Red 6A was on the nest with green ring, another 2 birds joined the proceedings; the silver ringed male and an unringed bird. The latter was thought to be a male due to Red 6A's lack of response but could have been the previously unringed female. Talk about confusing!

Today there has been much nest building going on by Red 6A and green ring. However, although he keeps trying to mate with Red 6A, any attempt has been unsuccessful.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Nice to see you, to see you...

Well the nest was very quiet until midday when the unringed female appeared with the green ringed male and mating took place; more successfully than yesterday. The unringed female was food soliciting and the male kept flying off but was unsure as to what to do. So he returned with some moss and dried grass. Good boy!

Then at 2pm, the unringed female landed on the nest and was immediately chased off by another bird. A quick zoom revealed it was Red 6A! Welcome back our resident female, living up to her reputation of not standing for interlopers on her nest. :-)

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Well, hello....!

This morning started with an empty nest but was soon filled by a fourth bird; an unringed osprey, which we thought was a male due to its very light markings. In a tree behind was a green ringed bird which we thought was the same one as yesterdays, which looked female due to a very brown chest patch. Then lo and behold, green ring flew down to the nest and landed on top of the unringed bird! Obviously identification by chest patches alone is not to be relied upon. Lol!

The unringed female was very receptive to advances with submissive posturing but poor green ring seemed out of his depth and tried to mate with her head! Then he landed beside her on the nest and adopted the mating posture of retracted talons and flat legs, with us thinking "but you have to get on top of her first!" Subsequent mating attempts proved just as bad with him approaching the female sideways and this remained the status for the rest of the day. He tried many times but no successful mating attempts occurred.

It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.

Our ospreys are back!

While everyone else was reporting ospreys left right and centre, we were still waiting to see an osprey on live camera here at David Marshall Lodge.

Then on Saturday 4th amidst the pouring rain, an osprey landed on the top of the nest tree with a large trout. The trout was still alive and kept flapping, making it a difficult meal for the bird to keep hold off. After 5 minutes of pulling the fish up then it slipping back down, the fish had more or less given up the ghost and the osprey started to tuck in. On zooming the camera we noticed the bird didnt have its coloured Darvic ring but did have a silver leg ring. The male ate the head of the fish and while it was eating, another osprey landed in the actual nest. This was quickly chased off by a third bird which appeared to have a green ring, then it too took off.

Later in the afternoon, an osprey chased the male off his perch where he had sat for over an hour with the rest of the fish and landed on the nest. This time we got to see the ring which was yellow. We didnt get a good look at the letters but thought it looked like OU. This is the female that used to breed at the site prior to 2005 Since then she always turns up but is consistently chased off by Red 6A, our resident female. Is she yet to appear?

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

2009 season approaches

Welcome back to the Aberfoyle ospreys blog. The 2009 season is almost here and we'll be keeping you up to date with what's going on throughout the season.

More details here shortly and at