Hello bloggers! We apologise for the lack of blogs recently - we have been two team members down for a while now, due to personal reasons, so we're all having to work extra hard to make sure our visitors have a great time when they come to the Osprey Centre, leaving little time for writing blogs!

We are all so sad because of the situation on the nest this year, especially because it’s going to be the second year in a row without chicks in the nest. However, we have to remember that this is only one of the multiple nests of Scotland, and that the numbers of ospreys are still increasing, so they are doing well as a species! We also have to take into account that EJ has been breeding here for 15 years, so she has laid many eggs and has seen lots of chicks fledge! On this post we are going to analyse how productive she has been along the seasons! It’s always interesting to have a closer look at EJ’s past and remember all the amazing things that we’ve been seeing on the nest over the years.

Year

Number of Eggs

Eggs Hatched

Chicks Fledged

Nest Productivity

Male

(%)

2003

0

0

0

Henry

2004

4

3

3

75

Henry

2005

4

0

0

0

Orange VS

2006

3

3

3

100

Henry

2007

7

3

0

0

Orange VS & Henry

2008

3

3

2

66.7

Orange VS

2009

3

3

3

100

Odin

2010

3

3

3

100

Odin

2011

3

2

2

66.7

Odin

2012

3

3

2

66.7

Odin & Blue XD

2013

4

2

2

50

Odin & Blue XD

2014

3

3

3

100

Odin

2015

3

0

0

0

Odin

2016

3

2

2

66.7

Odin

2017

3

3

0

0

Odin

2018

3

0

0

0

George

Total

52

33

25

52.8

(average)

Table 1: Summary of EJ’s nest activity during the period 2003 – 2018.

On the table above we can see in detail how many eggs EJ has laid since 2003 until the current year, how many of them have hatched and how many of them have fledged. We can also see the productivity of the nest for each year, which is the number of eggs laid, divided by the number of chicks fledged. The last column indicates who the father of the eggs is, or the potential fathers, as sometimes EJ has been playing on two sides!

As we can see on the first column, EJ has laid a total of 52 eggs over the seasons! She usually lays three eggs, sometimes four, and in 2007 she laid a total of 7 eggs! This unlikely event happened because she mated with Orange VS at the beginning of the season, and when Henry -her regular mate- came back, he kicked the eggs out of the nest. After that she managed to lay three more eggs with him, and even though they hatched, the three chicks died.

We can have a look now at the second column to see how many of those eggs hatched; 33 out of 52, it’s not bad at all! It means that, overall, 63.5% of the eggs have hatched. In 2005 and 2015 no eggs hatched, the same situation as the current season. The reasons why are different though; on those occasions the males were good providers of fish – not like George, who left EJ unfed for too long so she had to leave the eggs to go fishing herself. What happened on 2005 was that Henry came back from migration to find out that EJ had laid eggs with Orange VS, so he kicked the eggs out of the nest and she didn’t lay any more after that. The story of 2015 was that an intruder male hung around the nest for a while, Odin got injured in the process of chasing him off and disappeared for six days. The intruder broke the eggs, and when Odin finally came back, they didn’t try to breed again.

We can have a look now at the third column to realise that EJ has seen 25 chicks fledging! Almost all the years that the eggs have hatched the chicks have fledged as well, although there were a couple of years -2008 and 2012- when one of the chicks died before fledging because of lack of food and bullying. Last season -2017- was not good for the chicks either, because the day that the second egg hatched was the day that Odin was seen for the last time, leaving the chicks without any source of food. Apart from these sad events, the 75% of the chicks that came out of the eggs over the years survived to fledge, so it’s a good number of them!

Image 1: EJ and Rowan, her fist chick of 2016. This male was born on the 14th of April and fledged successfully on the 6th of July.

If we have a look at the big picture of all this, we can tell that EJ has been a successful bird over the seasons, bringing 25 healthy chicks to the species. She is very experienced, brave and good mum, always taking care of her eggs, feeding her chicks and protecting her nest. Some seasons have not been successful due to causes outside her control, but we have our fingers crossed for next season! George will hopefully have improved his fishing skills, or even better, she might find a smarter and more experienced bird! For the moment we can just be happy to have her around for the summer, looking strong and pretty as she always does. She's still regularly to be seen from the Osprey Centre, either at her nest or on a nearby perch, ready to defend her territory from any passing ospreys. Today we had good views of her on the camera tree...

  

...and then on the cam-post...

Thanks to the bloggers for these shots :-)

Other recent sightings from the centre include this redstart, singing his heart out on the camera tree...

...and of course the red squirrels and great spotted woodpeckers continue to delight visitors (and us too!)

Down at the kiosk we've had the mother mallard bringing her ducklings to feed below the feeders, as well as the usual chaffinches, siskins, coal and great tits, great spotted woodpeckers and voles. Last week's guided walk brought wonderful views of two crested tits, reed bunting and goldcrest, with an osprey fly-over when we were down at Loch Mallachie. The week before, we were treated to excellent views of crossbills too! We're regularly hearing tree pipits, willow warblers, wrens, robins, blackbirds, mistlethrush, to name but a few...and have even had red-throated diver, both on Loch Garten and flying overhead.   

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