Hi everyone,

Just a quick note to update you on some recent activity at the LG nest - unfortunately not of the osprey kind, but hopefully of the positive human kind.

As we are painfully aware, this season is proving to be one of the most, if not the most, challenging season we've ever had at LG. The non-arrival of EJ, coupled with the failure of her new partnership last year, has meant that a brand new pair has to be attracted to this nest. If we had one bird, it would be a simpler task to attract a partner, but without even one bird taking up residence and claiming the nest, we are in the difficult position of having a totally empty nest. Unheard of at LG! The general lack of ospreys prospecting for a new nest in the Highlands is exacerbating the situation, so we're really up against it.  

After giving nature a fair chance at coming up with a beautiful new osprey pair for us, we have decided now is the time to see if we can give nature a helping hand. With youngsters still coming through up to the Highlands, there's still time for a new two year old to catch sight of the nest and make it their own this season, and thereby hopefully returning in 2020 to breed. Although none of us can know what goes on in an osprey's head, we decided to draw on Roy Dennis's sixty years of experience and he and I went out to the nest earlier this week to discuss ways in which we can make the LG nest a des res. Though EJ was happy at her nest, without a potential mate there to attract a second bird, a brand new bird might need a little more reassurance that it's a safe place to raise a family, so most of Roy's suggestions were around nest security from his understanding of an osprey's perspective.

So, we have today removed the two cameras which were on the nest itself (one is ours, one was the BBC's) and the microphone. Although many ospreys don't have a problem with nest cameras, we are exercising caution and removing them, just in case a new osprey is jumpy around them. I asked Roy whether a new osprey who takes a shine to the nest might not be put off if they return next year and find their nest with a camera on it which wasn't there before, but he said that this shouldn't be a problem. Hopefully by that time, the osprey would have enough of a tie to the nest and be too intent on breeding to be bothered by a small camera.

The tower camera is staying, as it's further away from the nest and unlike a tree, can't hide a predator. The camera on the nest, which we've removed, was the camera we use as the webcam and had night vision. Now that we only have the tower camera, it is this camera which will now be streamed on the RSPB Loch Garten webpage and the Carnyx page, but this camera doesn't have night vision, so during the hours of darkness, it'll be just that, dark. At present, Peter at Carnyx needs to do some technical jiggery pokery (and Mike, I'm pretty sure it doesn't involve gaffer tape) to make this camera stream - he'll do it when he's back at his desk.

Roy commented on how many more trees there are which have grown up around the nest over the years. When the ospreys returned in the 1950s, the nest tree was pretty much an island in an area of low scrub and bog woodland. He suggested that to an osprey, larger trees could be hiding places for goshawk or pine martens, so he said that ideally we would remove a lot of them. As this site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest we can't do that without specific consent from Scottish Natural Heritage, so we will be looking into that for the future. 

At the beginning of the osprey season, a grassy nest doesn't cause a problem for ospreys. Clearing it of undergrowth is part of the ritual of preparing for breeding, but at this time in the season it might be an issue if we're tying to attract a new bird, so Roy suggested (and I know this will please many of you), that it's worth a try to clear the nest of grass and line the cup with peaty leaf mould, particularly as we're up there removing the cameras anyway - this is what we have done. 

So, small steps maybe, but I have to say that even if these measures don't work, it has made us feel a bit better just giving them a go. Only time will tell if they are successful or not, but in the meantime, the red squirrels, redstarts and great spotted woodpeckers (amongst others!) are keeping folk happy.

Onward and upward, folks! Watch this space...

Anonymous
  •  Jess, Thank you SO VERY MUCH for this informative post and timely too even though I am just now finding it.  I think it to be one of the most interesting blogs I have read here (that's saying a lot, as there have been   many extremely interesting ones over the years I have been following).  I find it interesting, indeed, that the expert was none other than Roy Dennis himself and that he actually went out to the nest for observation.  I trust that removing the grass meant removing any sod as well, not just a mow job. My appreciation and thanks to the LG Staff, Roy Dennis and Carnyx Wild for giving us HOPE.

  • How absolutely thrilling. How exciting.. The nest looks so desirable now . Very well done indeed VC. And lo and behold, the very next day we not only have an Osprey on the nest  ....... we have  two !!  ... and not  just any ole two but,    a pair ... yes yes wonderfully yes

    A new era has began . Of course these two  will show up next year. We'll see courtship going on for a good few weeks now . It's so wonderful. Thank you for this Blog Jess and all the hard work done by you all. 

  • Thank you for the update on actions you have taken Jess.  And many thanks to Peter for your swift part, too.  Fingers crossed for a successful outcome..

  • Hi, We are now live again from the tower and as Jess said without audio and no "night light".

  • LG without you using Gaffa tape to hold things together??!! What is the world coming to? LOL

    You do realise that your title as Queen   of Gaffa tape is now at serious risk!

    Thank you for the full explanation.