It's Chris here, the final member of the team to introduce myself, and currently posing as Fergus while the RSPB IT cogs crank into gear and get me a login sorted. To add to the confusion, Fergus and I also share a ginger hair and beard combo, and having been mistaken for him at least twice already, I've decided to answer to either just in case.
I'm here with Laura as the other long term volunteer, on a sabbatical from the world of television production. Having made many programmes over the years that recommend that viewers get out and spend some time in the natural world, we decided it was high time to take our own advice and reconnect a little too - and what better place to do it than the UK's wildest landscape, the Cairngorms.
I've always had a soft spot for this part of the world, and it was while making Winterwatch that the idea of spending 6 months here started to take shape for Laura and me. Specifically, it was while thinking about and making a film about Nan Shepherd - an extraordinary woman who wrote some of the most exquisite nature-based prose ever committed to the page, all based in and around this special part of the world. We made a short film about her for the series, and as well as touching a nerve with viewers when it was shown, reading Nan's words and trying to turn them into a film made me think about how valuable spending time to get to know a place can be.
Nan loved nothing more than wandering into a landscape and just being there. "Often the mountain gives itself most completely when I have no destination, when I reach nowhere in particular, but have gone out merely to be with the mountain as one visits a friend with no intention but to be with him".
So here we are, with no destination in particular other than to be here and to find out what makes it so special. And so far, it hasn't disappointed. We have badgers that visit our cabin like clockwork every evening, unaware of our noses pressed up against the window just centimetres away, and much more nervous red squirrels glimpse fleetingly crossing the road or scurrying away behind a tree. We've seen eagles soaring overhead, crossbills perched in glorious sunlight and goldeneye preening on a glassy loch. And the colours of this place are simply indescribable to me at the moment. But I will keep trying.
But of course, the one thing we are missing right now at Loch Garten, is an osprey.
Two days ago many of you may've seen that we did have a single bird perching on the camera tree for several hours, holding a fish. Opinion was split as to whether it was a male of female; it did seem to have a mottled chest that we might expect from a female, but the fact it spent so long without eating the fish suggests that it might've been a male hoping to tempt a female with a juicy meal. Either way, it gave us a new hope that there are still ospreys around looking for nesting sites, and despite only seeing a brief fly-by yesterday, we are hopeful that a pair will start to use the nest very soon.
But as Nan Shepherd knew better than anyone, patience is the key when following wildlife, especially in the Cairngorms, and pretending to know what animals are going to nest is a fool's game.
"Knowing another is endless...The thing to be known grows with the knowing”
We will keep watching, and hopefully, there will be more to learn soon!
Hello Chris and also to Laura. Hope you have a fun filled 6 months, you certainly will not be at a loss as to what to do, where to go, what to see. All we need now are the Ospreys!
Thanks Chris , really enjoyed your Blog. Hello to you and Laura. Of course, you are right about the nest and May is the best time for birds to show up. It was always May when dear Odin got hassled so much with intruders . We'll have a new pair that we'll grow to love as much as EJ and Odin. Wishing all of you in the VC the best best this season.
IMHO likely there could be a late arrival of a non-breeding bird - or pair of birds - partner bonding this year and getting to know the area - especially the location of the fish farm!
A lovely blog, Chris, and welcome to you both.
Ospreys are an intrinsic part of the LG, and EJ will be much missed by all, and particularly by we on the Forum. However, life must go on, and we certainly got very excited on Friday to have a beautiful looking bird on our screens for much of the day. S/he just reminded me so much of EJ last year when she spent so much time with one her monster fish on the fish perch, just chilling, looking around, keeping potential intruders at bay. It's not only the males that do that! I am sure you will have a wonderful time, exploring the area, and further afield. Ever on the look out of ospreys!!
Welcome Chris or Fergus or whoever , will get to meet you next month and take no notice of what Fergus says :)
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