Hello blogger’s! Hope you are all getting into the festive spirit. We are seeing our days getting colder and darker, but luckily the Christmas lights are up now and the tree in the office is keeping moral high. It has been an interesting few weeks with all the developments taking place at the centre. We had to take everything out the centre to prepare it for the refurbishment. One of the best things to come out of clearing the centre was the discovery of a box containing some hand-written poems. Some of you may have seen them before, but I feel like they are even more poignant now looking back on the last years of EJ. After a little bit of digging, I managed to find the secret poet and contacted him to let me brings these poems to light again! Patrick Preston was discovered to be Loch Garten’s poet laureate! He started volunteering with Loch Garten in 1992 after attending a talk on the ospreys by Martin Brown. Martin was a long-standing volunteer from the 80’s and painted an attractive enough picture of the project to entice Patrick to volunteer.
The first time Patrick had ever seen an osprey was actually much further afield in Malaysia. The bird in question had been pointed out to him flying high above the river where he had been on holiday. Maybe this was what had planted the seed? In his time volunteering he has been privy to some of natures unique wonders that only Loch Garten could provide. Patrick was one of the lucky people to be present for a chick hatching out during the Henry era. He recounts looking on in surprise as EJ took a fish off Henry, and instead of flying away, started feeding a day-old chick at the base of her talons. Patrick also recalls that one of his most memorable experiences he had was observing a family of pine martens playing on the feeders one evening. They stayed playing undisturbed by his presence for half an hour. Maybe it is these experiences that have created such a lovely bard for Loch Garten. Either way, thank you for these wonderful poems and I hope you all enjoy them as much as I did. I have put them in chronological order to give you an idea of the years they were occurring in too! Enjoy.
Six months ago, in Senegal there were fish of every kind
But with lots of birds and fisherfolk, they were quite hard to find
Now when you raise a family, you need a good supply
So back to Scotland’s tree top nest – the river Spey near by
And the fishing hours (dawn till dusk) are better than down south.
I’ve eighteen hours in every day, to fill each hungry mouth.
Well that’s the theory; now the facts are not always like that.
It rains a lot in Scotland, so water surfaces aren’t flat.
The fish are there enjoying, the soft aerating rain
But to get one in your sights – it really is a pain
And there another thing! It’s really cold this year.
So the fish go ever deeper, out of my range I fear.
So the tree-top nest in Scotland, it has a lovely view
And the osprey’s basic needs are really rather few
But let the sunshine warm the Spey so we can have a feast
Or stop the rain for several days at the very least.
Resulting for the ospreys, in contented families,
As we maintain the species in our home atop the trees…
P.P 6th of June 2012
There are two chicks upon the nest,
What gender will they be?
We’ll guess until the cows come home.
But we’ll have to wait and see.
“Two girls” they say, they are quiet sure,
“their size gives them away”
It could be one of each of course,
We’ll know on ringing day.
The smart money cant decide
(if money can be smart)
The odds are changing by the day,
But that’s the bookies art.
It’s ringing day, we’ll know quite soon,
The weight will be the key
“It’s heavy for a male this age;
Too lights if it’s a she”.
The leg rings are the final check,
A snug fit on a hen.
But both of these are really loose,
And so they MUST BE MEN!
P.P 7th of July 2013
The osprey’s neighbours
The ospreys in the eyrie come back again each year
It’s these fine birds of course, which bring us all back here
But there is other wildlife, that shares the forest glade
Some are rare, some ,not so, but their chorus doesn’t fade.
In spring, the capercaillie can be seen just after dawn,
The lek displays spectacular, the loser looks forlorn
Crossbills are around, but are not often seen.
The male birds are a striking red, the females, bright green.
“Where are the cresties?” is a common FAQ
“Feeding in the tops of trees, but often out of view!”
Frequent on the feeders, the chaffinches abound
Woodmice and the bankvoles feast, on what falls on the ground.
Young woodpeckers with bright red caps, use the feeders too
Less red, or none, the adults show them what to do
And in the trees around the site and often plain to see
Are redstarts and treecreepers. But quick before they flee.
Red squirrels are a favourite with everyone around,
Fewer this year than usual, but still there to be found.
A pine marten is good to see but rare by any measure
To meet one unexpectedly is a memory to treasure
The biggest mammals hereabouts are of course the deer
Both roe and red, and antlers that might instil some fear
The list goes on for ever and I’m running out of space
But if your appetite is whet then this really is THE place.
P.P 4th July 2014
The empty nest
End of March, still no ospreys coming the site
The weather’s poor further south, perhaps delayed their flight?
So we watch the empty nest and hope they will be back
Then EJ comes and Odin to- the seasons back on track.
They meet, they mate, she lays 3 eggs, and all is looking well
But some other ospreys come and cast an evil spell
They don’t come in mob-handed, but approach one by one
Is it the nests they’re after or EJ their eye's on?
One unringed male, we’ll call him Fin, is a determined little blighter
He takes on Odin in the air, it seems he’s quite a fighter
He brings in fish quite often and tries to tempt EJ
He rarely gives the fish to her, but has his wicked way.
Hostilities continue, and EJ's rarely fed.
But Fin leaves her from the nest, she’s starving , be it said
And Fin returned into the nest, he really is a lout.
He stamps his feet, makes a mess. The eggs – they get kicked out.
He hangs about a bit, though no for very long
For frequent battles show, that it is Odin who is strong
So now EJ and Odin have to guard, both days and nights
To maintain for next season, their territorial rights.
Alas visitors who hope to see a nest of growing chicks,
See our two bereft adults, and an empty nest of sticks.
P.P 8th June 2015
I met Patrick in 2010 and love his poems. I have an additional one, Ring in the New, on the ringing of Tore and Bynack, which was posted by Caroline Rance/Charlotte on 3 July 2011. The blog also mentions that 2011 was Patrick's twentieth year of volunteering!
Thank you, Fergus, for passing on these treasures. Naturally, The Empty Nest is my favourite, but only by a short head - that season remains one of the most vivid. Thank you, Patrick.
Oh the lovely Patrick
Fabulous ... cleverly telling the stories we have watched unfold!
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