Hello bloggers, 

We have had a rough and ready season this year with the sad events of EJ not returning to Loch Garten, paired with the happy events of celebrating our 60th anniversary.  This has been a monumental year in the Operation Osprey project as we have become a victim of our own success. We are situated in the epicentre of a thriving population of ospreys of which we find around 250 breeding pairs in Scotland. Luck will hopefully find us next year as we speculate on the arrival of a new breeding pair of ospreys. There have been some contenders for the throne that have been reappearing on our nest.

The osprey with the European-style leg ring has been showing up every so often this season perching up in our camera tree. Could this bird be the one to take Loch Garten next year? And will we ever be able to identify where they came from? I like the idea of a french bird taking the nest. We could make new connections a la region francais! 

We also had a nice visit from a two year-old female that fledged from Loch of Lowes in 2017. This bird only stopped by briefly on one occasion, but would be the on the look out for a nest next year too. Maybe this would give us a nice cross over between the two centre. We could call her Lady of the Garten. 

In the last couple of weeks we have seen three ospreys appearing all at once. It has been difficult to identify them all when the have been flying around but it appears to have been two males and a female. Possibly the female has to put up with male straddlers as she does her house hunting for 2020. We were even treated to a sky dancing male over the Osprey Centre car park. Not only was this a remarkable this to witness, it was a really positive sign that we may have a pair already showing interest in the nest. Maybe this will be the first recorded open relationship between ospreys with two males providing fish for one female. We can only hope for more of the same next year.  

Although our ospreys did not do so well this year, it has still been amazing to see the support we have received from you all. It was fantastic to be given so many goodies and get time to catch up with those who have visited the centre(Big thanks to MaryGK and BNN). The team have enjoyed every minute of this season and the absence of ospreys gave us a lot of time to take a closer look at what else we get in the forest. 

We had a first ever for the Osprey Centre with a nuthatch appearing on our feeders. These birds have slowly been moving north and this was a lovely sight for us to witness. 

We also got lots of opportunities to see flocks of crossbills visit the nest in the absence of ospreys. These beautiful birds are such a rare sight, it was an honour to be able to observe them feeding in EJ's nest. 

We have ever had a male sparrowhawk relaxing in front of the centre without being harassed by ospreys too!

But the strangest sighting of all came from our osprey team over the 60th anniversary weekend. This was us all dressed up in our 60's garb. What a wonderful weekend we had too. 

We could not have had a better in season in the absence of our precious birds. As we prepare to shut down we are still reminiscing over all the excitement of Spring Watch being in the area, thinking about all our wonderful volunteers that shared the season and this amazing team that some of you met over the summer. It is to be the last time that we will see Blair at the centre and he has written a little something to say good bye to you all. Over to Blair...

Hola Blogmigos or should I now say adios. It’s almost September and we all know what that means. It is the end of the season – the time of the year where I must spread my wings, and just like “useless George” (only teasing), disappear off into the sunset, never to return.

I have decided that this will be my last year at Loch Garten. No, no, please hold back the tears, there is no need to cry, folks . After three seasons I simply can’t describe how attached I have become to this place. I have gone through every emotion possible - delight when first seeing EJ; sheer ecstasy when I found out Chris was no longer my manager… only joking; the thrill when I first heard the cheep of a newly hatched Osprey; devastation when this chick died; and pure rage when George abandoned EJ. Working at Loch Garten Osprey Centre really has been like living on Emmerdale Farm. However, would I change it for the world?  Absolutely not.

But, it’s now time for me to leave, to move on and allow a new breed of staff to flourish here…even if they may not be as handsome and punny as me.

For you who are interested I honestly don’t have a plan for what I am going to do next. The only plan I have is to travel through England and take a ferry from Plymouth to Spain and see what life has to throw at me. I’m really excited about not knowing what I’ll be doing or where I will even be next month. After having the last 23 years of my life planned out, it is nice to relax and just make things up on the spot. But saying this, I will be travelling through England (and Scotland obviously). So if anyone would like to finally meet me or catch up and buy me a pint, I’m all for planning that. Just let me know in the comments.

It’s been a great pleasure getting to know you all.

Over and out,
Blair (secretly your favourite blogger) 

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