It has been an amazing season here at Loch Garten, but all good things must come to an end.  Now that our Osprey are gone the centre is all packed up and empty once again, ready for another Scottish winter.

There are many people to thank this year; bloggers, volunteers and the staff at Forest Lodge.  Thank you all for your support, interest and help over the course of the season. All of the staff at the Osprey Centre have really appreciated your enthusiasm and of course the cake. It has been lovely meeting some of you as you have made the pilgrimage to the centre to see EJ, Odin and the chicks/juveniles with your own eyes.

Now that everything is closed up, the staff will be migrating for the winter, so some parting thoughts from each of us...

I have had an amazing two seasons here at Loch Garten, and I am incredibly sad to leave this fantastic place.  I’ll never forget things like the heart stopping moment when one of the chicks crashed into the nest, or the very last time I saw one of the chicks this year, when I was standing on the shore of Loch Garten one evening and it flew over the water to say goodbye!

I’m now off on a new adventure, to university in Edinburgh where I’ll be studying a masters in conservation.  It has been great meeting so many amazing people, and realising how many of you out there care about our wildlife and environment, and want to support our work.  Thanks to you all, keep enjoying the ospreys!

It has been a brilliant summer here at Loch Garten, and dare I say, fairly straight forward for our Osprey family.  I hope you have enjoyed watching the daily life of these beautiful birds of prey and will continue to follow them next year.

I have enjoyed my time talking to members of the public about the Osprey and also learning much more about the Abernethy Reserve, the woodland management that goes on and the wide diversity of plants and animals that live here.  If you have never visited the reserve then it is definitely worth a trip.

Having failed to secure a winter studying Rothes on a sunny beach off the coast of West Africa, I have been sent (volunteered really!) to work as a volunteer warden at the Forsinard Reserve in Caithness & Sutherland over the winter. This is a vast peatland habitat which will allow me to widen my range of skills in countryside management. Did somebody mention snow?!!

I’ve learnt a huge amount from my first season at Loch Garten, a bit of a change from my usual waders and seabirds. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to go out with the wardens and learn a little more about the work that goes on at Abernethy reserve. As well as the osprey, there is a huge number of other rare species on the reserve and not just birds but plants and insects as well. It really does take a lot of work to keep the reserve and vision to restore the woodland.

After a short visit to my native county, Kent, I shall be heading back to Scotland.  This time it will be as a volunteer warden at the RSPB’s largest reserve, Forsinard Flows. I will be nearer the Arctic Circle than London! Quite a scary thought for a southerner.

I’ve been thinking back to the first day of the season in April - trudging through knee-high snow to open the centre, the feeling of butterflies in my stomach as I looked out onto the nest for the first time, with the excitement of the season all still to come - I just can’t believe it’s over already... 

It has truly been the most amazing experience, living and working here in this stunningly beautiful, magical place and getting to see such wonderful wildlife everyday.  Watching out to the nest as chick #1 made his first flight is a moment that will stay with me forever – and it has been a real pleasure to share it, and all the other special moments, with so many of you, both here in the centre and on the blog.

Next for me is a new job as Information Officer (what David does here) at RSPB Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire (after a well-deserved holiday in the sun!).  Looking forward to my new adventure, maybe I’ll see some of you down there? Just don’t forget the cake!

It was sad to come in today, the first day without visitors, the shop all packed up and the final blog being written. What a great season it’s been and what terrific memories we’ll have! I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to work here for a second season! There have been so many special views of the amazing wildlife and scenery and so many interesting people to meet. There are still a few ospreys in the area, but they will soon be on their way as you can feel Autumn (or is that Winter?) in the air. One of my best memories is of a beautiful blue sky, with our two eldest flying so close together and angling their wings to test out their flying skills. But..then there was Odin flying towards us, EJ right overhead, the otter, so close I could see it’s whiskers shining in the sun, the frogs and toads calling in the shallows, the squirrels chasing and....You really should try to visit next year, if you haven’t already!

I’m not going too far for now, but, within the next few weeks I will be moving to spend more time with family, who have been rather neglected over the last few years. I will be back!!! Thanks for all those goodies, but I have resisted some (not all!) this year! Good luck to our wee family and all the other ospreys!

To finish...

Thanks to all of you who became members of the RSPB during the season and to all of you who were already members. It is only with the help of your membership that we are able to continue doing the work that we do on the reserve, in the United Kingdom and internationally.

Thanks also to everyone who has signed the Letter to the Future Campaign, if you want to find out more or haven’t had a chance to sign it yet, then visit the link below:

Please keep an eye on the blog and the reserve page over the winter, as the reserve wardens might get a chance to write the occasional blog about what is happening here over the winter (especially if they are snowed in!!).

So, a final farewell from Richard and all the staff and we hope that you will join us once again next March/April to see what the next chapter holds for the Osprey at the Loch Garten nest.