Archives for April 2009

Visited Nimrod’s nest site at 11am and at last caught him ‘at home’. He was perched on the top most branch and nearby was his mate standing in the nest, squeaking at him to go and bring back a fish. It all looked settled and soon they should be incubating eggs – the nest is certainly ready – thanks in many ways to the amount of nest building put in by the new male ‘yellow HA’, who tried to take over the nest. He’s been ousted by Nimrod and I wonder where he’s gone – has he started to build a new nest?, has he found a mate?, will he breed this summer?. Three year old ospreys looking for mates and nests will still be arriving – so there’s still hope. I took this photograph of yellow HA on the salt marsh at Findhorn Bay in late summer 2007.

There was probably a fight between females at another of the nests in Moray because I had a good look at the bird at the nest yesterday, and she was unringed, whereas the regular female is colour ringed – and I was sure she had arrived at the nest earlier. About half the pairs are now on eggs but a few nests only had singles – this year there have been slow arrivals.

Alma and Tom, the immature golden eagles have had a settled few weeks at opposite ends of the Cairngorms, and the two young sea eagles, we are satellite tracking, are both settled on Mull, following Breagha trip to Rum, Canna and Skye and back.

Check out the woodcock page – it is a really exciting look at the spring migration of two woodcock from the island of Islay – they are beautiful and enigmatic waders, and it’s very interesting to learn more about them. One male has been roding at dusk over my garden, here in Moray, for the last week or so – I wonder where he winters – probably Ireland.

I’ve been several times to Nimrod’s nesting site in last couple days and frustratingly have not seen him there, but it’s a very difficult place to overlook and there are hidden perches. This evening his GPS fixes came through, showing that he is regularly at the nest of in a favourite roost tree about 100 metres away. The great interest in having a transmitter on a male is that I can check his daily routines. On the 19th April he was fishing for small brown trout at Lochindorb at 11am and then after flounders off Nairn Bar at 6pm; he’s also visited fishing ponds at Glenferness and Auldearn. This will be some interesting research and I intend to track more males. The females, meantime, are just around their nests, by yesterday neither Morven or Beatrice had started laying, but they must be close.

Out early today monitoring nests on the lower River Spey, and found three pairs incubating eggs, and solitary males at the other two nests – it’s been a late season for some of them, although four ospreys together over my house this afternoon suggest that more have arrived – the local male was seeing off the intruders. On Monday, watched an old pair building a new nest in a tall precarious dead tree – the main trunk had collapsed under the weight of snow in January – already they have built half the nest and should be ready to lay there early next week. At the next nest, I managed at last to read the colour ring of the male – a chick I ringed in 1991 and hadn’t seen since.

Talking of colour rings, thanks very much to the people who have sent in colour rings (including visitors to Mallorca, who had photographed an osprey with a green/white colour ring number 11 – it’s a local male caught and ringed by Spanish osprey reserachers in February). If you take digital pictures of ospreys, including flying shots, checks for rings by zooming in on the computer screen.

Foggy today and it did not clear until 11am, when I went to check for Nimrod – the female was on the eyrie but no sign of a male – and then perched on the tall branch above the nest (see photo to right) so he must have been away trying for fish or had Nimrod arrived and they were away fighting? Next to Logie’s nest, where Morven was arranging the nest so she is settled and sadly still no sign of Logie.

Checked Nimrod’s nest again at 3.25pm; female standing in eyrie looking anxiously around and then I heard male ospreys calling – tchup – tchup – a sure sign of disagreement – then a male osprey landed beside the female, and I was sure it was Nimrod, but she chased him off. Then the males chased around the tree tops and I positively identified Nimrod back at his last year’s nest. They continued calling and chasing, with the female in flight as well; after some minutes she landed back on the top branch. Nimrod landed on a tall tree some distance from the nest and the intruder male dived and knocked him off his perch. They continued wheeling around over the tree tops, and the female returned to the eyrie. Nimrod landed back on a tree top 100 metres from the nest, and without disturbing him, I got the first photo of him back in Moray (see left). Male HA had landed somewhere else in the area but I could not see him, so I left them to their contest. Nimrod built the nest in 2007 and reared 3 chicks there in 2008, so he should win the battle, and we will find out in the next couple of days. These conflicts can be aggressive and there have been rare cases of fatal injuries.

Visited Nimrod’s eyrie three times today and at each visit the new male HA was at the nest, in the afternoon he brought a nice trout to the nest – dashed back at 7.30pm but still no sign of Nimrod – guess the weather has been overcast further south in the mountains – surely he’ll be back tomorrow – I wonder if he will succeed in shifting the intruder, which has now invested a good deal of time and work at the site. Checking other nest sites during the day – great to see an old regular female of 18 years (the first osprey I satellite tracked back in 1999 – which wintered in Extremadura and probably still does), and also pleased to see a pair rebuilding in a dead Scots pine, which had lost their old nest in the heavy snow falls of February. In my travels saw two red kites, which is unusual in Moray and Nairn..

My attention changed to Nimrod’s nest and I was there three times – the first at 7.30am – still no sign of Nimrod, but I managed to read the colour ring on the new male. I had ringed him in a nearby nest in July 2003, so he’s 6 years old and should be breeding. He has been very busy nest building, and on the first visit he had just fed on a fish before handing it over to the female, so he’s looking settled. I was surprised in the afternoon to still not find Nimrod – it’s been such beautiful weather in Scotland. Later when the satellite transmission came through, I found out that Nimrod had been delayed in western France by poor weather, and only this morning did the weather improve and he was able to get across the English Channel and head north, and by 7.30 pm he was heading north off Liverpool. He should be home tomorrow and will then have to sort things out at the nest – I’ll try to be there to see the action – and I expect the intruding male will be ousted. Hope he finds a lone female with a nest somewhere in the district.

Early visit to check showed that it was Morven (white/black PE colour ring instead of Logie’s inscription AN) – and she looks settled at Logie’s nest – the male nest building and the pair mating. Last spring Morven was at this nest as the intruder, but her perserverance may have paid off because if Logie does not return from migration, Morven will be the new female at this nest. It was a beautiful sunny morning and this photo at 7am shows the male osprey (Logie’ mate last few years) hovering in front of Morven, perched on the top of the dead Scots pine next to the eyrie tree.