Archives for February 2010

Snow again

I received an email today from Rolf Wahl who told me his first osprey had arrived at the Orleans Forest breeding sites in France. It doesn’t look like that here, as we’ve just had another 2 feet of snow in the most horrible north-east blizzards. At the beginning of the week it was -14C and I took the attached photograph at Lochindorb on my way home from a beaver meeting in Edinburgh. To think that ospreys might be fishing in the loch in a month’s time, yet at the moment it is covered in snow and goodness knows how thick is the ice, probably a foot or so, and it will take a long time to thaw. It’s already the worst winter for 30 years or more, and it’s been very hard on wildlife. Woodcock were badly affected with many reported dead down on the coastal plain, the grouse have not seen fresh heather for nearly 2 months, so many of them must have died and I’d be surprised if we’ll see many barn owls and wrens in the spring. But at least the evenings are lengthening and soon our ospreys will be migrating north, and another wonderful spring will start.

Lochindorb ice bound and covered in snow

Rothiemurchus photographed in Senegal

Hello, Do you know this osprey? was the exciting start of an email I’ve just received from Jean-Claude Lehoucq, a Belgian veterinary and also a wildlife photographer, who had been in northern Senegal in January. Attached to the email was a photo showing a satellite tracked young osprey and it was Rothiemurchus! Jean-Claude had taken the photograph on 9th January in the Djoudj National Park in Senegal. I gave him the link to our web page for Rothiemurchus. Jean-Claude replied with more information and some more photographs. He told me that he had taken the photographs from his 4×4 vehicle, which allowed closer views of ospreys, without disturbing them. He reported that ospreys were numerous in the area, often perched on the ground or in small trees, eating catfish. Many thanks to Jean-Claude for allowing me to show you the first photograph he sent. More details and photographs on Rothiemurchus’s page along with a map of GPS positions for 9th January.

Photo thanks to Jean-Claude Lahoucq

Snow damage

Harry telephoned me last night to tell me that the osprey nest at site K06 had been broken off by the winter’s heavy snow. I went over this morning, but even with my 4×4 I couldn’t get through the forest tracks to the nest area because so much snow was still lying in the forest. I walked to the nest site and found that the top of the Scots pine, which used to hold the nest, had also been damaged by the weight of the heavy snow so was no longer any use for ospreys. Over two feet of snow had fallen on many of the forests in Moray in mid winter and the weight had broken many big branches and even the trees themselves. Next I checked a nearby tree where we had built a nest about 8 years ago when the nest tree was previously damaged by high winds. Our man-made nest had also gone, so I checked other nearby trees and found a good one ideal for building a nest platform, ready for the ospreys when they return, because this is a very successful pair of older ospreys, they reared 3 young last summer, and we do not want to lose them from this very secure site. We need to wait for better weather for tree climbing and nest building. With snow still covering the forest roads, it was ideal for checking mammal tracks to see what had been about – I found red deer, roe deer, fox, wildcat, brown hare and red squirrel as I walked back to my car. It’s great to think that in less than 2 months the first ospreys will be back from Africa but I wonder how many more eyries have been damaged by this winter’s heavy snow.