Archives for April 2010

Talisman and pinkfeet

I was checking through a flock of 2000 pink-footed geese grazing on the eastern saltmarsh at Findhorn Bay this morning with my telescope, when suddenly I realised there was an osprey eating a fish on a fence post in front of them. I could see that it was Talisman and he was eating a fresh caught flounder. It was gently raining so the visibility was poor but I could see his black & white ring. When he flew he crossed over the end of the flock, only 20 feet above the geese, and they showed no fear at all. It’s amazing how waders and wildfowl in Findhorn Bay are just so used to ospreys that they show no reaction to them flying just overhead, but if a peregrine appears over the bay then it’s a very different matter. The pinkfeet are feeding up before their big flight back to Iceland, with some on to Greenland. I wonder what they will think of the active volcano – probably not the first that some of the oldest geese will have seen. Talisman’s mate, Morven, is now back at the nest after her trip to Caithness but they do not yet have eggs.

Nearly there!

Just been to B01 nest but still no sign of Morven and Talisman. It was a strong wind yesterday so they probably got stuck south of the Cairngorms. Had a check of Nimrod’s nest (B04) and the old female was there this morning re-arranging the nest, which is now well built up. Two days ago there was an osprey on the nest and I think it may have been the intruder male from last year so Nimrod needs to hurry back. His four day transmissions cycle means that he may be here before I next get signals. He was in Brittany when I last heard.

Yesterday, I checked 6 nests in Strathspey and only two had ospreys, while in Moray I found pairs at two nests, singles at three nests and two nests with no birds. It’s seems rather a slow spring – and I haven’t seen a swallow yet.

Just back home and logged on to find that Talisman was over Loch Builg, in the Eastern Cairngorms at 10am, flying due north at 47 kms/hr so he could be home any minute now. I’ll try to have a quick look before I head off to give a lecture on ospreys to the Mull Bird Club this evening.

Racing home

Out for an pre-breakfast check on the local ospreys this morning; none fishing down in Findhorn Bay but two pairs very settled at their eyries with males eating their half a fish, and their females perched on their nests waiting for their shares. Both pairs comprised same individuals as last year. When I checked the eyrie belonging to Morven & Talisman I could see a female osprey perched on it – it was Beatrice still wandering around looking for a male to feed her. She was there yesterday, reported by one of my friends, and when I checked the GPS locations I could see she was there on four of the hourly checks during the day.

The big news today is the race home by the occupants of nest B01 – Talisman roosted last night near Oswestry and Morven roosted in a wood near Kirkby Lonsdale. So both of them could be here later today – Talisman has 325 miles to go, Morven 235 miles. I wonder which will get here first – I’ll check later today, and then up date the website after giving an evening talk on ospreys at Hopeman. The forecast between the rain belts is sun with hardly any wind – if both set off by 7am they should get here in the afternoon. How amazing that after the whole winter and the migration they might arrive back within hours of each other.

My 50th year of ospreys

A friend, Duncan Halley, dropped me this email today from Washington, USA, to remind me of an anniversary. “First and foremost, if I have my dates right today is exactly 50 years since you started work at Operation Osprey. Congratulations on all the work in species restoration since then. To say the least you have made and are making an impact the rest of us can only admire and hope in some degree to emulate.”

Thanks Duncan for the kind words. I’d forgotten it was even the 1st of April this morning – I had to stay overnight in Inverurie as I couldn’t get home by car after landing in Aberdeen last night because the main A96 road home was blocked by snow drifts. The traffic was still there this morning but by using back roads I got home to find a foot of snow there. Not good weather for the early ospreys but it will soon melt and spring will continue. Just checked the ospreys to find Beatrice flying up through Oxfordshire this morning and photographed by a birder, while Red 8T is storming through Spain. What an incredible change since 1st April 1960 when we were waiting for just one pair of ospreys in Scotland (and UK) with no idea when they would arrive or where exactly they had been. We didn’t even ring them then because they were so rare. Now we can study them in such great detail and the British population is over 230 pairs.