Osprey summer time

Yesterday twelve young Scottish ospreys arrived at the reintroduction project at Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve in the Basque Country, after a British Airways flight from Scotland. They were placed in the special translocation release cages overlooking the estuary and will be fed fresh mullet daily until ready to be released in early August. From the cages the young ospreys will be able to see a 2013 returning male who has taken ownership of a nest but has not yet attracted a mate. This is the fourth year of our five year partnership project between Spain and Scotland to restore breeding ospreys to northern Spain. We collected the young, under a Scottish Natural Heritage licence, from nests in Moray, Nairn, Inverness and Caithness.

 It’s been a rainy summer in northern Scotland so breeding success has been very variable. Continuous rain, day and night, in mid June caused a number of failures with whole broods of small young dying. Once there are three days of continuous rain it is difficult for the females to keep their young warm and dry. In east Moray there were five rainy days which caused five out of eight nests to fail while twenty miles or so to the west most nests were successful with broods of three and two young at an ideal age for ringing. In Badenoch & Strathspey it was also a better picture although one nest had failed with small young, one nest tree was washed out by the flood and two are very late.

This summer the ages of the young are also very varied because the first adults returned as usual in late March and early April, and got on with egg-laying on time or even early, as with the Loch Garten pair. Then we had a period of cold strong northerly winds in the UK and western Europe which delayed the late returning adults. The latest young, this year, may not fly until the early days of August. It will be a long season before we can have an accurate account of how well the ospreys up here have done in 2016.