Osprey Diary at Loch of the Lowes: So Long and Thanks for all the Fish!
It officially looks like all our ospreys at Lowes this year have started their grand migration south! As sad as it is to see them go, it’s a relief to know that parents and chicks alike have all made it through this season.
Before the nest became empty and the ‘Lowes Lullaby’ was still ringing around the reserve, chicks LP8 and LR0 each graced us with some magnificent diving displays from the split birch. Whilst osprey chicks usually only start to fish for themselves after leaving for their migration, it seems that our youngsters were just too keen to wait – although none of their dives were successful, practice makes perfect!
The first of the ospreys at Lowes to leave was female parent NC0, which is no surprise given that breeding female ospreys are almost always the first to go. After tricking all of us into believing she had left on the 8th August, she flew back to the nest on 10th August. Not only that, but she also brought in a whopper of a fish and stayed in the area until the morning of the 11th before finally starting her migration. It’s likely that she spent the interim period fishing for herself and building sufficient energy reserves to help her on her way.
Male osprey parents often stay much later than the females and can even wait until after the juveniles have left before starting their own migration. Whilst resident male LM12 did leave before the chicks, he waited around much longer than his partner NC0, staying to provide fish for his young. The last sighting of LM12 on the nest was on the 26th August, and he finished his season by bringing in a final delivery of three fish for his young LP8 and LR0, who were more than happy to take them from him. He’s had an incredible season at Lowes this year, keeping a consistent delivery of fish to keep up with the appetite of his growing offspring, with only a few short periods where the number dropped. He’s done a wonderful job of defending the nest from intruders, ranging from a pair of Egyptian geese, cheeky corvids, passing herons and multiple ospreys a day. Best of luck on your migration LM12 and we hope to see you again next season!
Both youngsters were last sighted on the 27th August, the day after LM12 said his goodbyes – the lack of fish most likely being enough to send them on their way. The first to leave was LR0 who had been seen much less frequently on the nest and showed a lot of independence for a younger chick. They were last seen on the nest at 6:15am, where they were perched on the large branch, making their classic, persistent begging call. They later spent some time on top of the webcam, shouting for food before swooping over the loch at 10:47am and haven’t been spotted since.
Similarly, eldest chick LP8 was last seen at 12:15pm on the nest webcam, and was spotted perching on the split birch across the loch. They had also been previously sitting on the nest calling for food, so LM12’s absence seemed to be enough to push LP8 to begin their journey.
After NC0 left for her migration, many of us here at Lowes were wondering where she might be and how her migration was going. Well recently some exciting news eased our minds and showed that she’s making progress on her journey. On the 16th August, a female osprey was seen fishing over the river Wampool in Anthorn, Cumbria. She was reported as having a blue and white Darvic ring on their left leg which read ‘NC0’. She was spotted by Sam Northwood who reported the sighting to Tim Mackrill, who verified her identity. It’s lovely to see that she’s doing well and making decent progress on her journey down south. Ospreys will make many stops on their migration to rest and refuel, you can read more about osprey migration and the migration routes of a few Lowes ospreys here.
NC0 pictured fishing on the river Wampool in Anthorn Cumbria, identity verified by Tim Mackrill © Sam Northwood
Now all the ospreys are gone, Lowes certainly seems a lot more quiet than it was. There are no screaming chicks and no spectacular aerial chases between heron and osprey. But just because there are no ospreys on the nest, doesn’t mean the nest is empty. Quite often you can see corvids scouring for any leftover fish, and great tits browsing the sticks and mosses for small invertebrates to eat. One slightly more exciting visitor to the nest landed in the later hours of 30th August, when a barn owl swooped up to the large branch perch that NC0 and her chicks often frequented. We can expect a few more visitors like these as more animals investigate the real estate that the ospreys have left behind… that is (all being well) they return again in the Spring of 2023.
And so we come to the end of the osprey blogs for this season. The staff at Loch of the Lowes would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s been involved this year; from volunteers helping to protect the nest and chat with the public in the hides, to all the members of the public who have engaged with these blogs, visited the centre, or watched the livestream from the comfort of your homes (or offices)! We hope it’s been as enjoyable for you as it has been for us, and look forward to welcoming you again next year for another exciting season.
Don’t forget to keep tuning into the webcam here to see what else the nest might attract and to listen to the ever changing bird song, as the season turns from autumn to winter and back to spring again. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for regular updates.
Seasonal Assistant Ranger
The Trust’s Osprey Protection Programme at Loch of the Lowes is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.