The main Tweed Valley nest site stands empty for long periods now, with just the dud egg lying in the middle of the vast structure. The adult birds have been coming to the nest less often, and on Monday afternoon the female cut a lonely figure sitting by herself up on the perch to the left of the nest in the pouring rain. The male bird has been seen too, and has brought moss and sticks to dress the nest even though there is absolutely no chance of them raising a family for this season now.
We hope that the pair continue to bond throughout the summer and return next year to try again. So far we have not seen any other ospreys checking out the empty site which is what has happened in previous years when ospreys have failed to breed. The spare non breeders in the population do sometimes hang around successful sites and check in on occasion, looking for a cheeky steal when a site comes up for grabs. We could speculate that the spare birds that were often seen last year have successfully moved onto territories of their own this year.
Sometimes when an osprey pair fails to breed, they build a new nest structure nearby. This has been named a frustration nest, as it is not used but remains a spare. The reason for this is unclear, perhaps it is done to ensure that they have a site for the next season should anything happen to their own nest site. It would be a useful starter home for new pairs moving into the area though, so perhaps this again ensures a degree of security for their own nest site as new pairs may choose the new and vacant one instead of trying to oust them from the main nest.
The backup chicks
The backup nest chicks are doing incredibly well. They are now well developed and the eldest chick is probably only about ten days away from fledging. The younger chick will take possibly up to five days longer.
There was a noticeable age difference between the chicks. Originally there were four eggs in the nest (at first we thought there were only three): two of these eggs did not hatch out and we wondered if perhaps the age difference was due to egg 1 hatching, followed by egg 3, and that eggs 2 and 4 didn’t make it. Or perhaps even that a clutch of two were laid followed by a second clutch if they were chilled due to periods of prolonged rain.
These chicks will be fitted with satellite tracking devices and it will be very exciting to find out where they go to and follow them for the next three to four years if they are lucky enough to survive.
Their father, Yellow 8C, is also the father of FK8. Her satellite data this week has revealed that she has moved back to the north east of Scotland again and is exploring the area of lochs and tree plantations near to Halkirk. She seems to like to spend a few days there and then have exploration journeys further afield before returning.
The buzzard family live on camera at Glentress have grown so much and will be leaving the nest site soon. Certainly two of the youngsters have fledged already and today there was only one of them in the nest. It was eating the remains of what looked like rabbit and was so full it fell asleep on top of it.
The three young birds have been seen hopping about the branches as they flap their soon to be tested wings. They didn’t appear to be sincere attempts to fly but more like wing exercises while tightly gripping on to the branch with talons to avoid the wind giving them lift off before they were ready to go. They are impressive looking raptors and their plumage markings are beautiful, particularly the contrasting stripes of dark brown/ black and white on the under wings.
Oystercatchers outwit the crows
Good news for our oystercatcher family, as they were all spotted together on the island at the Kailzie fishery. When the chicks were tiny they were hounded by crows and the parents had to lead them away. They hadn’t been seen for a while, so it was pleasing to hear that mum, dad and all three chicks were seen together safe and well.
The foxes have been regularly coming to an area were we have been leaving fish scraps for them, and we have used the motion activated camera to capture their suspicious and cautious behaviour to check out the free meal before grabbing and running off with it. There seems to be two or maybe three individual foxes: one is really quite small with very clear markings of black ear tips and black socks. Another one is very skinny looking and long legged, and a third one looks in really good condition with a beautiful coat.
Take a look at some of the recent footage