There is an abundance of summer wildlife cavorting at Loch of the Lowes at the moment. A chaffinch even joined the fun inside the visitor centre this afternoon, adding a ‘close-up and personal’ aspect to the Lowes experience!
Up to three red squirrels at a time are bouncing around outside the viewing window and chasing each other high up into the canopy. Yellow hammers are bringing their fledglings in to feed and one adult yellowhammer is showing off his skills at perching to peck from the mixed seed feeder. This is a rare sight because yellow hammers are usually ground feeders. Young siskins, great spotted woodpeckers, coal tits, great tits and blue tits are all discovering the delights of our daily-filled feeding station.
In the winter, we found our feeders were being emptied during the night by deer and it is happening again! Much as we love to see the deer (roe and fallow) we would prefer them to leave the seed to the birds. There is plenty for deer to eat at this time of the year, both on the reserve and in the surrounding countryside, rather than expensive bird seed!
Today, there have been more intruding ospreys and our adult birds have been busy chasing them away. The three chicks continue to grow in leaps and bounds and may be taking their first flights from the middle of next week onwards. While there are many places to fish (other local lochs/rivers) within an easy flight from the nest, the male osprey often fishes right in front of the hides. He made 7 fishing attempts in one day last week, four of which were successful and all viewed by happy visitors.
There is a great deal to attend to on our Perthshire reserves at the moment and Charlotte and her team have just returned from a very hot, tiring but very satisfying day of bracken bashing at Balnaguard.
We are celebrating Dragonflies, Damselflies and Butterflies next week-end (11th & 12th July, 11am-4pm both days) and hope you will come along and see us.
Visitor Centre Assistant
It’s incredible how quickly time flies, and at nearly 6 weeks old it was time to ring and tag our osprey chicks yesterday. Whilst our male had witnessed similar events before, this was our new female’s first experience and as ever, our expert team worked as quickly and quietly as possible to minimise any stress to both the adults and the chicks.
Since we only had two satellite transmitters to attach, one of the chicks was ringed as Blue FR2 in the nest and left there for the duration of the tagging, providing reassurance for the adults as at least one chick was always visible. The other two were carefully lowered to the ground where the rings Blue FR3 and Blue FR4 were swiftly attached along with the satellite transmitters. Guessing from the weight of these two, it is possible that FR3 is a male and FR4 is a female as female chicks generally weigh more, however we cannot be sure. As soon as all of the necessary work was done, the chicks were safely returned to the nest and the family was left in peace.
Chick FR3 successfully ringed and tagged at Loch of the Lowes © Alba Landscapes – Ron Walsh
Whilst the male was perched on a nearby tree carefully watching the chicks, the female was nowhere to be seen for a while after the chicks were returned. But to everyone’s relief she returned at 7.14pm last night to find all three chicks comfortably sleeping in the nest, and they all got a good feed when the male returned shortly after 10pm with a large fish. This morning all of our ospreys are looking well and behaving normally, giving us no cause for concern which is what we expected as events ran so smoothly.
All three chicks successfully ringed © Scottish Wildlife Trust
The next milestone to look out for in our chick’s development will be them taking their first flight which usually happens around 53 days old, and we have already seen plenty of wing stretching and flapping in the nest!
The webcam is now back online – thank you to everyone for your patience during this very exciting time. I am happy to confirm that the ringing and tagging process went well, with all chicks ringed and two fitted with satellite transmitters – a more detailed account with photos will follow soon. All three chicks are safely back in the nest and whilst we are still waiting on our female osprey to return, the male is keeping a close eye on the nest from a nearby tree.
Ringing and satellite tagging of the chicks at Loch of the Lowes is now underway.
As a result the webcam will be offline for a short period of time. Photos of the event will be posted later.
From time to time, a ‘different’ bird is seen amongst the flocks of Canada Geese floating around Loch of the Lowes. At the moment, there is a Barnacle Goose, but recently there was a white headed, white tailed water bird which was proving hard to identify.
With thanks to the excellent detective work of one of our members, we can now state that this is a Blue Goose (Chen caerulescens) aka a Snow Goose. Each Spring they breed on the Arctic tundra in the very northern areas of Greenland, Canada and Alaska and then fly south to overwinter in the warmth of Mexico and Texas. Some make occasional visits to Britain and there is a small feral population in Scotland.
There was a large female intruder osprey at Lowes this morning (and yesterday), easily identified by a missing wing feather. Today, when the male noticed her, he flew over and mated with her on the flat top tree. We were pleased to see him return to his nest duties an hour or so later by bringing in a large fish.
There’s never a dull day with wildlife to watch! Here’s a lovely photo of the Blue Goose on Loch of the Lowes © William Gillespie.
Snow Goose with adult plumage (grey/blue) is called a Blue Goose © William Gillespie
Over the last week we have had some unusual sightings which have delighted visitors, all the more so because they came ‘out of the blue’.
Not two, or three but four juvenile woodpeckers are currently visiting the feeding station. Initially they are being fed by the adults but quickly learn to swing on the peanut feeders and peck for themselves. A very pretty little roe deer doe suddenly appears in the woodland behind the feeders. Unconcerned by her delighted audience, she grazes for a while then melts away, reappearing an hour or so later to surprise a new set of visitors. Two quietly feeding red squirrels will suddenly become whirling dervishes, flying up and down the trees and bouncing through the upper canopy.
In the middle of the afternoon, a pine marten decided to take a tour of Lowes. It was around for long enough to be caught on camera, like the tiny fallow fawn galloping around in the woodland like a dog ‘having a silly minute’. Up in the osprey nest, the adults have brought in more sticks and clumps of moss, creating a higher barricade to keep their active chicks from stepping off the edge. There was a moment of panic when ‘something’ fell from the nest and could be seen toppling down the tree. For several ghastly seconds it was thought to have been a chick – it was a clump of moss! Relief!
There’s always the chance to experience the magical (I do not use the word lightly) sight of the male osprey catching a fish right in front of the hides.
A picture paints a thousand words, as they say, so with grateful thanks to Lisa Water for allowing us to post her stunning photographs, here’s a flavour of osprey watching at Loch of the Lowes.
Lowes Osprey Copyright Lisa Waters
Lowes male osprey. Photo copyright Lisa Waters
Successful fishing by Lowes male osprey and very surprised Canada Goose! Photo copyright Lisa Waters
It is Midsummer today – happy midsummer solstice to everyone from the Loch of the Lowes Team!
Visitor Centre Assistant