Have just returned from a short break in the Aviemore area, a highlight of which was a first-time visit to RSPB Loch Garten to see the ospreys just before they set off on their 3000-mile migration to West Africa.

I have always thought that the fact that these magnificent birds decided for themselves, after an absence of almost 40 years, to return to Scotland to breed, is amazing. With the help of the RSPB and SWT (Scottish Wildlife Trust), we can get a chance to observe them as they rear their young, and prepare them for their long journey south.

The RSPB reserve at Loch Garten, Invernesshire, and the SWT reserve at Loch of the Lowes, Perthshire, are the only places where the public can observe these amazing birds of prey.

Detail from a poster at Loch Garten

The Osprey Centre observation building is about 900 metres from the nest (known as an eyrie), but binoculars, powerful telescopes and “CCTV” cameras provide fantastic views. My son was enthralled, and kept the visitors in the Centre entertained with his running commentary!

Have you ever tried taking pics with a camera through a telescope? I did, and it was a very strange experience! I had an added “complication” because I wear varifocals. All those different lenses are almost too much for the brain and optic nerves to comprehend but I did manage to get a few (not very great) shots.

In these last two pics, the bird has a brown trout in its right talon.

Loch Garten (above) and Loch Insh (below) are local hunting grounds for the ospreys

The amazing Lady

This summer, I have been kept captivated by the unfolding story of Lady, a female osprey at the Loch of the Lowes reserve. Female ospreys usually live for about 8 years and produce about 20 chicks. Lady is about 24 years old (she has been returning to this spot every year for the past 20 years, has produced 56 eggs, and reared 47 chicks!). Earlier this summer, Lady seemed to be on the verge of death. She lay motionless in the eyrie, with eyes permanently closed, and was very weak. The male osprey was doing all the rearing of the chicks. Staff were waiting to remove her body when she died. Miraculously, she revived, and began, again, to feed herself and the chicks. She has just set off on the arduous flight to West Africa!!! There are fears, of course, that she will not make it. If she does, will she ever make the return journey to Scotland again?


15 Aug, 2010
bulbaholic said:

Glad you enjoyed your visit to Loch Garten David. It is a great place for kids of all ages. I think your pictures taken through the telescope are pretty good, never tried it myself.

15 Aug, 2010
bonkersbon said:

Thank you for preparing and sharing this David . Magnificent birds that have required almost round the clock security to breed successfully.Amazing story about Lady what a remarkable acheivement for a single bird.

My only visit there 30 years ago long before original hide lost to fire.Also long before digital photography and birds did seem miles away .. recall them nesting on similar posts and these were ringed with barbed wire to deter egg thieves.Crazy that people would consider endangering the species and themselves ..

From here went down Scottish East coast to Fowlsheugh RSPB reserve south of Stonehaven just sheer cliffs and seabirds a wonderful trip and it hardly rained either.

15 Aug, 2010
aster said:

Very interesting blog David,well done with the photo's :)
Lady has certainly played her part in the success of the re-introduction of these beautiful birds.

15 Aug, 2010
sixpence said:

Wonderful blog David and lovely to see the children experiencing it too, looks a wonderful place you ve got some great pictures then some lovely close ups can see the fish in talon brilliant.

16 Aug, 2010
gillblair said:

great blog david, really interesting
love the story about lady...what an amazing bird

16 Aug, 2010
jane said:

I thoroughly enjoyed this blog David.Your sons enthusiasm is wonderful to see.Have been following the nesting ospreys at Rutland by Webcam after a tip off from Janette...it has been fascinating. Lady...what can I say? Such a long journey in a weakened state.....a brave and beautiful bird. Thank you for sharing with us all......

16 Aug, 2010
simplylyn said:

Many thanks for this wonderful account enriched by your photos. What an experience for you and your family. We stayed in Grantown -on -Spey in 1972 just after I had come out of Hospital and we saw some beautiful sights but it was prior to the Ospreys of course. We went to Aviemore, Kirkcudbright, Kingussie, Loch Ness and I seem to remember several distilleries! Our film was double exposed and we lost all our photos! Fortunately we had lots of postcards as keepsakes. Did you see any wolves and eagles? I remember being very upset because they were so confined and the eagles kept beating their wings against the tops of the aviaries. Hopefully not allowed today. You will all have happy memories of free Ospreys together with photographic evidence!

16 Aug, 2010
janette said:

Lovely blog David I know what beautiful bird,s the ospreys are ,lucky enough to live only ten mile,s from nesting pair,s at Rutland ,where you can observe then as well ,plus the webcam images have been streaming since May although the camera seems to have given up now .....
James looks like he is having a great time ,and your photos are great ,look very eeire....
I was reading about Lady the other week ,when everyone was thinking she was about to die ,what a great recovery,this old Lady made ,I just hope she make,s the long journey to Africa

16 Aug, 2010
david said:

You are so right, there, Bulbaholic! This place is so geared up for children, 6d, with plenty of indoor and outdoor activities. The volunteer staff were really good, too, and were happy to fetch platforms and adjust their heights so that the many children present could look through the telescopes. We were stuck in here for quite some time during a very heavy downpour, but enjoyed the games and the hot chocolate drinks, too. :-))

Sounds like that was a great trip, Bb! Was awy to look up the date of that fire, then realised it is right here, above, on a placard next to James' elbow in the pic - DOH!!!!. There was one year when vandals wrecked the eyrie, and no breeding took place, but can't remember when, off-hand.

Yes, Jane and Janette, have just caught up with your exchanges re the Rutland ospreys. :-)) James loved watching the ospreys, Eilidh was more keen watching the tits and finches at the feeders through a telescope, and enjoyed the antics of the red squirrels at them, too.

I'm hoping that we will be kept up-dated re Lady via the staff blogs on the Loch of the Lowes website.

What a shame about all your photos, Lyn :-(( Only place I can think of with wolves, eagles, etc., would be the highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, between Aviemore and Kingussie, but it wouldn't have been in existence when you visited. There was a wolf pack there but, I seem to recall, the entire pack had to be shot for some reason. We visited the park last year (a drive-round safari park type), but didn't think it was all that great. I had some great pics of a capercaillie, though, from there, but decided a few months ago to delete them. :-((

Many Thanks, everyone. :-))

17 Aug, 2010
bonkersbon said:

It was David loved Scotland so much to see not enough time always makes me smile when Americans say we did Scotland ...usually meaning a day trip to Edinburgh.

Loved travelling through what was then Scottish second division football areas Montrose Abroath Stenhousemuir think Forfar? didnt actually find EastFife but stayed at Ladybank if that counts lol

This lovely blog and its details have been included in Birdpedia - Birds of Prey and Summer migrants.

17 Aug, 2010
david said:

Reminds me, Bb, of the time I got off the train at Waverley station in Edinburgh behind some American tourists. As we came out of the station I heard a lady exclaim "Gee! Weren't they so darned clever, building the castle right next to the station?" (LOL!!!).

Luckily for me, Bb, most parts of Scotland, from home, means a drive of 2 hrs or less, so easy to get around. Ladybank does not count as East Fife, though, sorry, lol!!! Ladybank is only 10mins drive from here, and is where I get our seed tatties from. :-))

Haven't managed to get to any of the Forth islands yet. Had a couple of opportunities, but very wet and windy on those occasions. Not sure if any point going now, or may leave it until nesting season next year?

Many Thanks for slotting my blog into the Birdpedia!


19 Aug, 2010
jane said:

Please will you update us re Lady on here when you hear any news David ? Thank you..

19 Aug, 2010
david said:

Will certainly do, Jane! She often makes the local and regional news, and can keep in touch with the reserve for updates, without relying on online blogs Hoping that she, at least, gets to warmer climes!

20 Aug, 2010
sixpence said:

Brilliant David when it encludes for the childen.

20 Aug, 2010
jane said:

Thank you David...hope she makes it too..........

21 Aug, 2010
lincslass said:

Smashing blog David and lovely pics,I`m going to show this blog to hubby and see if I can coax him up Rutland Water ,he`s into photography and likes a challenge, we`re only 5miles away so its on our regular jaunts list,not this weekend tho as its bird weekend and there will be thousands of visitors up there.........

21 Aug, 2010
david said:

Love it when they cater for the kids, too, 6d! hoping to take them to our nearest RSPB reserve next weekend, as they liked it so much!

Noi probs, Jane!

Hope you can get there, lincslass, before they leave!

28 Sep, 2010
jane said:

David....Janette and I were wondering if there has been any news on Lady recently ???

28 Sep, 2010
david said:

Sorry, ladies - had comnnection probs this evening. There has been nothing at all on the 'net or in the press at all about Lady. I am looking daily, so am taking no news as being good news..

8 Oct, 2010
bonkersbon said:

Have nominated this blog for the Birdpedia..under Birding days out !!!

9 Oct, 2010
david said:

Many Thanks, Bb!! Have just learned of this new page, and seen the list of nominations!!! :-)))

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