Wednesday 10 June 2009

Icons of the Wild: The Loch Garten Ospreys

Every spring the ospreys return to their nest near Loch Garten, as they have done for over 50 years now, ever since they returned to Scotland after decades of absence. Today ospreys breed in many places in Scotland but it is those at Loch Garten that are iconic, special birds in a special place. As I’ve written before, every year I make at least one visit to the RSPB’s Loch Garten Visitor Centre to see the ospreys. Having been away for two weeks in both April and May this year’s visit came late, just a few days ago, but was as important as ever, a pilgrimage of a sort to a place that marks a restoration of wildness, despite the large visitor centre and the reinforced, heavily protected nesting tree. From the centre through binoculars we could see the head of EJ, the female, sitting on the huge tangled bundle of sticks that is the nest. Nearby, her new mate, Odin, perched on the branch of a dead tree. EJ was calling, asking Odin to bring her a fish. In the centre a video link gave a close-up view of the ospreys. This live video can be viewed online here.

The area round the centre is alive with other birds (and birdwatchers!). There was some excitement about the appearance of a capercaillie in front of the centre. We failed to spot this but didn’t mind as we see them in the woods around our house. Indeed one of these huge turkey-like birds had flapped noisily across our path only a few days earlier. We were more interested in a redstart, a bird not seen around home. Leaving the centre we walked through the forest beside Lochs Garten and Mallachie, relishing the fresh green of the new vegetation and the damp smell of the woods after rain. A goldeneye with a family of small fluffy ducklings slid out of some reeds and out into the choppy waters of Loch Garten. Across the loch fresh snow sparkled on Bynack More. The air was soft and quiet, high clouds making the sunlight hazy and weak. My partner remarked that the woods and the atmosphere made her feel diffuse and spread out, replicating the gentle and unfocused peacefulness of the silent forest and lapping water.

Photo info: View over Loch Garten and Abernethy Forest to Bynack More, capped with fresh June snow, and Meall a’Bhuachaille. Canon EOS 450D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS@55mm, 1/800@F5.6, ISO 100, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.

1 comment:

  1. Kristina Gravette24 June 2009 at 03:44

    Over here in Issaquah, Washington (near Seattle) we have several nesting pairs of ospreys. One pair nests on one of the floodlights overlooking baseball fields. another pair nests on a cell-phone tower, and a third in the top of a '76' gas station sign. There are plenty of trees around, but I guess these man-made are more desirable!