Friday, 8 April 2011
Spring at Loch Garten
The return of the iconic ospreys to their nest at Loch Garten in Abernethy Forest is an event I look forward to every year and I always go to see them soon after their arrival. For me they are a symbol of wild nature and a signifier of the coming of spring. Hearing that both birds were back (the RSPB reports in detail with http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifa daily blog and live videocams here) my partner and I headed for Loch Garten on a day of warm breezes, cloudy skies and touches of sunshine. Sometimes both birds are away from the nest before eggs are laid and sometimes one is there but low down in the big bundle of sticks. There can be a long wait to see the birds. Today we were in luck and arrived to find the female, EJ, on the nest and the male, Odin, perched on a branch just below eating a fish EJ had brought for him (a rare event as usually the male brings fish for the female). They both looked magnificent, birds of prey in their prime.
After viewing the ospreys from the RSPB hide we had a quiet wander through the pine forest along the edge of Loch Garten and then onto Loch Mallachie. Two red squirrels entertained us chasing each other in and out of the branches of a big pine, stopping occasionally to watch us warily. Their reddish fur and the reddish coloured tree were well-matched, both catching bursts of sunlight. Out on Loch Garten we could see distant flocks of ducks, small black bobbing dots on the water too far away to be identified. Then in a calm bay, where water lilies appear later in the year, a few came close to shore – beautiful goldeneye with their distinctive plumage and ringed eyes. In a flooded marshy area in the trees two mallard paddled. Out on the main body of the loch the breeze rippled the water and the reflections of the clouds shimmered. Beyond the water and the forest the hills rose, dark against the sky as most of the snow has gone.
The forest was calm and quiet, with just the gentle rustle of the wind in the tree tops and the occasional calls of woodland birds. In the distance came the soft murmur of doves. Just once a loud “chrr” broke the peace, a great spotted woodpecker warning of our presence. The forest floor was starting to green over with bilberry bushes and other low shrubs. Soon there will be flowers and more colour.
The photo shows Loch Garten, April 8, 2011.