3 for Afirca...

24th August 2013
On a Loch, not too far from Aviemore - there is an Osprey nest that can be seen, if you know what you are looking for. I say that as a small number of the people who infrequently pass by have stopped to ask "what are you photographing" ?

Now an Osprey nest is not a small structure, nor is it obscured by branches and trees, which goes to show how many people have passed it by without ever noticing it, and how many people when out in the "great outdoors" do not use their eyes and ears. The call of the Osprey is not exactly a quiet call and the chicks can and are very vocal as they demand feeding.

So this was the chosen location for several days Osprey watching, and what exciting birds, behaviour wise they are to watch and photography.

David and I did a few days together as well as some single days, and were joined by Margaret when visits to the tops of the Cairngorms were not on her "agenda".

Whilst the UK had been "bathing" in wall to wall sunshine and the weather forecasters predicted heatwaves, our venue was rather like a Siberian tundra.

As far south as you could see the grey flat clouds kept rolling towards us, the clouds driven by winds that whipped the Loch up into a frenzy of "white horses".

We perrserved and gained great views of the birds and their behaviour. Three chicks have been raaised and are ready for the trip south to Africa.

A real feat of endurance awaits them.

Two of the chicks when I left them were off flying and beginning to practice fishing with the adults, the third chick spending most of it;s time calling for food, and although it was taking practice laps of the Loch never strayed far from the nest.

The nest and surrounding airspace has been defended with vigour by the adults.
From their lofty vantage points they have taken to the wing at the mere sight of Herons, Buzzrads and other Ospreys.

The Goldenye and Mallards on the Loch have also been chased when flying by the nest, but these birds have also suffered the indignity of having the juvenille Ospreys practising their diving techniques on them.

Small flotillas of of waterfowl being scattered in a fenzy of diving and fluttering admist flurries of white water as the Ospreys dived from above and the chicks dived under the surface of the Loch.

A Buzzard was "downed" into the Loch by the parent birds, the Buzzard paying the penalty for approaching too close to the nest.

Flapping it's way to shore it was then promptly set upon by a pair of crows, not a great start to the day for the Buzzard !!

Herons have also suffered, flying up the Loch with that slow ponderous fligh they have, the adult Ospreys launch a sustained and vigourous attack, providing great aerial combat views, using the Canon 800mm meant that it was viewing only for me - but David caught one or two shots, with both Ospreys chasing after the Heron.

Sustance for the photographer in the "wilds" of Aviemore and surrounding area is very easily achieved, and should you be in Aviemore at any point in time, then I can highly recommend you make a stop at Ashers the bakers on the main street.

Ashers have a great selection of cakes, sandwiches freshly made while you wait. Breakfast is served on rolls with the choice of coffee, bacon or sausage, all again freshly made, so no need to go hungry or chase about putting "stuff" together yourself.

You may also run into Gordon or his brother - Gordon has a pond and hide available for Osprey fishing shots, all very well laid out and if you fancy an early morning start and the chance to get Osprey fishing shots then his contact number is - 07735388808

It's all very fast and the moment that bird drops into the Lochen - your finger needs to be on the shutter button !!

The time it takes for the Osprey to hit the water get the fish has to be less than 5 seconds.

Anyway back to the Loch Ospreys - we braved the strong winds as did the Ospreys - we watched them take their first tentative flights, with furious flapping of the wings to get airborne, and then those first ungainly and somewhat haphazard flights doing laps of the treetops, regaining the nest and I am sure it was possible to see them breathe a sigh of relief to make it back.

Even when the youngsters had fledged, the adults would replensih the nest with sticks, not your small twig type sticks, but proper branches.

The adult birds would fly off to the woodland on the far shore of the Loch, and literally with talons out rip branches from the tops of the trees.

The adult Ospreys in the early days had been bringing pike to the nest, along with a fair number of trout, but in the last few weeks the diet for both the chicks and adults was eels.

The female would return straight to the nest with her catch, in later weeks bringing the catch to the branches of the trees adjacent to the nest, encouraging the youngsters to fly from the nest to feed.

The male however would often return with a catch and sit in amongst the trees, feeding at his leisure, and ignoring the "berating" calls of the female and the incessant calls of all three youngsters who were waiting to be fed.

Time passed easily as it does in "easy company" and much Osprey behaviour was observed.

Those three 2013 younsters will now be about to or have left that Scottish Loch and be making their way South.

The days are shortening and daylight hours will be shortened, which means the flying time for the Golden Eagles will be shorter and as these use the valley and we have seen them in the evening sun - it has to be worthwhile having a sit on that hillside to see what glides by !!..


Photo comment By Doris: absolutely stunning photography! You must have used a very long and very fast lens. I observed some ospreys on Cape Cod in Massachusetts with one or two ok photos, but watching them is magical! thank you for sharing these.
Photo comment By Geoff ROWNTREE: Great set of osprey photos Gramham a real treat to look at Magical birds .
Photo comment By Peter: We were at Loch Insh yesterday afternoon a had a look at the birds. But your pictures are so much better than a view through the telescope.
Photo comment By Keith Parker: Great shots Graham. What lens were you using? Did you get the shots from the churchyard or bridge? Do they ever feed in the Uath lochans in the forest? I have stayed at Loch Insh for a few years on and off and have seen an Osprey on power cables but it was only last year that the person who owns the cottage I rent, mentioned that there was a nest in the Loch. Unfortunately not been up when they've been nesting but I know exactly where it is. I'll be up at the end of ASugust but they'll be long gone by then. Still, plenty of other wildlife to photograph!!
Photo comment By Vanessa Woodward: Have been at the Loch over the last few days and so enjoyed watching the ospreys and were also lucky enough to meet a gentleman who pointed out two roe deer. Your photographs are brilliant. Thanks for sharing.
Photo comment By Mark B: Excellent, Graham. Off to the Cairngorms in July and so hopefully the nest will be occupied. Just need a rocket launcher like your own!! Regards Mark
Photo comment By tony-m: we were at loch insh in june wonderful place thrilled with ospreys not sure how many chicks this year but had some good photos of male and female hope to be back next year wonderful birds

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