Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Loch of the Lowes Ospreys…

…began my three centre trip last Sunday. However, it wasn’t the female Osprey (sorry dear I know you’ve just laid three eggs making your tally to a staggering 55) but it was the tree blossoms and wild flowers on the roadside that caught my eye. Well, that’s thing about a trip out it’s the unexpected that makes the day don't you think.

Oh… don’t get me wrong, it is still fascinating stuff to see video footage of the action on this tree top Osprey nest which you can see both inside the centre and live online too.


No… dandelions were not what caught my eye and the shot I ended up searching for this Sunday morning. Although, it was nice to see a bee out enjoying this wonderful sunshine yellow flower! Let’s go into the centre first for some stats on the Ospreys nesting at Scottish Wildlife Trust Loch of the Lowes courtesy of the wipeboard hanging on the wall.


The female Osprey nesting at Loch of the Lowes has been coming to this same nest for 18 years now which is amazing don’t you think. A member of staff was talking through some of the captured and live video footage of the Ospreys zooming in to show more detail of the head of the male Osprey who was sitting on the nest at the time. We decided that the hides, where you have views of across the Loch, might be quiet. The early morning view across the water was so peaceful looking.


Generally there is a sign outside bird hides requesting that you keep quiet inside which we saw here. Sometimes hides can feel too quiet, like a Doctor’s surgery, but not always. If people do chat it is kept at a whisper so that the birds outside are not disturbed. I like to hear a little chat (you could have guessed that) but before we even opened the door of the top hide on this visit we could hear chat inside.

We opened the door to see some serious pieces of watching kit. The hide was small. We went to the other side and my daughter whispered along the lines of was I feeling inadequate with my camera! I took a photo of the nest although couldn’t see the ospreys this visit. The nest is in the centre of the picture below.


We didn’t stay very long as a third person came and joined in the chat. We wouldn’t have stayed too much longer anyway as we could see more from the live cameras inside the centre. I didn’t properly mind the men chatting but they clearly were regular bird hide visitors by the kit they had and fully knew the etiquette expected. I am always very quick when using my video camera so people don't feel uncomfortable with it running. I always edit the sound out too.

On a visit earlier in the month, on April 2nd before the eggs were laid, I captured the footage below from this same hide. Unfortunately it is a little shaky as I didn't have the plate for my tripod with me. You can see the female stretching her wings. The male had come in with a fish for her just before but after a little while he flew away with it again. She didn't even get to taste it! She very patiently waited and waited for him to return.




I would encourage anyone to pop into hides when you see them as you never know what you might catch a glimpse of. You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy these facilities either. Nor do you need to have fancy equipment or a field guide for ID's. Often there are both binoculars and picture guides of the birds you can expect to see from them.

After a long or short walk it’s very relaxing to take a seat and look out the windows of a hide. Perhaps you might even welcome a cooling breeze on your face on a warm day. Oh… did I feel inadequate with my camera? I quietly laughed at my daughter and shook my head, no not at all. Even if I had a simple disposable camera I would still have used it.

What I had hoped to get another glimpse of this morning was the yellowhammers at the feeders. I don’t see them visit my garden. I hoped to get a photo from inside the viewing area of the visitor centre but we didn’t spot them. The first photo in the montage below shows a shaky shot from outside on a previous visit.


There is a path leading from the car park along the side of the loch. At its end you can cross the road and follow another path to walk all the way to the closest town Dunkeld. It's not a long walk. With a little more time we could walk this another day.

The sun was well out now streaming through the trees. You can see above that we spotted violets and wood anemones, wood sorrel and another small white flower which I haven’t ID’d yet. Mm... could it be an alpine strawberry? We also spotted slices of tree trunks on the ground. The first slice I spotted reminded me of a teddy bear face tilted to one side and smiling! I still hadn’t seen the flower I was looking for.

We had walked to the end of the path and then along the road side edge of the Loch for a little bit. Standing now at the edge of the Loch we were able to look across to one of the hides. With my camera’s zoom lens we could see someone looking back across at us. Ah... perhaps they, like us, were looking at the ducks that had just taken off along the water.



Returning back along the path to the car park we watched people play golf on the course across the other side of the road. My daughter attempted amusing sports commentary at appropriate points! We met a few people walking this path too. Everyone was out enjoying this lovely sunny morning.


The sky was such a beautiful blue colour above us as we came out of the woodland. Ah… and just alongside my parked car there was some blooming blossom. We had seen so much on trees this morning so a photo or two was a must.



Now, the search was on along the roadside verge that I spotted a particular wildflower on. Have you guessed which one it could be? There is a bird link here. If you turn left from the car park the road is narrow for a while. Two cars can still pass though. I am quite familiar with this road as my Grandmother lived along it.

Spaced out along the side of the Loch there are spaces to park one car. I stopped at a couple and walked around each time. I couldn't remember exactly which part had the drift of flowers I was looking for. Teenager daughter stayed in car listening to music this time. Well, I don't blame her with mad Mum out looking for a flower along the grass verges!

I found wonderful carpet drifts of wood anemones…



I found wonderful drifts of celandines…


Ah… but what’s this I spy along this grass verge? Yep... this is what I was looking for…


What a delight to spot a young small tortoiseshell butterfly looking for this wild flower too. It beat me too it! Do you recognise this wild flower now?


Let me introduce you to my wild flower of the day… Lady’s-smock Cardamine pratensis also known as the Cuckooflower. We saw this on many road verges today but it isn’t always easy getting parked to take photos. It really is quite a common wild flower and can be found all around the UK. I think its pretty special and have fond memories of collecting them for my Mum when I was a child. All wild flowers are protected now though so I didn't plan to pick any today.


So ,if you see these pale lilac bobbing flowers on stems along road verges as you pass by from April - June they may just be the Cuckooflower. Just watch out for others as mad as me trying to get photos!

Oh dear... this has been a long post. Sorry I didn't warn you. This was a long and full day. I’ve got heaps more to share from areas much closer to my home too. Next, we went for lunch...


UPDATE WEDNESDAY APRIL 22 :


I’d like to dedicate this posting and my following two postings on my tiny part of the world to Earth Day 2009. This has to be worth saving.

All photos above were taken on April 19th 2009 with the exception of the yellowhammer.

12 comments:

Midmarsh John said...

I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed reading about your day out Shirl along with the great illustrations. Beautiful countryside. Looks like you had good weather too.
Thanks for sharing this with us.

The Early Birder said...

Thanks for taking me along Shirl, once again reminding me of our visit to see the Ospreys at least 10 years ago. The scenery does not appear to have changed either.

shirl said...

Hi again John and Frank :-)John – You are most welcome! I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed reading about my morning out. I have a brief lunchtime post to come followed by another lengthy one from my afternoon visit from a more local patch. Water ties all three postings. I can’t wait to sort photos and share the last one :-D

Frank – Ah… I remember you mentioning you’d been by this area before. I am delighted to be able to share this with you once again. This is one of three postings from this day. Do pop by later on in the week as you may recognise some other scenery I will be sharing :-D

Lisa at Greenbow said...

If a butterfly gives the Cuckoo flower a wings up I surely would too. Beautiful pictures Shirl. I enjoyed the narrative and the video.

The Early Birder said...

I look forward to the update Shirl.

ShySongbird said...

What a lovely and thoroughly interesting post Shirl.

I have been viewing the RSPB live video streaming of Ospreys nesting at Loch Garten which is fascinating and now you have shown us another live stream to keep an eye on, thank you Shirl.

Since a child I have always loved Lady's Smock and like you have fond memories of gathering it before it was illegal to do so. I remember it grew freely by the side of a local stream.

You obviously had a wonderful day out and I enjoyed sharing it with you.

shirl said...

Hi again Lisa, Frank and ShySongbird :-)Lisa – LOL, well it certainly had me running along the verge after it too. It (and I) went from flower to flower. Thank-you, I enjoy these type of postings and there’s so much more to come from this day :-D

Frank – Part will be quite new to you as this has only recently opened but some shots may be familiar :-D

ShySongbird – Thank-you, I’m delighted you enjoyed it. Ah yes… I considered linking to that cam too. On hols a few years ago we saw these Ospreys too. I wondered if you would have the same memories of the cuckoo flower – it was so pickable too wasn’t it. Yes, you are quite correct it is illegal to pick it now. Excellent but oh no… this wasn’t my day out at all! There is still Lunch to come and some afternoon walking to to do yet. This is a three for one ;-D

Billy said...

Just found your blog, it's amazingly set out, well done.
Ospreys?! I would dream of seeing one of them, let alone catching it on video! Congrats

Bill

Joe said...

Great stuff Shirl,

Great posting, Loch of the Lowes sounds like such a great reserve for the ospreys and for that feeding station that attracts less common birds to feed. Glad you had a good day out.

That blossom looks very much like the blossom that covered our apricot tree about 2 weeks ago.

Great wild flower photos and that weather looked fantastic. BBC website is showing 3 sunny icons for the next 3 days where we live!

Carol said...

What a lovely trip ... the winding road... the loch... such beautiful birds... I love the ducks running on water and the wild flowers ... the Cardamine pratensis looks so like Hesperis or Sweet Rocket that grows here in Massachusetts. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!

Phil Voice said...

Hi Shirl

I have only just found your blog via Google.

I would never knowingly seen an Osprey but I would love to do so.

Mind you, I was watching a Hen Harrier for nearly five years before learning what it was and now I see it most days :-0)

See my video here:
http://landscapejuice.ning.com/video/hen-harrier-hunting

shirl said...

Hi there Billy, Joe, Carol and Phil :-)Billy – Thank-you! I’ve just had a look at yours too. It’s great when comments work like this. You’ve some great bird photos there. It’s great to hear from another young person blogging too.

Joe – It was, thanks and the day went on and on too! We had lovely weather at that time. Ah… your blossom did look great. I hope you got some nice weather as promised too :-D

Carol – Thank-you, I am so glad you enjoyed it. I’ve just been browsing a posting of yours with your beautiful scenery in Massachusetts, you do live in a beautiful place. You are most welcome, thanks to you too for sharing your images :-D

Phil – Welcome via the power of Google ;-) It is amazing where our searches lead us isn’t it. Ospreys on the whole are not that common here in the UK but their numbers are increasing. There is a 24 hour watch on the Osprey eggs at Loch of the Lowes so that tells you how special they are. Now I wouldn’t know a Hen Harrier if it arrived at one of my bird feeders LOL! Thanks for the link on your Hen Harrier video. It was interesting to see. Great capture :-D