Showing posts with label Loch of the Lowes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Loch of the Lowes. Show all posts

Thursday, 13 September 2012

bye bye Blue44... we'll still be watching you

You were the first Osprey chick to be fitted with a satellite tracking device from the Osprey nest at SWT Loch of the Lowes in Perthshire, Scotland. Your stats tell us you left Lowes and began your Autumn migration at 10am on Saturday 9th September 2012. Oh Blue… so many people are wishing a safe journey to Africa for you.

There is a quiet Osprey eyrie at Lowes now. We will miss your antics and begging shouts. You are on the beginning of a journey that may possibly take you back to us in two or three years’ time. Cover your ears now, Blue (sadly less than half of young ospreys survive their first year). We dearly hope we will see you again :-)

Remember it’s a long trip and you do have to take care during stormy weather... try not to get blown off course and get lost. Perhaps that thunder and lightning storm before you left gave you a taste of what you might encounter. Watch out for dangers like power lines and make sure you eat well before those desert crossings! Yep… we do worry about you eating enough.

Our fingers are crossed tight hoping that you will have successfully mastered fishing before you leave the UK. We believe your master fisher Dad left Lowes on his migration the day before you. Perhaps you have seen him? We have wondered if his inexperience as a parent has him still watching over you.

By the gift of technology (much fundraising was done for this) we will still be watching you through that satellite tracking device on your back. Lol… try not to lose it. We’d love to follow your story some more. What fun it has been so far :-)

Although… you did give us a bit of a scare when you fledged didn't you? That maiden flight where you disappeared out of sight for four days worried lots of watchers at the Visitor Centre, on the webcam and blog.

Fortunately that bit of technology on your back returned data after a few days telling everyone that you hadn't crashed landed completely and had been flying about. Phew there was relief all round!

Oh but we were not amused… Mum appeared to be giving you one serious telling off when she escorted you back to the nest. Oh my… after all that shouting, we watched as she did a bit of dive bombing at you too. Forget the television soaps… we were all glued to the Osprey channel at Lowes.

Lol… before we go any further I should acknowledge that the photo above isn’t a true likeness to yourself! No, not at all, but this bird fledged too and there's a story to tell before it completes its migration ;-) More on that later.

Coming back to you, Blue… well weren’t you a very lucky lad? You have a famous and experienced Mum (known affectionately as Lady) who is believed to be one of the oldest breeding Ospreys in Europe. There have been many eyes watching you both and following your progress.

Your Mum, Lady has been returning to the nest you hatched in for a staggering 22 consecutive years. Drum roll please… you were her 62nd egg and she had seen 48 Osprey chicks fledge before you! I’ll come back to tell her story in another post.

Being the first of three eggs to be laid and the only chick to hatch in the 2012 brood of Perthshire Ospreys at Lowes you definitely fed well. You had a young and inexperienced Dad that your Mum had to guide at times. However, neither you nor your Mum could complain about the fish deliveries. Although... once Mum’s back was turned…

Since the end of March, Dad brought to your nest an Eel, a few Salmon, Blue and Rainbow Trout. He brought in a few more Perch and Mystery fish too. However he favoured fishing for Brown Trout and Pike which made up approximately two thirds of his catch which reached over 400 deliveries. You began feeding after May 21st, the day you hatched.

You were a lucky lad indeed although it’s fair to say you begged a bit too much when Mum left on her Migration at a time when she must have felt you were ready for your fishing lessons from Dad. Mm… just what happened there? Was it Dad not giving you lessons or did you just not pay attention enough?

It must be said, Blue, you did appear to be rather taking advantage of your young and inexperienced Dad… all that shouting you did! Probably for peace he would give in and bring in a fish delivery which by then you weren’t that keen on sharing either… poor Dad :-(

Yes you are quite correct, I do remember hearing that you splashed into the water a few times… and yes and you did have the instinct to dry your feathers after… good boy. Although what happened to your instinct to hover above the water first to spot a fish before diving in?

However, you did have good instincts on the day you were removed from your nest to be ringed and fitted with your satellite tracking device. You behaved well for Osprey expert Roy Dennis. Here’s a reminder of that…

Here’s what Lowes told us about the Satellite Tagging Project 2012 on their blog that day…

“The decision to satellite tag the osprey chick at Loch of the Lowes this year, has been taken following careful consideration and specialist advice from the UK’s foremost expert in this area, Roy Dennis, who will be carrying out the actual tagging process. It will enable us to gather important scientific data regarding the flight paths, stopping off points and final destinations of our own ospreys, and will be used in conjunction with other tagging work to build up a bigger picture of raptor migration to/from Scotland. With sufficient data it is hoped that the Scottish Wildlife Trust in conjunction with other conservation bodies also carrying out tagging projects, can in the future exert pressure on landowners and even governments to protect these stopping off points and destinations, which are very important to the life cycles of ospreys. It will also allow us to forge links with communities on our ospreys route, to further enhance their conservation.

Satellite Tagging is a practice that has been undertaken very successfully by other conservation organisations and it is important that a high profile bird such as the chick at Lowes gives us the opportunity to highlight this very important scientific work. It is also the first time a bird from this part of Scotland(anywhere south of Speyside) has been done, which will give us insight into any local differences etc.

The project has been well supported by members and supporters of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, with over £11,000 raised in donations, over the last three years.

We will do everything possible to minimise the risks, as the welfare of the osprey chick is of paramount importance to us- the whole process is designed to be quick and pain free and to minimise any stress.

We hope to learn an enormous amount from this project, and help contribute to the conservation of the whole Osprey species. Thank you for all your feedback and questions about the project- rest assured we do take all your contributions into account.

Emma Rawling, and Rab Potter NE Reserve Manager”
SWT Loch of the Lowes blog entry

Having enough money raised to satellite tag two Osprey chicks and with you being an only chick at Lowes, the SWT made the decision to tag another Osprey chick from a nest at a nearby Angus Reserve. This chick was ringed with the name ‘BlueYD’ and is a male Osprey like you, only just a little younger.

The fun will be to watch the migration routes you will both take in the coming weeks ahead. Oh... perhaps I should tell you that BlueYD left on his migration yesterday and he seems to be flying faster than you. Yes, Blue44... the race is on!

Oh la la Blue… the stats from yesterday also say you've made your way across to France! Phew… we were worried about that English Channel crossing. That is great news and guess what... you've clocked up 500 miles in four days which is impressive when you never went went too far from your nest at Lowes. We are wondering if Mum's telling off kept you close by.

So Blue44, here's how your migration race is looking so far...

The stats map above is a screen capture from the tracking page dated yesterday, September 12th 2012. You've got the Blue markers, Blue44, and the nice neat route down the east of the UK. We're impressed... you do look like you know where you are going already. Keep going :-)

So many people have been captivated by the story of your Mum, Lady. I was unaware of just how much she had touched the heart of my mother in law (MIL) until we were chatting earlier in the year. Being a SWT member and being able to drive my MIL to the visitor centre to see Lady has been fun. We have taken many trips, often going for a spot of lunch after.

One of the early highlights (in the visitor centre, watching the live cam images) was seeing a huge salmon being delivered by your Dad to your Mum before you hatched. Oh... Blue44, the delight on my MIL’s face I will always remember.

Delight and fascination grew as we watched you grow from being just two days old. Not having the internet, I have printed copies of the blog at Lowes for my MIL to follow your story. She was hooked! She was also quite upset when you went AWOL for those four days and described you as a little rascal when you returned with Mum.

To mark the fun Osprey watching time we have had this summer, a fun gift was in order. I knew just the thing too – a singing soft toy Osprey! My MIL was always attracted to these singing soft toy birds in the shop area at Lowes although I had never spotted an Osprey at the centre. However, this fun idea was going to get even more fun! She’ll be in stitches when I tell her.

I also visit the RSPB Loch Leven Reserve and spotting they had the same soft toy singing birds I asked if they had any Ospreys. They didn’t but suggested they might be able to get one from the RSPB Loch Garten Reserve shop.

Loch Garten also had an Osprey nest so it was more likely. They have an Osprey Blog too and they have had birds with tracking devices for a few years now. A phone call later and three were going to be sent the 100 mile trip North! Hilarious… migrating soft toy ospreys ;-)

Lol… when we arrived at the shop to collect my Osprey gift the staff were chuckling. The staff at Loch Garten had played a joke with one of the birds by fitting it with a homemade satellite tracking device out of a small box, elastic bands etc. When I saw it my face lit up… could I have that one please?

Since then, this soft toy Osprey has been resting up before it completes the final stage of its migration… to the home of my MIL. It should get there tomorrow sometime. She will be thrilled and emotional as every time she looks at this soft toy she will think of you, Blue44.

Blue44... can I ask again that you try not to get lost and I’ll keep my MIL updated with your progress to Africa. She is very keen to hear where you are and is thinking of you often just now, wondering and hoping you are getting on fine – especially that you are eating ok :-)

Without a doubt, watching wildlife is so much more special when you share it with others. I have found this many times over in the last (almost) six years of blogging. My patient daughter has been my companion on many occasions including trips to Lowes. Lol… she helps me look out for the treecreepers from the observation window. We have fun too :-)

To Lady, young Blue44 and to my MIL... thank-you for a summer of memories at Lowes. To Lady and Blue44 enjoy your time in Africa... Haste ye back!

To my daughter & MIL... get your coats, hats, gloves and boots… we’re off to find migrating Salmon next and I know just the place ;-)

This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in September 2012.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Great Spotted Woodpecker family & GBBD

What fun this young Woodpecker family was to watch from the observation window at the Visitor Centre of SWT Loch of the Lowes. They stayed a while as Mum pecked out peanuts from a feeder, ground them down in the crack of a tree branch and fed her newly fledged chicks. Interestingly she was seen feeding only one chick at a time and the others waited their turn.

The Time has just flown by since the capture of the video and photos below back on June 7th. I expect that by now those newly fledged Great Spotted Woodpecker chicks are fending for themselves. I might guess that they are sticking together like other fledglings do too.

This Woodpecker family stayed a while at the feeders allowing me the opportunity to capture both photos and video which was a nice treat. I don’t see woodpeckers in my garden (no old mature trees) so this was the first time I had seen woodpecker young and I couldn’t believe how mature and pretty they looked.

For those with a bit more time to blog browse you can see some snippets of the action in my video below. It begins with one of the young on a branch failing to keep Mum’s attention and ends with a Great tit pair watching how the Great Spotted Woodpecker Mum manages to get Peanuts out from the bottom of a feeder. When her back was turned they tried this too. Note you can select the HD quality to view and there is background music with this video. I had fun choosing it :-)

Meanwhile back in my garden, seeing the birds on the ground from my window is a tad tricky. With the rainfall we have had the foliage in my border is lush and full. I placed a birdbath pedestal deliberately in a planting of low grasses in the hope of catching some nice bird photos. Yay it worked!

Blackbird juveniles are the ones that have been entertaining me in my garden recently. New ones seem to appear every other day. By the way the parents are still going away with beakfuls of sunflower heart seeds there will be more to come too.

Gosh, I can’t believe it is the 15th of the month already and time to post what flowers and in Bloom just now. We’ve had a fair bit of rain and working and getting photos in the garden has been tricky. I got some pretty ones the other week but haven’t had time to post them but the images below say it all.

Yay… it’s dry and breezy this morning so instead of sorting and collecting photos for GBBD my pond build and grass turf is calling me more. So for the today I’ll give a list. I am liking the way some of my borders are taking shape just now and plan some border posts where all the blooms will be seen in place for my own records too.

To see many sumptuous images of what’s blooming around the world today head over the Carol’s at May Dreams Gardens and follow the links. It’s fun to see all the gardens and to take part. It’s a great way to meet other garden bloggers too :-)

Today, 15th July 2012, in flower in my back garden are:
Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum'; Heucheras, many around borders; Spotted leaf orchid; Astrantias new ones dark red and white (I’ll come back with names when I find the labels); Clematis’Niaobe’; The clematis above, Rouge Cardinal; Wisteria sinensis 'Alba' (still a few ones hanging around as this was late to flower); White Campanula bells (another I’ll come back to with name); Saxifrage ‘London Pride’ (a few flowering stems remain); Alliums a few (I’ll come back with names); Cranesbill Geraniums: Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ (a few flowers left on divided plant); Thyme; Red Campion and last hellobore flowers going over. Oh yes and the perennial wallflower ‘ Erysimum 'Bowles' Mauve'. Think that’s it. I have lots of foliage in my back garden.

Flowering in my sunnier front garden is a sumptuous deep dark velvet red Rhododendron ‘didymium’ that can be seen below. This photo was taken back on the 7th of July and the flowers are still there pretty much like this but dry today. I’m enjoying the changing colour pallet in my front garden very much.

The front garden list reads as: ‘ Erysimum 'Bowles' Mauve' again; Alliums (smaller pink ones that I must get the name of as they are spreading well); Heucheras; Penstemon Raven; Rose 'Cardinal de Richelieu'; Clematis ‘Picardy’; Osteospermum ‘stardust’; Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’; Pink Cranesbill Geraniums; Allium ‘Purple Sensation’; Nepata ‘Walkers Low’; Stipa gigantea; Red Campion and waiting for the sun a deep red day lily. Think that’s it there too. Plan to take some border shots here soon once a few more flowers come out.

Happy GBBD to all taking part! Happy gardening, bird and wildlife watching to all :-D

This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in July 2012.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

On safari - Redpoll first

After snowy/icy roads & car trouble, our third recent attempt to visit SWT Loch of the Lowes was a successful one in more ways than one. Our Sunday Safari took us to the benches inside the Visitor Centre, at the observation window, where we joined others in watching the very busy feeders outside.

Redpolls were definitely not on my list of expected birds to see on our visit. Their presence was like a gold star for finally making the trip! There was a little snow around the area so perhaps that’s what brought in the Redpolls this bright afternoon.

I had never seen a Redpoll before. Not being a birder I was guessing what bird this was that was sharing a niger seed feeder with a male Chaffinch. Just look a the head size difference below...

My ID guess had been a Linnet (not seen one of them before either). I asked a member of staff and she told me she could see why I guessed that (it was really the red markings I was going with not knowing where they should be).

We were told we were looking at a male Redpoll. We were also told what the female might look like and shown it in a book. Yep... as per usual it would be duller than the male. I didn't expect we would see a female too but as you can see above... some time later we did :-)

Coffee in one hand and video camera on tripod at the ready I always look to catch something different on my visit to this Centre. I was delighted, I’ve also had a bit of fun with my short 2 minute film. Note there is background music as I need to cut the sound of people’s voices. Enjoy…

I’ve looked out this observation window many times but perhaps not during February as winter weather is usually a problem my car journey to the centre. Gosh there were more Chaffinches on Sunday than I think I have ever seen there.

Mallards and pheasants joined the Chaffinches on the ground below the niger seed feeders. Frantic feeding was seen there as well as considerable acrobatic flying from blue, great & coal tits above as my video shows.

Not caught on camera, one amusing moment saw a male Mallard and male Pheasant have a bit of head on squabble. On this visit I was hoping to get some photos & video of the Red Squirrel. Unusually for our visits we never saw a single squirrel.

My next lookout was going to be for the tiny well camouflaged Treecreeper. After capturing images of the Redpoll my eyes turned to one particular tree I have seen them feed on before. I just adore watching this charming little bird but don’t see it on every visit. You need a sharp eye to spot it. However, spot it I did despite the distractions from so many birds at the feeders.

Switching back and forth with still and video camera for the Redpoll, when it came to the Treecreeper it was video footage with better light I was looking for. As Treecreeper viewing time would be short I gave the still camera to my daughter and the girl did good! I caught some video which you can see below too.

The conditions were good for filming despite the usual reflections on the observation window from movement inside the centre. The Treecreeper swooped over to the bottom of a tree trunk from a cut down tree just in front of me and started making its way spirally up it.

I lined up my camera, caught the Treecreeper in the frame and it spent quite a while feeding in the one area. This was brilliant – a good, clear close-up view. I was thrilled.

You can imagine my disappointment then, when I got home and realised that I was too busy enjoying watching the Treecreeper and I hadn’t hit the record button on my video camera… doh! I doubt I’ll ever get quite a view like that again :-(

However, shortly after, the video was recording for view of a Jay feeding at a bird table right in front me. I had never seen that before. Window reflections were more of a problem here, but even so the view of the Jay’s head with eyes and beak were quite a scoop for me. I’ve never seen the Jay so close – what a pretty face it has.

The short video compilation below also shows a capture of a female Great Spotted Woodpecker (my best so far). You can see the difference in size, shape and use of the beaks between the three birds. I always find that fun to watch.

Finally, our Safari quickly concludes with a photo of the female Great spotted Woodpecker that I managed to get, an arty shot of a male Pheasant by my daughter and her quick capture of the Jay on the tree branch just above the bird table.

We hope you enjoyed sharing this trip with us and will consider going on Safari with us again :-)

Quickly, before you go I have a question for you - I’ve asked around and been told it was a Lesser Redpoll we saw. Can others confirm this?

This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in February 2012. The images above were taken on February 19th 2012.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Watching at the Reserve

Taking gardenwatching a step (car/bus journey) further, watching birds and wildlife outside the garden can be great fun. There's always a chance to get sightings that you may never see in your own garden. Capturing photos and video can also become a challenge too. I am guessing that many Nature Reserves were busy over the long weekend.

My daughter and I took a trip up to SWT Loch of the Lowes last Sunday. At just after lunchtime, the small car park was almost full. Luckily we got one of the last two parking spaces. Walking inside the Visitor Centre, we even queued to show our ticket! The Osprey story probably brought everyone in.

Click on photo to enlarge it.

It was quite different two weeks earlier when we had visited then. Capturing photos and video through the observation window can be tricky. Fortunately there was little movement inside - people walking around and their reflections showing in the window. I was able to capture some okay window shots shown in the montage above. Part of the problem is that depending on where we sit the angle through the glass varies and so in turn do my images. That’s my excuse anyway :-)

On both occasions (in my own garden too) numbers of Siskins visiting the feeders were what was catching everyone’s eyes. I heard at the centre that they were likely to be feeding up before they headed off again. Funnily enough, I’m sure we have seen juveniles in my garden during the summer which would suggest that they don’t all migrate.

Red squirrels I have never seen in my garden… sadly not ever likely to either I’d take a guess. Lol… maybe I should invite Gordon Buchanan and the Springwatch team to investigate! However, even after after finding my first bird’s nest at age 8½ yrs on the day we moved into a new house, the red squirrel is my first wildlife memory. I lived further North then. I really enjoy seeing them at this Reserve especially as they run around a woodland setting.

Woodpeckers, Jays, Yellowhammers, Treecreepers and Bramblings are others that I have only seen there. I had no idea that the Jay was so big nor the Yellowhammer so bright yellow! Although books do suggest that the Yellowhammer is brighter in the winter.

As you might expect, I also enjoy chatting to other visitors (and staff) at the Centre. However, I’ll not chat on here tonight. Instead, I’ll let my video below give you a flavour of what we saw at this Reserve. For anyone familiar with the Centre layout, I was sitting to the right hand side of the window.

For a change, I have used the audio swap feature with my upload. I can’t control the volume with this so if you are sensitive to noise you might want to turn your speaker volume down a little as it may be louder. However, I am very pleased with the final result so I hope you enjoy it too :-D

For those who can’t view this video it ends with the image below. This feeder regularly appears in the live feeder camera image. You can see the tail of a red squirrel. The squirrels often disappear inside this type of feeder. Shortly after, it comes out and runs across to the tree trunk, down it and off along the ground.

Pine Martens can be seen at this feeder too although not at the moment. Something must be keeping them away. Feral cats have been suggested. However, back at the end of October 2008 I visited on a Pine Marten Evening and was very lucky to see one feeding on the ground not far from the window.

I have recently uploaded these videos to YouTube and the quality has improved greatly. I thought I’d share one here again. As it was whisper quiet at the time of filming I removed all sound and added no extra music.

Back in my garden, as I write this, it is almost midnight and I am watching my outside night camera image live on the top right of my monitor. I have been hoping to see hedgehog visits to my feeding station and hedgehog house. No sightings tonight so far but I have seen them over the last few nights. Mm… it appears that I'm not the only one gardenwatching either!

Just about to switch of the PC... guess who came to visit? Markings on this hedgehog suggest it is our first regular visitor!

The photo montage shown above was taken on March 26th 2010. The video and screen grab was taken on April 4th. The Pine Marten video was taken on October 30th 2008.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Osprey returns for 20th time

Just in case anyone missed this one in the news today… the UK’s oldest known breeding female Osprey has just returned to her nest in Scotland for the 20th consecutive year! Isn’t that just brilliant? I’d say well worth republishing some previous blog photos of her from last year in celebration. At an estimated 25 years old, incredibly, she is over three times the average lifespan of an Osprey!!

There is a
live cam link for this nest if you'd like to see her. Although, at the moment she won’t be sitting on the nest at all times during the day during the evening you should be able to see her. The camera shows a picture when its dark. After completing a 3,000 mile migration from West Africa she deserves a night in don't you think?

Female Osprey sitting on nest on day first chicks hatched, 2009.
Chicks indicated by coloured arrows in next photos.

Clicking on photos will enlarge them.

Scottish Wildlife Reserve, Loch of the Lowes tell us on their website:

“She arrived about 2pm on Tuesday and immediately settled back into her nest. She began renovations and bringing in extra nesting material straight away as we expected. She is also in very good physical condition, which is vital for the breeding season.

"No sign of her regular mate yet- and we know there is bad weather (desert dust storms) on the migration route which may have slowed some birds down. However, we have had another visit from a stray male osprey yesterday, who flew over the loch calling and tried to land on the nest a couple of times- he was seen off by our female in no uncertain terms."

The big question they are asking next is "So will our veteran osprey couple be reunited in the next few days? We hope so!"

2009 Stats from Visitor Centre wipeboard

Based on last year's stats you can see (above) that it was over a week after her return that her breeding partner arrived to join her. This will probably be the way it will go this year too. A nervous time for the centre perhaps although not as nervous as it is when there are eggs. At that time a team of about 70 volunteers watch the nest 24 hours a day to safeguard any eggs from thieves and poachers. It is believed that about 200 pairs of Osprey breed in Scotland.

The centre will know the male when he arrives as he can be identified with a green leg ring. I have to say I find this whole business of returning to the same nest after such a long journey absolutely fascinating especially when this breeding pair are not expected to have spent the winter together. If you want to follow this nesting story you can find their diary here.

Gosh, I’ve just realised that when I was watching and videoing a female Blackbird collecting nesting material in my garden, the live cameras and many sets of eyes and binoculars were watching this very special nest. This female Osprey is known to have laid 55 eggs with an incredible 46 that hatched and fledged… pretty amazing!!

Sorry, this evening I’ve come just come back to this posting with one final thought. This one’s on a much more personal note. Here’s an alternative look on the stats…

Photo taken at the 1993 Floriade in the Netherlands.

My eldest daughter (shown above) will be 20 later this year… very scary indeed! Yep, and she can drive real cars now too! We celebrated her birth in 1990 which would have been the first year of a clutch of eggs by this female Osprey on this nest. Wow… every year during my daughter’s life this Osprey has returned to this nest and added to the Osprey population of the world!!

PS. Even scarier for me, my youngest daughter has just turned 17 (legal age for driving in the UK) and she is also learning to drive! I wonder if the Osprey (or any other bird for that matter) ever thinks again of the young it brings into the world. Probably not, it’s likely to be the same ‘survival of the species’ that plants have. Mm… we’ll never know :-)

Have a great weekend, be it with your family or out and about watching birds and wildlife :-D

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Rain doesn’t hamper…

… an Autumnal Sunday drive. Let me take you along small countryside roads that I have travelled many times over the years… my Granny (Grandmother) used to live around here.

The leaves won’t last much longer on the trees up this way with more heavy rain and strong winds forecasted. I hadn’t planned to video parts of our journey (look out for birds crossing the road) but as I had a ‘willing’ camera girl (daughter) with me….

For those unable to view the video here is a frame grab from the video below. I have to say, yes it was on the main a miserable day but with the reflections through flooded parts I do think it had a magic too. I love driving along this road… except in snow and ice. I don’t ‘do’ winter roads!

Okay, our road was going somewhere today… we were heading for one of our favourite destinations for a drive. We were heading for the SWT Loch of the Lowes. The rain got quite heavy as we arrived in the car park. Now, the big question was… would the birds come to the feeders?

Rain didn’t hamper activity at the feeders at all! In fact there was even more activity than usual today. Chaffinches were helping themselves to peanuts with were put out for red squirrels. Woodpeckers enjoyed peanut butter. Siskins enjoyed niger seeds and a Treecreeper briefly visited a feeder too before scampering up the tree so very well camouflaged…

The end of the video above showed a brief clip of branches with Rowan berries. There was a good reason for including that. When we arrived at the visitor centre the staff and a few visitors were standing at a window looking out with binoculars. There was a bit of a buzz…

Fieldfares, Redwings and a Bullfinch had been spotted feeding at these berry laden branches! It was tricky to see them clearly with the light levels on this dark damp day but even without binoculars I spotted them come and go.

Raindrops running down the windows made filming through them impossible. But hey… it just goes to show rain doesn’t hamper birds when they find a good source of food. It was great to see the excitement these visitors caused in the Centre.

Most of the UK was to be wet today and the weather predictions are for a wet and windy week ahead. However, if you’ve been looking out on to your garden feeders today I’d expect you had birds queuing up!

Yep… rain doesn’t hamper garden birds. Mm… rain I’ve also noticed in the past doesn’t hamper birds of prey hunting either… watch out for Sparrowhawk visits this week too!

Finally, I’ve had two people in mind behind this posting. Mary from Iowa, USA… this Sunday Drive is for you. Thank-you for your email, I will try and capture more images of Scotland for you.

Fellow blogger Helen is the other. I’d like to dedicate this posting to you and your family.

Update Monday 2nd October: In view of the title of this post and the images shown in BBC News this morning I feel perhaps I should add that rain did hamper many parts of Scotland over the weekend… in fact it caused havoc! We were very lucky here.

The BBC reports this morning:

“Heavy rain has caused havoc in the north and east of Scotland with many homes flooded and trains cancelled. More than 100 elderly people have been moved from their care home in the Aberdeenshire town of Huntly. Arbroath in Angus was left virtually cut off, with all main routes in and out - including the railway line from Edinburgh to Aberdeen - impassable.

The centre of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire was under water after rivers burst their banks. Desperate residents filled pillow cases with sand from the beach to try to protect buildings, after the rivers Cowie and Carron burst their banks. Some streets in the town were evacuated.”

No doubts, a clean-up operation in all areas hit will be in force today. Preparations to hold back further rainfall expected later today and for the rest of the week will be beginning but once river banks have burst their banks that is a much bigger task! This must be an awful time for so many from residents to services and pets to wildlife too.

Perhaps birds respond to severe weather too and yesterday’s weather triggered the appearance of Fieldfares, Redwings and a Bullfinch at the Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre. Perhaps our gardens may see unexpected visitors this week too.

This morning my garden has seen early sunshine and winds although the winds are picking up now and as you can see above the leaves are leaving the trees! The geese are flying over just as usual although I do suspect some of the fields they’d usually visit will have some flooding.

Here’s hoping all flooded areas will get some wind and sunshine to dry them up a little before the next downpours fall. Finally, the rain and winds won't just be hitting the UK. Here's hoping it isn't too bad where you are. Stay safe... especially when driving.

The video of our drive (thanks go to my daughter) and the footage at the feeders (taken through Centre viewing window) were taken by on November 1st, 2009 on the road to and at Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre.

Video uploads with movement aren’t as successful but as the moment was more important I have posted these ones. The photos above were taken in my garden on November 2nd 2009 unless otherwise stated.

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...


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.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Just ‘B’ eautiful!

It’s Friday already and just where has this week gone? This morning’s challenge is to write, upload photos and post in 40 mins! Is this possible? Maybe perhaps for many bloggers but well… I do ramble on a bit. Today, I am going to be brief. Yes, I have said this before but I want to ease you into the weekend with some images from this past week. The schools were off and we were out and about….

Dundee Botanical Gardens made our hit list on Monday. I took a number of photos but just loved this image of the cotoneaster berries beside this bench. Don’t you just love the weathered look of the bench with the berries?

Ah… but it is signs of Spring we are looking for at the moment and this garden didn’t disappoint. We’ve had a few sunny and warm days and what a difference this makes to the growth of plants and the volume of bird song. We were serenaded as we walked around this garden. It was a beautiful day.

A corner in the car park saw some signs of the heavy snow fall to this garden but the scent of the plant that I opened my car door to blew that right away! I am guessing it might have been a Daphne but I’m not certain. It was just the most beautiful welcome before we even walked through the garden's entrance.

Beautiful heather bells caught my eye and the magical branches of Witch hazel which really capture my imagination. What a great name 'witch hazel' when it has such weird and wonderful flowers on its twisted branches isn’t it?

Spring flowers really are beautiful having such varied shapes of flowers from the yellow spire clusters on Mahonia to the modest nodding cup flowers of the hellebores. Blossom decorating bare branches is a sight for sore eyes after the dull days we have all had. But looking closer to the ground and here you’ll see the foliage plants are trying to get noticed too. They have rich colours complimenting the delicate ones of the blossom.

Ah… but before we shut the door on Winter and stride into the beauty that is Spring there is still plenty of Winter beauty out there too. Cardoon, Agapanthus and Hydrangea seed heads caught my eye in this garden on our walk. To me they act as both as successes from the year before and show the promise of the season to come. For the moment I still enjoy these images so I’ll just walk at a steady pace into Spring.

The birds… well they are a different matter altogether! Yes, they were signing their little hearts out as we arrived at the favourite Reserve of my daughter and I the next day. However, we weren’t gently serenaded on the short walk from the car park – it was full volume Dolby Surround Sound! So I guess they think Spring is well underway. Another clue to Spring is in the photo below although I wonder if you’d guess what’s going on?

The white arrow on the left points to the Osprey nest on the other side of the Loch. We watched the two men in the boat sail across. They were going to check out the nest ahead of the technician who was due in a few hours. Technician? Well, there is a camera up there to see the action in the nest and it gets checked out before the Ospreys return. It was fascinating to hear the men say that the birds were expected to be leaving Africa now and it would take them until March 18th (Est) to arrive at this nest. What’s more amazing is that the female has been returning here for 30 years!!

It was business as usual at the feeders with Red Squirrels popping by and the smaller birds descending on the feeders with a flurry. Even the Woodpecker joined in. Oh… and I should say I saw a Brambling for the first time. It was spotted near the quieter feeder to the side of the building. I stood ages outside with my camera hoping it would return but I never saw it again. Ah well... maybe another time. Oh... but all this excitement was quite a contrast to the geese wandering in fields along the roadside as we drove home.

We stopped briefly at the side of this very quiet back country road as I took a few snaps. I always suspected they were Greylag Geese but I didn’t know for sure when passing by the fields and driving at the same time! Yes, Greylag they were but who was the chap to their left all alone with a slightly different shape.

Well, hey... a bit of excitement with the geese after all! Looking at my books it appears that this is a Canada Goose and odd ones can join groups of Greylag. I’ll watch out for again now I know what it looks like. Another thing you need to watch out for in these quiet roads is the pheasants walking across them. The one above (taken by my daughter through an open car window) was lucky staying just along the edge but we spotted one less lucky on the road earlier.

Most times I have stopped along the side of the road to take photos of the geese they have instantly taken to the skies. However, this day, they were just wandering about the other side of the field. So now I have these photos how about if I just lift one arm up … yep they took to the sky and I got some photos of that too! ‘Isn’t that enough photos for the day?’ was the gentle request from my daughter. Yep… it was another beautiful day, the sun was shinning and it was time for Lunch!

Okay, it’s time for Lunch today and I didn’t quite make my 40 mins posting. Chatting in the real world on the phone, at my door and on the phone again well… it wasn’t going to happen! Ah… disappointingly the rain has started just as I was about to wish you a great weekend. I’m off out now on a long drive to collect my Uni daughter to bring her home for the weekend – she hasn’t been so well again. However, I am planning to take advantage of this journey looking to catch a snowdrop display at a garden on the way there!

Wishing you a great weekend in and out your garden – hope the weather is kind to you too!

All the photos above were taken between February 16th-17th, 2009.