As I ended my last blog with a 'They're coming...' in reference to Ospreys, as I write this I'm just a few minutes past seeing my first Osprey of 2016..and it's sat atop the nest we can view from our garden. This fills me with joy, but those who follow my A9Birds Facebook page (link below) will know that the long-resident female of said nest (colour ring Green 5B, and referred to as 'Beatrice' by those who followed her satellite-tracked movements, thanks to Roy Dennis' work these past eight years that the tag has been on her) perished in Spain a few weeks ago, having succumbed to malnourishment due to bad weather. Last year, Green 5B arrived home to find two intruder Ospreys in situ and - without ceremony - kicked them out. The identity of the bird now sat there tonight could be one of those, or Blue HU (Green 5B's mate) or another, but what it hoped is that Green 5B's passing will simply be another chapter's end and the start of one anew to what is quite a successful nest. Expect some scribblings to keep you apprised over the coming summer months.
Soon be time for some fishing - A9Birds style!
The Best Bird
No, I'm not talking about Ospreys still! In the many conversations that I have with friends and customers on favourite birds and why, it's always interesting to compare answers. A lot of folk go for 'sexy' - we're talking raptors here - whereas some go for smaller birds, usually because of what they herald in terms of seasonal change (every birder smiles when they hear their first Chiffchaff of the year, for example).
What's so great about birding is that enjoyment can be had in seeing a bird you've seen countless times, but seeing it in a new way. Take, for example, my grandstand seat to a boxing match between two male Goldcrests recently. Like Robins, I knew these small birds (our smallest species) could give it 'what for' but had never seen anything beyond a bit of crest flashing and posturing. As I watched this time, the two birds chased each other through the branches - jockeying for a better position to attack or defend, their yellow crests inflaming to show the deeper orange hue that runs down the centre. Time and again they came together, eventually falling to the ground from some height as one entwined ball of greys, browns, blacks and yellows and they proceeded to roll around like some deranged pet toy. It was great to watch, the battle ended with its participants going their separate ways largely intact...and until then I was blissfully unaware of the male Capercaillie, not 50 metres away watching me watching them! Hey ho...
Here comes April
With birds arriving on breeding territory every day (Meadow Pipits have also arrived out the back of house week...precisely twelve as of Monday, as the local male Sparrowhawk put them all up!), every day is different now. The transition is still apparent from Winter to Spring - yesterday, for example, I showed a birdwatching customer a winter-plumaged Red-throated Diver out on the coast, and then one in full summer plumage on an inland loch.
A sub-adult Sea Eagle - now becoming a regular sight in our part of the world
Earlier this week a pair of Dippers were busy nest building before our very eyes, while today we've enjoyed sights of no less than three Sea Eagles occupying the same piece of sky as two Golden Eagles, with talon grappling between the species as they try to defend and delineate their territory.
So March finishes on a high, and if I can just persuade a couple of Red Kites that have been wandering near home to appear in sight of the house, the garden list will have a new species added!
A9Birds is a birdwatching and wildlife photography company based in Moray, covering the local area including Strathspey, the Moray Firth and Inverness-shire. Please see our website for details of what we can offer you, and why not keep up to date with our sightings and photos on our Facebook page. All photos on this page are copyright Mike Crutch/A9Birds.