Ospreys back

Published: 2nd April 2010

Finally saw the osprey back at the nest site on Loch Lochy yesterday. It flew in from the direction of Loch Arkaig, dropped down behind the nest, and disappeared from view. Another (the same?) bird was seen at some distance away in the other direction a couple of minutes later. Suspect that this was the female and that its mate has not yet returned, although it won't be long before it starts to hang around the nest more.

Also had great views of a pair of black-throated diver along Loch Arkaig last week They really do look handsome in their black and white stripey summer plumage. These were close to the near shore. Water levels have risen considerably recently and it will be interesting to see where, if anywhere, they settle. A pair was also reported from Loch Lochy at the weekend, and these could well be the same ones.

Had a mammoth car journey down to Oxford last weekend, out via Edinburgh and back via Lancashire. A good deal of motorway was covered, but we saw comparatively little, apart from a few kestrels and two dead polecats / polecat-ferrets. These really seemed to have spread in the last decade, although there is little evidence of them yet in Lochaber. Rather disappointingly there were very few lapwings about. We saw a few displaying in the Borders and Nothumberland, but then barely one until we returned to Cumbria. This year I have not seen any by the canal so far, and none from the Commando Memorial either. Perhaps the weather has been against them here, although the billiard-table bare sheep pasture probably is responsible for their absence. On a more positive note we did see our first sand martins of the year, skimming the water at the Loch Lomond visitor centre at Balloch. Again they are yet to reach the Caledonian Canal as of 2nd. April – rather late.

Have had some good sightings of sea eagles in the last couple of weeks, despite weather that has thrown almost everything at us from snow and ice, through gales and torrential rain to bright sunshine. I disturbed a large purple, wing-tagged female (our local) from the side of a local loch, whilst in the car. It flew a little way and then settled again at the water's edge, before spiralling up into the air and circling over a nearby plantation. Yesterday we got the scope on a rather distant male, perched in a tree and occasionally scratching. Later in the same afternoon we saw another bird, probably the female, flying against the hillside. They are a terrific size, and difficult to mistake for anything else. The local pair apparantly failed last year, so hope they have more joy this year – and that the weather settles enough to give them a good chance.