Thursday, 28 August 2008

End of the Season- Or is it?

Here in the Tweed Valley you can't quite escape the feeling that our Osprey season is ending and autumn is waiting in the wings. All our nest camera birds have fledged, even the second brood swallows and wrens, and the swifts have already left. Early mornings have been foggy and the nights drawing in-but its a beautiful time of year here in the Borders for wildlife watching.

Our female Osprey has already left for southern skies, and we haven't seen the male for a few days now. The three youngsters are, however, still around as a great scene yesterday showed: Not having been seen on the nest for three days, at about 3.30pm, all three chicks suddenly appeared on the nest all at once, one with a sizeable fish in its talons. Frantic squabbling ensued ( though most of it was ritualised mantling and threats rather than contact) and for ten minutes all three birds had a standoff at the nest. This aggressive posturing at first made me think they were defending the nest from an intruder, but its seems likely that is was an argument over food- perhaps dad has left and being on their own, suddenly reliant on their own fishing skills, has made them a wee bit desperate.

It is certainly a tough time ahead for these young birds who are really just starting their life journeys- with some 4,000 miles of migration ahead of them this autumn into the unknown , and an extended 'gap-year' holiday on offer in Africa if they make it! Even their parents have a good five months in Africa to look forward to ( and two months travelling) before we'll see them again. Perhaps we could think of them as African birds who come here to breed, rather than Uk birds who go to Africa. Whichever way you look at it, they certainly have evolved an extraordinary lifestyle.

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