Autumn in the Highlands. Crisp frosty mornings, mist rolling in low waves over the valley, the cacophony of pink footed geese filling the skies – this season is undeniably beautiful. However, it heralds the departure of one of my favourite species, the osprey.
As we, and all of our resident Scottish animals, ready ourselves for the colder months to come, almost all of Scotland’s ospreys will have started their long journey South for the winter. Their incredible migration averages around 6,700km, taking them about 45 days to reach the sunny wintering grounds of Western Africa.
For this years young fledglings, this must be a daunting prospect. Their parents will leave weeks before them and they must navigate the journey alone; how they manage this is still a mystery. Many will head south having never caught a fish for themselves, while some will stay around a little longer and perfect their hunting techniques.
The Aigas loch is an ideal location for these trial fishing sessions and over the past couple of months we have been lucky enough to see osprey visiting most days. One of our local fishermen managed to capture this fantastic video of an extremely ambitious osprey circling the loch and diving for trout. The bird takes a remarkably long time to get up and out of the water again with it’s prize and towards the end of the video can be seen flying away with its prey still very much alive and kicking. Incredibly, osprey can carry up to 1 third of their body weight – that’s the equivalent of an average human flying off with a meal the size and weight of a four year old child!
It won’t be until next March when these magnificent birds grace our skies again. But I’ll be thinking of them off on their wanderings. Wherever you are Aigas ospreys, I hope you’re safe in warmer climes and that you’re not feeling the chill of Autumn as we are here at the Field Centre!