Although we are still stuck at home and desperately missing our NNRs, we are lucky to have dedicated volunteers living within walking distance of the reserves that send us exciting updates. Ralph, one of our long-standing volunteers and osprey observer, writes about an amazing wildlife watching experience on his daily isolation walk to Flanders Moss NNR.
A quick historical recap…
A few years ago we were lucky enough to spot an osprey nest visible from our house, albeit at some distance, in the woods on the west side of Flanders Moss, which thus became a source of entertainment each year as the birds arrived like clockwork at the start of April and then raised several successful broods.
In September 2018, we suffered an early autumn storm which caused extensive damage to a number of trees in our area and which visibly damaged the osprey nest, fortunately vacated by that stage in the season.
The birds arrived back on schedule last year, but presumably deemed the damage irreparable and abandoned the nest, and we feared that would be it for the osprey breeding on the west side of Flanders.
However in mid June on an amble across the bog, I was surprised by a familiar alarm call and spotted an osprey pair in a Scots Pine, not that far from the old nest, but on the moss itself rather than in the wood. Although one cannot be 100% certain, it seems likely that this is the same pair given the proximity to the old nest and the fact that they had built a nest and bred in a short time scale. Interestingly, the remaining nest material from the Douglas Fir had vanished, presumably recycled.
Moving forward to now, it’s that changeover time when the pink footed geese depart, with several skeins wink-winking their way northeastwards over the moss at height and you wait for other winter migrants to leave, such as the fieldfares who still seem to be around.
So time for a walk down to the bog to see if anyone has arrived – not quite as simple as peering out of the window anymore, but hey, a beautiful morning.
Straightaway, looking out from the edge of the woods, some activity on the nest, apparently a bit of repair work.
Next, another rather large stick retrieved…
Brought to the nest…
And a bit of fine tuning…
And then someone else turns up…
So looking good on the nesting front.
As a small footnote, we are not expert birders and have been puzzled by a new bird call moving around us in recent days, from the Cardross Arboretum to the Ballangrew Woods. As I emerged from the woods at the end of the osprey expedition, I heard the call close by and managed to get a shot.
A Green Woodpecker, chunkier than the more common Great Spotted Woodpeckers that monopolise our nut feeder. Not that uncommon apparently, but the first we have seen and heard locally. My RSPB book suggests 600-900 pairs in Scotland vs 10,000 for the Great Spotted version.
So all in all, not a bad walk to the bog.