In-service days loomed large and prompted the question what to do together for fun and excitement
for the long weekend? The first weekend in June always holds some interest at the Osprey Centre at
Loch Garten, osprey chicks should have hatched and the RSPB reserve is usually teaming with
interest and new life.
So, we headed down to the Abernethy, 50 square miles of wildland stretching from the River Nethy
to the top of Ben Macdui, Britain’s 2nd highest mountain. The area boasts ancient Caledonian pine
forests, sweeping moorland, vital wetland and dramatic mountains. The mountain bike tracks are
numerus and well maintained and the wildlife is varied and unusual with Crossbills, Capercaillie and
Crested Tit thriving in this protected environment. The reserve boasts the stronghold for the
countries Red Squirrel population and we tripped over sightings of these delightful and comical
mammals throughout the weekend.
The first day took us on a 20mile cycle via the Osprey Centre at Loch Garten. Our promises of Osprey
Chicks should have been backed up with better research as our arrival at the RSPB reserve was met
with somewhat sombre wardens. The nest had three eggs unincubated and unhatched. EJ the
resident 21-year-old female had found new love in a new mate, George and laid three eggs, but had
then been left hungry on the nest by this fly-by-loch, inexperienced male and had had to go off to
find food for herself leaving the eggs to go cold.
Further tragedy had hit the centre as the ‘Duck-Cam’ was duck-less. The Goldeneye duck, Britain’s
only tree nesting duck was missing in action, her nest and 10 sky blue eggs were left as a plaintive
reminder of nature’s unpredictability. Staff teased us with video footage of previous years fledging
and the kamikaze jumps from the nest box. They commented that this is the weekend this spectacle
is usually witnessed. If interested please click on the link below and fast forward the ‘build up’ to
3:47 to see the action…
So as the rain came on and we prepared to cycle back to Nethy Bridge we had to make do with a
photo of our own make-do osprey chicks and demands for appeasement ice creams… Unfortunately,
we could not avoid the inevitable with the observation that Ospreys only eat fish!
We were 35 miles from our home in Inverness, but minutes away from two fantastic GP training
practices in Aviemore and Grantown on Spey with this wilderness playground of interest and oddity
on their doorstep.
Goldeneye chicks leap from the nest box - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc-S7xNEvxk
Dr Mark Taylor
ES & GP Associate Advisor, NES, Inverness Office