Thursday, 21 August 2014

Loch Doon for Ayrshire Ospreys—and butterflies and dragonflies

We took he opportunity last week to drive 20 minutes from home to see the Ospreys at Loch Doon just in time to see the second of the two chicks still in the nest. It was fed by the parents while we enjoyed bacon and egg rolls sitting outside the Roundhouse Cafe on the shores of the loch and looking at the nest through the telescope. The chick was vigorously exercising its wings at the edge of the nest and later reports indicated that it too left the nest that day. A few days ago parents and young were still around the nest site. Females are said to leave for West Africa first, leaving the male to feed the young after they leave the nest; the males and the young then start their migration south.

The Roundhouse Cafe has a telescope for visitors to use. The nesting platform is on the other side of the loch and I was very pleased to have my 40x eyepiece on the Televid. I did not have digiscoping kit with me and the photograph is blown up from a shot taken with the equivalent of a 1000 mm lens on a full-frame 35 mm camera using a Nikon P510.

Readers outwith the UK might think it a little strange to go to see a bird that is so common in many countries. Those within the UK will recognise the Osprey as an icon of virtual extinction and recovery (from zero in 1950 to about 250 breeding pairs at present) while those in Ayrshire are celebrating the first successful breeding in the old county.

Walks in the Loch Doon area are usually productive in terms of wildlife, especially in the spring as the migrant birds arrive. On this August day, Scotch Argus butterflies were on the hillsides and the Golden-ringed Dragonfly over shallow streams that run into the River Doon after it emerges from Ness Glen.

Scotch Argus (Erebia aethiops)   Photo: AJP
Hillside habitat of the Scotch Argus   Photo: AJP
Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii)   Photo AJP
View from above the road leading to Loch Doon. Bogton Loch in the distance
with Craigengillan House on the left. A good spot for cuckoos and crossbills
Photo: AJP
Loch Doon