Fish and chips?

For many years a pair of Ospreys has nested at Balnagown Estate. This is something we’re very proud of, and Paul, one of the estate team who has a particular interest in wildlife and is a keen photographer, keeps an eye on the nest to ensure the young are safe before they fledge. He also keeps in close contact with the RSPB, who in most years will come to the nest to ring the young.

Of course it isn’t the same pair of birds which nest year after year, and this year the male bird was new to the estate though, from the ring on its leg, was identified as a bird which had previously bred close-by on the Black Isle. This is the bird you can see on the video clip as it firstly brings in a flounder and then a mackerel – both of which it would have caught in the waters of the Cromarty Firth. And for those of you that don’t know, Ospreys eat almost exclusively fish (in very unusual circumstances they are known to take small mammals and reptiles if no fish are available).

However, what’s been fascinating about this year’s Ospreys is the behaviour of the two young birds after they left the nest: digging up potatoes in a field on the estate! This extraordinary behaviour was witnessed by Paul, and in the photos here you can see one of the young birds having landed in the field, then a snap of the shallow hole it dug and complete with exposed potato. Paul even retrieved a potato with peck marks in it, which he’s keeping in his freezer to show any doubters. Paul discussed the behaviour with Roy Dennis, who is a world authority on Ospreys, and even he wasn’t able to shed any light on the behaviour. So if you have any ideas then please do let us know.

Ospreys are just one of the wildlife spectacles you can enjoy when staying in a luxury cottage or lodge at Balnagown Estates in the Scottish Highlands, and you can see more examples of mammals and birds on the gallery section of the website.

Osprey chick in Tattie field

Osprey chick in potato field

Osprey chick uncover tatties

Potato dug up by Osprey chick