20 May 2011
Spring is busting out all over...
(Me with a 5 week old osprey chick)
Very exciting news this morning with the news that the first chick had hatched on EJ and Odin's nest at Loch Garten. This morning I had a look at the webcam and EJ stood up very gingerly to reveal the teeniest, wobbliest wee chick which waggled its head and then collapsed again before EJ manoevred herself with great delicacy back over it to provide it and the other two eggs shelter. It always amazes me, having seen and held ospreys, the size of those talons, how they manage to manoevre their way over these tiny little chicks without stabbing them. It does happen, but it's very rare.
The oldest breeding female osprey, Lady, at Loch of the Lowes, is due to hatch out her 49th, 50th, and 51st chicks over the course of the next few days, and the birds at Aberfoyle aren't that far behind.
So it's all go, and, as as one Loch Garten blogger put it: the rollercoaster ride begins. It's a long 7 weeks until the chicks fledge and in that time, with the Scottish weather, anything can happen. Keep your fingers, toes, legs, eyes, and anything else you can, crossed for a half-decent summer and good fishing!
On Sunday I'm heading to Aberfoyle to do a stint. I'm looking forward to it, though I've found it really hard going this week with work, and am at work again on Monday, so I'm planning a few very, very, early nights next week to help me manage. I'm quite taken aback at how exhausted I'm finding being at work, but then, as well as being at work, I'm doing all the house-work too, so it shouldn't be that surprising. Just need to take it one week at a time I think...
From eyries to earth now - I visited the Allotment yesterday for the first time since the weekend, expecting to see a burst of weeds, but also a burst of growth after the heavy rain of the last few days. I wasn't disappointed on the weed front, the grass has been putting out runners and forming clumps and mats around established veg, and there are rogue potato plants popping up beside new seedlings. Wonderfully though, there are now pea and beetroot seedlings. I had bought some young beetroot plants at the weekend, but a glut of beetroot is never a bad thing in this house as D pickles them, so they have gone in beside the new seedlings.
What amazed me though was the state of the soil: I had expected the rain to have transformed the dry cracked earth into crumbly, workable loveliness, but it seems instead to have activated the clay in the soil which has now hardened. The top layer of the soil is just dust which swirled around in the wind. So trying to yank out weeds meant that the top of it snapped off but the root remained in situ. Maybe it's not rained enough - what a dreadful thought!!
My poor kale seedlings are under attack though, from *something*. Most likely caterpillars as the cabbage white butterflies have been rampant. So I've salvaged D's empty 2L fizzy drink bottles and cut the bottoms off, and have plonked these over the remaining kale seedlings to hopefully prevent further attack. And I gave the last rites to the courgette plants which didn't, after all, survive the frost, so have more seedlings on the go in the house. One of which has an Elastoplast on it after I cleverly managed to snap one of the stems, and I'm living in hope that it wasn't snapped right off and can mend itself!
The weather here has been awful though - we've had gales all week and temperatures barely into double figures, but in reality pegged back by the wind to much colder than that. I'm worried that my greenhouse isn't generating enough heat to keep the tomatoes going, and I resorted to putting a clear polythene bag over the butternut squash plant in the garden. Though I'm thinking that what would be really useful, is a huge clear plastic bottle I can butcher and turn into a cloche/greenhouse thing. Something like offices use on their water-coolers. If you know of anywhere I can get my hands on one, do let me know!