Olaf the Osprey migrating south gets a helping hand
Sitting at home late last Thursday afternoon tying up some “Green Cascade” salmon flies for a visit to the historic Cairnton Beat on the Dee the following day, DDSFB member Dave MacDonald found his concentration interrupted by a phone call from Stonehaven and District AA member Stuart Wright, who was speaking from the club’s Crossley Quarry trout fishery. Stuart excitedly described how a big raptor had landed clumsily on the concrete hopper in the middle of the quarry and had then leapt rather than plunged into the deep water there and had caught a passing trout in its talons. Unable to fly off, the bird had wing-flapped its way to the shoreline under his feet, where it had set about eating the trout. By this time Dave was already in his car and on his way!
Arriving at the fishery some fifteen minutes later with his long-suffering spouse Mag in tow (yet equally fascinated about what they might find there) he joined Stuart and immediately identified the bird as a juvenile and rather scrawny looking Osprey, which was wolfing down pieces of trout whilst showing no fear whatsoever, of the two humans standing directly above it on the bank of the quarry.
Since this absolutely stunning bird was clearly exhausted and starving, Dave decided to “interfere with nature” by attempting to capture it by slithering down the low steep broom-covered cliff face. Landing alongside the bird in ankle-deep water, he grabbed the beastie as it made a half-hearted attempt to wing-swim away from him. A short photo-call later, it was safely secured in a plastic box provided by an equally surprised Martin Gardner, the angling club’s membership secretary who had happened to tip up there. Within twenty minutes, it had been delivered into the safe custody of the similarly astonished staff at the new SSPCA complex at Drum on Deeside, to be kept overnight for transfer to veterinarian raptor specialist Lawrence Brain at New Deer where it is reported to be recuperating before release. “Operation Osprey” at Crossley Quarry was over, and the trio of anglers involved in the event were left with a feeling of real awe at the privilege of having been intimately involved in the rescue.
Exactly six years previously, SDAA treasurer Fred Welsh had similarly spotted an osprey flying overhead at the club’s other trout fishery at Allochie Lochan. Contact back then with the RSPB had revealed that within the previous 24 hours, an osprey had also been seen in Caithness and then the Black Isle, leading to the theory that it had been a juvenile Norwegian bird which had crossed the North Sea and was traversing the length of the UK (stopping off at convenient feeding hotspots such as trout fisheries!) en route to its winter quarters in West Africa. This scenario seemed to fit the 2012 Crossley bird perfectly too, as it was not difficult to envisage a long and weary flight across the tempestuous North Sea on Tuesday followed by serious difficulty in finding trout in the rain-muddies waters of northern Scotland. Little wonder that “Olaf the Osprey” was in such a sorry state on arriving at the watery haven of the Stonehaven club’s own crystal clear Crossley fishery with its fine fat trout!