Geese squat in nest created by ospreys

NESTING SITE: the small island at Balgavies where geese are occupying an ospreys' nest.
NESTING SITE: the small island at Balgavies where geese are occupying an ospreys' nest.

THERE is an interesting battle of wits at the Balgavies Nature Reserve, several miles east of Forfar.

Regular visitors to the loch in recent years are a pair of ospreys, nesting high in a tree on a little island that can be viewed from a hide.

It was their home for three years, but then came along a couple of squatters in the form of greylag geese.

Reserve warden Jim Hughes tells the “Dispatch” and “Herald” that the ospreys and geese have been vying for nesting rights for the last couple of years – with the geese winning at the moment!

“The ospreys have been coming to Balgavies for the past five years, nest building on an island in full view of the hide,” he explains.

“Two years ago, a pair of greylag geese took over the nest, about two weeks before the ospreys returned from Africa.

“At that time, the ospreys never had any chicks, as they were probably immature birds.

“But they did display courtship, and rebuilt the nest.

“However, the geese successfully reared a brood and, believe it or not, the goslings tumbled out of the nest and into the loch.

“By this time it was too late for the ospreys to successfully breed and hatch, due to their strict time schedule for the long journey back to Africa.”

Mr Hughes explained that there was a repetition of the geese getting in first to occupy the nest, and it is a similar story again in 2012.

“The geese are sitting tight on their eggs in the nest and the ospreys have tried a couple of times to dislodge them, with no success.

“The ospreys usually arrive each year around March 27 or 28,” continues Mr Hughes.

“They are a delight to watch. The hide is very busy at this time of year, with people keen to catch a glimpse of them catching fish and eels and returning to the island trees to eat.”

Mr Hughes goes on to explain that visitors have called the Balgavies nature reserve a hidden gem - where you can spot otters, great spotted woodpeckers, red squirrels, roe deer and many garden birds.

There are many more hidden treasures to be found at Balgavies.

The circular walk around the loch takes in the old Strathmore railway line.

The hide is disabled friendly and there are two car parks.

“There is not much we can do about the current nesting situation involving the geese and the ospreys, except hope that nature sorts things out.

“Nevertheless, Balgavies reserve is a delightful place to spend some leisure time.”