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Raising a Dram to Mother Nature

by Mike Crutch of the Logie Whisky & Spirits Shop

Day to day, and in normal circumstances, a day in the shop sees me happily surrounded by hundreds of bottles of whisky - uisge beatha, Scots Gaelic for 'water of life'.  If your Gaelic tongue hasn't been used for a while, or you've not yet resorted to taking the Duolingo course in the current lockdown, uisge beatha is simply pronounced 'oos-ger baa'.

Logie whisky shop outside
In the past couple of weeks, in the lands around Logie, another 'uisge' has been quietly returning after spending the winter in western Africa.  I'm talking about the wonderful iolaire-uisge (ready now?  That's spoken as  'ill-ler-ra oos-ger', not 'eye-o-lair' which was an incorrect, Anglicised name applied to the ill-fated troop ship post-World War One) - in other words, the Osprey.
 
Although iolaire-uisge literally means 'fish eagle', Ospreys are not eagles at all, being unique in the world of birds of prey by being in their own genus, or bird family.  We are very lucky here in western Moray that the birds breed with some density, and being uniquely fish-eaters can forage from Findhorn Bay, along the River Findhorn and a number of lochs and lochans through the area.  
 
Having been persecuted to extinction in the early 1900s, although it is likely that some Ospreys subsequently continued to breed in secluded spots in the Highlands, the true cornerstone to the current UK population has to be the famous nest at Loch Garten in Strathspey, in use since 1954.  Initial mixed successes were finally overcome by wardening and public access to the site, and since then Ospreys slowly spread as young birds returned to their natal sites to breed also.
 
The first Osprey nest of the modern era in Moray was located in 1966, and it's thanks to that foothold that the birds we see arriving back now - and drifting past Logie as they follow the river - are here.  Checking on a nest through binoculars between home and the shop to arrange some whisky and wine deliveries last week, my heart gladdened to see a female Osprey newly-arrived on her nest, and already arranging sticks and nesting material in anticipation of the breeding season.
 
So, as the temperatures become more Spring-like, and lockdown takes a lighter twist by all of us being able to enjoy sitting in the garden and watching and listening to everything Mother Nature has to offer, keep your eyes peeled - you may see an Osprey.  If you do, raise an uisge-beatha to the iolaire-uisge.  Sláinte!
Osprey cc Mike Crutch
The Logie Whisky and Spirits Shop is able to make deliveries in the Forres/Dava/Nairn triangle during the current public health lockdown.  For more details, see their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LogieWhisky/  
 
For further reading on Ospreys, local resident - and world-renowned conservationist - Roy Dennis has a website with blogs, podcasts and much more; and remember his book on Ospreys is also available at the Logie Bookshop when Ruth and Annie re-open.  All are best enjoyed with a dram!  http://www.roydennis.org/category/roys-blog/
 
For more of Mike Crutch's fishing Osprey photos and other images, visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/a9birds/