Flapping fish, pip dates and…more in Bird World for Tuesday

6 September 2022

The families are back at work and the children will be in school. There will be no more loud yelps when a grasshopper has been found and checked off the list of treasures in the ‘Nature Scavenger Hunt’ at the nature centre or toddlers trying to pull the tails of the ducks. It will be quiet.

it was 26 degrees C on a sunny Sunday afternoon as I set about trying to find that dear wee duckling at Ft Whyte. Originally there were two. I did not see the second one today either when I went around the final bend but I did find the tiny one sleeping in the sunshine. Now that the water level is falling all manner of little islands are appearing in the ponds. They are nice places for ducks to sun themselves in the middle of the day.

The wee darling even had its eyes closed. You can see the downy fluff on its back. I am so worried that the feathers are not developing correctly – a little bit like Yurruga last year at the Orange scrape of Diamond and Xavier. Will they fill in, I wonder.

Have you had experience with ducklings? Can you offer advice. The little one has grown since I was there a couple of days ago.

Sibley tells us that the wing feathers of the Mallard require 60 days to fully grow so that the duck can adequately fly. This little one is about 3 weeks old or 21 days – the closest I can guess from my visits and seeing it – at the nature centre. We need 40 more days. This duckling will make it. That would be the 15th of October! Help me cheer it on.

This beauty looks so gorgeous in the sun between the springs of plants. I love how the tail feathers are fanned out and look like lace with a beautiful satin blue ribbon trimmed with black and white. Mallards are lovely. The more I see them, the more special they become.

All of the ducks seem to have been eating rather well and filling out. They will need all of that energy for their long flights.

The plants are beginning to change adding some oranges, reds, and browns to the green leaves. The ducks can melt into the landscape if you do not look closely. These three were characters. Just look at their crops, especially the one facing us nearly straight on. Well fed I would say!

Sometimes it is nice to be able to look down and see the gorgeous orange legs paddling – it means that the water is no longer murky. This duck seemed to be smiling at me.

This one was tucked up nice and tight on one of the islands. It took some time to see her.

One of the silliest things that happened today was between two Canada geese. They were both on the boardwalk. On stayed put while I tried, as quietly as I could, to pass. The other decided to walk in front of me going around the corner out of sight of its partner. They then started ‘talking’ to one another. This went on for nearly 6 minutes without either moving to go to the other…I left to go and check on the wee duckling that I had spotted ahead of me. I wonder if those geese are still honking?

This morning I woke to the alarm calls of the three Crows in the garden and sure enough, there was the cat – and the rabbit. They are protecting little Hedwig by calling me out to chase the cat away. I do wish that people would be responsible for their pets.

In the Inbox:

‘J’ wrote to tell me the story of the two Sea Eagles and the fish tail. I had not seen it. ‘J’ said, very appropriately, “It seemed more educational for them both than anything.” I missed this specific occasion and I am terribly grateful that ‘J’ gave me the time stamp because I was able to catch a few minutes of SE29 and SE30 doing some friendly exchanges with that tail – they even got a few nibbles of fish, too!

‘R’ writes: Why do the Magpies continually dive bomb the sea eagles? Anyone who has been watching the Sea Eagles nest in the Sydney Olympic Forest will have seen the most recent attacks by the Magpies on the Sea Eagle nest. There will be others such as Boo Book Owl, too. The Magpies have their own nests. It is believed that there are about 50 breeding pairs of Magpies in the forest. The Sea Eagles are the top predator in the forest. The Magpies have no hope when it comes to a challenge with them but they dive bomb them hoping if they are such a nuisance the eagles might leave the forest. Of course they will not! That said, the smallest owl has inflicted injury to Lady in the past. They are silent when they attack and have hit Lady and hurt her eye. You might also have seen the Great Horned Owls attacking the SWFlorida eagle nest of M15 and Harriet. The GHOWs are formidable enemies to the eagles but Boo Book is so much smaller. Still he can do harm and any of them might want a tasty eaglet for dinner. The sea Eagles must be careful with the owls. The Magpies are a nuisance to the adults but can and do drive the youngsters from the forest when they fledge, like the Pied Currawong do. You will often see larger predators being constantly attacked by smaller birds. The Mockingbirds continually follow Big Red and Arthur on the Cornell Campus.

‘A’ asks: “Why don’t the Osprey parents just kick their fledglings off the nest or stop feeding them?” That is a great question and I am certain that there are a lot of people wondering the same thing. I am going to use the term that is often employed ‘good parents’, if you will excuse me for that. The goal of the breeding season is to raise healthy chicks and to either increase the population of the species or, as one researcher noted, hope to have a replacement for each parent when they die. Not feeding the chicks or kicking them off the nest is counter to all of that. The adults might begin to limit the feedings encouraging independence but the chicks will depart for their own territories or for migration when they are strong enough. When that day comes, nothing will hold them back! Until then, ‘good parents’ continue to feed their chicks as best they can while also building up their own strength. Louis and Idris are great examples. Everyone has left but Sarafina and Padarn. They will continue to feed their girls until such time as they leave. Both are excellent dads. Aran and Mrs G are doing the same. None of the fledglings have left. Fish is continually supplied. Mrs G would normally leave before the fledglings. Let’s keep an eye out and see what happens.

Padarn is one of the most beautiful fledglings I have seen!

Making News:

You may recall that Loch Garten’s Osprey chick 1C1 died after being unwell for several days. It was believed that she had an infection and it was confirmed today through the necroscopy that it was a case of salmonella. It is unclear how the little osprey got salmonella.

Do you know the term ‘war wilding’? Ukraine re-flooded the Irpin River so that the Russian army could not get to Kyiv. What is fascinating to me is that this has created a wonderful wetland for the birds that could last for years creating new opportunities out of war.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/05/warwilding-a-new-word-to-describe-the-startling-effects-of-using-nature-as-a-weapon-ukraine-korea-aoe

The author cites cases where warWilding has been used to create biodiversity hotspots and bring new hope for wildlife such as in Mozambique but, he also tells us how this can be turned against wildlife – when water is drained to cause harm to people and, as a result, to the birds and animals. It is a good read. Check it out when you have time. There is a link to another very good paper within the article on the same topic, if you are interested.

There is a new book, Peregrines in the City by Andrew Kelly and Dean Jones. Do you recognize the scrape? More to follow after I have had a chance to read this book on such an interesting topic!

Nest News:

It appears that there might be only one Osprey nest in the entire UK that has both adults and all the fledglings still at home. That is the nest of Aran and Mrs G in the Glaslyn Valley in Wales.

The sun is just starting to show. You can hear the songbirds, the cows mooing, and the sheep bleating. One chick is already fish calling!

It might have been the one that was calling from the perch as the sun was setting on Monday!

It has been a wonderful year for Aran and Mrs G, one that certainly made up for the loss of their three nestlings last year and Aran’s injury. Everyone is really healthy and getting strong.

At the Charles Sturt scrape box on the campus at Orange, we will be on pip watch for the first of Xavier and Diamond’s eggs on the 29th of September with hatch watch from 1-3 October. Mark your calendars!

Handsome Xavier got some eggie time!!!!!!!!!

If pip watch is the 29th for the Orange Peregrine falcons, then we have to be checking on the Melbourne falcons earlier. I am going to mark my calendar for the 23rd for pip watch at 367 Collins Street!

At Port Lincoln, if all goes to plan, we are less than 2 weeks away from the first hatch!!!!!!!!!! In the meantime, Dad had everyone a little anxious when he brought a live whole fish on to the nest for Mum’s breakfast. Let us all hope that the eggs are OK.

At the Sea Eagles nest, it looks like an eel was brought in – or was it a fish? – at 1330.

In Florida, Samson has delivered at least one stick to start rebuilding the nest in NEFlorida and Harriet and M15 have returned to the SWFlorida Eagle nest in Fort Myers.

Blue 022 fooled everyone. Believed to have left for his migration after his family, he shows up at another platform in Poole Harbour. Is he scouting for another nest after the goshawk attack? or just resting?

Migration:

No tracking news for Karl II. It could be that his tracking signal is being jammed as he is in the location of Cherson (Kherzon), Ukraine. Bonus is still in Belarus near the River Pryjpat. Kaia flew a short distance but remains near the Desna River in Ukraine. Waba is between two rivers, the Buzhok and Slutsch. Please keep this beautiful Black Stork family from the Karula National Forest in Estonia in your warmest thoughts.

From the Book Stack:

Bill McGuire’s, Hothouse Earth. An Inhabitant’s Guide, minces no words when it comes to the destruction of our planet and the inability of anyone to stop the warming. McGuire is Professor Emeritus of Geophysical and Climate Hazards at University College, London. He accepts neither climate deniers or climate doomists and insists that we must be prepared for what is currently happening and for what will come in the future. We have not been able to halt the 1.5 degree C rise in temperature that was thought to be the tipping point. “How Bad can things get?” is a complex and intertwined question surrounding the relationship of the climate, the natural world, and human society and economics. McGuire says, “…what we can be certain of is that climate breakdown will be all-pervasive. Insidiously worming its way into every corner of lives and livelihoods, no one, anywhere – not even the tech billionaires in their guarded redoubts – will be immune” (143). He warns against all of the geoengineering methodologies and climate hakes being proposed including volcanic cooling and the refreezing of the poles. Instead, McGuire is very pragmatic. If we want to limit the worst effects of climate chaos til the end of the century, then there are some things that humans must do immediately: 1) methane emissions is a top priority; 2) the scraping of subsidies for the oil and gas industry; 3) the ceasing of new exploration licenses for gas and oil must stop forthwith; 4) banks must be made not to invest in gas and oil ventures; 5) damaged and desecrated land must be restored by reforestation and rewilding; 6) progressive phasing out of beef and dairy farming; 7) the restoring of peatlands and wetlands – places that store more carbon; 8) cutting back on flying and shipping consumer goods around the planet; 9) massive investment in home insulation and green domestic energy. I note that he questions the cost and value of electric vehicles (replacing world’s 1 billion fossil fuel vehicles, the lithium farming, etc) and focuses instead on green public transportation, journey based car pools, and car shares and more cycling and walking. ————Of course, it is not just humans that are impacting by the escalating heating of the planet but our beloved wildlife – and our dearest feathered friends, many who are struggling now. McGuire says his intention is to frighten people into the reality of what we are facing.

Tomorrow a look at Birds. A Complete Guide to their Biology and Behavior.

Thank you so much for joining me today. It is so nice to hear from so many of you. Stay safe. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their tweets, postings, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures and video clips: Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, Dyfi Ospreys, Loch Garten RSPB Abernathy, The Guardian, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Port Lincoln Ospreys, SWFlorida Eagle Club, and the Birds of Poole Harbour.

6 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for these updates! All so good news from the nests. I do wonder how the baby osplet got the salmonella too. So sad. 😢
    I love the little duckling. It really looks good and I think it will get the other feathers as time goes on. 🙏❤️ Thanks for all the pics of all the mallard ducks and the geese. Looking forward to watching all the falcons and eagles who are nesting and starting to work on their nests. Prayers and best wishes to the Black stork family too 🙏❤️
    Thanks Mary Ann and have a good afternoon ! Look forward to the next newsletter.
    Linda

    1. You are most welcome, Linda. Apparently there is approximately 13% of all fresh fish that have salmonella although people often get food poisoning rather than ospreys. I wonder if this might have been what was wrong with Molate and 1C1???

      1. Linda Kontol says:

        It very well could have been what happened to them Mary Ann.
        I never knew the fresh fish have that.
        Thanks for letting me know about the 13 percent !

      2. Yes, they do. Just like spinach and lettuce…those are the figures that have been published but it could be much more. There are lots of people who get stomach sickness or food poisoning and don’t report it!

  2. B says:

    Oh, yes — Sarafina and Padarn should probably move along so that their dads can start their migrations, too. But I so enjoy watching dutiful “good dad” Louis continue to bring fish for daughter Sarafina at Loch Arkaig. (And Sarafina did fledge late — can we use the excuse that she needs more time to be ready?) S reminds me of Vera, also of Loch Arkaig, who also was slow to leave and kept Louis waiting a long time.

    1. Hasn’t it been a delight?!! I watch Sarafina and Louis and just think what a wonderful Dad he is…I hope Willow and Dorcha are safe. They sure took after Mum in their plumage. I suspect they will all go when they are ready and strong and we will miss them terribly! No further word on Doddie. I noticed that Louis looks like he needs a really good meal! Fingers crossed this amazing male gets ample time to refresh himself.

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