Without words…Middle dies at Port Lincoln

2 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

When I went to sleep last night, I knew that I would wake up and Middle would no longer be with us. What an absolutely tragedy. He was so dehydrated that he was no able to lift his little head and eat despite the fact that fish after fish came on the nest….and the one time he did, Big attacked him. I apologize for this newsletter being highly disjointed. I do get upset when one dies, it digs at my heart for the days leading up to the death and then after. Somehow Middle is hurting the most. He was 43 days old, fully feathered, and his death did not need to happen.

Middle when he was still alive. Cold and needing comfort.

At this moment in time, I cannot tell you how rare it is in % for two osplets to die of siblicide on the same nest. Yes, siblicide. Textbook siblicide again just as with Little Bob. Port Lincoln is the only osprey nest that I have ever encountered where a double siblicide has now been recorded in three years: 2022, 2016, and 2015.

In 2017, the eldest threw the youngest (only 2 hatched) off the nest at 65 days. Stevie went into rehab and died a few months later. It might well be this single incident 5 years ago that makes the Friends of Osprey believe that Ospreys do not do well in care. I say now – for the future – take a bold step Port Lincoln. Get permission to remove the chicks when it is not too late. Get them to a rehabber that cares – someone like Dr Madis in your area, there must be someone in the whole of Australia! – and let’s try this again! Don’t wait for them to be thrown out of the nest or get so weak they can’t raise their head.

Claudio Eduardo and I are developing the International Data Base for Ospreys. It is to find out this % on streaming cams. No one has ever tracked predation and siblicide internationally. Sadly, Port Lincoln is our first entry for the year.

Despite the anticipation of what seemed the inevitable, I was having a really hard time anticipating the death of Middle so, as usual, I began my blog for today quite early yesterday. Dear Middle wanted to be warm and wanted some fish. And darling you, you got spunky and we just knew you would make it — against the odds of this nest – with a big aggressive female as first hatch. I am so very, very sad that you didn’t.

________________________________________________________________

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope that this finds you well. There were some changes in my house yesterday. Two small rescue kittens, 11 weeks old, have come to stay. One is a soft long hair tabby female and the other is a grey tabby with white runners in front, tall boots in the back, a white bib and tummy and he is Lewis – after Lewis Hamilton, the race car driver from the UK. The reason is simple – Lewis runs around the house so fast from the front of the L to the conservatory barely stopping and heading back the other direction. I fell in love with him for his energy and love of toys. The yet-to-be-named female is sweet but, like the female raptors, she let Lewis know immediately that she is one week older and is ‘the boss’. He agreed and went on playing. They are getting along splendidly.

It was a real delight to watch Lewis sitting under the table peering out of the windows at the birds. I was ever so hopeful that they would enjoy watching them…they will never be outside to bother them. Did you know that, on average, outdoor cats live to be 5-6 years old while indoor cats live to be 17-20? Less vet bills, fewer infections. It is a no brainer — and the birds live. Not killed by an overfed pet to be left lifeless on the grass. Nope. Lewis and his sister can only dream!

It is very, very dark on the Canadian Prairies as the time nears 2100. The temperature is 11 degrees C. Warm for this time of year with clear skies and lots of stars. The temperature will rise overnight until it is an unthinkable 18 degrees C tomorrow. For those used to F, that is 64.4 degrees. In Port Lincoln, it is 14 degrees C at noon; it is 13 degrees in Melbourne. Similar. But for Port Lincoln this is freezing.

There are rumours making the circuit that Middle had a ‘ps’ (poop shoot) at Port Lincoln this morning. If that is the case, then Middle has had some fish. Osplets that have not eaten much in 3 days are dehydrated, no ‘ps’. I find that somewhat promising. And then I don’t. It is extremely cold and windy for Port Lincoln.

Fish arrived. Lots of fish. Big ate and ate. Middle got none.

It is now after 1400 on the nest. Middle has had scant food for more than 3 days. He appears to be slowly drifting away. His energy is gone. He is totally dehydrated. It is a horrible way to die. With winds gusting to sometimes 50 mph, I feel that there is no hope for this little fighter. It is a tragedy. I did not ever think that I would see this when things were looking up last week.

It is 2300 in Winnipeg. I know that Middle will not be here when I wake in the morning. We weep for all the Littles and sometimes a Middle…the people in the area that live and work in Port Lincoln, that care and love these Ospreys needs to have a serious look at the depletion of the fish in that region. More on that shortly.

I cannot even express how sad this is.

In his book, Bowland Beth. The Life of an English Hen Harrier, David Cobham says, ‘These young lives are full of hazards: they need to be able to contend with prolonged periods of bad weather; they run the risk of being shot; in the excitement of chasing prey they may collide with vehicles or overhead wires; ground predators sometimes catch them unawares at their roost sites; and inter-guild predation by buzzards and goshawks may also be responsible for culling weak and unwary juveniles.’ (90) We could change the language slightly for our Ospreys but, right now, the entire family at Port Lincoln is having to contend with a 3 or 4 day period of prolonged stormy and cold weather.

I am almost finished reading Bowland Beth. Cobham is a gifted writer. I know the ending of the story. Most that pick up the book already do but, we are draw into the life of this exceptional raptor that was cut short by the Red Grouse hunts. It is a riveting and moving book and a must read if you want to understand why it is so important to ban the annual shooting hunts on the big estates and why the burning of the heather should be banned, at the same time. It is also about the short live of a very exceptional raptor and that was enough to get me reading. Cobham draws you into the day to day life of this bird trying to survive.

Did you know that the origins of ringing birds is traced to the Reverend Gilbert White? I didn’t. He would tie a cotton ring around the leg of a swallow to see if it would return to the same nest the following year. The metal and coloured rings that we are familiar with today are credited to Harry Witherby and Landsborough Thomas of the British Trust for Ornithology in 1937.

When Bowland Beth was ringed, this was how she was described, ‘Bowland Beth was one of those birds that you come across now and then that are absolutely perfect – her plumage, a rich, glossy chocolate brown, the most wonderful eyes, yellow irises, and vivid chrome-yellow legs with formidable black talons. She’s what I call a ‘super’ hen harrier.’ (74-75) Oh, had she lived!

There are no issues with either the scrape at Orange or at 367 Collins Street. Regular meals, the eyases developing right on schedule as if they read the textbook! Rubus – I almost called the new kitten Rubus because it is so energetic – is being his usual self. Or is it a her? It will be interesting to see what Cilla says. Rubus has certainly had a spurt in growing but its legs seem long and thin to me for a female. But, I am not a falcon expert. Let’s see what Cilla has to say.

Following Diamond’s instructions, Xavier brought a Starling in for Rubus and Indigo. He left it on the scrape despite the prey begging from Rubus. These two will need to learn how to self-feed if they are to survive in the wild.

Rubus is very curious and picks on the feathers and the head under the watchful eye of Dad. Indigo is not dazed or interested.

Xavier leaves. Indigo has joined Rubus staring at the prey wondering what they are supposed to do with it.

In this image you can get a really good look at the difference four days makes in growth. Examine the length of the tail feathers and the amount of down left on the back and wings of each eyas. Rubus still looks like he has been playing in the cotton candy machine.

Rubus goes back and works on the head of the Starling.

Then Diamond arrives to feed these two…look at Rubus almost push Mum over trying to get a bite of food.

Rubus is very aggressive. S/he is very hungry!

What a bunch of characters. Just look at their eyes!

Speaking of adorable…here is a video of selfies from the Orange scrape from yesterday. Rubus and Indigo can put a smile on our face and take away the utter sadness that we feel for Middle and his plight.

There are falcons on the 367 Collins Street nest! Just look at them and look at that mess – poop shots everywhere, feathers all over the place, the messier the healthier. Seriously.

Sharon Pollock put together a good video highlighting the new female – the Mum of the extraordinary Melbourne Four of 2022.

Back in the world of Bald Eagles working on their nests and we find the female at nest E-3 at the Kistachie National Forest not liking the wires that Cody put up for the camera and the sound. Let’s hope she doesn’t decide to do serious damage! The white wire is the sound.

At the Bald Eagle nest on the campus of Berry College in Georgia, Missy and Pa Berry are getting their nest in order. They fledged B15 last year and what a fabulous fledgling he was!

The GHOWs are starting early at the Southwest Florida nest of Harriet and M15. They are already knocking Harriet off the attic branch and her and M15 haven’t even finished rebuilding the nest.

Making News:

This is a great read. One of the things that I want to point out is the thank you at the bottom to all those who voted. 50,000 Euros were at stake and that prize has gone to a place that can really use it to help protect the albatross. Next time you see a chance to vote, look over the possible recipients and make your mark. It can truly make a huge difference.

Dr Sharpe and all the researchers at the Institute for Wildlife Studies have developed a mobile hospital to take on the needs of the raptors. Now, isn’t this a great idea. Something like this might work well in places like South Australia where there are no such services for Ospreys! And if they could get an Urmas and Dr Madis on staff – willing to take on an extraordinary project to try and give birds a chance that are normally written off as not doing well in care — well, everyone would be a winner. I am still sending loud cheers to the team in Estonia who advanced knowledge in the care and rehabilitation of Black Storklings. Bonus is living proof that their theories on how to care for the storklets worked!

https://www.iws.org/mobile-wildlife-research-hospital

Someone asked me once – oh, more than once – how I can deal with siblicide. It tears a piece of your heart out every time. Today is particularly difficult. Keep Middle in your thoughts. May he fly far, never to be hungry, never to be hurt, never to be cold – again.

In the memory of Little and Middle and all the other osplets that died on this nest because of siblicide and the few who did live to fledge, It has to be asked, based on the historical evidence at this Osprey nest in South Australia, WHY is siblicide so prevalent? Is it the lack of fish in the area? the erratic fish deliveries? Are we witnessing in Australia the need to raise fish for our Osprey families because we are depleting the oceans? is climate change impacting the number of fish?

Someone needs to be asking these questions. As I was once told, Australia and New Zealand are on the front line for climate change. Australia do something bold. Show the world that you care for your wildlife. Be proactive like New Zealand is at Taiaroa Head. Feed the chicks! Feed them. Put fish on the nest at Port Lincoln. Stand up and make the argument to the Ministry of the Environment and Water. Raise the fish and place them on the nest openly and with permission. Pull an Urmas and Dr Madis – get so proactive that the world will not stop talking about your kindness and care for your wildlife.

I will be taking a day off in memory of both Little and Middle Bob. I will be back with you on the 4th of November.

Thank you for being with me today. We will collectively grieve for that beautiful second hatch at Port Lincoln who had such potential… a life that we will never witness now. Take care everyone. Be gentle on yourself.

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Albatross Lovers and BirdLife Australia, IWS, KNF, SWFL and the Pritchett Family, and Berry College Eagles.

11 Comments

  1. Fernando says:

    what I am seeing in port lincoln is something incredible that they must analyze as you say, if the osprey can develop there, I cried a lot this morning, it hurt me more medium than little, because its beauty was already formed and well recognizable face, this year I will finish seeing the nest, but if I see that it does not change, I will not see it anymore, in another order, I am very happy to know that in a few days Lena to captiva will be able to see it.

    1. Oh, Fernando, this is such a sad, sad loss. I am having difficulty comprehending it. I think you are with the hundreds of others who are mourning the loss of Middle. What a beautiful osplet he was and he had such potential. It saddens me that fish were placed on the nest just after 0900 and that they could not have come days before but only on the day the chick dies, like Little. Something has to be done and they need to find out what is the major impact on the ability of Dad to bring fish to the nest. I suspect it is the massive fish trawlers but I cannot prove that…coupled with warming seas and fish depletion. We could say genetics but that is difficult to prove and then there is the gender issue and birth order. Take care. We will look forward to seeing dear Lena again. I hope that Andy is with us. We will know soon.

      1. NC says:

        Did I see what I thought I saw. They took the body of #2 and left two fish. Is that the way it happened? If so, that is weird. So, they can interfere in the nest after an osprey dies? Oh, that’s just infuriating and makes absolutely no sense. Sorry to rant but that does not compute.

        Goodbye #2, gone but not forgotten.

        Enjoy the kitties I’m sure they’re a handful. They are so happy, playful and joyful when they’re little. It’s fun and keeps you distracted from the real world for a short time.

        NC

      2. Hi NC. First, there were fish left at 0900 on the nest. You could see the hands place them there so Port Lincoln did get permission to intervene and provide fish but, it was, sadly, too late for Middle just like it was for Little. The people with the power to give these permissions need to understand that decisions need to be made quickly, if not in advance. For example, If this happens, you have blanket permission to do this….And then, yes, they left the fish after they came on the nest to retrieve Middle. It is typical when chicks are banded that fish are left on the nest. A present of sorts for interfering. There is an issue with fish deliveries at this nest but I have yet to try and figure out precisely what it is. This morning right after 0700 one of the biggest fish of the season landed on the nest. The waters have calmed. Big and Mum ate for an entire and a half! — We are all sad about what has transpired. These birds become family. The two kittens are definitely a distraction! The quiet one turned out to be rather energetic too so they are a going concern. I hope to get a couple of pictures. There were 5 kittens and the Mum – I couldn’t take them all, sadly.

  2. Akane says:

    My sincere condolences to the Middle. Please fly high to the rainbow bridge and go to heaven. I loved them both as much as I loved the three of them and I am so sad….I am still crying.
    The wish we prayed for the Middle was not granted, but we hope this will lead to a better future for ospreys and birds.

    PS in the middle was at 15:06. I think you can still see it if you rewind it.

    I am glad that MaryAnn has a kitten in her home.
    Sorry for the delay, but I am glad to hear that you are recovering from the flu.

    1. Dear Akane, Thank you. I am fully recovered and there are two kittens who are bringing much happiness. I will go and check for the time stamp. Yes, let us hope that the persons who are there will begin to understand to give their permissions for intervention much, much earlier. It would help. We loved them all…it is sad to lose one but to lose two is heart breaking. So grateful for your kindness, Akane. I am still crying, too.

  3. Linda Kontol says:

    Oh Mary Ann this is so horrible
    And so unbelievable, but so true indeed!
    How many days was middle without food? I only knew of the two. I am so sorry and heartbroken and this should not of happened. We will always remember you Middle and also Little.
    May you both fly high together in Heaven and Rest In Peace my dear loved ones. 🙏🙏❤️❤️
    Linda

  4. beckyg@fuse.net says:

    Mary Ann,

    You don’t know me but I get your emails everyday. I truly enjoy all you have to say and your wisdom with the birds.

    I hope your day off gives you some extra quiet time and maybe a sleep in day. Little and Middle have been very stressful for us all but especially you! You need to take care of yourself and a “mental health” day is very good. You deserve it.

    There are a lot of people that love you that read your newsletters that you don’t even know about. We all thank you.

    I send you a pic from tonight’s Ft. Myers webcam at 7:40pm. Harriett and M are hanging out together watching over you. That is their way of thanking you for all you do to support raptors and all the animals you help. You are a Godsend to many creatures.

    Love,

    Becky

    1. Dear Becky, Thank you for your very kind letter and for writing to me. It is very nice to meet you and I am so glad that you enjoy and read the newsletters. It is a joy to meet such generous and kind people such as yourself. I am so very, very fortunate to have a community of people collectively grieving tonight for Middle and who care so much for our planet and its wildlife – and these amazing birds that bring us such joy. It is an extraordinary experience to share it with so many who feel the same. Thank you for the photo of Harriet and M15. They always put a smile on everyone’s face. I just love watching them work on that big nest of theirs deciding where to put the furniture! Thank you so much. You have touched my hear, Becky.

      1. beckyg@fuse.net says:

        Mary Ann,

        I cannot believe you took the time to reply to me when you should be resting. How do you ever keep up?

        I do not do any social media so I don’t see a lot of the blogs, facebook, etc. But I watch for your news and look at the cams myself. I mostly watch the US stuff since that is what I have access to.

        God bless you and may he help you ease some pain in the next weeks. It will take time, as you know, to feel less hurt when you know there were folks wanting to help but couldn’t. I am of the opinion that those same folks who wouldn’t allow for help for an animal that cannot help themselves medically will eventually answer upstairs at the gates. And when you get there, you will have so many “credits” that the gates will open wide for you! And all your animals will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge. https://www.rainbowsbridge.com/poem.htm

        Becky

      2. Oh, how lovely, Becky. Thank you! I only check FB for posts on the birds in case I was missing something important. Otherwise I just have no time for the trivia. I hope that those who can help will wake up to the fact that without the animals, the trees, the bees, and the insects there is nothing for humans. It is so very sad what we have done to our planet. But, this is such a lovely community of readers. If we could just get 10 people to get 10 people, etc to begin caring, my goodness wouldn’t that be wonderful. Thank you so much for the poem, too. So very kind of you.

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