Early Thursday in Bird World

3 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

Thank you for your very kind messages. I am phenomenally lucky to have such empathetic people in my life. The collective mourning of Middle is a way of healing our hearts and our minds. For many it will be some time when we can look at Big and not think of Little or Middle. The circumstances this year were very challenging to this Osprey family and it was not only the osplets that suffered from lack of fish but also, Mum and Dad. It was worrying watching Mum not have fish to eat. The water has calmed today and an enormous fish arrived early. Big and Mum ate for more than an hour and a half. The seas are calm and the weather is better.

You will, of course, notice that I say ‘she’ and I have always referred to Big as a female. Some wonder if it makes a difference on a nest if the first hatch is a big female. So, let me try to explain. If the entire clutch is female – and there were several Osprey nests in the UK this year with just females – Manton Bay at Rutland and Dyfi in Wales – there are no problems. If the clutch is all male such as that at Port Lincoln last year, the lads are angels. Put a big female at the head of a mixed clutch on a nest with problematic fish deliveries and well, you have trouble. The key phrase is ‘problematic fish deliveries.’ It can be as simple as only one fish arriving on a particular day mid-afternoon and immediately, the eldest female, who requires 50% more food (all females require more food to feather than the males) is alert that there might not be enough fish available to feed the entire family. In some instances, there are no problems with mixed clutches because the fish land on the nest, the feeding is extremely democratic, and well, life is good. If there is a problem, the first place to look is gender/birth order and a period of few fish being delivered. Because so few nests band and take DNA tests, it is impossible to say with 100% accuracy that the culprit is a large female first hatch but, overall, it appears that is the case.

It is very true. New kittens are a distraction. These two came on a day when I needed that, a wee break from the ospreys. (I highly recommend taking mental health time from the nests – it is very beneficial). These two are rescues. They were found as newborns along with their siblings and Mum. They went into foster care before they could be adopted. They are not related but, knock on wood, they are getting along splendidly.

This is Lewis. Named after Lewis Hamilton the race car driver because he zips around everywhere too fast.

This is Missey. She is a week older than Lewis, a really tiny fluffy girl. All that fur makes her look bigger than she is and she fooled Lewis right away, establishing her right to dominance. Lewis did not care! He just wants his food and his toys and some loving attention! Lewis enjoys seeing all the birds and squirrels in the garden and Missey could care less. She likes her cat tree and she has taken over the hidey-hole in it.

In the Mailbox:

Many wrote to ask if they were seeing things. ” Were there really fish left after Middle’s body was retrieved?”

The answer is ‘yes’. There is a standard practice by banders to leave fish on the nest after they remove the chicks from the nest and return them. Additionally, there were fish placed on the Port Lincoln barge nest just around 0906. You could see two hands. It is apparent that Port Lincoln applied for and was given permission to supplement the fish for the nest. Sadly, those fish came late. Hopefully permission can be given to PLO for eventualities, a blanket permission if this situation presents itself in the future.

The Australian Nest and Scrapes:

367 Collins Street. The Melbourne Four. Look at that eyas below. There are only a couple of dandelions on the head and wing, reminders of its fluffy youth. What a beautiful falcon. It is the 4th of November in Melbourne. If the scrape at Charles Sturt University in Orange goes on fledge watch around the 12th, this means that we are entering fledge watch at the Melbourne scrape for the eldest tomorrow. I must check that!

‘H’ reports that there were at least two prey drops on camera and one off yesterday. The eyases have also been chewing on all the leftovers in the scrape.

And if you are wondering, no one cleans up the area. The wind and the rain between the end of this season and the beginning of next seem to do a good job. Falcons also like to know that wherever they raise their eyases is a good prey area so if they see a scrape like this one, well, they will know in an instant. That said, you will notice, that when the eyases are quite tiny the Mum will keep the scrape pristine for a bit. It helps to detract predators if there are any.

Wow. Look at those wings!

Seriously adorable.

Mum deserves to be proud. Look at her four ‘babies’. They are nearly ready to fly off the ledge and start learning how to hunt their own prey. Soon – if they have not already started – Mum and Dad will do flying lessons, some with and some without prey, to lure the eyases into fledging. There is still some time to go. They need their fluff gone!

Do you remember when we worried so much about this particular scrape? I have almost forgotten Mum leaving these wee ones in the middle of the day in the Melbourne heat before they could stomp down to the other end. They survived. Mum and Dad did well – first time parents.

Rubus and Indigo are precious. Fledge watch will start for Indigo on the 12th of November. I simply hope that Rubus doesn’t do what he always does and copy her immediately. He will not be ready.

The only prey so far at Orange is the early delivery of that large prey item. It is now 1439. As the chicks get older, the number of feedings drops considerably because the eyases can eat more and more at one sitting. I bet they would love a parent to fly in with a nice fat pigeon right about now.

One of the most tender moments on any nest is when one of the adults feeds the other. In this case, this morning Mum fed Dad at Port Lincoln. He brought in a huge fish and Mum and Big had been eating for an hour and a half. What a wonderful way to thank your mate. And it was more than one bite!

We need to pause and imagine just how hungry Mum was. I need to remind myself of this. How many times did we see her feed almost every bite of fish to the osplets? or just to Big without having more than a handful of bites herself. She must stay healthy and the same goes for Dad. I often say it is like flying in the plane, ‘Put the oxygen mask over the adult before the child.’ Mum did not always do that and there were plenty of times that Dad came to the nest and there was no leftover fish.

Both of these parents are mourning the loss of their chick. They don’t have the liberty to take a mental health day like I did, they must be there and carry on, making sure Big fledges.

The arrival of the big fish on the nest this morning.

It was a lot of fish and would keep Big until tomorrow if another does not come on the nest today.

Port Lincoln has expressed some concern that other chicks were lost on unmonitored nests during this period of bad weather where the males were unable to bring in enough fish.

Let us all hope collectively that permissions to assist with fish come in a timely manner or a blanket permission.

Migration News:

Bonus has found a good place to rest and feed now that he has left Greece. He is currently in Konya Province in Turkey just north of Lake Seydisehir.

Waba is feeding along the Nile River in Egypt.

Making News Elsewhere:

I am finishing reading Bowland Beth, the story of an extraordinary Hen Harrier who died way too young. A second book, The Hen Harrier’s Year by Ian Carter and Dan Powell (newly released) arrived today. I am very interested in the topic of the Hen Harrier because they are becoming more rare than they already are because of persecution by grouse hunting community and the games keepers. In the Foreword to the book, Roger Riddington states, ‘In recent years the Hen Harrier has become the de facto flagship species for the birding community in its stance against raptor persecution.’ While the Hen Harriers are, in particular, being shot with their populations on the knife edge, it is also other raptors that we should be concerned with as well – such as the White-tailed Eagle.

A recent report talks about the ghastly people who are these games keepers and how sadistic they are. It is good that the Scottish government has taken a stance and the prison terms will be such that they might deter the practice. The real way is to outlaw hunts. Fox, Red Grouse, you name it…outlaw them.

Convicted Millden Estate gamekeeper Rhys Davies had ‘formed a close bond’ with another animal-fighting sadist – Raptor Persecution UK

Something to feast your eyes on – patterns created by our feathered friends in flight.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2022/oct/29/xavier-bou-ornithographies-birds-patterns-flight-in-pictures

What if there are no birds to create the images the artist depicted above? What if the climate is heating faster and faster and warming the seas quicker? There are many sobering questions for humans who have caused the destruction of our planet and the myriad of challenges for our beloved birds (and all wildlife). The warnings of our planet heating faster than anticipated are beginning to make headlines in certain papers.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/02/europes-climate-warming-at-twice-rate-of-global-average-says-report

There is also news coming in regarding SE29 from the Sea Eagle Cam. There is no news on SE30.

November 2 : news from the vet caring for SE29 : today SE29 has moved into a slightly larger room that can be monitored with CCTV -doing as well as can be expected , everything is stable at this point.

Harriet and M15 on the branches after working hard on rebuilding their nest destroyed by Hurricane Ian. If they don’t put a smile on your face, I honestly do not know what will!

The first Bald Eagle egg of the year has been laid in Florida. That honour goes to the nest of Superbeaks, Muhlady and Pepe. The first egg of the Royal Albatross season has been laid at Taiaroa Head. Those parents are GK (Green Black) and BKW (Blue Black White).

Remember to send some of the names you came up with for the Alphabet Game by midnight tonight! E-mail is: maryasteggles@outlook.com

Thank you so much for being with me this morning and being the caring community that you are. Please take care as we all collectively heal. See you tomorrow!

Thank you to the following for their posts, their videos and/or their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘H’, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, SWFlorida Eagles and D Pritchett, The Guardian, and those great people at the Looduskalender Forum.

8 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Hello Mary Ann and thanks for all these updates, photos, and links to watch and read about. The little eyases are not little anymore. Look at them feathers! I hope they don’t leave to quick but best of luck to them when they do! They are beginning to look a lot like their parents.💕💕💕💕
    We hope and pray for deliveries to the nests who need them in time not to loose anymore ospreys . 🙏❤️
    I bet Indigo and Rubus are waiting on their big lunch today! They are also growing fast and so adorable. 💕💕
    The Port Lincoln Mom and Dad are definitely awesome parents and that was nice of Mom to feed Dad this time too. ❤️❤️ Big doesn’t have to worry anymore now that she won’t have enough food.
    The kittens are surely cute. Thanks for the pics of them.
    Have a great day and look forward to seeing you here again soon! I
    Linda

    1. Oh, thank you, Linda. It is my pleasure. I sure wish the news was good about Port Lincoln and we will continue to hope for fish for them, enough for everyone. The kittens are definitely keeping me busy! More kitten photos than birds! LOL. Take care. Lovely to hear from you, as always.

  2. Shannon Pack says:

    You are a wonderful asset to bird lovers. Kudos for sharing the knowledge with us. You are appreciated.

    1. Oh, Shannon, it is my pleasure. What a wonderful community of people we have with us…Thank you so much for your kindness.

  3. Akane says:

    Thanks for the update and the pictures of the kittens. They are so adorable and gorgeous!
    It melted my heart in the depths of grief!
    I am happy that all the falcons are growing well. Rubus is very noisy and fun.

    1. Oh. you are so welcome. I am so glad that you enjoyed the pictures and I will post some more. Akane, they are a wonderful distraction from the utter saddness at Port Lincoln. Lewis is more active than the moment I first saw him but each of them holds their own against the other unlike the birds. Now, Akane, are you also thinking that Rubus is a female? Rubus is so aggressive and growing so big that I wonder if the first slow days of eating when she couldn’t compete with Indigo just set her back a bit and now she can eat and eat and Indigo has to fight for bites???

  4. Alison says:

    Still holding my breath for news of Kaia and Karl 2, though it’s great to hear that Bonus and Waba are doing so well.
    I am waiting for a fledge any day at Collins Street – today is the day I think (Sunday 6 November in Melbourne). All four were awake very early (5am) this morning and they were gutter stomping and running down the ledge, flapping their wings madly, well before sunrise. It is going to be very hard to know what is going on at the original scrape end of the gutter – last year, the camera was facing the opposite way to now and we caught three fledges on camera (though one may have fledged twice and we actually missed the third). Of course the fourth died of trichomoniasis very shortly before fledging time.
    The news that we have our first albatross egg at the New Zealand colony is wonderful, though I continue to worry about OGK and QT (I still maintain she was too young to fledge – it was the strong winds of that storm combined with the slippery footing that caused QT to suddenly find herself seriously airborne).
    Harriet is regularly giving M15 ‘the foot’ at SWFL – she is very keen for eggs, so I presume she is producing something she wants fertilised NOW.
    And what a treat it was the other day to see bonding at Cal Falcons and at the Sydney Olympic Park sea eagle nest. Speaking of which, reading between the lines of that announcement, I do hope that they are not planning to euthanise SE29 if the break does not heal well enough for it to be released into the wild. Surely it would be kept in captivity as an ambassador bird.

    1. Oh, I missed the Cal Falcons bonding. Thank you for telling me. Yes, Royal Albatross. I believed OGK was lost to his world when he had not returned by the middle of July. What a fantastic father he was and how sad for all concerned. I put him on my list of remembered feathered friends quite some time ago. QT might fare better. Let us hope. That was quite the storm. I do worry about all of them that leave early. It was only recently that a bird with only one leg got the good leg caught in a fence and had to be euthanized. Some can live with only one but not a Sea Eagle. But there are many ways of repairing legs and I suspect if they can make a 3-D beak then they could try for a leg. Best to try and fail than to just give up. It could work!

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