Waiting for E22, wildlife protection laws in Northern Ireland and more…Friday in Bird World

6 January 2022

Good Morning Everyone!

It was -12 degrees C with no wind Thursday. The sky was a bright blue and there was hoar frost on the trees and shrubs. My photographs do not do the frost justice – it is like a fairy wonderland out there.

Today was my first walk at the nature centre this year. The lake is frozen and it is gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.

According to the Woodland Trust, “Hoar frost is a type of feathery frost that forms as a result of specific climatic conditions. The word ‘hoar’ comes from old English and refers to the old age appearance of the frost: the way the ice crystals form makes it look like white hair or a beard. It forms when the water vapour in the air comes into contact with solid surfaces that are already below freezing point. Ice crystals form immediately, and the ice continues to grow as more water vapour is frozen. On a still night, it can grow well on tree branches, where the surface temperature is unlikely to rise above zero for several hours.”

It was a bit of a fairy tale day. I had not expected to see any birds but, right off, there was a pair of Downy Woodpeckers – a male and a female – as I entered the forest. It felt like a really nice greeting.

When I went to submit the three Downy Woodpeckers to eBird, Cornell thought that was absolutely too many for this date. Thankfully I had images of the three of them. (The third was at a feeder).

There were only two Red Squirrels that I could see. One was eating out of this feeder and the other one was finding seed on the ground.

The Chickadees are so sweet. They will follow you through the forest.

There had been five deer feeding I was told but, this was the only one left when I got to the hide. It was about 3 metres away from me.

It was a good day to get outside for other reasons, too. E21 hatched! E22 is on its way and will be here by tomorrow morning. E21 is so cute and adorable and in a few days everyone will be yelling at that eaglet to stop beaking its sibling. It just happens. So, today was a good day just to be somewhere else.

And it starts. Those lovely soft feathers are going to be just coated and matted together with fish juice and pieces of prey! M15 had the honours of dropping this big piece of prey on E21’s little beak.

Oh, I hope E21 isn’t a little stinker. Looks like an eaglet with attitude.

Harriet is a pro of an Eagle Mother. How old is she now? 26? 28? The fact that the second egg is already pipping is a testament to her experience. The closer they are in hatch times, the better for them – more evenly matched in their dust ups.

Harriet was feeding E21 when the camera zoomed in and caught the precise moment that E22 broke through the membrane and the shell. Lady Hawk has it on video:

The progress at 0736 Florida time Friday morning for E22.

I am so glad that I did not get to see inside the Superbeaks nest. If you think the age and size difference is a lot at KNF-E3 with Alex and Andria, it has to be even a little more at Superbeaks. That first hatch is monster size compared to the little second one. We are now at the stage where they both have thermal down, there is plenty of food, and both are being fed well. My only worry – that will cause some minutes of loss of sleep – is that one area of the nest without a rail. One of the eaglets was hanging its head over that end today! By the way, jump for joy. The rain cleared off the camera (mostly).

Pepe is an amazing fisher and Muhlady has managed to raise two very different aged eaglets. Remarkable. Now I wish they would get their carpentry skills out and get with adding some chair rails before I have a heart attack!

Our very own Dave Hancock answers some questions that have come up about Bald Eagles and mating.

There they are. The beautiful Liberty and Guardian.

Thunder and Akecheta were at their West End nest in the Channel Islands. There has been rain and storms in the area but, it sure is beautiful around 1630 when the pair were spotted on the streaming cam.

The other Channel Islands nests – Fraser Point and Two Harbours – continue to show highlights from last season.

There was rain and pelting hail and show today at Big Bear. It did not stop Jackie from coming to the nest to eat her late lunch at 1344!

Nancy came to the MN-DNR to do a nest check today after the snowy weather yesterday.

The two eaglets at the KNF-E3 nest are doing fantastic. Prey items are continually brought to the nest and if the angle is right you can see the feathers coming in on the wing tips of 01.

They are both getting longer and more slender looking as they move towards losing that natal down and getting their wooly coat.

They still seem to have fat little bottoms with tails coming in.

Gosh, Andria is huge. She sure loves her fish!

The continuing saga of Gabby and V3! Thanks ‘J’. I didn’t see this but saw them sitting together. These two seem to have communication problems over prey deliveries and now Gabby’s signals to want to mate. Goodness.

Lots of eyes trying to get a glimpse of the eggs at the KNF-E1 nest of Louis and Anna. Is there a pip? It is not clear.

My memory – of the first eaglets to die in 2022 of Avian Flu – was the Hilton Head Eagle nest. At the time it was unclear if the parents had gotten sick or died from eating the virus laden prey. This announcement was posted in December. We will wait to see if the eagles return to the nest? Perhaps, sadly, they also passed away later. The GHOWs are still at the nest today, 5 January.

It appears that Diane – of Jack and Diane – at the Achieva Osprey Cam in St Petersburg, Florida is doing better today with her injured leg. That is excellent news!

I am continually surprised at how adaptable wildlife her to the challenges thrown at them. At the same time, I wonder why we do not give them that change to prove themselves? Why not a one legged eagle? Dennis Brecht has photographed one. Just asking. Check out this fox! Only 2 legs.

One reason that I continually peck at this issue is that when I was born, my dad had a three-legged dog that guarded my basket and enjoyed life like any other four-legged animal. I do not recall her having issues but, I do know that she lived to be more than 20 years old.

Before I went to the nature centre, I had a couple of things to pick up. Without naming the store, I noticed a woman fumbling around with a lot of things in aisle 6 – this aisle was fully of products to get rid of ants, mice, etc. I decided to ‘be nosey’. The woman told me she had mice and she had successfully used the traps with the cubes of rodenticide poisoning and also just to be sure, she puts glue traps on the floor around the traps.

I am so aware of the harmful effects of secondary rodenticide poisoning because of Missy and Lewis and losing a cat years ago to these designer toxins. Of course, we read about secondary poisoning for our eagles and other raptors every day. Every day. So I asked the woman some questions. How do you dispose of the glue pads once you have caught your mouse who has died a horrifically painful death? Did she imagine that the garbage bag could get ripped open by wildlife at the landfill and then it would also ‘trap’ them? Did she know that the mice eating the solid blocks of poison go outside, get sludgy and a local cat or hawk can eat them and die? I recounted the horrible death of Duncan – nothing the vets could do. This woman had no idea. She also had no idea that our City outlawed the use and sale of both products. So why are they still on the store’s shelf? My rant had zero impact as I saw her loading the items in her cart. She is more troubled by having the mice around and doesn’t care what happens to the pets of others or the wildlife. Sad.

All of this brings me to a very sad story. Remember the eagle floating on the ice? the one who was saved? and went into rehab?

More eagles in a different state – this time Montana – poisoned from euthanised pets being dumped. It sounds like this practice is more wide spread than anyone would have thought. Isn’t it time for someone to investigate and get in touch with every Vet society there is to stop this inhumane dumping practice that is causing widespread suffering in the Eagles. Cremation is the only way. Just do it.

Keeping in the thread of rodenticide and all manner of illegal killing of raptors – their persecution, we know that there are people working very hard to change laws in every country. Once on the books to try and get those laws enforced and then strengthen them when need be. It is not easy as you have seen by the postings from Raptor Persecution UK. I want to be hopeful that ‘finally’ people at all levels – including the highest in governments – will notice that there is a sea change and the population wants our wildlife, our water, and our land protected. We know the importance of this – help spread the word. Finally for today and certainly not least, Northern Ireland passed its own laws similar to those in the UK. Well done, Wild Justice. You can follow their progress and that in the UK by following Wild Justice and Raptor Persecution UK. Here is the announcement. Thanks, Geemeff for reminding me to post this important information!

Northern Ireland: new general licences which permit killing of a variety of birds are now published (link 1 below) The new licences are much improved: fewer species are listed and the lists make a lot more biological sense. For a bit more detail see our blog (link 2 below) 

These licences are now much closer in line with those in England (where we have taken successful legal challenges), Wales (where we took the former licences to court and although we lost the case, the changes that followed were what we had asked for) and Scotland (where changes have happened in response to those elsewhere in the UK and without us having to intervene, as yet). In particular, the slimmed down version of the ‘conservation’ licence, TPG3, only applies during the breeding season and only includes a couple of corvid species.  In addition, the licences are much better and more tightly worded than before.  

It has taken a long time, and quite a lot of effort, and quite a lot of money spent on legal fees, to get these changes but they wouldn’t have happened without Wild Justice. And by Wild Justice we mean you, our supporters too because many of you responded to the consultations (one aborted and one completed) that the Northern Ireland authorities launched.  And, of course, you funded all the legal challenges across the UK. You helped get this change – thank you.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Please take care of yourself as we await the hatch of E22. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their notes, announcements, postings, Twitter feeds, videos, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: SWFL Eagles and D Pritchett, Lady Hawk and SWFL Eagles and D Pritchett, Superbeaks, FORE, IWS and Explore.org, FOBBV, MN-DNR, KNF-E3, NEFL-AEF , NEFL-AEF and Lady Hawk, KNF-E1, Hilton Head Island Trust, Achieva Ospreys, The Telegraph, Terry Carman and Bald Eagle Live Nest Cams, Geemeff and Wild Justice, and Wild Skies Raptor Centre.

4 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Oh thank you Mary Ann for the lovely pictures from your area ! I think woodpeckers are so
    Beautiful and the deer too!
    Hopefully little E22 will get here soon enough that there won’t be too
    Much pecking going on 💕🐣💕🐣
    Still praying for the rodenceride and the lead ammunition to be gone 🙏
    Prayers for every nest and anomals not to be with the awful avian flu 🙏
    Thanks you Mary Ann for all these updates and photos and very good
    info ! Have a great afternoon and hope to see you again soon here !
    Linda

    1. Hi Linda, Thank you so much for your comment. I am so glad you loved the local wildlife pictures. It was so nice to be outside and it wasn’t so cold! Yes, I wish E22 would get here. I had hoped for a quick 6-8 hours like 17 and 18 but it doesn’t look like it. More sad stories about lead coming. Why can’t humans do the right thing and create policies?

      1. Linda Kontol says:

        That is right Mary Ann! I wish they would. This is so very sad. I pray enough people will start to help but what can we do to help with this problem for our birds?

      2. It is a huge question! Huge…The US needs to outlaw lead in hunting and fishing and educate fishers on the need to clean up after themselves. That would be a huge step. If everyone wrote to their representatives and made that a priority in terms of wildlife, I think you would see a change in the deaths and admissions to rehab for lead based issues. It would be a start and we have to start somewhere.

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