Tragedy hits Fortis Exshaw again as JJ dies…Sunday in Bird World

13 August 2023

Hello Everyone,

Saturday was nothing short of a day full of anxiety for many of our Osprey nests. We have lost another beautiful bird nearing fledge, and we are consumed with worry over Mini and how fast our darling girl can heal. Loch Garten has me worrying that more fledglings might have died or been injured due to KL5’s aggressions. My blog today runs over with the harsh reality of the lives of our beloved fish-eating eagles. Sometimes these events just take the wind out of our sails and we need time to just sit and stare at the wall.

It is one of those osprey seasons where we have cried buckets and Saturday evening is no exception. Louise and Jasper’s second hatch, JJ, succumbed to starvation at 21:21:50. He had not been allowed to eat for more than forty-eight hours. The two fish that came to the nest on Saturday were eaten entirely by Banff, the first hatch and much larger female.

Fortis-Exshaw has seen its share of sadness this season, beginning with the loss of the male, Jasper, when the chicks were only wee. The third hatch immediately became a victim of siblicide/starvation. Then O’Hara comes on the scene to help Louis feed the two surviving chicks and the relentless intruders. We believed that everything would be alright. Then there are wildfires, more intruders, and then Louise is left defending the nest and providing for the chicks – again – on her own. Condolences all around. JJ was adored for his sweet nature.

Look at that beautiful, fully feathered osplet on the left – sweet JJ. Soar high little one, soar high. It is simply hard to believe.

These are ‘H’s notes about Saturday at Fortis:

” Oh, dear . . what happened to all the fish that used to be brought to this nest?  I wish Louise could tell us.  JJ had not eaten since 1808 on 8/10.  There were only two fish brought to the nest by Louise on 8/12.  The first fish at 1259 was rather small.  JJ fought Banff valiantly for it, and was able to tear off a small piece, but Banff won the fish.  After Banff ate that fish, she put on a surprising aerial display of out-of-sight hovers.  The next fish was at 1409, and it was very large.  It was enough for a couple of meals each for Banff and JJ.  There was a three-way battle for that fish.  JJ had it for only a few seconds, then Banff took it, but Louise took it from Banff.  Louise wanted to feed, but unfortunately only Banff came to the table.  JJ had been jumped on by Banff during the tussle for the fish, and JJ ended up cowering over on the sidelines.  After just a few minutes of Louise feeding, Banff pulled the fish away from Louise, and Louise left the nest a short time later.  We all thought that Banff would eat her fill then walk away from the fish, so then JJ would be able to eat.  But, apparently Banff’s mindset was becoming more survivalist, and adult-like.  Whereas she previously would walk away from a fish when she was full, today she did not walk away.  It was Banff’s intention to maintain possession of ‘her fish’.  So, she would take long breaks from eating and simply stand on the fish.  JJ tried unsuccessfully to take the fish a couple of times.  Almost 2 1/2 hours after she started eating, Banff left a tail+ piece on the nest.  JJ never even knew it was there, and Banff finished it later.  JJ passed late in the evening at 55 days of age, and he was reunited with his Dad, Jasper.  Fly high JJ, and may you always have a full crop.  We are so very glad that we met you, and we will never forget you. “

On Sunday morning, Banff flew to the perch. It is highly likely that she might fledge today. Louise has not been seen on the nest since JJ died that I am aware.

On top of this great sadness, there is also some great joy. ‘H’ reports that Dorsett, the only surviving osplet, of Duke and Daisy at Barnegat Light caught her first fish ‘on camera’ yesterday. “Dorsett caught her first fish, 13 days after she fledged.  She caught an Atlantic needlefish, and ate the entire fish on Duke’s perch.  Way to go, Dorsett!” We must rejoice in this – because hundreds and hundreds (if not thousands and thousands) of little osplets died on the nest during those horrible storms in mid-June. Dorsett is the only one from Duke and Daisy’s nest to make it and she is amazing.

‘H’ also reports on good news at Kent Island, “Kent Island – At approximately 1655 Molly made a perfect landing back on her nest, 25 hours after she fledged.  She was soon treated to a nice fish from her Mom.  It’s great to see you back, Molly!”

There has been a lot of discussion about how Mini might have injured her leg. We will never know. There are endless possibilities. Whatever happened occurred off the nest, away from the camera. My ‘dime’s worth’ is on a fish fight with someone. At the RSPB nest, the 2-year-old returnee KL5 has been ruthless in seeing off this year’s fledglings (2C4 and 2C5) – in dramatic, unrelenting and harmful ways. He is determined to take this nest.

Most of the time, we think of Ospreys being relatively docile compared to other raptors, but we must remember that they are Apex predators. And while they do not have the type of talons to fight head to toe with eagles and hawks, the battles between Ospreys can get superheated and very intense, as this video shows.

At Patchogue, Mini had everyone concerned Saturday morning when she dangled her left leg while sitting on the perch. I want to think that she did not want to put pressure on the leg – to allow the swelling to go down and this healing process to accelerate. So far, she does not appear lethargic. Everyone loves Mini and wants this super special lass to achieve great things, not be suffering from an injury. So – it is tough for everyone to watch and to wait and see how this plays out. It appears that Dad might be feeding Mini off nest – perhaps she has found a place where it is easier for her to hang on to the fish (a nice big flat surface like a roof) and eat slowly.

The ‘elephant in the room is the lingering question: will Mini heal enough to care for herself by the time Dad and she need to leave on their migration?

Saturday morning at Patchogue:

Mini is fish calling really loud this morning. She is spunky and alive and wants Dad to get there in a hurry. Please send her your best wishes! We want our dear little one to heal quickly. The good news is she is not lethargic.

There is also good news coming out of NZ for the supplementary feeding for the Royal Cam chick worked wonders. ‘A’ reports, “In New Zealand, Manaaki is very active following his supplementary feeding and has spent the days since gardening up a storm and ticking off the local scenic walks. (He has ventured even further than before in his explorations.) What a beautiful creature he really is. His fluff is almost gone now and we are looking at a juvenile now, not a chick. Our gorgeous boy.”

What would our world be like if all the people who owned streaming cams took the same great care with such compassion as NZ? When the parents do not show up or there is not enough food, they feed the chicks!

‘A’ reports that someone is going out to fix the camera at the barge in Port Lincoln on Monday (today in Australia). We are waiting for the first egg for Mum and Dad.

A very quick look at some other nests that have caused some worry in previous weeks.

MN Arboretum- Fish are coming on the nest and the beautiful osplet, fully feathered and nearing fledge, is doing a good job at self-feeding. You can sure see the change in the landscape now – from dry soil to corn growing!


That is wonderful news to see this little third hatch eating so well.

PF4 has been caught on camera at Loch of the Lowes!!!!!

I have been so worried about this nest. We can now see PF4 also catching her own fish – the second time on camera. But, look at her, she must have been catching fish all along. Mum Blue NC0 has not been seen since 15 July and PF5, the younger brother, for some weeks now, too. It is unclear what is happening with Laddie LM12. But, for now, we can rejoice that this fledgling is surviving by her own fishing – a skill set that she is perfecting before she migrates.

I always appreciate Emyr Evans Science Sundays. Ospreys and catching fish – we have seen their dives. They are so brilliant – it is one of the most incredible things to watch.

Like so many of you I needed a little break for today. I find the situation at Fortis-Exshaw a little overwhelming – it has been like a roller coaster – and I cannot imagine how Louise is feeling.

Thank goodness for the kittens who bring me such joy! Always together, always loving towards one another. I hope that the introduction of Calico does not change the dynamics too much.

Please take care everyone. Let us collectively take a deep breath and turn our attention back to sending good energy towards Mini at Patchogue. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their notes, posts, videos, and streaming cams that helped me to write my blog this morning: ‘A, H, PB, R’, Fortis Exshaw, Conserve Wildlife of NJ, Kent Island, RSPB Loch Garten, PSEG, NZ DOC, MN Landscape Arboretum, Pam Breci and The Joy of Ospreys, The Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Dyfi Osprey Project.

Leave a Reply