Skydancing…the plight of the Hen Harrier and Mini is adapting…Friday in Bird World

18 August 2023

Good Morning,

It is Thursday afternoon and it is nearly 1400. A Cooper’s Hawk has just landed above my head on the Conservatory. A summer fledgling who has found the garden and its hundreds and hundreds of Sparrows, the snack of choice for this raptor. You have to look in their eyes – just once – directly and you will melt. It was a long time ago now that I ran into the garden through deep snow for fear that a very large female Shark-shinned Hawk was eating Hedwig, the resident rabbit. She wasn’t but, in an instant, our eyes met one another. There was a meeting of spirits. I understand fully the Circle of Life and for this beautiful raptor she needed food. I love raptors – some people don’t. They see them as big mean birds.

Today, there will be little news from nests but I want you to understand, by listening, what all the fuss is about the hunting estates, and the extinction of the Hen Harrier.

So please listen! You also get an explanation of the Inglorious 12th of August. I hope you understand why stomping on a nest of innocent Hen Harrier chicks makes me ill and causes my anxiety to rise. The wealthy pay 1000s of GBP per day to shoot grouse but they also stay in hotels, eat at restaurants, and spend money in the villages. The fines and punishments mean nothing because killing birds is big business with the Driven Grouse Moors seen to be a ‘part of traditional Britain’ – which they are. We live in the 21st century and our attitudes towards killing have changed since medieval times.

There are three episodes. Educate yourself and listen to all of them. Imagine the vast expanse of Scotland because this is where this happens.

Part One. Susie’s Chicks

Part Two. The Perfect Crime.

Part Three. An Open Secret

There are so many good books out there on Hen Harriers. They are such beautiful raptors. These are two of my favourites:

At Patchogue, Mini had four fish on Thursday. She ate the majority of each of them proving that she is adapting to her situation. It has been over a week now that she appeared on the nest with her injury.

When there is not much of the fish left – or if they are small, to begin with – Mini has difficulties because she still cannot put weight on that left leg. She can’t hold down the fish and pull. Today, she was persistent in working on the tail of one of those deliveries. Tried to work on a tiny piece! Dad brought the fourth fish in, a small one, late in the day. Mini worked and worked, and she succeeded – this fish, not a bite of it, went overboard.

Gosh, she is beautiful.

Mini is desperately trying to get every morsel of that fish tail.

Mini worked and worked an she horked all of that fish tail!

All gone.

We have to watch Mini’s progress. She appears more steady on her legs, less wobbly – although at the end of the day – around 1952 when she flew off the perch she appeared to have trouble -, uses her wings to help her, and is enthusiastic in her fish calling. She is flying. Dad continues to feed his youngest. What we know about Mini’s personality is this – she survived against great odds – one of only a few (I have to find those stats) fourth hatches to live this season. She is intelligent, tenacious, and she does not give up. She works hard. If all of my university students had those qualities, teaching would have been a breeze!

Good Night, Mini.

There is good news about Ervie who is enjoying Turnby Bay!

Waiting and watching as Dad continues to deliver fish to Mum at Port Lincoln.

At Sydney Sea Eagles, little 32 (noticeably smaller now than 32) still waits submissively while 31 eats. The fish was very large, and 31 was full, and the baby ate. The pattern of domination was set early. We can still see some of the feathers missing from 32.

“A’ gives us the rundown: “Dad came to the nest shortly after 9.35 and asked Lady whether it was okay for him to have some of the leftover fish. Surprisingly, she actually agreed! She stood up from brooding the chicks and flew off, leaving him to have a snack and then feed the remainder of the fish to SE31 (well, SE32 got about half a dozen or perhaps eight mouthfuls at the beginning of the feed, but as soon as SE31 beaked him, pulled out another beakful of feathers (she can’t shake SE32 any more – he’s too big now – but still grabs a beakful of feathers somewhere on SE32’s head or neck and twists back and forth till he pulls out the feathers, leaving herself spitting out fluff), he went into submission. Late in the feed, Dad tried to offer him a bite but SE32 shrank away, which confused Dad, who didn’t try again. SE32 still has a huge crop from breakfast, so if he doesn’t eat again for the rest of the day, he will be fine… As long as SE31 has had enough, she is perfectly happy to watch her little brother stuffing himself to the brim. On other occasions, though, she continues to return to the table, and as long as she is that close, SE32 is fearful, with good reason, as SE31 will often react to any food given to SE32 by beaking him.”

Friday morning Xavier had stashed a fresh European Starling in the corner of the scrape. We know that this is not Diamond’s favourite breakfast but…she was hungry. Went over and accepted the food gift and out she went. Still waiting for eggs.

Three healthy and happy fledglings at Boulder County hoping that they will be the lucky one to get the fish delivery.

At the time of my writing, Maya was still at Rutland.

Only four so far reported crossing over the Straits of Gibraltar.

This is Thursday’s chart from Hawk Mountain in PA, USA.

Migration is on everyone’s mind and Tiger Mozone posted an older chart showing the relationship between fledge dates and migration from Loch Garten.

A note came to me today stating that the Middle hatch at Achieva is doing very well and is flying around. He needs to gain some weight before release. This is all good. You might recall that he was falling off the nest – dehydration/starvation – and was monitored and picked up for rehab.

Voldis and Milda continue to provide prey items for their two fledglings at the Durbe County White-tail Eagle nest in Latvia. LizM catches one of those deliveries on video.

LizM catches Karl II coming in with a load of fish for his three fledglings in the Karula National Forest nest in Estonia.

Ludo has not had anything to eat as of 0900 Thursday morning due to intruders at Loch Arkaig. Has Dorcha left for migration? Geemeff reminds us that she departed on the 18th last year. Louis is probably fighting intruders. Certainly Ludo is having to deal with them. Poor thing. What is up with these intruders this year?

‘H’ reports that it was a good day at Fortis Exshaw: “All things considered, it was a good day.  I think the cam viewers are in agreement that any day where Banff has a couple of fish to eat and she is not snatched from the nest by an intruder, it is a good day!  Louise delivered one of her signature ‘whale’ fish at 0619.  Banff would eat from that monster fish on and off until 1551.  At 0626 Louise flew off the nest with one of the nearly-whole leftover fish that she had delivered in the evening on 8/16.  At 0630 and 0631 Banff was buzzed by an intruder.  Louise quickly flew to the nest holding what appeared to be the same fish she had just removed.  Then, when Louise flew off to chase the intruder, she left that fish in the nest.  Banff picked up the 0632 fish and deftly laid it right beside her ‘whale’ fish.  That was so cute.  So, the 0632 fish brought to the nest seemed to have been a recycled leftover fish from 8/16.  Louise brought a big gob of fluff to the nest at 0720.  We thought that she may have intended to cover JJ’s body with it, but she did not.  Louise flew out at 0742 chasing an intruder.  At 0907 O’Hara landed on the nest and was scanning the skies, then he flew off quickly in pursuit of something a few minutes later.  At 1442 O’Hara was back again and stood on the nest as a sentry until 1502.  Starting at 1618, Banff had been intermittently nibbling on the recycled leftover fish, when an intruder started buzzing and dive bombing her.  She was buzzed at least seven times until 1621.  At 162130 there was an adult that flew higher over the nest, but we weren’t sure if it was the intruder, Louise or O’Hara.  Banff’s response to the attack was to ‘pancake’ as flat as she could until the threat subsided.  Then, cool, calm and collected, Banff finished eating the recycled leftover fish.  She was also dive bombed twice at 1649.   At 1819 Louise delivered the last fish of the day.  Banff was buzzed twice by an intruder at 2004, and she pancaked again.  Then an intruder (or ‘friendly’?) hovered over the nest briefly at 2005.  After all her flying and being chased by intruders the previous few days, and the stress of twice being snatched off the nest, Banff decided to rest and refuel today.  She took no flights, she was a total homebody.”

‘H’ also reports:

Osoyoos – There were five fish brought to the nest at 0604, 1039, 1243, 1357, and 1742.  Despite the ongoing heat wave, this family is doing great.  The young osplet is 53 days old.

Forsythe – Dear Ollie is spending much more time away from the nest, but she did have three fish delivered to the nest for her by Oscar.

Severna Park – At least one of the juvies is still coming to the nest and eating fish provided by Oscar.

Thank you for being with me today. Please take care. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow with a look at what is happening on the European nests.

Thank you to everyone for their notes, videos, posts, and streaming cams that helped me to write my blog today: ‘A, Geemeff, H, PB, R’, The Guardian, PSEG, Port Lincoln Osprey, Sydney Sea Eagle Cam, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Bart M and LRWT, Jane D and Ospreys, Hawk Mountain, Boulder County Fair Grounds Osprey Cam, Tiger Mozone, Liz M and the LDF, LizM and the Eagle Club of Estonia, Geemeff and The Woodland Trust, FortisExshaw, Osoyoos, Severna Park, and Forsythe Ospreys.

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