Bird Flu in the Antarctic…Sunday in Bird World

29 October 2023

Hello Everyone!

In North America, it is almost Halloween. Children still go door to door and hear screaming ‘Halloween Apples’ or ‘Trick or Treat’. I always feel sorry for them when it is cold and you can hardly see their costumes. We are all set – packaged goods only – lots of combinations of dried fruit. Presumably, they will eat their candies first and sigh when they see the fruit, but I won’t feel guilty about their teeth. I had a friend once who handed out toothbrushes.

Decades ago, it became clear that ‘incidents’ happen and children should not eat treats from people they don’t know unless they are fully sealed, etc. I often wonder why the community centres, schools, and families do not just have a local party for the children. When we lived in England, Halloween was not a ‘thing’. I understand it is now. We had Guy Fawkes Night on 5 November – jacket potatoes on the barbecue or bonfire. Sometimes called Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night. Effigies were burned. It always depended on whose side you were on, I was told (please correct me). Fawkes was part of a plot to burn down the Houses of Parliament; he was a Catholic in 1605. So, the effigy is sometimes considered the Pope, and some burn a figure of Fawkes in support of the monarchy. The holiday became official in 1859. It was all new to us and great fun – friends from the cup de sac at the foot of the gorse joined to celebrate. Gosh, I miss them!

The girls will be safely stowed away in the conservatory while treats are handed out. I still do not trust them not to run out the door – although I have to say that Calico has not even ventured near the door to do that. She will look out at the birds and, on occasion, at the cats visiting the feeding station, but she is mostly uninterested. The three girls still love story time. It is a ritual that prescribes I sit on the floor with a pile of blankets beside me. The little portable heater needs to be on. I must have a bag of treats. Calico will sit on my lap or the blanket. Missey is on the couch, and Hope is under one of the chairs. Treats were distributed, and then, today, we reached the end of H is for Hawk. If I do not do precisely as I have done since Calico first came into my life, she appears to get stressed. Ritual. I love it, too. We all know what to expect, and I get time to read some very good books.

Hope has decided to move into Missey’s basket. Missey doesn’t seem bothered. If I look for Hope and cannot find her, she will be in the basket! Just look at that bushy tail. Hope is a really sweet kitten. Missey loves playing with Hope (not so much Calico).

Calico has taken over the couch. We are so glad so many of your enjoyed seeing Hope and Calico with ‘Lewis’s’ pillow. It was a wonderful surprise – so thoughtful. Thanks, Auntie.

Other images from Saturday – cats lounging, the snow, Missey watching the birds.

Calico seems to have decided that she still needs to provide milk for Hope. She was bursting this afternoon…Hope is very well fed!

Now, one thing. Pumpkins and peanut butter. The squirrels are too well-fed to bother. I saw some little birds pecking, but the deer is like the pumpkins in Canada. I have discovered that pumpkins are dangerous to hedgehogs, so don’t put them out if you live where there are hedgehogs. We don’t wish to kill them. I loved the ones who came to the orchard at the end of our garden to eat the fruit that had fallen on the ground.

Before we check on Australia, M15 is getting really serious about his new mate and the potential for a family with her. He brought in two fish gifts on Saturday. She, of course, might know that she won the Bald Eagle lottery when they met and bonded. F23 could not have a better mate and provider for her and their babies.

At Port Lincoln, Goliath and Little are really into the Reptilian Phase. The Reptilian Phase generally begins around Day 12. Between the plumage of the newly hatched, that light down with the dark eye line and the slightest hint (or more) of the dark stripe on their back and their juvenile feathers. In the Reptilian Phase, the chicks look like they have been dipped in a pot of old motor oil. They are dark, scaly, slick, bald, ebony black heads with little copper-red feathers coming in at the back of the nape. Those coppery-red feathers will begin to appear elsewhere as well. The chicks become itchy as their blood feathers begin to grow. The feathers grow out of ‘blood quills’ if you did not know. If these are broken, they can die if the blood does not coagulate. It is the same with eaglets, and some of you will recall the season 2021 at Captiva when Joe and Connie’s two eaglets died of rodenticide poisoning. One directly from the poison and the eldest from its blood feather breaking, and because the blood did not coagulate (due to the rodenticide to kill mice/rats), it bled to death on the nest). From my observations over the years, this is the time when the chicks also begin bonking.

They are right in terms of development. Goliath is 12 days old, and Little is ten days old. The size difference can reflect the two days between hatch and gender, with the female being much larger than the male. You will notice that Goliath is darker with less down – it is the age difference. Little is just entering the new itchy phase. They will appear thin and ‘lean’. As this phase and the juvenile feather phase take over, their flight feathers, both the primaries and secondaries on the wing and the tail feathers, will come in. The largest and longest of the feathers take much longer to come in. Once all their feathers are in, they are ready to fly! No worries. We are a long way from fledge!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I write, Dad has brought in a whole fish at 0747 which lasted for two feedings an hour apart.

It is hard to tell how much fish Little received at the feeding. He got tangled with Goliath. Dad returned to fetch the fish at 0809. He will return it, but – he will have some breakfast, too. The fact that the parents can now eat will give them strength. It was physically hard on Mum during the last season with Zoe when she demanded so much fish that neither her siblings nor Mum had some at times. This year is going to be so very different. Hoping for the best for all of them. This family deserves a ‘break’.

All of the positive comments on the Port Lincoln Osprey FB feed must be heart-warming to those who fought hard for this intervention to happen.

The fish fairy arrives with four really nice size fish. Mum and Goliath and Little feast as does Dad.

PLO posts: “Dad the first one back and takes 1 fish. Mum feeds the 2 babies. Both babies full. Dad back for a 2nd fish and leaves the fish tail.”

‘A’ gives us her report: “There were several good feedings for both osplets at Port Lincoln today. Dad brought in a big whole breakfast fish at 07:47. and the ensuing feeding continued until 08:12. At 12:45, the fish fairy delivered four medium-sized whole fish. This fed everyone – dad was first to the nest after the delivery and grabbed one for himself. Mum then arrived to feed the kids. Neither parent is at all perturbed, it seems, by the aunty door dash and seem to be getting very used to it. It’s a race between them to get to the nest after the fairy leaves, given they know what they will find there. The feeding from those gift fish lasted for 37 minutes and, like the morning feeding, left both osplets with very very full crops. Another half fish was brought in by dad for dinner, at 18:42. So everyone went to bed with full tummies. And again today, there was no bonking and no signs of aggression between the osplets.”

‘A and H’ mention that there is really sad news coming out from Turnby Island, the Osprey nest of Partney and Marrum.

Calypso, the 2019 Port Lincoln Hatch, has been exploring the area. Everyone is hoping she will find a mate and raise chicks so Mum and Dad can be grandparents. Port Lincoln will build a platform for her if she does not settle on one of those available.

Port Lincoln has found another osprey nest with chicks that they did not know about! Check out that nest. Off the ground and away from predators.

At the nest tree in the Sydney Olympic Forest (the old Ironwood Tree), SE 32 decided to stay home. S/he had many meals and time with Lady and Dad – which brought joy and tears to all of us. SE31 was also seen. No one has seen 31 fed on camera but the eaglet is flying strong — send every positive wish you have for the eaglets as they persevere against the Currawong who would like to drive them from the forest!

Earlier News.

Currawongs harassing 31.

As soon as the adults flew off the nest (they had stayed with 32 overnight), the Currawongs came and pestered 32 til it flew off. Later, the parents are looking over the forest for their eaglets.

All is well at Orange. It looked like something other than a Starling arrived for breakfast at 0728. The two are really getting their primary and secondary wing feathers in as well as the tail feathers. The faces are changing and every day they get stronger and stronger on their legs. Diamond makes them stretch their necks to get their prey – strengthening those muscles that will become so valuable to them in the future.

‘A’ gives us the prey report from Orange: “At Orange, mum arrived home for the evening about ten minutes ago. The two eyases are asleep in their usual cuddle puddle, on the near side wall of the scrape (so largely invisible from the Box Cam). They are gorgeous. Here are the day’s time stamps: PREY 06.12.06 M takes, 07.27.50, 08.19.23, 10.42.06, 13:35:02, 17:10:05 FEEDING 06.13+, 07.22 M+B self feed, 07.28, 07.43( leftover starling), 09.08, 10.43, 13:37, 17:10 (M self-feed). HIGHLIGHTS: 06.07+ zoomies, 07.25.50+ B+M plucking, 12:58:10 Barru ‘broods’ Dudley. 12: 58:57 Marri’s turn, LEDGE CAMERA 10.09.20 M puts wing over B, 13:36.35 + Barru nipps at Xavier’s tail feathers.”

Did they? or didn’t they? Gabby invites V3 to mate.

The first confirmed case of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza reaches the Antarctic. So, it’s not just melting sea ice but now H5N1 that is a massive threat to all species including the Penguins.

Everyone thought he retired – of course, Dr Peter Sharpe can never retire. He has Bald Eagle blood flowing through his veins and today he was fitting a camera so that Thunder and Akecheta’s breeding season can be viewed at their new nest. Of course, they could choose the old nest – thankfully there is a camera there. Thanks, Dr Sharpe!

Territorial disputes continue at the NCTC nest of Bella and Smitty.

Always grateful to the kindness extended to our wildlife in trouble – normally created by us like fishing line! Completely tanged and the kind soul took the time – and great patience – to free this osprey.

In the UK, Babet, the storm that hit and caused extensive flooding and damage, also caused some birds to wind up in very unusual places.

Thank you so much for being with us today. Please take care of yourselves. We hope to see you soon.

Thank you to the following for their notes, posts, videos, articles, and streaming cams that helped me to write my blog this morning: ‘A, H’, Lady Hawk, PLO, Rohan Geddes, Sydney Sea Eagle Cam, Denise W Starr, SK Hideaway, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, British Antarctic Survey, The Telegraph, Down to Earth, Dave Gallivan, Deb Stecyk, Rachel Stevenson-Thomas, and Bird Guides.

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