Harriet and M15 have second egg, Tropical Birds and more…

3 December 2022

Oh, I continue to marvel at the flowers, the beautiful sky and the green grass — and the birds on this small island!

There are Hibiscus of every colour.

It is a gorgeous view. This is a far cry from the wind chills of -30 in Manitoba!

The Tropic Mockingbird was eating fruit off of one of the trees.

In Grenada no one likes the Carib Grackles. They are always around when people are eating, taking their food. Is it because they are hungry? Well, my breakfast companion was a Carib Grackle. You see, I don’t really eat a big breakfast but it is the same amount for coffee and fruit than for everything piled up 3x over. So, — sorry. You will never take me out to breakfast with you! I turned my camera so that the women working at the breakfast buffet could not see. Then I fed the Grackle. It felt good.

In return, that same Carib Grackle, I assume, brought me a gift – feather. He left it right in front of me on the table. How sweet. I have heard of Crows leaving trinkets for people who feed them but, not a Grackle. The colour is washed in this image from my phone. It is small – about 10 cm or 4 inches long – and black. Probably from a Grackle!

After breakfast, we went to the mangroves near Mt Hartman to check on the egrets and herons. Nothing there but some cattle and goats along with a huge termite nest. Will check again early in the morning on Tuesday.

I am really surprised with all the mud around the edges of the ponds that there are not more Shorebirds, like the Greater Yellowlegs out and about. Maybe they come earlier – or later – in the day. Maybe tomorrow.

There were no Ospreys today at St George’s University but, there were some Cattle Egrets in the distance on an island, some more Grackles and Mockingbirds, and then….the fisher cleaning his fish threw the heads into the water. Well, some big birds began to fly in. Apparently the fishers do this everyday – clean the fish and give the birds the parts they do not want. Can you imagine Mum and Dad at Port Lincoln if this were to happen? or Ervie?!!!!!!!

The sea birds after the fish parts were Magnificent Frigatebirds. The image below is the female. She has a beautiful white collar.

The Magnificent Frigatebirds are from 95-110 cm or 37-43 cm inches in length. The male is all black and the female, as mentioned earlier, is all black with a white collar. They soar and swoop on the surface of the water getting fish using a wing span of 2.5 metres or 98 inches. They make their nests in trees and shrubs and laying their eggs from October through December. Unlike Ospreys and other sea birds, the Magnficent Frigatebirds never land on the water as they would not be able to pull themselves out like eagles or ospreys.

This is a juvenile. Its white head and chest will turn black as it reaches adulthood. It is off finding fish with Mum. Being trained like Indigo is.

Their tail reminds me of a scissor tail flycatcher. Notice the beak. It is like an albatross.

You can just see the Cattle Egret flying by the island. They are the smallest of the ‘white’ egrets on the island. The other two are the Greater or Common Egret and the Snowy Egret.

The sweet little Zenaida Dove was around with the Tropic Mockingbirds over on the SGU Campus where the Frigatebirds were.

Look closely at the photo below. See the white eye ring and look above the beak and around the eye at the pink-violet colouring. Just beautiful.

Zenaida Doves grow to be approximately 30 cm or 12 inches in length. It is a grey-brown bird with cinnamon or pink areas appearing around the neck and breast. There are two eye lines, lighter towards the black beak and getting darker towards the nape of the neck. There is a tinge of violet kissing the area around the eye with a blue-grey ‘cap’ on the head. It has white tipped outer feathers. The inner wing feathers have two black spots, while there are also blue-grey feathers going ombre into beige-grey. It feeds mainly on seeds and fruit. The Zenaida Doves lay their clutch of two eggs between February and August in a flimsy nest – sometimes on a palm leaf!!!!!!

This dove is not injured. Their legs and feet are red. Also it closely resembles the Eared-Dove but that bird does not have white around the wing tips.

I thought it was a good day because included in the sightings was a Grenada Dove. I have no photo. They are very quick and live in the back trees – some thorny trees that remind me of the Mimosa growing in my parent’s garden when I was a child. But I did see one! Yippeeee.


Seriously, we all know that the members of the Corvid family are brilliant but here is a new study that just emphasises that even more!

And a new study on the level of self-awareness in crows.

Gabby has not given in to the uninvited guests at the NEFL Bald Eagle Nest that she shares with Samson. Our beautiful Gabby is waiting and we are waiting with her – and hoping just like she is.

That head is not pure white yet or he has had it stuck in suet somewhere. I don’t think he could attract our girl.

Just to remind everyone, Bella had quite the time early last season. She was injured and bleeding and was absent for 21 days while she healed so that she could come and boot any female intruders away from Smitty! This year Smitty and Bella are working on their nest together. Hope for Samson and Alden.

Highlights today from the scrape at Orange. Indigo is quite the character! Diamond and Xavier have very vivacious offspring!

Also in Australia, the Rare Honeyeater is still learning its breeding song even if there are so few they might never find a mate and breed. If I am not mistaken, one of the adults at Orange brought in a Honeyeater this year. If I am wrong, please let me know!

In Port Lincoln, at 11:20:37 Dad brought in a fish. Mum was once again too late. Zoe got it! She spots him flying in and starts doing that famous talon dance.

I think Dad needs fish. It looks like Mum has a good crop.

Zoe is doing well and so is Indigo. This is good news. I do not keep up with their feedings now…Zoe might soon start to do her own fishing. We wait.

Last but not least, Harriet and M15 have their second egg of the season which means that hard incubation will begin. Congratulations to Harriet and M15 (remember Harriet is 28 years old), the Pritchett Family, and all who love SWFlorida Eagles.

This is not a long newsletter today but I hope that you found something of interest and also learned something new. That is the most important thing. Tomorrow I am getting up at 0400 to head north to Levera National Park and Lake Antoine. I cannot find a decent map to show you so, fingers and toes crossed there are some nice birds for Sunday morning!

Thank you for being with me today. Take care everyone. Send best wishes to Samson, Alden, and Rita. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: My Modern Met, Port Lincoln Ospreys, SWFlorida Bald Eagles and D Pritchett Family, abc.net.au, D Steyck and the NCTC Bald Eagle Cam, Falcon Cam Project and Elaine, Big Think.com and Manitoba Birding and Wildlife Photography, NEFL and SWFL Eagle Cam and Watchers Group – and to my son, Cris, who chased birds all over for me today. It was great fun.

Tropical Mockingbird, Rita’s update and more…in Bird World

2 December 2022

Good morning everyone from the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada. It is 29 degrees C – a real shock from the snow, ice, and blowing winds of Canada! It has rained – it is the wet season – and all of the trees, the grass, and the flowers are bright and beautiful. The forecast is now giving us so many good days. On Saturday it will be an all day birding trip starting at 0530. I am excited. The island is home to many species but I especially hope to see the Cattle Egrets, the Green Herons, and the Tri-Coloured Heron out in the mangroves as well as the gorgeous parrots, shorebirds, and songbirds of this island. And, of course, the Caribbean Ospreys. Fingers crossed.

Grand Anse Beach is pure white sand. It is one of the longest white sand beaches in the world. Looking to the right of this beach is an area of the island above the Lagoon known as Springs. There is always a mist and it rains a lot. The area has some of the nicest gardens. Even though it is such a small island there is another area near the airport that is completely dry!!!!!

My first bird came into view as the light was leaving us…It s a Tropical Mockingbird. Oh, its song was incredible. Tomorrow I am going to sit right under the tree where several seemed to be perching. They must be very used to the human presence along the beach. Indeed, they will eat human food along with spiders, grasshoppers, beetles, seeds, small fruits and berries, mangoes — there are a lot of mangoes on the island in the spring. There are so many falling on the roads that the cars slide around on those that get slimy from being run over. The Mockingbirds also eat lizards as well as other small bird and lizard eggs. They have been seen consuming seed from bird feeders just like Dyson!

Many of you will have seen and heard the Northern Mockingbirds in North America. This is the Caribbean equivalent. The Tropical Mockingbird lives in open or semi-open areas. In this instance they are living in the trees along a major tourist beach area.

They lack colour but if that is a problem their song certainly makes up for it. They have a black beak and legs, a striking bright ebony eye with a black eye stripe. The top of their head is a medium grey fading into a lovely silvery white which continues along the throat, the breast and underparts of the bird. The wings are a symphony of grey and black with white wing tips. The tail is a dark charcoal verging on black with a white tip and underneath area. You can hear their song here:

‘H’ kindly sent me the most recent announcement about Rita, the mate of Ron, the bonded pair of Bald Eagles from the Miami Zoo. Thanks, ‘H’. Here it is:

 Yesterday, “Rita,” the bald eagle had surgery performed to help repair her severely fractured right wing. The surgery was performed by avian veterinary specialist, Dr. Don Harris, assisted by Zoo Miami Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Marisa Bezjian and the Zoo Miami Animal Health Team. The surgery was successful inserting a metal pin to align and support the fractured bone. However, the prognosis for successful healing is extremely poor due to the lack of circulation in the wing as a result of the devastating trauma. At this time, it is unfortunately unlikely that the wing can be saved and even more unlikely that she will ever fly again. Having said that, we are not giving up hope! She is receiving daily drug therapy, laser treatments and acupuncture along with her wound care and dressing changes. She has already beaten tremendous odds by surviving the trendous trauma from which she would have certainly died from had it not been for the intervention of all of the involved parties. We are all praying that she can provide us with a miracle and continue on a positive path.

Wildlife Rescue of Dade County FB, 1 December 2022

American Eagle Foundation LIVE Nest Cams is reporting on Samson’s absence:

Still no news to report. No sightings of Samson. No visitors to the nest. Gabrielle continues to perch at the nest throughout the day and at night keeping watch.

(c) 2022 American Eagle Foundation eagles.org AEF-NEFL

Gabby waits patiently for dear Samson to return. Continue with your positive wishes.

This story is from several years ago but was posted today on the NEFL-SWFL Bald Eagle FB group. It reminds us, like the time with Bella and Smitty this year, that eagles can be gone for some time and return. This eagle was missing for 3 weeks! I live in hope for our beloved Samson.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/missing-bald-eagle-returns-to-dc-nest-after-a-weeks-long-departure-experts-say/2019/02/27/a06bf238-3acb-11e9-a2cd-307b06d0257b_story.html

My holiday is not just a chance to spend time with my son and his wife, or eating amazing Caribbean food, or find new birds but it is also a time for a battery recharge after all that has happened during the last month.

Like all of you, I need some good news and I know you do, too. Well, here it is coming from Lori Covert in Captiva. You will remember that Captiva and Sentinel, the barrier islands off the coast of Florida, were the hardest hit by Hurricane Ian. The ospreys and bald eagles lost their nests. Well, smile when you read this!

I just checked on Zoe at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge. Dad brought in a very small fish at 0925. Mum probably didn’t even get a chance to see it. Zoe is very quick when she wants her food!!!!!!!!!

Zoey doing her talon dance.

Dad lands and Zoe has it before Mum even gets there. I do hope that Mum and Dad have some fish to eat at other times. This is worrisome sometimes.

Yesterday there were 2 fish brought in by Mum and 2 brought in by Dad. Zoe even tried her wings. Here is her tracker information for 2 December.

Diamond has been spending time at the scrape box at Orange. This morning she seemed very interested in the stones. My friend ‘A’ has observed that the falcons prefer to eat only the white stones. Do any of you know why this is the case?

We know why the birds eat stones. Here is the standard Goggle answer:

Birds eat stones to form gastroliths that grind against food when they contract their gizzards. The grinding action of gastroliths aid in the digestion of fibrous food in birds. When the gastroliths begin to smoothen over time, birds eat new stones to replace the older ones.

But why do they prefer white ones?

Giving Tuesday has just passed – where donors often match what funds are given. Now…there is December and if you are thinking about ‘giving’ for the holidays, stop and think of your local wildlife rehabber — or a rehabber that you respect for all the hard work they have done this year. We watch our beautiful birds and many times they go into care and we are cheering for them to be taken in and made well and released. So remember the wildlife clinics and give. Our Wildlife Haven listed the costs associated with surgery — think dear Rita! The antibiotics after. These items are extremely expensive. So help if you can!

In Australia ABC news did an article on this very topic.

Thank you so very much for being with me this morning. At the time of publishing this blog, I have no new news on any of the missing birds or Rita. Keep sending all your good energy to our missing birds and to Rita as she continues to fight to fly — I would love to see her be the exception to the rule (ie lack of circulation in the wing). Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures today: Lori Covert Instagram, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, WRDC, NEFL-AEF and the American Eagle Foundation.

Rita is standing up! Zoe screams for fish, Anna laid an egg…and other news in Bird World

1 December 2022

I can see the lights from the Toronto airport. It was snowing and blowing in Winnipeg and now raining here. Strange to see everything ‘brown’ instead of ‘white’. It is quite ‘strange’ being in an airport! One word of advice: if you can travel with a small carry on, do so. It is a nightmare at the larger airports with the new self-baggage check in. Huge line ups and the same for security. But, I feel privileged to be able to have a short holiday in a wonderfully warm and beautiful place with birds and see my son and daughter in law. It has been far too long!

Speaking of ‘white’, before I go any further, have you ever seen a white eagle? Well, the folks in Oklahoma, where I grew up, are certainly checking their eye sight!

I want to thank everyone that sent me notes so I had them when I landed. First up was ‘H’ and ‘S’ with the good news that Rita has had her surgery and she is standing up!!!!!!!! Now seriously. Standing up. What a strong eagle she is! I am sure we can all shed a few little tears or break out into a huge smile. By, gosh, we need some good news in Bird World. She is still in guarded condition but the surgery itself went well.

The Orthopaedic surgeon said the surgery could not have gone any better. Tears. This is fantastic news at a time when we sure need it!

Tonya Irwin has been keeping a log and it seems that Louisiana is still ahead of Florida in terms of Bald Eagle eggs laid. Today, Anna added to that list with the first of the season’s eggs at the E-1 nest in the Kisatchie national Forest near Alexandria. Congratulations!

At the time of writing this blog, this is the latest news on Samson from the AEF.

There has been no sighting of Alden either but, there is other good news. Annie and Grinnell’s daughter, Sequoia, has a mate at the San Jose City Hall and guess what? They have a streaming cam. Is it possible that we will get to see Annie and Grinnell’s ‘grandeyases’ hatch and fledge? Wouldn’t that just be amazing? When everything seems so dark, there is always light trying to get through.

There is a lot of news coming in but, before I go any further, there has been a question from a very worried watcher of the SWFlorida nest of Harriet and M15. ‘R’ would like to know why Harriet is not incubating her egg? That is such a great question. What Harriet is doing is called delayed incubation. She will lay her second egg in 3 days from the first. If she started ‘hard’ incubation immediately when the first egg was laid, the first hatch would have an enormous advantage over the second hatch. By waiting to start hard incubation until the second egg is laid, the eaglets will hatch much closer together in time – sometimes within an hour or two of one another -and while they will bop one another, it is not usually deadly. They hatch and are closer in size.

In addition, Harriet and M15 do not have to worry about the egg freezing in the Florida sunshine and they have a stocked pond for prey and it appears that there has not been a time of food scarcity at this nest (please correct me if I am wrong).

There are advantages to starting incubation immediately. David Hancock of Hancock Wildlife in British Columbia, Canada has consistently given two reasons why immediate incubation might be practiced. They are: 1) to protect eggs from predators such as Crows, Ravens, Raccoons, etc.; and 2) the eagles want to ensure that at least there is a chance of one surviving during a time of food scarcity. The idea Hancock says is that it is much better for the eagles to have one chick survive than no eaglets at all.

Do not worry. Harriet and M15 know precisely what they are doing. As I said, their eaglets will cause us great grief during the ‘rock ’em, sock ’em’ days but, in the end, the pair normally develop into best buddies. In fact, most of us will grieve for their going off to find their own way in the world probably to never see one another again.

That amazing fledgling Osprey from the Tweed Valley, Glen, is just getting more and more news coverage. If you are trying to figure out where you have heard his name, well, let me remind you that Glen also landed on two different cargo ships and took rides, he flew through a large area of hydro lines and landed on a the roof of a fruit factory in Portugal where he was believed to be dead. But, nope. Not Glen. He flew out over the Atlantic Ocean for 36 hours solid flapping his wings until he found a small island to land on. He is now in Morocco. Glen deserves all the news coverage he can get. What an adventurous life this young man has had and he isn’t even near a year old!

If you do not know about Glen’s adventures on the two fishing trawlers, please start your reading here. You will be delighted you did!

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-62967646

So grateful for all the coverage of this amazing young Osprey. Sacha Dench is going to have to add more segments to her programme, Flight of the Osprey, for the BBC. This chap might even deserve his own show! I honestly don’t think I have gotten so excited about the migration of a male Osprey since Ervie didn’t migrate!

At the Port Lincoln Osprey nest, Dad brought Zoe a nice little fish at 10:00:13. ‘A’ says that she can always tell when Dad is coming because Mum ‘does her talon dance’. I watched for that – she does, back and forth on the talons, wings flapping, moving out of the way so Dad can land. Well, Zoe is perfecting or has already perfected that talon dance along with her fish prey screaming. My goodness she is loud. I bet Fran Solly can hear her across the lagoon without having the sound on the streaming cam. Zoe start about a minute and a half before Dad lands with the fish.

We will continue to grieve for little one, Rubus. At the same time, we must also celebrate the falcon fledgling that Xavier and Diamond are working so hard to train so it can have a full and productive life like Sequoia.

Indigo certainly as a ‘voice’! He flew in and chased Xavier out of the scrape a few minutes before returning with his breakfast. Here is a short video clip of Indigo coming into the scrape with prey at 0700.

This is the latest update from Cilla re Rubus. So very sad but, reassuring that the little fella did not suffer.

Thank you so very much for being with me. Send all your good wishes out to Rita as she recovers, to Ron who may or may not know what is going on, to Gabby who waits for Samson and to Annie who might not yet know Alden is missing. So much is happening — and here I thought there might be a lull until eaglets start to hatch at the end of the month. Bird World is always full of surprises. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their messages, posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures and video clip: ‘S’, ‘H’, ‘G’, Port Lincoln Osprey, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Conservation without Borders, BBC, Raptors without Borders, Sharon Pollock and SWFlorida Bald Eagles and D Pritchett, Tonya Irwin and Kistachie National Forest Eagle Cam Fans, Gretchen-AEF, Salsa Bird and Bald Eagles Live Nest Cams and Birds, Holly Parsons and Orange Australia Falcons, and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Darling Rubus is dead…and other news in Bird World

Hello Everyone,

What a very sad morning it is.

It was 2100 Monday evening on the Canadian Prairies when I started this blog and the world looked so much better with the idea that our little lad could be flying around with his older brother, Indigo Now that hope has shattered. This morning I know that all of you are feeling the same hole in your life. What a lively character Rubus was — and what immense joy he gave us stretching his little neck to get food and running all over the scrape box screaming and staring into the camera. Oh, little one, you shall be missed.

I am so very glad to have the kittens and the garden animals this morning. The kittens are being as cute as they can be. Both of them spend lots of time looking out to the garden watching the squirrels, the birds, and Hedwig – the rabbit, who came to visit us today.


Our thoughts go out to Diamond and Xavier and to Indigo who must carry on now and to Cilla Kinross and everyone at Orange and to all those around the world who dared love this little bundle of fluff that was Rubus.

Our dear darling little lad. This morning we are all weeping for you.

The speculation as to which fledgling is which has ended at Orange. The body of dear little Rubus was found and it appears he died some time ago. Here is the announcement from Cilla Kinross:

“NEWS 29th November 2022 Bad news about Rubus. His body was found today by one of our medical staff (who also watch the livestream). Cause of death is unknown. I thought at first broken neck because of the angle, but it seemed intact. I have asked the vet for an autopsy, but she said that it is too far gone, so it looks like he died a few days after last seen on 23rd November. That’s a pity as I would like to have known whether it was caused by trichomoniasis (canker) as has been suggested by some watchers. We’ve never had a case here, but the parasite could be present in the local pigeon population and transferred in the prey.”

It is hard to take it all in. Liz M has put together a compilation of Rubus’s life for us.

I will be doing a tribute to Rubus in the coming days and will then add him to our ‘Wall of Remembrance’. So sad today as I know you all are.


I have hoped so much that there would be some good news at the nest of Gabby and Samson, of Annie and Alden, and of Ron and Rita. The only sure thing is that Zoe loves fish and will eat any and all that land on her nest.

Cal Falcons has ‘finally’ issued a statement about what is happening at The Campanile. Thankfully that news is not bad. We just have to wait.

As the sun set over The Hamlet, Gabby looked out over the trees. She has been hunting and has a huge crop. The male intruder appears not to be about but, Gabby has to be wondering where her mate is. What has happened to him?

I am so glad that Gabby has eaten well.

I was reminded, this evening, that Bella was injured. She had extensive injuries and was away from the NCTC nest that she shares with Smitty for three weeks before returning and booting an interested female off. Samson could return. That is my mantra. In fact, I received a note from ‘T’ and the blood on the side of Samson’s face was not an injury but, was from a Coot that he had eaten earlier. Thanks, ‘T’.

In Miami…

Rita, the Bald Eagle mate of Ron, at the Miami Zoo, was a celebrity before she was critically injured with a double compound fracture to her right wing on Sunday. She has been stabilized and operated on and what a lucky eagle she is – had she not been found so quickly and taken to care by the police who found her, she would have died. Maggots had already started growing. So sad.

A round of applause to everyone who helped this injured eagle. The next 48 hours will be crucial – send Rita all your best wishes. The surgery will not happen for another 2 or 3 days and then months and months of rehab before she could released, if she is released. Ron has been on the nest looking for her and just doesn’t understand what has gone on because she was picked up miles away from the nest.

https://www.wfla.com/news/florida/rita-the-bald-eagle-in-critical-condition-at-zoo-miami/

Here is TV coverage of Rita and her injury with more details.

In California, Jackie was caught on camera — yes, the camera is back up and running after the storm thanks to everyone for that. It is so good to see you, Jackie.

In Florida, the GHOWs are striking at Harriet and M15 again.


Port Lincoln Ospreys:

I wonder if Zoe dreams about fish dinners?

Once Zoe spotted Dad away, she flew over by Mum and waited for him to return with ‘her’ breakfast.

Dad did not disappoint. He brought a nice little fish for Zoe.

And our Zoe made quick work of that little fish and was ready for more!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No. 17. The Red List. The Scaup

There are two Scaup. Dominic Couzens in his text for Red Sixty Seven, suggests that the one in the United Kingdom be called the Greater Scaup because there is a Lesser Scaup across the pond in America. The one in the United Kingdom actually resides in both the United Kingdom, Europe and the ‘New World’. That is why, Couzens argues it should be the ‘greater’.

The Scaup breed in the taiga and the Arctic Tundra in the spring. They return to the United Kingdom in the autumn where they will spend the winter. They are medium sized diving ducks – not dabblers. They dive deep searching for aquatic invertebrates and plants. They normally feed during the day but have been seen foraging at night if the water has been disturbed during the day by boats and human activity. Did you know that to catch the invertebrates, the Scaup stick their bill into the mud, snap it closed, and swim forward scooping it up. They have been known to dive to 7 metres!

Greater Scaup LMO 1” by THE Holy Hand Grenade! is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Look carefully at the Greater Scaup above with its magnificent green head, glowing yellow eye, white bill with the tell-tale black ‘V’ at the base. This marks them out from their American counterpart whose head is an iridescent purple, the black ‘V’ at the base of the bill is missing, and the head is less round. The Greater Scaup has a black neck and breast, white underparts, a dabbled grey and white wing and back, with black tail feathers.

The female is a beauty. Her head is black with that striking yellow eye. She has a white crescent between her bill and her eye. The breast is a lovely chestnut, the back and wings a mottled chestnut and white with a black tail.

Greater Scaup (Female)” by Rick Leche is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The Scaup make their nests on the ground where the eggs can easily be predated by foxes, dogs, The female lines her nest with the down from her breast. The nests are generally near the edge of the water in areas that are known not to flood. Generally between 8 and 13 eggs are laid.

Their main threat is human development, although they are preyed upon by owls, skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and humans.  But there are other threats as well including water pollution and climate change. Alarmingly they are also caught up as bycatch when trawlers are out looking for fish.


It has been a difficult last few days in Bird World. As a friend reminded me, “it would not hurt so much if we didn’t care so deeply.” Continue to care. The Birds need all of us and more. Continue to feel. Do not get numb to the challenges they face that cut their lives much more shorter than they should be. Send out your best wishes to Samson for a safe return to Gabby, to Rita so she will stabilize for her surgery, to Alden so he will return to Annie.

I am sorry this letter comes with nothing but sadness save for Zoe who is thriving which is a good thing. Raise a glass of something – juice, water, your favourite adult drink – to our little lad. Soar high little Rubus. Soar high. You were much loved.

Thank you for being with me this morning. Please take care. I hope to see you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts, their videos, and their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘H’ for the news bites about Rita, Envirobites, Port Lincoln Osprey, Openverse, Lady Hawk and SWFlorida Eagles and D Pritchett, NEFL-AEF, WRDC, Channel 10 News Miami, WFLA News, FOBBV, Cal Falcons, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam Project and Cilla Kinross, and Liz M for her tribute to Rubus.

Alden missing, Samson missing, Rita injured…Monday in Bird World

28 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I am earlier than I thought I would be today because there is more breaking news. We will start off with the kittens because they, so far, are a good thing to wake up to – no injuries, just boundless energy and cuddles.

Missy and Lewis hope that everyone has had a good day so far. They have discovered something! The in-floor heating comes up through the tiles, through the basket, and into their blanket. Talk about cosy.

These two will not be separated. Missy is the leader, the alpha cat and Lewis follows along dutifully. Same basket. Same food dish. Same water dish. Same tent for sleeping. Together. In all my years with cats – and that is a lot!-I have never seen or enjoyed anything so much.

We are still waiting word on Samson at the NEFlorida Bald Eagle nest. As I noted it is not unusual for eagles to take a couple of days off before the incubation period starts or even during. However, at the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest, if memory holds, it is always Gabby who is away and Samson dealing with incubating eggs or eaglets. Oh, let us all hope he is just a bit out of sorts and gets home soon.

For those of you that do not know him, Samson is the eaglet of Romeo and Juliet. The NEFlorida nest that Samson now shares with Gabby was Samson’s natal nest. Samson hatched on 23 December 2013. That means that he is 9 years old. Simon left the area on the 22nd of April 2014 and returned in 2018. Him and Gabby have had 3 seasons of eaglets. In 2019, they fledged Jules and Romey, named after Samson’s parents. In 2020, it was the ever cute Legacy and in 2021, Jasper and Rocket fledged. Samson is an absolutely devoted mate to Gabby and a super dad to his kids.

Samson with Legacy. 2020

Samson remains missing this morning.

The intruder has literally jumped into the nest at NEFL. Gabby was there and was keeping him at a distance.

At the WRDC Bald Eagle nest in the Miami Zoo, the home of Ron and Rita, I have received word from ‘H’ that Rita has been found injured. An announcement just released states that the injury is not as bad as they thought at first. Rita has a broken wing. She is in surgery. Updates will be issued as more is known.

One would think it would be enough with Samson missing and feared that he will not return, Rita’s broken wing and the fact that she could likely miss the 2022 season but, Alden has not been seen for 5 days (not since 23 November) and a male intruder has been at Cal Falcons. Annie has not chased him away. Does this mean we have lost Alden in a territorial dispute, too?

Darling Alden who gave us the loaf, moth chasing, and who saved the 2021 season after Grinnell was killed. Are you really gone?

Cal Falcons has not, it seems, issued any official word other than releasing the videos and the statement of Alden missing for 5 days.


The observation board at Port Lincoln has Mum delivering 2 fish and Dad none but Dad did deliver a fish tail – literally the tail – to Zoe at 18:26. I am not sure she was impressed.

The anticipation of another fish got Zoe quite excited.

It was nice to see Dad with a crop and when the fish tail landed, Zoe has still had a crop from the earlier fish provided by Mum. Zoe is not suffering from a lack of food!

I checked for updates on SE30 and SE29 and could not find any. The last was a couple of weeks ago. I will let you know if there is any news at all.

Need a new Osprey cam to watch? Cottesloe has long wanted one and now it is a reality. Cottesloe is in Western Australia. It will be fantastic to have another cam to go along with Port Lincoln next year.

In New Zealand, the Royal Cam couple for the year has been decided and the camera at Taiaroa Head has been moved. Thanks Ranger Sharyn!

I will be monitoring the situations to see if there is any change with Alden, Samson, or Rita, I will let you know. Please send out your warmest and most positive wishes to Samson and Gabby, Annie and to Alden, and Rita and Ron.

Thank you for joining me this morning. I wish that the news I was bringing was much better. Take care all. See you soon.

Thank you to ‘H’ for alerting me to the situation at Orange and Dade County and for their streaming cams and videos that make up my screen captures: Cal Falcons, NEFL-AEF, WRDC, Cottesloe Streaming Cam, Port Lincoln Ospreys, and NZ DOC.

Samson is missing…Flight of the Osprey and more…

27 November 2022

Good Evening Everyone,

Instead of sending out my blog first thing in the morning, it will be tomorrow evening. This blog will be short but it is packed with three news items near and dear to all of us.

Samson of the Northeast Florida Bald Eagle nest is missing. Indeed, that news has caused my stomach to go down to my toes and back again. All of you know that I adore Samson and Gabby. I cannot even imagine a Gabby without a Samson. Let us all hope that he is just taking a couple of days off – which is more like Gabby than Samson. Gabby is on the nest and is not calling him but she might not know he is missing.

Here is that announcement from the American Eagle Foundation:

At the NEFL nest of Samson and Gabrielle:

“As most of you are aware, Samson has not been seen at the nest since Thursday evening; however, he and Gabrielle were spotted perched together Friday morning on a nearby tree off cams. We are concerned that Samson has not returned to the nest, and can assure you that everything is being done to try to find his whereabouts. When we have any information at all, we will post updates. We appreciate everyone’s concerns and prayers for Samson’s safe return. ❤️

There has been an intruder at the nest. It is not Samson. You can see the dark chocolate bars still in the white head so this birds has just turned 5 years old.

In the Mailbox:

If you have been wondering how you could see BBC 4’s Flight of the Osprey, ‘G’ sent me the YouTube links they have been recording so that we can enjoy. And if you don’t know what Flight of the Osprey is, then here is the promo information from BBC:

Follow Scotland’s ospreys on their epic migration. Over ten weeks, Emily Knight joins a team of conservationists following these beautiful birds of prey from Loch Garten to Ghana.

https://youtu.be/WXb7D3hSTGw Episode One 25/10/2022 https://youtu.be/YJpEcFPUkEc Episode Two 01/11/2022 https://youtu.be/gAU6u4SWrwM Episode Three 08/11/2022 https://youtu.be/_7UTuDhRP2E Episode Four 15/11/2022 https://youtu.be/NMW9EiQiOnY Episode Five 22/11/2022

Australian Nests:

Some of the latest news coming out of Orange. Sharon Pollock writes, “In case you haven’t seen this from Cilla on the YouTube Box Cam Chat: Just had a message from Security Guard Dave. He’s confident he saw both juveniles taking off very noisily from the car park in front of dentistry. I quizzed him about the physical appearance. ​And it does sound hopeful.” Now isn’t that grand news?!

The camera is tilted crazy at Port Lincoln so it is impossible to know what is going on but, Zoe had 1 huge fish to herself yesterday and portions of 2 others. She is fine. Even if she had no food today she would be good.

I knew that you would want to know about Samson and I hope that you enjoy the BBC series, Flight of the Osprey. We are all delighted that Rubus is now believed to be alive – let us all hope that is true. Please send your best wishes out to Gabby and the NE Florida nest and especially to Samson. If he is injured, I hope he is found or he returns to the nest soon.

Thank you so much for being with me. Take care all.

Thanks to the NEFlorida Bald Eagle nest and the AEF, ‘G’ for the links to his YouTube programmes on the Flight of the Osprey, Sharon Pollock and the announcement re Rubus, and to Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

Did Rubus fly to the tower? an osprey eating a fish in Central Park? and other news in Bird World

27 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

Well, we have all worried about Rubus and it seems that there might be some good news coming. I sure hope so! There is, currently, a lot of confusion about whether or not Rubus was flying around the tower with Xavier and Diamond yesterday. We wait for positive confirmation with high hopes.

It has been warm on the Canadian Prairies but it appears that we will now be sliding from +5 C to -10 C. It can be a bit of a roller coaster here sometimes but, a blue sky and sunshine are always welcome and that is what it is like this morning.

Little Red has mastered balancing himself on the feeder and eating so he is well and appears to be in good health as the winter begins to set in.

I love the Sparrows. While they generally eat the Black Oil Seed and Millet, they also seem to be liking the Butter Bark. It will certainly give them a lot of energy. You can make your own. There are recipes on the Internet using primarily peanut butter and cornmeal. If you have a good one, send it to me! Please.

I think Sparrows are beautiful. Just look at the range of colours out of a very simple paint box for them.

In the Mailbox:

Do you a follow the Tweed Valley fledgling, Glen, Blue 708? Well you might have gotten a real lump in your throat when everyone was worried that he was grounded on top of a building in Portugal. But great news has been posted and sent to me by ‘G’. This is fantastic news. Here are those two tweets:

We have seen those sat pads going haywire in areas where there are a lot of hydro or cell towers or both. But it is possible, looking at the map above, that Glen took off over the Atlantic where there would be no transmissions and then – wow – he lands in Morocco and the signal returns. ‘G’ reports that after flying over the Atlantic for 36 hours, Glen then rested for 12 hours in Khnifiss Bio-reserve and is now fishing in the same area. Thank you ‘G’ and what a relief this is to have everything fully confirmed. Glen is a strong bird, my goodness. Wishing a long and productive life for this fledgling!

Oh I get the most marvellous mail and today, ‘M’ sent me a link to something very special. Imagine an Osprey catching a fish in the pond in Central Park in the middle of New York City. Yes, you read that correctly! It is a rare sight indeed!!!!!!


There is more news from Bernard in Brittany!

I am certain that everyone was so excited to hear the news about Willow being spotted in Brittany in mid-September. That news comes on the heels of another Scottish bird being spotted in the same region which Bernard reported. Here is the information on it that Brian Etheridge sent to Bernard. Some of you might be quite interested in this osprey sighting. Osprey, blue/white 527 at Anse of Combrit, Brittany 29 on 3 September 2022. “This bird was ringed on 25 June 2022 as a chick in a nest of three young near Errogie, Scottish Highlands, 57. 46’12″N, 004.23’19″W by myself, Adam Ritchie and Ian Perks. The British Trust for Ornithology metal ring number is 1489674. This is the first sighting of this bird since fledging in July.”

Well, 527 has been spotted again! Mary Cheadle’s tells me that Blue/White 527 was one of many Ospreys photographed and counted by Jean-marie Depart in Senegal on 16 November. Now that should put a smile on our faces! I am very hopeful that Willow LW5 will be sighted if she is in Jean-marie’s territory!!!!!!

527 as photographed by JMD on 16 September 2022, above.


Atlantic puffins” by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

‘N’ sent me a lovely announcement from Audubon. The focus is on Puffins. I had no idea that warming seas could cause the fish to grow larger causing starvation in the Puffins, did you? Here is a brief extract from that mailing by Audubon:

We monitor nesting on remote islands in the Gulf of Maine and this year they have great news! Despite a steep decline in 2021, seabirds like Atlantic Puffins finished this past summer on a remarkably higher note with twice as many chicks surviving and fledging compared to last year. Thanks to generous support from you and your fellow bird lovers, Audubon is able to closely monitor delicate habitats like this one and carefully tend to the birds that very much depend on us to survive.
 
The puffins’ precarious journey for survival is just one of countless examples in which the climate crisis harms and threatens our beloved birds. Last year, warming waters gave rise to increased butterfish counts, a food source too large for small Atlantic Puffin chicks to swallow, tragically leading to starvation. The climate crisis is also making storms more frequent, much stronger, and increasingly unpredictable. 

Australian Nests:

This was posted under the streaming cam by Cilla Kinross. Please keep reading as the news gets better throughout the afternoon.

“Our small search party scoured the campus today for Rubus without luck. The only place that adults gave warning calls was in Girinyalanha (when Indigo was in the box), so there is still a chance that he is there, but just hard to find. I’ll send another call out to staff to keep an eye out for him. However, at this stage, I’m not that hopeful. I have received a lot of criticism about why Rubus was not put back in the box (including hate mail, which I could do without, thank you). On reflection, Rubus probably should have come into care when he was found on the ground, not put in a tree (and certainly not put back in the box). But I was reassured by Victor Hurley’s assessment that it was unlikely that he had trichomoniasis (canker) and we often have birds still with a bit of fluff, that fly poorly for a couple of days before they come good. He was flying and his parents were feeding him, so I was not too worried. I take responsibility for that decision, even though I was not able to be present at the time (for personal reasons). If found, he will taken into care for veterinary assessment and rehabilation if necessary. I will let you know if and when that happens.”

Later there was some more positive news: “NEWS 27th November 2022 1300 h While our small search party was looking in the woods below the tower, a falcon flew out towards the tower. As I couldn’t see Indigo in the box any more, I assumed the bird we saw flying was Indigo BUT Indigo was in the box (at the back), so it was a different falcon. On tower cam, at that time, this same bird was seen to harrass Xavier into leaving the microwave, so I believe it was Rubus. This is typical juvenile behaviour, not something Diamond would do. She would land on the roof. Hopefully, we will soon see all four falcons on the roof together, so we can be sure.

This would be grand. I am so hoping that the mystery falcon is Rubus and all is well.

Breakfast came in the form of a Quail for Indigo who carried it to the scrape box and ate it, leaving leftovers in the corner just like she has been taught by Diamond and Xavier. Approximately 0613.

Diamond came and raided the pantry! There will be a lesson in this for Indigo!

Now let us go back to where this mystery of Rubus begins. At 084155, the tower cam shows two falcons flying. Indigo was in the scrape box at the time. Is there a third flacon sitting on that appendage sticking out on the right near the top? I hope so!

Diamond had been in the scrape and flew out – top image. Then Indigo came into the scrape – bottom image.

It is a tad confusing and perhaps misleading. If there had been three clear falcon profiles around the tower while Indigo was in the scrape box, then yes, we would know. On one occasion a flying bird thought to be a falcon was, indeed, a Swallow. Cilla has said that she will go out and investigate before she heads home. What she needs is to see 4 falcons on top of the tower. Proof. Fingers crossed — and toes.

Cilla has posted a video of the event at the tower. She says she is not wanting to get our hopes up but here is the footage.

There is some indication that the juvenile that was in the scrape box for so long on the 26th in Australia was Rubus but nothing is confirmed.


Breakfast came to Port Lincoln about 090609. Mum was on the nest with the fish and Zoe was elsewhere. Zoe flew in and took that fish and had her fill.

Here comes Zoe wanting that fish!

In Port Lincoln, it looks like Mum has landed another big flat fish at 1309. There she is eating it on the ropes while Dad sits stoically and Zoe is in the nest screaming for fish. I hope that Mum eats her fill. She will always share with her daughter, always, unless she is absolutely starving and sometimes, as we have seen this season, even then.

Well, it is hard to tell what happened with that fish. The camera was fixed in a particular location and if there was a fish transfer to Zoe, we could not see it. In the background you could hear Zoe fish calling so maybe Mum didn’t land on the nest?? Zoe is definitely not going to starve. This fledgling eats more fish than I could imagine. And still wants more!

Dad delivered his second fish of the day at 2043. Zoe in the nest and took it but Mum flew over. I wonder if she still wants to feed her daughter and have a bedtime snack?


No 16. Red List Bird. Pochard

The Pochards are a stunning duck that arrives in the United Kingdom from Scandinavia to over winter in the slower moving rivers and estuaries. There is now, also, a small group of Pochards that stay in the United Kingdom year round. They populate the newly created reservoirs and gravel pits. the Pochard feeds on seeds, roots and other plant material as well as small invertebrates by diving and also tabling.

There are declines in Northern Europe and this will decidedly impact the number coming to the United Kingdom in the fall. One of the major threats to the Pochard are the predatory mink that have invaded their breeding areas. The draining of lowland marshes and fish ponds for agriculture is causing a massive decline in the numbers. The major cause is climate change and there is also a growing number of mink – predators – in their breeding grounds in the north. That could account for a great loss of these gorgeous waterfowl. Other threats include egg collecting, fishing, disease such as Avian Flu, human disturbance, and illegal hunting!

Red-crested Pochard” by Andrej Chudy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Let us have a look at this duck more closely in his breeding plumage. He has intense red eyes with a fiery rusty-copper head, a distinctive black breast, a dark taupe on the wings and back, a black rump and grey at the tip of the tail. The under area is white. In this image the bill appears to be red. You would recognise them immediately. The legs and feet are a blue grey for both genders.

Now just look at the female. How beautiful she is with her two little goslings. The eye is the deepest brown-black – not red -with a softer auburn head. The body is white mingled with the same soft auburn from the head.

mare i fill 06, xibecs – madre e hijo, patos colorados – mom and son, red-crested pochard” by ferran pestaña is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

In his text for Red Sixty Seven, Mike Dilger states, ” I will concede that of all our threatened bird species, the more glamorous and charismatic species, such as the Puffin and Cuckoo, will undoubtedly grab the headlines. But, I’d argue, a winter without spotting a Pochard would be even worse than Christmas without a turkey.” (12)


Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care all. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their videos, posts and streaming cams which make up my streaming cams: ‘G’ and Conservation without Borders, ‘M’, Quoteny, MC, Bernard, and Jean-marie Dupard, OpenVerse, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Port Lincoln Osprey.

Zoe eats a whopper, Ervie, and where are you, Rubus, darling?

26 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

The kittens thought it was about time that they got their pictures in the blog – again! It is almost impossible to actually call them kittens now. They are 4x the size they were when they arrived. That will be a month on Tuesday. If you look closely at Lewis, you will notice that his nose has some scratches. Those scratches are from his ‘sweet’ ‘never do anything wrong’ sister, Missy. Poor little, Lewis. She took a couple of nicks out of his left eye, too. Ah, it is always the quiet ones, eh, Lewis?

I am going to start off with some really good news. I know that any time we are feeling a little ‘low’, Ervie can always make us smile. Port Lincoln Osprey posted a video of Ervie enjoying a freshly caught fish at Delamere this morning. I wonder if he was out fishing with Dad?

Now for the worrisome. Rubus has not been seen since the 23rd when he was on the ridge of the building. There has been a break in the news and I just thought it was because Cilla had not been out and about but, turns out, Indigo has been seen and photographed but not our sweet little lad.

I have received a note from ‘J’ that included this announcement from Cilla Kinross. It says: “I am organising a bit of search tomorrow morning at 0830 with some locals. Not sure how many will turn up, but hopefully 3 or 4 so we can split up and have a good look for Rubus. The bird wil go to a raptor carer and if and when he’s returned, I’ll decide at that stage. Probably I would put him close to Indigo so easy for parents to find.”

This is not the news that we had hoped. Let us all get really positive and send that energy out to the grounds of Orange to help our wee lad.

I found this message from Cilla below the streaming cam: “NEWS 26th November 2022 1900h I had a good look around this morning. No sign of Rubus. I asked Security to keep an eye for him, especially if he was on the ground. Indigo was sitting quietly in the trees in Girinyalanha and I took some photos.”

At 1450, Indigo flew into the scrape box looking for leftovers and hoping for prey. He is big and strong and gorgeous.

Here is a video of Indigo arriving in the scrape box with prey!

Oh, what a darling Xavier is. He went into the scrape just to see how Indigo was making out with his prey. They are taking such good care and teaching Indigo such valuable lessons. Oh, I hope dear Rubus is found so that the family can be back together again soon.

Xavier you are the cutest!

It was certainly good news to see that Willow, Louis and Dorcha’s first fledgling of 2022 had been spotted in the same area as Paith from the Dyfi nest. There must be a message board somewhere for young osprey fledglings from the UK on good places to stop enroute to their winter vacation (or should I say their home for the next couple of years?).

Yesterday it was a bit of a feast at the Port Lincoln Osprey nest and this morning an extremely large flat fish (a flounder? they do have them in PL) appeared on the nest. Mum flew in when Dad arrived but Zoe took charge. Now, that fish was big enough to feed three but, it didn’t. Zoe ate every last bit of it. She worked on that fish for more than two hours!!!!!!!!! Mum gave up and went off to get her own. I can only imagine the number of fish Zoe’s mate is going to have to produce when she has a nest of osplets. Just think about it. I am not certain I have ever seen an osplet eat as much fish as our Zoe.

Mum waited for over an hour hoping to get some breakfast but, the fact is, Zoe does not share.

At one time there were gulls overhead and both Mum and Zoe were alarming.

No 16. The Red List. The White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose” by Rick Leche is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Oh, goodness. Isn’t that a beautiful goose? White-fronted geese are medium sized. The white face is set off by that taupe of the head and back, the splotched chest, and that orange bill of the Greenland geese with legs to match. On occasion, the bill can be pinkish – that of the Siberian birds. There is a fluffy white bottom under those grey-brown back and wing feathers. What is amazing is the ombre – going from the solid taupe head, to the lighter neck, then lighter still on the breast. Just imagine if someone took this into their hair salon and asked for the stylist to copy it! It would be quite stunning, actually. Females and males are similar while the juveniles lack the white face, the black barring, and their taupe colour is not as deep as that of the adults.

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) DSC_0139” by NDomer73 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

They breed in the cold of the Arctic tundra areas in the spring and summer. Greenland is one of the sites. In his entry, Gill Lewis writes, “This Greenland summer has seen her new brood hatch and grow. Her proud gaggle follow her, tail-waggling and beak-nibbling on the arctic tundra. A family, feeding and fattening.” In his entry, David Stroud said, “…she hatched six goslings and, with her mate, led them three kilometres up the steep valley sides and onto the lake-studded plateau used for brood-rearing and moulting.” Can you imagine, those wee ones following behind their Mum and walking upwards for 3 kilometres? It would be an incredible sight. They eat grasses, clover, grain, winter wheat and potatoes, according to the RSPB.

These lovely geese then fly and spend their winters in Ireland, the Orkneys, and Britain.

Why are these lovely waterfowl on such rapid decline? It is interesting and can be remedied. But, first. In 1982 shooting of White-fronted Geese in the UK was outlawed. Even so, their numbers have been falling rapidly. There are simply not enough youngsters to replace the adults and the cause is well known. The warming of the North Atlantic is the primary cause with its climatic changes and heavy snow falls. Those snows are arriving earlier and earlier at a time when the geese need feed before laying their eggs. So little food. One other cause, the one that can be remedied and is being done so for some species is wetlands. Instead of draining land so that humans can take over more and more vast tracks of it, we need to stop and rebuild the wetlands that are required for all our waterfowl. Whether or not anyone will find a way to halt or even slow the warming of our planet with its land and oceans is another story – a particularly grim one. So sad, these geese have been flying back and forth from the Arctic to the UK for 2 million years – just think about it. And, oh, how quickly we have ruined the entire landscape for them – in a blink of that time.

So when rewilding and news of the creation of wetlands comes to your ears, stand up in support of it – and remember the White-fronted Goose when you do.

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) DSC_0132” by NDomer73 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

In the News:

Long-Billed Curlews” by FotoGrazio is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The Curlew. These amazing shorebirds with their extremely long curved beaks are also in rapid decline. Oh, how I love reading these short Country Diary Posts. I hope you do, too.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/25/country-diary-a-cloud-of-curlews-carries-me-away


Thank you so much for being with me this morning. Let us all collectively send our warmest and most positive wishes to Orange so that Rubus might be found safely and be cared for as he needs. Take care all. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for the posts and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: Port Lincoln Osprey, Port Lincoln Osprey FB, Orange Australia Falcon FB, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Openverse, and The Guardian.

Loch Arkaig’s LW5 in France

25 November 2022

Sometimes I get the most delightful mail and today word has arrived from France of the sighting of Loch Arkaig’s LW5. Thank you to Bernard Lagadec who took the time to write and send the coordinates! Much appreciated by all of us as this nest is so dear to our hearts.

Bernard observed Willow LW5 from 11 to 14 09 2022. Here is the place and the coordinates: COMBRIT FINISTERE IN FRANCE
L 47°053’17” L 4°09″29″

Combrit (Breton: Kombrid) is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France.

Just look at what might have been Willow’s route. If she did do as Google Maps suggests, she flew almost straight south taking a turn and going over to the southwest coast of England and then crossed the water. Of course, I am only speculating on this route. What we know is that Willow left Loch Arkaig on 28 August and as you can see, she wasted no time getting to France. Just a fortnight. Oh, I wonder where she is now.

I had goosebumps running up and down my arms. LW5 is Willow with LW6 being Sarafina who stayed on the nest forever so long.

Here are the pair after being ringed with Mum Dorcha and Dad Louis.

Here is Willow fledging.

Here is Willow taking her second flight.

And this is the last sighting of Willow at Loch Arkaig before she begins her migration.

Thank you so much Bernard Lagadec for sending this wonderful news to all of us. It is so appreciated.

Thank you also to the Friends of Loch Arkaig, the Woodland Trust, and the People’s Post Code Lottery for the streaming cam videos of the events in Willow’s life.

Fish feast for Zoe…and other news in Bird World

25 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope those of you that celebrated Thanksgiving had a lovely celebration. It was another warm day in the garden. Today it will be 6 degrees C. The sky is a beautiful blue and the sun is bright. There should be a lot of activity in the garden. I am quite enjoying watching the Starlings and the Sparrows flit about their lives enjoying the Butter Bark and the soft suet. It is hard to imagine that they are both vulnerable and in decline and on The Red List in the UK but, as I am told by many, their lives are so precarious and the Avian Flu last year could rear its ugly face again this year.

I just think that the Starling below is quite stunning. The so called ‘white’ spots on their bodies during the non-breeding season actually look silver in the sunlight. That coupled with those magnificent rust and rust tipped ebony wing feathers make them stand out and yet, if you don’t know they are there, they blend in quite nicely with the bark on the branches of the Lilacs.

Dyson has been coming for peanuts for several days but, instead of running about storing them, she has stopped and taken the time to eat several before scurrying about. She is really adorable. I notice that her colouring is also changing. Some of the youngsters have great tufts coming out of their ears now. I will see if they will sit still long enough for me to get a photo for you soon.

Junior was about today along with a least one of the three fledglings but Mr Crow and his family were not about. I wonder where they found food. It always scares me if I see road kill as I know they will chance it to get some food. I wish everyone would stop and if they see road kill get out and move it to the side of the road, way off the shoulder, if it is safe for them to do so.

The Australian Nests:

I cannot possibly tell you how quiet it has gone in Bird World now that all of the Australian birds have fledged. You might already guess that Xavier and Diamond are taking good care of Rubus and Indigo and that Zoe is screaming her head off for a fish. Dad went out and came back with nesting material. What in the world is up with the fishing in Port Lincoln?

Cilla posted a prey transfer for Indigo that took place yesterday in Orange.

Dad brought in a fish for Zoe at 09:56. She ate the entire thing. The fish tail went down at 10:21:08. Dad ‘appeared’ to have a crop. Mum was sitting on the ropes as she is above. Will Mum get anything to eat?

With Dad appearing to have a crop and Zoe getting a fish, what is there for Mum? Has Dad decided now that the chick has fledged, his duty is only to feed it and him and Mum can fend for herself? It is certainly common at other nests.

Mum did not sit around. She has proven herself today. She brought in a nice fish for her and Zoe at 13:30:31 and another one at 14:39:40. Indeed, Mum was on the nest with Zoe and flew off quickly as if the fish had skimmed the water near the barge. Isn’t this just excellent! Everyone will have had a good feed today.

Indeed, Mum was just finished feeding Zoe the 1330 fish when she spotted the next one. We will have to start calling her ‘Eagle-eyed Mum’.

Off she goes!

Zoe and Mum are having feasts today while Dad sits on the perch. Good for Mum. She is going to make sure that her and her daughter are well fed.

In his book, After They’re Gone. Extinctions, Past, Present, and Future, author Peter Marren says of the Ospreys, “To survive the Sixth Extinction, it may help to be useful- useful to humankind, that is” (164). Marren continues on the following page, “In Britain, nesting ospreys and sea eagles attract tourists and hence income to places that need it” (165). Every place that has wildlife should heed Marren’s words. They should consider the environment and rush to bring it back to life because those beautiful animals and birds and the landscape that is cared for and respected will help with the economy in the future. Indeed, my granddaughter is looking for a place for a holiday to see birds and animals. It would be truly sad if I had to tell her to go to a zoo!

Making News:

a little change from plants- hen harrier looking for dinner.” by island deborah- New Book ‘Song of the Sparrow’ vig is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Well, to tackle this entire issue of the vulnerability and extinction of the Hen Harrier, Hen Harriers will be bred in captivity and released in England on the Salisbury Plain. Twelve birds, six males and six females, have been brought from France and Span to establish the breeding pairs. This is a project between Natural England and the International Centre for Birds of Prey. Their goal is to release 100 birds over the next 5 or 6 years.

Fantastic. You can read more about this intervention to increase biodiversity here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/23/hen-harriers-to-be-bred-in-captivity-and-released-on-to-salisbury-plain?CMP=share_btn_link

I have become increasingly aware of these magnificent birds over the past year and have devoured as many new books on them that I could. There are a couple that I have quite enjoyed and will mention if you or someone you know is interested in the life and the plight of these magnificent birds of prey. They are Bowland Beth. The Life of an English Hen Harrier by David Cobham, The Hen Harrier’s Year by Ian Carter & Dan Powell

Hen Harrier male (Circus cyaneus) illustrated by the von Wright brothers. Digitally enhanced from our own 1929 folio version of Svenska Fåglar Efter Naturen Och Pa Sten Ritade.” by Free Public Domain Illustrations by rawpixel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The problem is the illegal killing and the destruction of the land that supports these beautiful birds. So when will the courts begin to crack down on those who persecute the raptors?

A nauseating story is coming out of County Down, Northern Ireland of a lovely Buzzard found with a plastic bag around its neck hanging on a tree. Unbelievable. Just look at that face and that gorgeous plumage.

Inquisitive Buzzard” by John C Williams is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Here is that Story.

Dead buzzard found hanging from a tree in County Down – Raptor Persecution UK

Each year the Raptor Persecution UK puts out a report on the killing of raptors and, sadly, this year – 2022 – has been the second highest record in history. What a tragedy and why is this happening?

RSPB’s 2021 Birdcrime report reveals second-highest figure on record – Raptor Persecution UK

Fieldfare on a cherry tree” by hedera.baltica is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

No 15. The Red List. The Fieldfare

FF 031 ~ Fieldfare~” by Mike Hazzledine — British Biodiversity is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Fieldfares are a large member of the thrush family. The name Fieldfare comes from the Anglo-Saxon meaning ‘traveller of fields’. Look at the image above. They have the most beautiful light steel-blue-gray heads and wings. Their back, which you can see in the image below, is the colour of a beautiful Horse Chestnut. Their tails are black. Their ivory breast is spotted with a deep espresso tinged with chestnut. A peach wash makes a gorgeous collar. Their back end is a grey and they have black legs with touches of black around the eye. The female looks very similar to the male but has slightly more chestnut than the blue-grey and some consider the colouring more ‘dull’ on the female. There is an image of a female feeding her nestlings below. Make up your own mind if she is dull!

The decline of the Fieldfare from a handful of breeding pairs to now only one or two brings much sadness to many British birders. The author of the entry in Red Sixty Seven, Nick Acheson, writes about Joe Harkness another author whose book, Bird Therapy, speaks to the joy that birds bring to all of us. In writing about the Fieldfare, Harkness says that he is elated when two Fieldfares visit his garden during the winter’s snow and ice. Acheson says that Harness’s joy comes “not from the beauty of the birds, though beautiful they certainly are, not from their rarity, for per se they are not rare at all (globally). His joy comes from their shining witness, perceived – this once – in a place of domesticity.” Indeed, Fieldfares are not found in fields despite their name and do not frequent gardens but are mostly seen on the wet hawthorn hedgehops, Buckthorn bushes in the sand dunes along the sea.

Fieldfare” by Linton Snapper is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Fieldfare is not a thrush but it can be found spending time with flocks of thrushes during its migration from Northern Europe to spend time in Britain in winter. In the Scandinavian countries, they are known as Birch Thrushes or Bjorktrast. There they feed on berries until they arrive in Britain in mid-September where they roam the country side, the fields, the hedgerows and the gardens looking for food. In particular, they will search for berries from the Rowan, Hawthorn, and Holly. In farmlands, they feed on invertebrates and earthworms.

Fieldfare on a cherry tree” by hedera.baltica is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The decline of the Fieldfare is due directly to the steep decline in insects. Studies in Europe have shown that the biomass of insects in Germany has declined by 75%. The decline is serious in other countries and this is due directly to the use of pesticides. Climate change is also playing havoc with these lovely little birds. Milder temperatures in the northern countries and then quick freezes have cost the lives of nestlings. Many Fieldfare have also chosen not to migrate which is one reason there is the decline in numbers in the UK. Of course, the Northern European countries are not the only ones that are using pesticides. In the UK, there are similar issues and declines in birds that depend on insects for their food source.

Oh, thank you so much for being with me today. Take care all. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Openverse, The Guardian, RSPB, and Raptor Persecution UK.