11 September 2023
Good Morning to all of you,
Sunday started off cool, and it warmed up but the day was mostly cloudy. So, to me, it felt cooler looking out than it actually was. Small raindrops have just started falling late in the evening. The Blue Jays are still coming to the garden for water and seeds as are the Sparrows. Migration is in full swing, and only time will tell if the Blue Jay family is staying for the winter or will leave for part or all of it. The six Crows in the Crow family are still here- they will probably remain all winter just like the Chickadees. Canada Geese continue to fly overhead as are the Pelicans – all of them leaving for parts warmer and in the South.
Audubon has a wonderful tool to learn about migration. Migration is remarkable and now that the birds are leaving I am already longing for their return next spring. Nature continues on despite all that is thrown at it.
Today was the day Hope came out of her shell. Geemeff suggested a feather teaser toy. Little Hope loves to play and right away she was in the middle of everything. I got a small stroke on her head! This kitten has the sweetest face. One miracle for the day. Next play time I will try to grab her with Geemeff’s instructions firmly in mind to let her loose so she isn’t frightened – and knows she can get away. Fingers crossed. Calico goes in for her surgery on Tuesday and I hope to have this little one all friendly by then.
Calico is very protective of Hope. While she weants to return to the main part of the house I have left the door open and Calico will not leave without the baby who remains, at this time, hesitant.
Little Mini-me. I continue to marvel at the miracle – the moment is so clear – when I looked out and saw this wee kitten eating at the feeding station. It was beyond my hope that these two would be reunited. No wonder Calico doesn’t want her out of her sight.
Lewis and Missey are much more used to the ‘smell of Calico and the presence of Hope – through glass. They are all fed at the same time and there has been lots of tasty meals to cement the idea that Calico and Hope bring ‘good things’ not bad ones! Constant companions. Constant washing and playing. Lewis and Missey are both now a year old.
Let’s start off with something fun – the season highlights from Loch Arkaig! Louis, Dorcha, Ludo and various visitors delighted us day in and day out throughout the 2023 breeding season in Scotland.
News has just come in from ‘H’ that there are now four eggs at Melbourne! Oh, little M22 has going to have his work cut out getting those big eggs under for incubation! Egg #4 laid at 07:48:52.
‘A’ gives us a prey update: “At about 09:09:48 M22 lands on the ledge with a small bird, calling F22 as he arrives. For a couple of minutes prior to this, we have watched small feathers floating up, from where M22 is obviously preparing the prey at a lower level. He chups and waits. When F22 does not appear, he plucks the bird a little more, then heads with it, still chupping, up to the scrape. He seems to want to feed his eggs! He plucks the bird a little more, and at 09:11:30 flies off with the prey, presumably to leave it in one of their stash spots for mum to retrieve. Dad returns to incubate at 09:13:39. He has a little difficulty settling down on four eggs but he manages. This pair is adorable.”
I went to check and Mum is home. No fear! After last year I worry all the time about this nest.
Liznm caught that fourth egg being laid at Melbourne for us.
Mini has not been seen at the nest since the morning of Saturday 9 September. Mum has appeared a few times (or it is believed to be Mum). I have an inbox full of concerned letters wanting help for Mini but, in truth, we do not know if Mini needs help. Wildlife rehab clinics do not have the resources to search Patchogue for Mini. Indeed, every clinic that I know relies heavily on volunteers. If someone were to find Mini and get her to a clinic – if that clinic knows her story and any in the area should – they would recognise her. But, for now, we only know that Mini is not coming to the nest. Dad has been seen on the antennae by the lake where he fishes and Mum might or might not have come to the nest once or twice. That would be typical osprey behaviour before departing for migration. The fact that Mini has not come to the nest does not mean she is grounded, nor is she dying and starving. The absence of evidence is not evidence.
The only thing that could be done at this point is for a local search party to comb the area for Mini. That is a huge task but it would be worth it just to check and for everyone to know that she is not grounded.
Five fish were delivered to the Sandpoint Osprey Platform today. Coco was deliriously full of fish dinners!
‘H’ sends her report on Kent Island and Barnegat Light:
Kent Island – The fledgling, Molly, has not been seen for almost six days. Audrey spent the night of 9/10 on the nest, and she flew off at 0630. She was not seen on camera for the rest of the day, until she landed on the nest just before 10 pm. Audrey spent the night of 9/11 at the nest. Tom was not seen on camera on 9/10.
Barnegat Light – There was frequent and prolonged buffering of the live stream on 9/10. But, we were able to observe a fish delivery from Duke to Dorsett at 0725, and we saw Dorsett on the nest with a partial fish at 1828.
‘A’ sends her down under report from down under – thanks A:
Sydney Sea Eagles: “It is now nearly 12:30 and Lady and Dad have spent this morning bringing in more and more nesting material .Check out how much fresh greenery there is on that nest. And that’s not counting the two gigantic branches (one at the front, one at the back) that have been brought in and carefully arranged so far this morning. It is phenomenal. They are doing a total spruce-up and a little renovating – it is a DIY fest up there this morning. The eaglets, of course, would prefer some breakfast, but I think the parents are bringing in the extra cot rails for the reason discussed yesterday (two much more mobile chicks now up off their tarsi and motoring around that nest) and all the fresh greenery and talonfuls of dry leaf material are being brought in because of the day of rain they had there over the weekend (or was it Friday). Anyway, they’re freshening up and drying out the nest. They have both been aerating today and yesterday. So I’m pretty sure that’s the reason for this sudden obsession with bringing in nest materials.
Hopefully, there will be some food soon, though I have reached a level of confidence about this nest that leaves me unconcerned about major problems even if food is late and/or short today. Obviously, we would prefer them to get two good meals a day but they do need to learn that life in the wild is not all home-delivered meals at the drop of a twig. So either way, I am sure all will work out fine and lunch will come soon.”
Xavier and Diamond: The intruder is still causing issues for the couple. Diamond had to leave the scrape to defend the territory. This is not a good thing.
Port Lincoln: Dad was on the nest with Mum. Oh, I hope these two only have two eggs!!!!!!!
Dad2 doing incubation duties. The chat group notes that the eggs were not incubated for 41 minutes which should not be an issue.
But ‘H’ has just sent me a giggle: Is this Dad 1 or is it Dad2? Fran Solly and Bazza are starting to think it is Dad1?!
‘A’ is missing our little prince and he isn’t gone yet! She writes, “
Omigod, talk about heart in my mouth. I checked the albatross cam and not only was Manaaki’s nest empty but the camera was giving us the view of the bay from his nest. For a moment there, I thought he had fledged. Then, I saw a little flash of white far down on the hillside and sure enough, up he came. He had had a practice flight down the hill and had to walk a lolng way back up. The wind has really picked up this afternoon (it is now nearly 4pm) and it is hovering and flapping time. Scary. Every time I watch this, I wonder if it is going to be the last time, as it was that day I watched QT in the storm. Sudden. And possibly permanent. Stay with us just a little longer sweet boy. Another week to get rid of that remaining fluff. Just one more week.
Manaaki was fed about three hours ago (13:23). We think the parent had come in earlier and that this was the second feeding today. The weather really changed three or four hours ago. The rain started teeming down and the wind really picked up. It sounds like a gale on the tab now. We believe that in all the excitement this has caused, it is possible that Quarry has fledged. UQ has been hovering a lot this afternoon, and although he is still obviously carrying too much down and has not yet perfected his flying technique (paddles are still hanging down and he hasn’t worked out how to hold them up yet), there is a fear among chatters that he will leave today. If he does, there is the danger he will ditch in the bay and become waterlogged. I’m sure they keep a close eye out for chicks that do that – I have heard talk of them being rescued for a second fledge attempt. So we watch, we wait. The wind is encouraging all the chicks, but hopefully, Manaaki’s feedings today will keep him at home a little longer. As I type, both Manaaki and UQ are still at home, Manaaki on his nest and UQ a little downhill from Manaaki (where he has been for most of the day, rather than on his nest higher up the hill – he likes Manaaki).”
At SWFlorida, home to M15 and his new mate, bonding is happening! We have a fish offering.
In the letterbox: A few letters have arrived since the posting of the death of two of the fledglings – Stormy and Simba – from Big Bear Valley in previous years. It is hoped that FOBBV might be able to find out what happened to the two siblings. Readers have expressed concern over the deaths of the eaglets and the many non viable years for our beloved Jackie and Shadow. Every year we struggle with them and, of course, it was such a delight when Spirit fledged. The difficulties that Jackie and Shadow face in terms of eggshell hardness and viability of offspring in the nest might be directly related to the historical DDT that was intensely sprayed on Big Bear Lake. Of course we are aware of the issues in the Channel Islands.
The heartache that we feel for these two Bald Eagles and they are much loved by thousands and thousands, is directly due to human causes.
From a previous blog ‘Why Do Some Eagles Have Wing Bands’: “
It all goes back to DDT and the near extinction of the Ospreys, Bald Eagles, and other birds from the United States. Sea life has been impacted and so have humans. After World War II DDT was used to eradicate for mosquitoes in the US. Various areas received high amounts of this toxin. It wasn’t just the spraying but also the illegal dumping of hundreds of thousands of tonnes that has caused harm. Indeed, the waters off Catalina Island, for one, became a dumping ground for DDT.
In 2020, an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times about the finding of the rusting barrels of toxins leaking near Catalina Island. (The scientists were looking for methane). The author says, “As many as half a million of these barrels could still be underwater right now, according to interviews and a Times review of historical records, manifests and undigitized research. From 1947 to 1982, the nation’s largest manufacturer of DDT — a pesticide so powerful that it poisoned birds and fish — was based in Los Angeles.”
“DDT is so stable it can take generations to break down. It doesn’t really dissolve in water but stores easily in fat. Compounding these problems is what scientists today call “biomagnification”: the toxin accumulating in the tissues of animals in greater and greater concentrations as it moves up the food chain.” The birds at the top of the food chain, often referred to as the canaries in the coal mine are the Ospreys who eat the fish and the Bald Eagles.
This is a fantastic read. I urge you to take the time so that when you hear about the impacts of DDT you will understand the history and the harm.
In 1980, there was a reintroduction programme of Bald Eagles into the Santa Catalina and San Clemente Islands. Even until 2001, the eggs were removed and fostered and the chicks banded. Between 1980-86, 33 Bald Eagles were released on Santa Catalina. These birds grew to adulthood even breeding but due to the DDE levels, the eggshell thickness was still compromised. You might recall that Jackie and Shadow at Big Bear have problems with thin eggshells today. Big Bear Lake was heavily sprayed with DDT and it is residual in the soil. The tagging program can be seen with the tags on Thunder and Akacheta. Their chicks, should they hatch and survive, will be banded as part of the continuing study.
From the findings of scientists now, the number of barrels of DDT in the waters of this area rusting and leaking are growing. In April of 2021, more were found.
For those who would like to go back to the 1970s when the alarms were being sounded by various individuals including Rachel Carson, a good read is The Silent Spring. I would hope that most local libraries would have copies. As you can see, the storage and long life of DDT and the fact that it does not break down in water, is a continuing concern for all the wildlife and humans around the Santa Catalina Island which is now controlled by the US Navy.
There continue to be warnings about humans eating the fish from Big Bear Lake:
A long report by the US Department of the Interior on DDT and its impact on fish and wildlife.
A group of concerned individuals is working towards a united presentation to see what can be done about the proposed battery storage facility at SSEN Alyth where Ospreys Harry and Flora have their nest. This is one of the revised plans for the site that shows the battery storage right up to the nest.
This is very discouraging. Flora has left the nest on previous occasions when there were disturbances.
Sue Wallbanks posted this article. It is a good read for anyone who wants to understand how disturbances can cause issues at raptor nests.
The beautiful Black Eaglet had breakfast compliments of Dad. Lady Hawk comments: “The Selati eaglet has another good day of eating compliments of Dad bring in a Rock Hyrax! The eaglet is enjoying the morning sunlight and spreads out its wings as it lies on the nest sunning itself (and keeping cool) 🙂 Mom flies in right after Dad but the eaglet claims the prey and mantles it and will self feed on it for quite some time. Finally Mom takes over and finishes up the feeding and the eaglet gets to swallow the pelt down. i did edit out a lot of the feeding since it went on for so long. Great job! Mom will then fly off leaving a very contented chick.”
These Black Eagles live in the Slate Game Reserve which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa. Their proper name is the Verreaux Eagle. Only one of two eggs hatched at this nest in 2023. This is the time line, and we expect this eaglet to hatch in less than 3 weeks.
- First egg laid on 15 May 2023 🥚
- Second egg laid on 19 May 2023 🥚🥚
- Egg cracked by parent on 6 June 2023 ✖️
- Chick hatched 29/30 June 2023 🐣
- Fledgling flight expected from around end September 2023
Verreaux’s eagle is one of the larger eagles of Africa. It measures 75 to 96 cm (30 to 38 in) long with an average weight of 4.19 kg or 9.2 lb. Its wingspan is 1.81 to 2.3 m (5 ft 11 in to 7 ft 7 in). The Verreaux Eagles like others has reverse bisexual morphism – the female is larger than the male. The adults are the most gorgeous slate grey but some are the deepest ebony. Their cere is a remarkable yellow when they are healthy. There is also white plumage which is a great contrast and causes the birds in flight to stand out. That white is on their back, their rump and the upper-tail coverts as well as part of the scapular. The white can only be seen looking up when the birds are flying, not when they are perched. The legs are covered with deep black feathers. The juveniles appear as in the image above.
In the Kistachie National Forest near Alexandria, Louisiana, Louis and Anna from the E-1 nest are busy making nestorations!
Thank you so very much for being with me today. Take care everyone. See you soon!
I am very grateful to the following for their notes, comments, questions, letters, videos, posts, and streaming cams that help me to write my blog today: ‘A, Geemeff, H, L’, Audubon, Geemeff and the Woodland Trust, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Liznm and 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, PSEG, Sandpoint Ospreys, Kent Island, Wildlife Conserve F of NJ, Sydney Sea Eagles, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, PLO, NZ DOC, Real Saunders Photo, LA Times, Tapa Talk, The Guardian, Office of the EHHA, US Dept of the Interior, SSEN Alyth, Livia Armstrong and BESS Battery Storage, NatureScot, Lady Hawk and Selati Eagles, Open Verse, and the KNF Eagle Cam E-1.