Flapping fish, pip dates and…more in Bird World for Tuesday

6 September 2022

The families are back at work and the children will be in school. There will be no more loud yelps when a grasshopper has been found and checked off the list of treasures in the ‘Nature Scavenger Hunt’ at the nature centre or toddlers trying to pull the tails of the ducks. It will be quiet.

it was 26 degrees C on a sunny Sunday afternoon as I set about trying to find that dear wee duckling at Ft Whyte. Originally there were two. I did not see the second one today either when I went around the final bend but I did find the tiny one sleeping in the sunshine. Now that the water level is falling all manner of little islands are appearing in the ponds. They are nice places for ducks to sun themselves in the middle of the day.

The wee darling even had its eyes closed. You can see the downy fluff on its back. I am so worried that the feathers are not developing correctly – a little bit like Yurruga last year at the Orange scrape of Diamond and Xavier. Will they fill in, I wonder.

Have you had experience with ducklings? Can you offer advice. The little one has grown since I was there a couple of days ago.

Sibley tells us that the wing feathers of the Mallard require 60 days to fully grow so that the duck can adequately fly. This little one is about 3 weeks old or 21 days – the closest I can guess from my visits and seeing it – at the nature centre. We need 40 more days. This duckling will make it. That would be the 15th of October! Help me cheer it on.

This beauty looks so gorgeous in the sun between the springs of plants. I love how the tail feathers are fanned out and look like lace with a beautiful satin blue ribbon trimmed with black and white. Mallards are lovely. The more I see them, the more special they become.

All of the ducks seem to have been eating rather well and filling out. They will need all of that energy for their long flights.

The plants are beginning to change adding some oranges, reds, and browns to the green leaves. The ducks can melt into the landscape if you do not look closely. These three were characters. Just look at their crops, especially the one facing us nearly straight on. Well fed I would say!

Sometimes it is nice to be able to look down and see the gorgeous orange legs paddling – it means that the water is no longer murky. This duck seemed to be smiling at me.

This one was tucked up nice and tight on one of the islands. It took some time to see her.

One of the silliest things that happened today was between two Canada geese. They were both on the boardwalk. On stayed put while I tried, as quietly as I could, to pass. The other decided to walk in front of me going around the corner out of sight of its partner. They then started ‘talking’ to one another. This went on for nearly 6 minutes without either moving to go to the other…I left to go and check on the wee duckling that I had spotted ahead of me. I wonder if those geese are still honking?

This morning I woke to the alarm calls of the three Crows in the garden and sure enough, there was the cat – and the rabbit. They are protecting little Hedwig by calling me out to chase the cat away. I do wish that people would be responsible for their pets.

In the Inbox:

‘J’ wrote to tell me the story of the two Sea Eagles and the fish tail. I had not seen it. ‘J’ said, very appropriately, “It seemed more educational for them both than anything.” I missed this specific occasion and I am terribly grateful that ‘J’ gave me the time stamp because I was able to catch a few minutes of SE29 and SE30 doing some friendly exchanges with that tail – they even got a few nibbles of fish, too!

‘R’ writes: Why do the Magpies continually dive bomb the sea eagles? Anyone who has been watching the Sea Eagles nest in the Sydney Olympic Forest will have seen the most recent attacks by the Magpies on the Sea Eagle nest. There will be others such as Boo Book Owl, too. The Magpies have their own nests. It is believed that there are about 50 breeding pairs of Magpies in the forest. The Sea Eagles are the top predator in the forest. The Magpies have no hope when it comes to a challenge with them but they dive bomb them hoping if they are such a nuisance the eagles might leave the forest. Of course they will not! That said, the smallest owl has inflicted injury to Lady in the past. They are silent when they attack and have hit Lady and hurt her eye. You might also have seen the Great Horned Owls attacking the SWFlorida eagle nest of M15 and Harriet. The GHOWs are formidable enemies to the eagles but Boo Book is so much smaller. Still he can do harm and any of them might want a tasty eaglet for dinner. The sea Eagles must be careful with the owls. The Magpies are a nuisance to the adults but can and do drive the youngsters from the forest when they fledge, like the Pied Currawong do. You will often see larger predators being constantly attacked by smaller birds. The Mockingbirds continually follow Big Red and Arthur on the Cornell Campus.

‘A’ asks: “Why don’t the Osprey parents just kick their fledglings off the nest or stop feeding them?” That is a great question and I am certain that there are a lot of people wondering the same thing. I am going to use the term that is often employed ‘good parents’, if you will excuse me for that. The goal of the breeding season is to raise healthy chicks and to either increase the population of the species or, as one researcher noted, hope to have a replacement for each parent when they die. Not feeding the chicks or kicking them off the nest is counter to all of that. The adults might begin to limit the feedings encouraging independence but the chicks will depart for their own territories or for migration when they are strong enough. When that day comes, nothing will hold them back! Until then, ‘good parents’ continue to feed their chicks as best they can while also building up their own strength. Louis and Idris are great examples. Everyone has left but Sarafina and Padarn. They will continue to feed their girls until such time as they leave. Both are excellent dads. Aran and Mrs G are doing the same. None of the fledglings have left. Fish is continually supplied. Mrs G would normally leave before the fledglings. Let’s keep an eye out and see what happens.

Padarn is one of the most beautiful fledglings I have seen!

Making News:

You may recall that Loch Garten’s Osprey chick 1C1 died after being unwell for several days. It was believed that she had an infection and it was confirmed today through the necroscopy that it was a case of salmonella. It is unclear how the little osprey got salmonella.

Do you know the term ‘war wilding’? Ukraine re-flooded the Irpin River so that the Russian army could not get to Kyiv. What is fascinating to me is that this has created a wonderful wetland for the birds that could last for years creating new opportunities out of war.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/05/warwilding-a-new-word-to-describe-the-startling-effects-of-using-nature-as-a-weapon-ukraine-korea-aoe

The author cites cases where warWilding has been used to create biodiversity hotspots and bring new hope for wildlife such as in Mozambique but, he also tells us how this can be turned against wildlife – when water is drained to cause harm to people and, as a result, to the birds and animals. It is a good read. Check it out when you have time. There is a link to another very good paper within the article on the same topic, if you are interested.

There is a new book, Peregrines in the City by Andrew Kelly and Dean Jones. Do you recognize the scrape? More to follow after I have had a chance to read this book on such an interesting topic!

Nest News:

It appears that there might be only one Osprey nest in the entire UK that has both adults and all the fledglings still at home. That is the nest of Aran and Mrs G in the Glaslyn Valley in Wales.

The sun is just starting to show. You can hear the songbirds, the cows mooing, and the sheep bleating. One chick is already fish calling!

It might have been the one that was calling from the perch as the sun was setting on Monday!

It has been a wonderful year for Aran and Mrs G, one that certainly made up for the loss of their three nestlings last year and Aran’s injury. Everyone is really healthy and getting strong.

At the Charles Sturt scrape box on the campus at Orange, we will be on pip watch for the first of Xavier and Diamond’s eggs on the 29th of September with hatch watch from 1-3 October. Mark your calendars!

Handsome Xavier got some eggie time!!!!!!!!!

If pip watch is the 29th for the Orange Peregrine falcons, then we have to be checking on the Melbourne falcons earlier. I am going to mark my calendar for the 23rd for pip watch at 367 Collins Street!

At Port Lincoln, if all goes to plan, we are less than 2 weeks away from the first hatch!!!!!!!!!! In the meantime, Dad had everyone a little anxious when he brought a live whole fish on to the nest for Mum’s breakfast. Let us all hope that the eggs are OK.

At the Sea Eagles nest, it looks like an eel was brought in – or was it a fish? – at 1330.

In Florida, Samson has delivered at least one stick to start rebuilding the nest in NEFlorida and Harriet and M15 have returned to the SWFlorida Eagle nest in Fort Myers.

Blue 022 fooled everyone. Believed to have left for his migration after his family, he shows up at another platform in Poole Harbour. Is he scouting for another nest after the goshawk attack? or just resting?

Migration:

No tracking news for Karl II. It could be that his tracking signal is being jammed as he is in the location of Cherson (Kherzon), Ukraine. Bonus is still in Belarus near the River Pryjpat. Kaia flew a short distance but remains near the Desna River in Ukraine. Waba is between two rivers, the Buzhok and Slutsch. Please keep this beautiful Black Stork family from the Karula National Forest in Estonia in your warmest thoughts.

From the Book Stack:

Bill McGuire’s, Hothouse Earth. An Inhabitant’s Guide, minces no words when it comes to the destruction of our planet and the inability of anyone to stop the warming. McGuire is Professor Emeritus of Geophysical and Climate Hazards at University College, London. He accepts neither climate deniers or climate doomists and insists that we must be prepared for what is currently happening and for what will come in the future. We have not been able to halt the 1.5 degree C rise in temperature that was thought to be the tipping point. “How Bad can things get?” is a complex and intertwined question surrounding the relationship of the climate, the natural world, and human society and economics. McGuire says, “…what we can be certain of is that climate breakdown will be all-pervasive. Insidiously worming its way into every corner of lives and livelihoods, no one, anywhere – not even the tech billionaires in their guarded redoubts – will be immune” (143). He warns against all of the geoengineering methodologies and climate hakes being proposed including volcanic cooling and the refreezing of the poles. Instead, McGuire is very pragmatic. If we want to limit the worst effects of climate chaos til the end of the century, then there are some things that humans must do immediately: 1) methane emissions is a top priority; 2) the scraping of subsidies for the oil and gas industry; 3) the ceasing of new exploration licenses for gas and oil must stop forthwith; 4) banks must be made not to invest in gas and oil ventures; 5) damaged and desecrated land must be restored by reforestation and rewilding; 6) progressive phasing out of beef and dairy farming; 7) the restoring of peatlands and wetlands – places that store more carbon; 8) cutting back on flying and shipping consumer goods around the planet; 9) massive investment in home insulation and green domestic energy. I note that he questions the cost and value of electric vehicles (replacing world’s 1 billion fossil fuel vehicles, the lithium farming, etc) and focuses instead on green public transportation, journey based car pools, and car shares and more cycling and walking. ————Of course, it is not just humans that are impacting by the escalating heating of the planet but our beloved wildlife – and our dearest feathered friends, many who are struggling now. McGuire says his intention is to frighten people into the reality of what we are facing.

Tomorrow a look at Birds. A Complete Guide to their Biology and Behavior.

Thank you so much for joining me today. It is so nice to hear from so many of you. Stay safe. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their tweets, postings, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures and video clips: Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, Dyfi Ospreys, Loch Garten RSPB Abernathy, The Guardian, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Port Lincoln Ospreys, SWFlorida Eagle Club, and the Birds of Poole Harbour.

Late Monday News in Bird World

4 July 2022

Hello everyone. Oh, it is wet and soggy on the Canadian Prairies. I could put the rain on repeat and probably be 90% accurate for the nest 10 days. I really do not know where this water is going to go. Everything is saturated. And after 4-5 years of drought I am not going to complain.

‘R’ asked about Dyson. Dear Dyson. There is one bird feeder that has, for the past week, been empty way too soon for the birds to have eaten all the seed. With all the foliage I had not been outside at the right time to catch the culprit. I should have known but, of course, it is supposed to be a squirrel proof feeder. So much for that guarantee. Dyson is an acrobat. Somehow he managed to grip the feeder and lean it so the seed would pour out. Then he scurries to the ground to eat it all up. He is very quick! The name is perfect! I will try and get a photo if I can catch him again.

A lovely article on the ringing of the Poole Harbour osprey chicks has been posted with pictures of the lovely birds. I want to bring your attention to the last bit of information. Normally osprey chicks are brought from nests in northern Scotland to Poole Harbour to be translocated. It was felt that because of the high level of Avian Flu in Scotland and the Shetland Islands that it would be irresponsible to move birds from an infected area to one with zero transmission of H5N1. Well done! The chicks are so cute…and they got some nice trout for their effort.

Those two beautiful osprey chicks are the first chicks hatched in Poole Harbour for a little over 200 years. Magnificent. Gorgeous plumage, too!

And since it is the 4th of July in the US, it is a great time to bring you a story about Challenger, the 33 year old retired Bald Eagle. I remember Challenger as the side kick to Al Cerere, the founder of the American Eagle Foundation (now retired like Challenger) and his flights in the football stadiums. Challenger is set to fly to Branson, Missouri to receive the Patriot Award – the first raptor to do so.

https://www.wate.com/news/positively-tennessee/famed-bald-eagle-challenger-visits-wate-ahead-of-award-ceremony/?fbclid=IwAR1tAe6ncvNIScy5U_mYMh7bgnItp_-ETzZj8cxnWe_oqNNkfbKm8B-nQkU

Challenger is also the first bird or animal to have both its personal likeness and name featured on a legal tender coin – the 2008 Half Dollar.

Challenger” by kevin dooley is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Your laugh today comes from ‘H’ and the Osoyoos Osprey Nest in British Columbia – lunch was a fish followed by a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for dessert. Thanks, ‘H’.

It is just pitching down rain in Osoyoos – they are having a very wet year like we are. Send positive wishes off to those little ones today.

I cannot see anything new decorations on the Osprey nest at Mispillion Harbour in Delaware. It looks like Mum and the chicks are having some fun looking around at the big world outside. It won’t be long til these two are flying over the harbour and back to the nest. That will be awesome. Gosh, if you live in that area you just might want to take a trip down to the harbour and watch the ospreys fly around.

These two are starting to work those wings. I would sure love to have them weighed and measured. Nice birds.

Ah, Takoda – the pride and joy of Lotus and Mr President heads to the nest to get a fish from Dad or does he on the 4th of July? BTW Isn’t Takoda one beautiful fledgling?

Is it just me or does everyone have trouble seeing the rings on the legs of the West End fledglings of Thunder and Akecheta? What a gorgeous area to fly. It seems that the 2-4 year olds are returning and causing a bit of turmoil trying to intrude in established nest areas. Thunder has been busy chasing them away.

I honestly cannot tell which of the eaglets is which without seeing them together or observing those bands.

Suzanne Arnold Horning has taken some great images of Big Red and Arthur and their family today. I am so grateful that she always allows me to share them with you. Once the fledglings have left the nest it is hard to capture them on the Cornell camera.

Gosh these Red-tail hawk babies are beautiful. As far as I know, L4 and L2 are the only two official juveniles having caught their own live prey items yesterday.

Proud parents Big Red (left) and Arthur (right) keep watch over the Ls and their territory.

I will close this evening with a whopping salmon – complete with head – brought to the nest for Dorcha and the two kids by Louis. Wow. That is one super fish! And a very grateful Osprey family. Louis is an amazing provider and if he isn’t getting fish to the nest there is a reason — intruders.

It is lovely to have you with me and the birds today. So grateful Little Bit 17 is in care today and doing well. Thank you for being here and take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and/or FB pages where I took my screen captures: Friends of Loch Arkaig and the Woodland Trust, Suzanne Arnold Horning and the Cornell Hawk Chatters, Explore.org and the Institute for Wildlife Studies, NADC-AEF, Mispillion Harbour Ospreys, Osoyoos Osprey Cam, and the Birds of Poole Harbour.

Tuesday in Bird World

10 May 2022

Gosh, golly. 21 degrees C. This means summer!!!! The parks, both of them, were full of joggers, walkers, people having picnics, playing ball, or tennis. The Cricket pitch was busy. Canadians are wearing short sleeves and shorts and we are happy and smiling! Last week was a different story. If it rains again on Thursday we will be back grumbling. I promise. Summer is way too short. You realize I did not say ‘spring’. Honestly we don’t have it any more. A normal summer temperature a couple of decades ago was 18 degrees C. Of course can hit 35-38 C easy. Then we all go inside grumbling. There is a sweet spot around 21-23 degrees C that is just perfect for humans and for the birds on the Canadian prairies.

Note: Bear with me. I did not edit this today!

I left this morning in search of wood ducks. Where are they? I found one couple at one park and three males and one female at another. Even more absent were the Mallards. Sadly, what else I found was that the torrential rains and rising water levels everywhere have made many of the duck and goose eggs non-viable. If the outside coating gets wet, there is no oxygen. This was sad.

The water has receded and you can see some of the clutch that has been abandoned. This area is a small island – there are two islands – in the centre of the pond. It appeared very, very crowded with geese further back incubating and a pair of Wood Ducks walking through.

I wonder how man of our waterfowl lost their eggs this season? Some goslings have hatched but I did not see a single one today. Last year I could not walk for wee ducks and geese. Let’s see what next month brings.

This Mallard couple were taking turns trying to find pond vegetation and keeping an eye on me – I was about 20 metres away but they still knew I was there. The birds around the Witches Hut at St Vital Park are very friendly. During nesting season they get a bit touchy but I think they were waiting to see if I brought any food with me.

The light was not great today. In fact, it gave some rather bizarre colours to the birds.

The colours on this Mallard might even make a Peacock envious.

The Black-capped Chickadees, six of them, were dive bombing me. Did they know I had seed for them in my pocket? or do they now see humans and think seed? Probably the latter. It is a very popular spot for walkers and people that live close by to spend an afternoon, always with birdseed. The lens I had on the camera really compromised what would have been great images taken with a phone camera rather than a 600mm lens.

They came and went many times while I stood and watched. Picking up a single seed, flying up to the tree nearby to crack it on a branch and then back for another one. I wonder how many calories they burn flying back and forth??

The Canada Geese were everywhere – and I do mean everywhere.

Tucked in near to them was a Chipping Sparrow hunting for sees and bugs.

None of those images will win any awards for photography but they are a nice memory of my day and some of the birds that I saw.

When I got home I went back and checked on the Manton Bay Osprey Nest in the UK to see if the third chick had hatched for Blue 33 (11) and Maya. Not yet but you could clearly see a crack forming. One of the reasons that this couple has such huge success is that the eggs normally hatch within a couple of days. Maya always delays incubating the first two eggs until the last has been laid. Talk about a remedy to help with food competition. Of course, it helps to have a big lake with lots of fish in it and not much competition right under your nest!

There was Blue checking out his newly hatched Big and Middle Bobs.

Big Bob looks like it is going to have an attitude.

If you stare at the egg long enough at the back on the left at about 2100, it appears there are some cracks forming. Of course, I could be losing my mind also.

So all is well at Rutland. Then skipping over to the UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey nest and gosh. Middle had a crop at 16:18. So I went back and it appeared that another fish had come to the nest around 15:00.

The fish has arrived. Middle is just lucky. If Mum moved the wrong way she would knock him off that nest. He is on the far side. The chick you are looking at is Big.

Mum is feeding Middle!

Mum continues to feed Middle.

So, today, Middle ate and had a couple of crops. This nest is like a roller coaster. Did you know that birds can get stress lines in their feathers? I don’t know if all banders check but when they checked the three lads at the Port Lincoln Osprey nest they checked for stress lines and found none. Of course, they would not have. Those three males were like three choir boys until they fledged. They they really began to do the ‘dust ups’ shoving one another off the nest, intercepting fish, stealing fish and whatever else three brothers can think to get into. Here is a ‘dog fight’ between Ervie and Falky.

And here is the ‘dust up’ between Ervie and Bazza on the nest where one falls off:

For those of you that do not know the PLO nest it is on a barge at Port Lincoln, Australia. The nest always had a history of siblicide. This year everyone held their breath when the three eggs hatched and there was Little Bob. Well, Little Bob was quite the character. He had to always be at the beak, in front. When Bib Bob tried to bully him, Little Bob just didn’t let it happen and Big Bob got tired and quit. Still we worried until everyone realized that Little Bob was getting rather dominant. At the time the three were to be banded, it was decided that the heaviest of the three would get the one satellite-pak. Everyone was sure it would go to Bazza the eldest. No. Ervie – who never missed a meal and who had been right up front that morning – got the GPS system! And we cheered! The three were Bazza the eldest with the red band, Falky the middle with the yellow, and Ervie the youngest with the dark green band. Falky – being the middle – did not always get much attention until he dove off the barge and caught a fish! Falky was also the one spotted 300 km north of Port Lincoln. Bazza was the reluctant flier and stayed on the nest to let Mum feed him. Then he left. I hope we hear about Falky and Bazza. Ervie was flying about and then Ervie got one of his talons pulled out. Who knows how. As a result he stays around Port Lincoln and has a fondness for Puffer Fish! He is adored by many.

Sometimes it is nice to sit back and remember those really wonderful nests and last year, PLO was one of the best!

If you are into the translocation project that has been going on in the UK, you will be excited to read the announcement by Poole Harbour today on their FB page:

Single Bald Eagle Mums have a difficult job especially if the nest is in an area where there are constant intruders. There had been a bit of a dry spell at the MN-DNR nest but today around 16:15 nest time, Nancy brought in a huge fish. E1 ate well. I understand that a group of school children are calling E1 – Harriet. If it isn’t official, it should be. It is a perfect name to honour her missing and believed dead young dad, Harry.

The winds are still blowing strong in Scotland and the rain will start pelting down at the Loch Arkaig nest in the West. Dorcha is doing a great job keeping those eggs incubated.

At the Loch of the Lowes, the wind is blowing but you can hear the ducks and geese flying in for the evening. Blue NC0 looks pretty content on the nest of hers and Laddie’s. Not long til there will be chicks here.

One of the things that people/researchers/naturalists and lovers of Osprey look at it is the return rate. How many fledglings from a nest in a particular year with particular parents return as juveniles and are officially seen? Well the Llyn Clywedog nest is doing a bit of celebrating today. So far two out of three of the 2020 trio have returned – 550 and 551. They only need 552 and they would have a 100% success rate. They are going to have bragging rights regardless for some time. This is fantastic news.

Richmond and Rosie have been fighting off intruders this entire season. We are a few days til hatch watch. Here is the banner for SF Bays Hatch Watch announcement at the SF Bay nest of these two great Ospreys.

Here is the link to Richmond and Rosie’s streaming cam:

This is the 15:49 feeding at the Cal Falcon nest of Annie and Alden. Cute. So cute.

This is the 16:55 feeding at the Manchester New Hampshire Peregrine Falcon scrape. Crazy!

Everything is perfectly fine at the nest of Big Red and Arthur on the Cornell Campus. L4 can almost be heard saying, “My crop’s as big as your crop! Nah, nah, nah!” Every time L1 does something, L4 seems to copy her.

Big Red looks like she is ready for an evening break before she snuggles down with these four Ls.

So far, so good. Food was on both the MN-DNR and the UFlorida-Gainesville nests. One day at a time. Today it was all good. So from me and all the garden gang and TH1 at the Two Harbours nest in the Channel Islands, good night. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB pages where I took my screen captures: LRWT, UFlorida-Gainesville, PLO, Birds of Poole Harbour, MN-DNR, Woodland Trust, Loch of the Lowes, SF Bay Ospreys, Cal Falcons, Peregrine Network, Cornell Bird Lab RTH, and Explore.org