I needed to check my glasses

It took me a few minutes to comprehend what I was looking at. For several weeks now the osplets on the Port Lincoln Barge nest have been looking more like dinosaurs than fish eagles. But, this morning with the rain, their plumage looked much different. There was a strange white over the water so my first response was – the camera has a problem. Then the water was blue and the chicks were having their meal and well——.

Here they are lined up for the 12:36:06 delivery. Gosh, they had to have been hungry despite all those feedings yesterday. The weather must have hampered Dad’s fishing.

Still, there was no fighting. The chicks are all lined up as normal with Tiny Little right up at Mum’s beak! Oh, this kid really does love its fish.

So let us remember what we know about osplets plumage. When they hatch, they are covered with a very light greyish coat of down. You can see this in the image below.

It is 21 September. That was 22 days ago. Little Bob is 5 days old; the other two are 7 days old. Note the prominent dark eye line and the light soft down. Gosh they were so little! The hatchlings will keep this light coat of down from hatch until they are 10-12 days old, according to Alan Poole.

Oh, just look at Little Bob. So cute with that great big crop. He is the one closest to the viewer.

It is 5 days later. A darker charcoal coloured woolier down replaces that soft light grey down.

This is a huge period of change in terms of plumage. As the dark wooly down comes so do the feathers. The feathers show up first on the head and back and then on the body, later on the wings and tail. The feathers on the head and neck are a coppery-gold colour. This phase is called the Reptilian phase because they look more like their ancestors of 65 million years ago than the juvenile ospreys they are becoming.

You can see those coppery-gold feathers in the image below. The osplets are also growing at a fantastic rate.

The image below of Little Bob was taken three days ago. He was definitely in the Clown Foot stage! You can also see the dark grey wooly down as well as a few of the copper feathers on the back of his neck.

The image below was taken yesterday. You can see that the juvenile plumage is really starting to come in. It appears as little round tufts growing out of the blood quills.

In the image below, Little Bob is eating the prize fish tail. He is in his usual spot near the beak of Mum!

The image below was taken just a few minutes ago. I realize that feathers, like hair and paint, can appear darker when wet so use your imagination. It is as if a huge amount of juvenile plumage came in since last evening. Those feathers are really pushing out of those quills!

That is Little Bob at the very back. He is facing to the left and looking down slightly. He still has that spot and the white on the cere with the white swipe under his eye. Right now I can still find him but I might not be able to tomorrow.

In a blink. We will begin to notice considerable changes in their size along with the continued growth of feathers. The very last feathers to emerge will be the primaries and secondaries also known as the flight feathers. Only when all of their feathers have emerged from the blood quills will the osplets be ready to fly. We will know that when they really begin to exercise those wings and attempt hovering.

To give you an idea of the ‘look’ of the plumage and the size of the feathers I have included an image of Tiny Little, the third hatch of the Foulshaw Moss Osprey nest in Cumbria. This was taken on 24 August just before she migrated. Blue 463. Look at the length of her tail and the beautiful symmetry of her feathers. This is how the trio on the Port Lincoln nest will look by the time they are 50-60 days old.

As a reminder, Little Bob hatched on 16 September so he is now 26 days old. They have a long way to go but their plumage and their size are going to change right before our eyes. We really do not need to get our glasses adjusted! It is them, not us.

Beautiful Tiny Little Blue 463 survived and became the dominant bird on the nest. She is on her way to Africa. We hope to see her again.

I couldn’t wait to show you those miraculous changes in the plumage of the three. It really is miraculous. Thank you so much for joining me. I hope to see you soon. Take care.

Thank you to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and the Cumbria Wildlife Trust Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots.

Bird World 9 September 2021

WBSE 27 and 28, the two little sea eaglets in the old Ironbark Nest in Sydney’s Olympic Park, had an early morning breakfast of bird.

Ah, just guess who was the first one up at the breakfast table? If you said, 28 you are absolutely right.

The little bird filled up their empty tummies but it wasn’t big enough -like a grand fish -to fill their crops, too. After breakfast the pair did some wing flapping, standing, and attempts at walking. They still need their wing tips to help with their balance.

Look at the tail that is growing on WBSE27! 27 is the one flapping its wings below.

Well, the Australian Magpie was not giving the White-bellied Sea Eagles a break today. For a couple of hours after feeding the eaglets, Lady defended the nest ducking and honking as the Magpie swooped down trying to hit her.

In the image below, Lady is honking at the Magpie.

Here is a good image of the bird as it goes to land on a branch of the nest tree. This bird is cheeky – they must taste terrible or Lady could have that Magpie for lunch! I would not blame her.

In this image you can see the Magpie caught in flight right above Lady’s head.

Here the Magpie is flying around Lady. It is right over her head.

Dad came to help Lady. All of the big raptors – at the top of the food chain – attract all the small birds and owls. It is surprising how much physical damage these small feathered creatures can do. Last year, BooBook Owl injured Lady’s eye. They can, of course, knock the eaglets out of the nest.

Tiaki looks out to the world that awaits her. Her name means protector of the land and the seas. I hope that they also protect her.

As Albies fly around her in the strong winds, Tiaki raises her wings. She will be off on her big adventure soon.

The chicks are all hovering in the strong winds. In a blink they will be gone. I think I put down 12 September on the guessing game but it could just be any time. Quarry Chick fledged 3 days ago.

Tiaki received her GPS tracker today. Ranger Sharyn Bronte said, “A wider study of the entire Northern Royal Albatross is being conducted this year. And in a first for a Royalcam chick Tiaki as received a tracker. Trackers have deployed on northern royals on the Chathams where 99% of the world population of this species breeds.We are extremely lucky to have 20g devices are available to track LGK, LGL and Tiaki. Although LGL’s device failed it has provided valuable data. Devices are extremely light compared to the weight of the bird and attached to back feathers. These feathers molt within a year and the device will fall off. The device is solar powered and will remotely send data until molting.”

If you read my column regularly, you will know that I am a big supporter of GPS trackers. I also support Darvic bands. Much new information on the migrations, winter and summer breeding grounds – and yes, deaths, are revealed amongst other things. Studying birds or watching them in their nests is never for the faint of heart. Their lives are full of challenges, most placed on them by humans.

Last year, a lovely Polish woman wrote to me to tell me she didn’t know how I could be so calm when ‘bad things’ happened to the birds. Those were not her exact words but that is what she meant. I was not the least bit offended. The truth is I feel for each and every one of them. That caring is inside a bigger box that is now labelled ‘ avian activist’. I want to help stop those things that cause the birds injury or death when it can be avoided. Rodenticides, sticky paper traps, lead shot, lead bullets, lead in fishing equipment, fishing line, fishing nets, windows, garbage dumped on the roads, habitat loss, wild fires caused by arson, electrocution, bread fed to the birds —— and simple neglect or oversight. Like having emergency contact numbers for the streaming cams where there is no 24/7 chat with knowledgable moderators.

I am working on a way to remember Malin, the Osprey nestling at the Collins Marsh Nature Centre, whose life was needlessly cut short. The Malin Code. Osprey streaming cams that follow The Malin Code would have either 24/7 moderators who can access emergency help immediately or emergency numbers at the top of the historical information on the nests. Individuals who are in charge of parks or areas with nests would be trained to recognize the physical signs (11 of them) from food begging to alerting and the 8 vocalizations. It is the least requirement. The other is that they pay attention to what is happening on the nest. They need to know the difference between a juvenile and an adult. Etc. Whew. Yes, I get worked up. If you can think of anything else that these organizations should be doing, let me know. Don’t be shy! At the end of the year, the streaming cam that best implemented The Malin Code would get a donation, big enough to motivate them to do what is right for the birds.

OK. On to what is happening in some of the scrape boxes:

Diamond and Xavier spent some time in the scrape box together today. There was a bit of a conversation between Diamond and Xavier. I need to learn to speak falcon.

There is a real soft spot in my heart for the little male Peregrine Falcon in Melbourne. Maybe it is the ledge where he comes scurrying in to take his turn incubating the eggs or when he brings prey to the eyases.

He is the cutest thing and makes the biggest messes plucking pigeons right in the nest with the eyases. But, last year, I noticed that those three girls really knew what to do with a feathered bird. They were not shy. By the time they fledged, they were professional pigeon pluckers. Can you say that fast 10x?

What a cutie! Our stealth raptor.

Have you ever wondered about the black faces of the Peregrine Falcons? Did you know that the size and intensity of the black varies by region? Have a read.

Cody and the lads down in Kisatchie National Forest have done a great job with the camera for the Bald Eagle Nest of Anna and Louis. Cody says that the sound is going to be fantastic.

Isn’t that a gorgeous sunset over Lake Kincaid? Such a lovely spot for a Bald Eagle nest —- and, of course, there is the lake that is stocked with some really nice fish. Couldn’t get much better. Everyone is just waiting for the Eagles to return.

Speaking of Bald Eagles returning, both Samson and Gabby are at home in Jacksonville and Harriet and M15 are in Fort Myers. All that reminds me I have to check and see what is happening at Captiva.

I want to leave you with an image of Tiny Little. She is one of the fledgling Ospreys in my long time study of third hatch survivors. She has a Darvic ring-Blue 463. Here she is as a wee one.

Blue 35 is feeding Tiny Little by herself. Look at ‘big nasty sister’ in the middle. It really is thanks to excellent parenting that Tiny survived – and became the dominant bird. Gosh, I wish she had a tracker. Is she at Poole Harbour? has she made it to Brittany? will she go to The Gambia? or Senegal? or Southern Spain? My ‘wish list’ includes getting someone to look for her if I can’t be there myself during the winter of 2022.

That’s it for me tonight. Tomorrow I am off in search of a Green Heron. Take care everyone. Stay safe. Be kind. Remember: Life is for living.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: 367 Collins Street Falcons, Sea Eagles @ Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, The Kisatchie National Forest Bald Eagle Cam, The Falcon Cam Project Charles Sturt University at Orange and Cilla Kinross, Cornell Bird Lab and NZ Doc Royal Albatross Cam and FB Page and The Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest.

Happenings in Bird Land. 17 August 2021

Our sky is very overcast this morning and, for one of the first days, our temperature will not go over 29 C which is the same as it is in the Caribbean. It is not surprising that the summer flowers, such as Jasmine and Hibiscus, are thriving while the others meant for bees and butterflies are having a difficult time with it even with watering. So far I have gathered 5 one-gallon pails of blossoms off this Hibiscus and dried them for tea. It has been a bumper crop.

Sweet little Malin slept on his fish. Smart little one. Perhaps that is how to keep leftovers if you are afraid that someone will steal your food! Malin ate it for breakfast and then, at 10:17ish, Dad made a delivery.

Sometimes Malin bites Dad’s toes. It is a good idea to drop that fish and get away fast!

Malin protecting his little fish while Dad flies away.

We are keeping a close eye on what is happening with the Black Storks in Latvia and Estonia and I am very grateful to ‘S’ for helping with this. In Latvia, Grafs made a fish delivery at 12:04:43.

The storklings had one feeding yesterday but four feedings on the 15th. It is hoped that more fish will come to the nest today.

One of the birdwatchers in the area and a good friend to this nest, BK, purchased a white decoy and has spent their time painting it to be Grafiene 2. This decoy was installed on the morning of the 17th to try and lure Grafs to the fish table.

Anyone who lives in duck hunting country will know that the use of decoys to attract birds can be very successful. We hope that Grafs smells the fish donations and sees Grafiene 2.

Some of you might be wondering why they do not climb the Black Stork nest near Sigulda. The simple answer is – it is not safe to do so. The nest is mostly made of peat and the birds could from their movements and jumping cause that to break off. Human disturbance would cause the same issues. It is also a very old tree and not strong. Everyone is doing everything that they can. After the feeding at noon heavy rains came to the area.

One development is that the eldest storkling is now branching. You can see that in the image below.

This Black Stork nest is very special to the people of Latvia as are these miracle storklings. ‘S’ tells me that there was no successful nesting here in both 2019 and 2020. This year no one thought that Grafs would attract a mate to the nest – especially so late in the season. No one would dare to think that there might be storklings for fear that something would happen. But there were eggs and they did hatch and look at these beautiful trio. Sadly, around the nest the area of the forest and adjacent areas have changed so much in the past couple of years that finding food for a family here can be difficult. Everyone continues with hope that Grafs will find the fish table. As I have said so very often, human encroachment and human impact on the climate are causing wildlife irreparable harm. Providing food for the birds now and in the future is the least we can do.

In Estonia, Jan has brought in three big fish for the trio at 11:01:17. He made a second trip to the nest at 15:09:18. In between, the storklings have been picking at the old fish on the pile. They were so full that they did not eat one of the big fish that came to the nest. Sadly, that fish fell off.

In other Osprey news, Telyn is still at the Dyfi Nest and has not left for her migration. She delivered a nice size fish and Dysnni was the taker! Some had thought he might have left the area but he hasn’t. Maybe Idris will get something for Ystwyth who looks on – no doubt she had hoped to nab that fish.

And here is Ystwyth, Blue 491, with her fish:

Beautiful Telyn or Blue 3J is a great provider for her two fledglings just like Idris.

Dysynni, Blue 490, flew up to the branch to eat his fish. Everyone always talks about how messy Idris is when he eats well, his son is just like him!

Dysynni has managed to eat the flesh of the fish and leave the tough skin. Bravo – but still messy! BTW. Dysynni is 89 hatch days old today, the average age of the males fledging off the Dyfi Nest in Wales.

You could hear LR2 on the other side of the Loch of the Lowes she was food crying so loud. There is no getting away from the fact that a fish is wanted! NC0 came in with a nice one. So, if anyone is wondering, NC0 has not left for her migration either. Historically, the 18th was the latest that she has left but, perhaps, the birds, hopefully, understand the weather along the migratory route and they will stay in place. As long as there is food, why leave? wait a couple of weeks. LOL. As if I can read an Ospreys mind!! I do hope they can wait.

Lucky! That is a nice fish and this chick doesn’t look like it is starving. That is a pretty nice crop.

These birds have turned out to be strong and healthy. Laddie and NC0 did well.

To close the day off, it was wonderful to click on the Foulshaw Moss Osprey nest and see Tiny Little, Blue 463, eating a really nice size fish! It was 18:40. It could be the last one for the day.

But, the icing on the cake was the receipt of my ‘Iris pen’ just a few moments ago in the post! It is Choke Cherry and is absolutely gorgeous. You can refill with any Cross Cartridge. What a fantastic fundraiser. Thank you Montana Osprey Project! My picture does not do this beautiful pen justice.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Please continue to send your warm wishes and prayers to the very precious Black Stork nestlings in Latvia and Estonia. The people there are doing everything they can to take care of these precious birds. I am continuing to monitor the fires in Greece. There are two new ones. Those fires impact the migration of the birds already on their way. There is a very sophisticated system using magnetic fields and Quantum Mechanics that our birds use to get from one place to another. If you want to read about it, one of the best books is A World on the Wing. The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul. I just want them to stay put if they can! Take care everyone. Order you Iris pen if you didn’t! See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Collins Marsh Nature Centre, The Eagle Club of Estonia, The Latvian Club for Nature, The Dyfi Osprey Project, The Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest, and The Scottish Wildlife Trust and Friends of Loch of the Lowes.