Many who read my newsletter have a love for all birds and a particular fondness for one or two species and a number of nests. My personal journey began with an encounter in my own garden – literally, getting up close and personal with a female Sharp-shinned hawk in the dead of winter who, I believed at the time, was eating the garden rabbit, Hedwig. She wasn’t. Our eyes locked to one another’s, ‘something’ happened. I cannot describe it but those minutes changed my life. I know that many of you have had a similar experience as well as others who have gone on to write books about their journeys.
Philip Brown’s, The Scottish Ospreys from extinction to survival, written in 1979, is just such a book. My used copy arrived in the post a couple of days ago from the UK. The only time that I have had to read has been late at night. The book is so well written that I was often hesitant to stop reading. His enthusiasm and love for these fish-eating birds animates the drive in Scotland to reintroduce the Osprey after years of extinction. Brown gives a good solid history but it is his personal stories of spending time with others at the eyries of Loch Garten guarding the nests that draws the reader into sympathy with the birds. Brown worries about the trees that are partially dead but have nests, about the poachers that are killing the birds, and how to halt the illegal practice of egg collecting. Those are woven in with the growing understanding of osprey behaviour and the efforts to grow public interest in the birds. If Ospreys tug at your heart then this is a book that you should read. When I was looking for a copy I discovered that the book could be ordered from the UK with standard post for a very reasonable price. It is a hardback book and used copies are available for less than 5 GBP.
I want to re-mention another book, available only in paperback. Lady of the Loch. The Incredible Story of Britain’s Oldest Osprey is by Helen Armitage. There are a couple of ways it is different than the Brown volume. It is newer, written in 2011. The book covers the reintroduction of the Osprey to Scotland also but does it by focusing on a single bird, Lady, at the Loch of the Lowes. Lady raised 48 chicks migrating to Africa and back 20 times. That is simply astounding. Armitage’s book is different in another way. The lens is female, a welcome change when the majority of books on Osprey are written by men. She includes details not found in other volumes including one that I found particularly interesting. In trying to protect the Osprey, “In September 1899, Queen Victoria confirmed that certain regiments would stop wearing osprey plumes…” She also notes that it was women who continued the fight to stop the use of bird plumes including the Duchess of Portland who became the head of the Society for the Protection of Birds. It is time to think of fall reading and these are two really excellent books to curl up with.
In nest news, it appears that Bukacek or Father Stork is the only member of his family sleeping on the nest at Mlade Buky.
It is possible that both Pankrac, the female, and Servac, the male are with other fledglings preparing for their migration?
The normal practice with raptors is the female leaves for migration first. The male remains feeding the fledglings and bulking up himself. Once the fledglings depart, the male begin his long journey. Is this also the same ritual for storks?
I had a beautiful letter from a reader, ‘S’. She confirms the special status of storks in her country, Latvia. The people of Latvia have a special name for the White Storks, svētelis. She says the term speaks to the “embodiment of something holy and brings peace and protection from bad things.” This belief explains so much about the great love the people of Latvia have for their storks and that same understanding of storks being special must extend to surrounding countries where people go to great lengths to care for these amazing birds.
In regards to the migration of the storks, ‘S’ says that every year the storks gather on the trees, the roofs of all the houses and buildings, as well as on the electricity poles close to where she lives. When they are all ready to leave they begin clacking their bill together similar to what they do when the storklings are wanting food. Close your eyes and try to imagine how wonderful it would be to see this enormous gather of storks, each being called by the winds to begin their journey. The only equivalent we have in Manitoba are the Canada Geese. Every year they gather on the large ponds near to our nature centre, Fort Whyte. They arrive as the sun is setting calling one another. It is extremely moving. I can only imagine if it were storks!
There are several videos on YouTube about Klepetan and Malena, the famous Croatian white storks and the man, Sljepan Vokic, who has cared for Malena for more than 22 years. Sometimes, it is nice to see one of those videos just to remind ourselves that the world is full of kind caring people.
Skipping down to Australia, the two little sea eaglets, 27 and 28, are doing really well. It is mystifying watching Lady feed them the tiniest morsels of fish from her large beak.
Just look at the size of fish flake Lady is feeding to 28. She is so gentle.
There is plenty of fish in the nest and, so far, I have not seen any signs of food competition. Both of the little ones have nice tiny crops after their feedings. So far, so good. Fingers crossed it keeps up. Indeed, the only cheekiness I have seen is 28 trying to take a bite of 27’s head!
I love the look in Lady’s face as she stares at those two precious little fluffy bobbles. In many ways Lady reminds me of NC0 on the Loch of the Lowes nest in that she has grown into being an excellent – and loving – mother.
There is a gentleness about her movements with the two chicks this year that is striking. These moments of both of them tenderly tucked under mom will pass so quickly – they grow so fast!
A quick early Monday morning check on the UK Osprey nests reveals that Aran and Mrs G have been on the nest together since approximately 4 am.
Amidst the bleating of the sheep and the cows mooing, Aran brought in a fish for Mrs G and did a survey of their nest.
It is reported that Aran’s wing is much improved. He is flying more and fishing for himself as well as delivering fish to Mrs G. This is all good news since it was unknown at the time of his wing injury in late May whether or not he would be healed in time for migration.
One of Laddie and NC0’s chicks is on the Loch of the Lowes nest hoping for a food drop. Of course, that band is in hiding so it is anyone’s guess which chick is calling for fish!
The scene at the Dyfi Nest of Idris and Telyn and their two fledglings is simply pastoral. That said, no one is home!
The nest of Tiny Little is equally beautiful. I love the gentle yellows of the sun kissing the Dyfi Nest as it moves above the horizon and the gentle golden pink colouring the landscape of the Foulshaw Moss nest below.
A little later the Foulshaw Moss is magical. No Tiny Little though.
I cannot think of a better way to start a Monday morning than collapsing into the serenity of one of these landscapes. You can feel the stillness while, at the same time, soaking in the freshness of the smell of dew on grass.
Thank you for joining me. I will get the synopsis of what is happening with the Gough Island Recovery project this week. Once I started reading Brown’s book on Ospreys many other things went to the wayside. I hope that you have a great start to the week. Take care all.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: The Scottish Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Loch of the Lowes, Dyfi Osprey Project, Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Centre, Mlade Buky White Stork Cam, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn, and The Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest.