Big shuts Middle out of fish…and other breakfast news from Australia

20 October 2022

Yesterday was a good day. All four of the Blue Jays were seen along with all four of the Crow family. The two Chickadees came flitting through. Four grey squirrels and one red one. Loads of Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. I know I have mentioned all of them recently but there is something so reassuring to see them – alive. Urban environments present particular challenges for our feathered friends and, it is like knowing that your whole family is fed, warm, and tucked in for the night. It feels good just like watching the little falcons eat. Something very rewarding.

Making News:

SE 30 was seen in a residential area around the Discovery Centre. What a beautiful sea eagle.

Jackie and Shadow have been working on the nest in the Big Bear Valley. Shadow has a new hair style to show off for this breeding season!

It is that time of year that lead begins to make news – and never in a good way. Read the post by one of my favourite Wildlife Rehab Clinics in the US, A Place Called Hope. It takes one lead pellet or one lead sinker to damage or kill an eagle. When there are alternatives, this is unacceptable. If lead paint is outlawed because it can harm humans, then lead hunting and fishing equipment that causes death to our raptors needs to be outlawed as well.

I wish that I could tell you that all is well at Port Lincoln. A whole fish arrived at 090824. Middle did get some bites but Big ate the majority of that fish making Middle have to do the snatch and grab. At 124709 another fish arrived on the nest. Big is going to eat all of it. She has beaked Middle so that he is afraid to come up to the table. Middle was tucked in tight. Listening and watching. At 13:10:58 Middle slithers up to Mum. Is there any fish left? No. Mum just ate the fish tail.

There will, of course, be other fish. But there is still a problem. We had high hopes that Big would calm down and everything would be civil on the Port Lincoln Nest on Monday. Big did get most of the fish but she was not chasing Middle away from the table.

Both eating on Monday.

By Wednesday everything had changed significantly. If Big continues to eat the way she is, Mum is not getting enough food and Middle will continue to be intimidated and afraid to go and eat.

Big will stop eating to intimidate Middle.

Middle really needs to have a good meal.

There were other fish but beyond the 0909, Big did not allow Middle much. Those fish came in at 1247, 1651, 1931, and 1952.

If Middle moves a speck, Big raises its head. This is not a good situation. Middle neeeds to eat today, Thursday in Australia.

At Melbourne, the problem was the heat. The eyases were very hot. Some made it to the other end of the ledge to enjoy the shade. Mum and Dad had turns acting as umbrellas to block the sun.

Both parents dug in their talons and tried to help the Melbourne Four.

Thankfully the shade came! What a difference a couple of hours makes.

Lots of prey came for the Melbourne Four. It looks like Mum took charge of all the 5 feedings. Thanks to ‘H’ and ‘A’ for the time stamps and information. At the 0552 feeding, the eyases ate for 9 minutes; at 0749 it was 21 minutes, at 1627 for 32-33 minutes, at 1734 for 12 minutes, and a bedtime snack came in at 1859 and the kids ate for 5 minutes.

Indigo and Rubus had five feeds yesterday, too. Those came at 072721, 100848, 105425, 144754, and the last one before light’s out was at 181056. The prey thought to be a Red Waddle bird at 100848 was positively identified as a Noisy Miner later.

Have a close look at little Rubus. He is starting to get pin feathers.

Diamond is making sure that Indigo uses her neck muscles, too!

Diamond is fascinated by the camera!

Migration News:

The news coming for Karl II and his family of Black Storks from the Estonian Karula National Forest appears to be all good. Little Waba flew 298 km and is now in Turkey. S/he did that in one day!

This is an image from where Waba’s tracker indicated s/he is feeding. Just lovely.

There was no new transmission from Kaia. She continues to be in Chad in a dry area it is believed.

Bonus is still in Romania feeding in the ditches east of Latinu.

Karl II really got to flying. he covered 373 km in one day and is now feeding along on the eastern side of the Nile River near Asswan.

Great News.

Two things I try to avoid when bringing you news about our feathered family are politics and religion. Sometimes, politics cannot be avoided because our wildlife are wrapped up in particular views and policies that belong to the different parties in the various governments around the world.

There is a quiet movement behind the scenes to see what can be done to change the intervention laws in South Australia in the memory of Little Bob. What we have learned is that David Speirs -often seen with the ospreys, Janet Forster (Port Lincoln Osprey founder), and who is now President of Friends of Ospreys- was the Minister of the Environment for the State of South Australia and, as you can tell, extremely supportive of the Ospreys. The Liberals lost the last election and the Labour Party is in power. David Speirs (Ervie is named after the village in Scotland where Speirs was born) is now the leader of the Opposition.

Every day something new is discovered. Current regulations and policies are being examined to see how to move forward. The last thing anyone wants to do is to damage the fine work that Port Lincoln and Friends of Osprey have already done. It takes time for change but, no one is forgetting Little Bob least of all Port Lincoln who support intervention but cannot within the current policies and guidelines or they would lose their licenses and everything they have gained in terms of being able to provide for the Ospreys. All of this is good. Little Bob is not forgotten.

Thank you so much for being with me today. Please take care. See you later today with the breakfast news. Send positive wishes to Port Lincoln, please.

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Sydney Sea Eagle Cam FB, Friends of Big Bear Valley, A Place Called Hope, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Looduskalender.

Early Saturday in Bird World

15 October 2022

It is 0500 on the Canadian prairies and the sky is solid clouds with a temperature of 5 degrees C. I am surprised at how toasty warm it is in the conservatory and how quiet it is. No cars, no people, no geese honking, or songbirds. Quiet.

The situation at Port Lincoln has had me up and down most of the night. I had so hoped that Little Bob would get some more food during the day but Big has made sure that Little and Middle are so frightened of eating that Little wouldn’t hardly raise its beak. It is a worry. If Big is going to calm down, it should begin to happen. What I witnessed on Saturday was a huge sibling demanding all the fish including any that would go to Mum. I am up early today because one of the things that relieves stress is to go for a walk in the forest and that is where I will be headed. As much as I would like to remove Big from the entire situation at Port Lincoln, I can’t. You can’t. Sometimes it is simply hard to watch abuse.

A sweet story about Blue Herons by an 11-year-old, how weather changes might impact Chiffchaffs, and a couple of videos to start the day:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/15/young-country-diary-grandmas-favourite-walk-was-to-see-the-herons

Besides the little warblers in the article below, how many other birds will be impacted by weather?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/12/weatherwatch-chiffchaff-garden-winter-breeding-population

Before we go and get the round up of the days events in Australia, Lady Hawk made a very short video of Samson and Gabby for all of us who are missing them!

And for those who cannot wait until the next season of Royal Albatross begins, Sharon Dunne aka Lady Hawk, made a much longer video of the albatross arriving at Taiaroa Head. I wonder who the Royal Cam family will be?


Oh, I had so hoped that Big Bob at Port Lincoln was ‘cooling her jets’ and settling down. The breakfast meal on Saturday went well. Big filled up. Middle got quite a bit, and Little got a couple of bites and then was able to get fed some fish before the tail area. Everyone settled down. As the anticipation of another fish arrival grew, Big ‘decided’ to remind Middle and Little Bobs with some savage beaking and pulling at the neck and some tossing that – she – and only she – was to eat first.

As the morning wore on with no additional fish delivery, Big got increasingly angry. The chatters who were watching the live stream were urging Little Bob to just not make a sound. Big is in a frenzy. Will Big be one of the exceptions to the rule of calming down? Middle and Little would gladly be fostered about right now. No matter what size the next fish is, it is Big’s. And no one will have any peace until there are several fish deliveries in a row that are huge…deliveries that have a late one and then an early one the next morning. Gracious.

Neither sibling is spared. The meal was over. Both Middle and Little were minding their own business and Bob decided to go after them.

At 11:50 Little Bob insists on cuddling with Big Bob – right under her neck. Interesting. Big Bob gave Little ‘the look’ but, didn’t beak.

It is windy and choppy. No fish delivery yet. It is after 1330. It could be quite nasty with Big on edge. I sure hope it is a monster of a fish.

There will be two more fish deliveries at Port Lincoln. The mid-afternoon delivery saw Bob terrorizing both Middle and Little again. Does anyone remember the days when Big only went on a rampage between meals and everyone got to eat? It has been a long time since that happened. Now, both Middle and Little are fearful of eating. Little Bob did not get anything to eat. Middle did a do around and pulled some pieces of fish from behind Mum.

On the PLO nest there was a late fish delivery at 20:13:24 but Little did not get anything to eat. Middle got to enjoy some fish. It is very clear that Big Bob has scared Little from eating. Let us hope, beyond hope, that he gets some food Sunday morning. Of course, the other miracle would be that Big would slow down in the aggression. Will this happen?

At 367 Collins Street, Mum returned after Dad had fed the chicks. The prey that he brought in was identified as a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. You can just see a few of the yellow feathers remaining. Apparently these are very dangerous birds for the falcons to catch as they can break the tarsus.

So we can be clear. The prey breakfast that Dad brought was not the pigeon that Mum caught and brought to the ledge. From the look of her enormous crop when she returned, she must have been ravenous and finished off that entire bird.

Mum cleaned up pieces of prey in the scrape, stayed with the chicks for a bit, and then left. Dad returned when the chicks were panting to try and shield them from the sun. Again, this is the strangest Peregrine Falcon scrape I have ever seen.

The eyases have grown so much that little Dad has a hard time just shading one of them. We are still about a week away before they can run down the gutter to the other end when it is in shade.

Top 2 images of Mum shading the chicks when she returns. Why didn’t she stay? It is so hot for them.

Little Dad comes and does his best. Look at how big they are. Oh, the shade cannot come quick enough and my calculations are that is 2 hours away.

I have included this ‘behind the scenes’ view of what I believe is the oldest or next oldest of the chicks. Just look at the feathers coming in, that huge tail, and yes, that fat little bottom and legs. It will not be long til this one is running up and down the gutter.

The Melbourne Four are eating well. The last delivery arrives around 1725. Dad comes in with a nicely prepared piece of prey. None of the four will be going hungry!

After Dad feeds them, Mum returns to brood the eyases.

Diamond fed Rubus and Indigo again around 10:17. Oh, she must enjoy facing away from the camera so we cannot possibly count the bites each of them gets! Of course, now that Rubus can see better and is more stable, there is no cause to worry. Rubus gets fed! And so does Indigo. She had an enormous crop when Diamond left the scrape with leftovers at 10:32.

We have to assume that with how well the feedings have been going that Rubus was full as well as both chicks will go into food coma.

Rubus had a really good feed at noon. At 1209 Diamond was insisting that he eat this huge piece of prey but, he tried and tried and couldn’t. Eventually Diamond ate it giving Rubus lots more bites after. The feedings are going so well now.

At the last feeding of the day, Indigo had an enormous crop and Rubus had a wee one. When you are watching a feeding at Orange, turn the sound up. Rubus is sooooooo loud!

Migration:

Here is a link to the interactive Bird Map showing ospreys, Black Storks, and other raptors on their way to their winter homes:

https://birdmap.5dvision.ee/index.php?lang=en

I will bring news of Karl II and his family – Kaia, Waba, and Bonus as soon as new transmissions are received.

Bird Cast shows us the changing nature of migration through North America.

As the sky begins to lighten, I can smell the coffee. Once upon a time I had a cat named Duncan. She knew that when the morning and evening coffees came, she would be able to go outside. She would sit at the edge of the counter waiting for her harness to go on and we would sit, enjoying the beautiful outdoors. What a great friend she was! I am not sure what the birds would make of having a cat outside but, as the sky turns a light grey, the Dark-eyed Juncos are arriving in droves. There are, perhaps, 40 of them this morning searching for any Millet left from yesterday. It looks like that is my reminder to feed them before I enjoy that coffee. The songbirds have arrived and broken the silence…and it is wonderful. A single Blue Jay has arrived as well. Time to get moving!

Let us all send the warmest wishes that we can to the Port Lincoln barge. May there be so many fish that Big gets sick of seeing fish and allows Middle and Little to eat, unharmed.

Thank you for being with me today. Take care all. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their stories, posts, videos, and streaming cams that form my screen captures: The Guardian, Lady Hawk, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

Monday Morning in Bird World

26 September 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope that the start of your week has been a good one. It is 10 degrees C this morning and the birds in the garden are not happy. The men have come to put the skirting on the conservatory and they have a big saw. It is not very appealing! I did work outside and have moved in the some hot pink trumpet plants to reside inside along with the Hibiscus. Perhaps it will feel like a tropical paradise on the coldest days of winter. It is supposed to be excellent weather for the goose and duck flight arrivals as migration truly gets underway this week. Sandhill cranes have been spotted south of me and the honking and quacking at the ponds around the City is louder each night.

In the Mailbox:

‘L’ sends us a joyful little video she found showing ducks, swans, geese, flying.

‘A’ wonders if there are any raptors unique to Australia.

That is a great question since we are primarily looking at nests with eggs or youngsters pre-fledge in Australia right now. I cannot, at the first instance, think of a single raptor that is unique to Australia. One might think of the largest eagle, the Wedge-tail as living in Australia only it doesn’t. I have pulled out Penny Olsen’s Australian Birds of Prey to scour over today and this evening with hopefully an answer tomorrow.

If you are looking for information on Australian raptors, you can do not better than Penny Olsen. The book is sadly out of print and should be revised and reissued. If you happen to be able to find a copy, it is worth gold so hang on to it. The information is detailed and Olsen has a very interesting way of making data seem quite interesting. Very informative book and there seem to be a couple available at a very decent price on an on-line Australian bookseller. Just Google the name of the book if you are interested. Should be in everyone’s library – and not just those interested in Australian raptors as it covers raptors that reside around the world.

Many of you will have watched the MN-DNR Bald Eagle nest of Harry and Nancy. Harry did not return to the nest and Nancy raised one eaglet to fledge. The other was pushed off the nest by its older sibling and subsequently had to be euthanized. Well, Nancy has been photographed on the nest with a new male interest. Congratulations, Nancy!

Another study for the reintroduction of the White-tailed Eagle to Cumbria:

Farmers are putting out water in the UK for all manner of wildlife. For us, living in other places, it is essential that the birds – songbirds, raptors, all of them, have water. They need it to rehydrate themselves while they are feeding so that they can have a safe and healthy flight – so please, keep the water out!

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-england-suffolk-62575058?fbclid=IwAR33H4tIitpYoIDG2Ixm-33435ppk3e-bU5t6W2DpENpWwg5rDniU_ZaYkU

The Swiss were set to be the first European country to ban factory farming on the 25th of September. Instead, they voted to retain the practice.

Nest News:

I could watch Samson and Gabby working on their nest in Northeast Florida all day. The moving the big sticks, the negotiating (or not) where they should go, and then moving them again. What an absolutely privilege to be able to see these two prepare for another breeding season.

They are an absolute riot – these two -you can laugh yourself absolutely silly for 10 or 15 minutes in one of these sessions especially if Samson brings in one of his huge twigs.

Thunder visited her nest at the West End Bald Eagle nest in the Channel Islands Sunday morning. She brought in a fish, ate it, and sunned herself on the rock. Isn’t she gorgeous?

SE29 has walked up to the branch of the White-bellied Sea Eagles in the Sydney Olympic Forest. This is not ‘branching’ – the eagles need to fly up to the branch but, we are getting close!

Dad brought in an enormous fish that has supplied the fish from Mum and the three osplets at Port Lincoln for four meals! Little Bob did miss a meal and sometimes he just gets turned in the wrong direction but, when he is up there he is getting full. Mum is fantastic at figuring out the feeding order.

Dad brought in more fish and at the end of the day, Little Bob had eaten so much fish and his crop was so big he could hardly stand up. Now isn’t that incredible.

Look carefully at the top image. There is Big Bob. Notice the head. After the chicks lose their fine light grey down they move into the reptilian phase. To me, they look like they have attended Carnival in Grenada and been out the morning when people throw oil, paint, or mud at one another as a way of freeing themselves from the past and in celebration of the new. That day is called J’ouvert and it marks the beginning of Carnival. Sometimes people dress as red and blue devils as they parade through the streets — and I always remind myself that it is in this phase that the older siblings can become unruly and domineering. Fingers crossed for Port Lincoln. Mum and Dad are doing fantastic and Little Bob is eating – not always at every meal – but, well.

It appears that the female at the 367 Collins Street scrape is accepting food gifts and that the bearer of those gifts is also on the ledge, sometimes in view of the camera and sometimes not. It appears that this is male 2. I stand to be corrected. The ID of the male falcons is very difficult unless you can see their neck!

The male arrived with a prey item when the female was off the eggs. He waited and then flew off with it. The exchange, if it took place, was off camera. Mum did not return for a few minutes so it is possible she was munching away on that nice food gift.

He is clearly looking for the female and he has made no indication of any attempt to try and harm the eggs. All of this is good news especially if the old male is no longer ‘in the picture’ and if those are the ‘old male’s eggs’. I will happily be corrected that this is the old male….

Peregrine Falcon males are, thus, quite interesting in their behaviours. If this is male 2 accepting the eggs and helping to raise the eyases (yet of course to be seen), then he grows a growing list of males that will help a female raise a clutch in order to gain the female and the territory. We know of both Alden and Xavier and studies in the UK have indicated that even fledglings of another year have worked to help with a clutch. These falcons get more unique. I would love to hear your stories if you have any examples.

Earlier in the day a male – I still cannot see the neck and the line that male 2 has – is on the ledge.

This is male 2 in the image below with the female. I believe then it is also male 2 in the image above that frequented the ledge several times on Monday (in Australia).

Diamond gave us a good look at the eggs when she left for a break today. Wonder where Xavier is??? He is missing eggie time.

1at the Captiva Osprey Nest in Florida, Lena is having nothing to do with the young male who keeps showing up. He has been dubbed ‘Romeo’ because of the small heart on his chest.

Migration News:

I want to begin with the news from the family of Karl II, the Black Storks from the Karula National Forest in Estonia. There is good news over the past couple of days. The father, Karl II, normally spends much time in the area around Odessa in Ukraine. When we last had a signal transmission from him, he was known to be in the area of heavy fighting on the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast. Karl II survived! he flew 361 km after deciding he did not wish to stay in Odessa to Olanesti in Romania. He is very near where his mate, Kaia, is. Tears are flowing.

Bonus, the foster storklet from the nest of Jan and Janikka, is also in Romania! So three from the nest – Karl II, Kaia, and Bonus – were safely in Romania, out of Ukraine, on the 25th. Waba is in Moldova.

Here is a crazy colourful map to show you where they are in relation to one another.

It is hard to imagine how dangerous it is for the birds that must migrate back and forth to their winter and spring homes.

You can see what I am talking about in the bright white going right down the centre of North America. Where I live we are in the yellow area. Those light areas are beginning to spread eastward.

Oh, it is joyful to hear that Karl II and his family are safe. I find it very interesting that they flew west and got out of Ukraine. We must be watching for hatch at Melbourne. The eyases can be heard, close to hatch, and I have noticed – and perhaps you have also – that the female is looking at the eggs sometimes. Today is the 27th and it is the first day of hatch watch for these urban falcons. We will mark down the 1-3 of October for Xavier and Diamond. The Sea Eagles will be jumping up and down on the branches but let’s see which one flies up there first – and they must be working on self-feeding. These two truly do love Lady to feed them. By the end of the week all three of the osplets will look different – enjoy the last of that light grey fluff for now.

Thank you so much for being with me this morning. Everything seems to be going very well everywhere. What a relief. Perhaps I should not have said that! Take care of yourselves. I look forward to seeing you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and posts where I took my screen captures: NEFL-AEF, Explore.Org and IWS, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Captiva Ospreys and Window for Wildlife, Looduskalender, Stepmap.com, and BirdCast.