Season of the Osprey

One task I take very seriously is alerting readers to the importance of banding and monitoring the birds, reporting sightings, and examining ways to stop human induced injury or death to our lovely feathered creatures. A few days ago I reported the tragic death of Blue 2AA, a Rutland 2015 hatch, who had killed when it landed on a high voltage wire in Spain where he had wintered for the past six years. Here is a well-written article from Rutland that covers many of my concerns with special regard to Duracell, 2AA:

https://www.lrwt.org.uk/blog/abi-mustard/osprey-threats-and-sightings?fbclid=IwAR1orkmPXp58chrj5RANcoqoGuM09ucy8dWhE-NTBmCUsg_Cl2mXtQE-B3A

For those of you waiting word about this fabulous documentary, Season of the Osprey, here is the news for viewers in the US:

This is just two days away!!!!!! Please watch and make sure you check your local stations for any change to the time. I also understand that a DVD will be sold at a later date. That is great for folks like me that don’t have cable television. Thank you PBS!

Spotters in Africa and the Iberian Peninsula continue to report Osprey sightings. There are now more than 600 in Senegal alone. I know that each of you will be thrilled to hear that Loch of the Lowes couple Laddie and NC0’s 2021 female fledgling, LR2, has been repeatedly spotted in Spain. She is at the Veta la Palma Espacio Natural Donana, La Puebla del Rio.

This is one of the largest nature reserves in all of Europe. She could not have picked a safer and more appropriate spot for her very first winter. Here are the map images and here is a link to the website so you can see all of the birds and wildlife at this ecological site. I am also posting this in case some of you want to travel at some time to see the birds – all kinds – this time of year – but do not wish to go all the way to Africa.

It is always good news when the first year fledges find a safe place with abundant resources. It is even better when we know about it and can celebrate with them. As you know only about a third of the fledglings succeed so big smiles all around. Laddie and NC0 would be thrilled! Another Rutland bird, Blue 081, a male fledgling of Maya and Blue 33 spent his first year, 2020, and has been seen this year, at Veta la Palma, Cota Donara, Spain. I continue to wait with great hope for news of Blue 463, Tiny Little Bob from the Foulshaw Moss Nest.

It is early morning in Australia. Mirvac has changed the zoom on the camera for the 367 Collins Four but you might find that the eyases are still out of view. I understand that it will not be changed again. You can hear the little ones running around on the metal.

Diamond and Yarruga are awaiting a breakfast delivery.

The trio at Port Lincoln Osprey Barge are still snoozing.

There has been no further word about WBSE 28. WBSE 27 has been seen by several people and photographed near to the Discovery Centre across the river from Lady and Dad’s roost. They will surely know where 27 is and be providing food for it. The eagles first get their flying and landing skills down before fishing and hunting (normally). The parents help them by providing them with food. I sure hope that Lady and Dad also know where 28 is! Ranger Judy reported she has done a walk through the forest adding she did not hear or see anything but that it is a large area.

That is it for today. It is a cool sunny day on the Canadian prairies and it is time to clean up bird seed. The goose flight images were not good last night because of where people had to stand due to pandemic restrictions. I hope to go out to the other nature centre before the end of the month to see if I can catch some of the thousands of Canada Geese making their way south.

Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: the Port Lincoln Osprey Project, the 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt University at Orange Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

Get the worry beads and the tissue…

Those Ks look too small to start thinking about fledging but we know the time is coming. Big Red is showing them where to stand on the fledge post for their first flight. She is leaving hints on where to go with those oak leaves, and the other day Arthur started his aerial flying demonstrations for the three of them. Gosh, they look too little to fledge. Did I say that twice?! They don’t have all of their feathers on their heads even! But get your worry beads out they are hopping and flapping.

I don’t think K3 appreciates all of this – oh just wait, K3, you will be flapping soon.

This video was posted by Rebecca Alexander on the Cornell Red Tail Hawk FB page and there was a ‘share’ button. I shortened her original version to fit on this blog. Enjoy.

They may be getting big but those Ks still like it better when Big Red feeds them.

Arthur delivered a chippie – gosh it is good to see chippies on this nest instead of Starlings – but K3 told the others if they waited and left it Big Red would come in and feed them before bedtime! K3 is guarding it in case it runs up the light box like one did last year for the Js. Seriously. If you didn’t see it there is a YouTube video. I will find that and post it at the bottom. It is so funny!

Tiny Tot has been on and off the Achieva Credit Union Osprey Nest. Jack brought in two fish this morning. Oh, Tiny was hungry! And he left and he returned to the nest at 1:52:44.

Just stop for a minute and look at that form. Beautiful. He will nail that landing.

Someone wrote to me wondering if the parents were teaching Tiny Tot to fish. The answer is: No. The Osprey instinctively know how to fish. The precise programme of how to hold their feet, fit their wings together in that beautiful delta profile and go down head and talons first is in their long, long history – more than 50 million years of it. That doesn’t mean that Tiny is going to go in and catch his first fish easily! Nope. They say on average it takes 15 tries. That could be tiring. I assume the choppier the water the harder the fishing. There are some super star osprey, like Blue 33 (11) who seem to always get their fish on the first try but most don’t.

Everyone is already missing Tiny Tot and he has not left the nest yet. There is a sadness that comes over all that love him just thinking about it. Certainly by September the Ospreys in the north – Canada and the northern US – will get that twitch that calls them to migrate – even for the first time. It just happens. I love the description in Belle’s Journey:

Higher and higher she climbed, making big circles in the sky. As she turned south and faced the ocean, she could feel the earth’s magnetic pull. Something told her that she should go toward the ocean. Soon the water would get cold, and the fish would go down too deep for Belle to catch them. her instincts told her she had to go south, where it would be warm during the winter and food would be abundant.”

Belle had a satellite tracker that showed her migration from Martha’s Vineyard to Brazil. But it doesn’t get cold in Florida like it does farther north. Florida is, in fact, a place where many osprey stay the entire year. Neither Jack or Diane are ringed. They do not have trackers. We do not know if they stay or go. Or one does and one doesn’t. Richmond stays in the San Francisco Bay area – always has. Rosie migrates. They meet at the nest around Valentine’s Day! How utterly sweet.

One thing that is known is that males return to the territory of their natal nest to raise their families. Many take over the nests of their fathers. We do not know if Tiny Tot is a male or a female. Both males and females have necklaces. In fact, Blue 022 on the Poole Harbour Nest has a pretty nice necklace! There he is in front flapping his wings.

If Tiny Tot is a male, I have said that I want to draw and log images of his head. His body will change but not the markings on his head. I want to recognize him if he returns. And, as I am always grumbling, those chicks were not banded! Drives me nuts.

But back to Tiny Tot. Breeding season is a long way off. The only thing that will cause Tiny Tot to naturally move off the nest is his instinct or the parents shifting him off. But since the parents won’t be using the nest again until 2022, they have a free security guard in Tiny Tot. Who knows how long he will be on the nest. Who knows when he will leave. Enjoy every moment he is there – it is all we can do.

And last but not least, if you are missing or thinking you are going to be missing your favourite bird, you can get a fridge magnet. I had one made of Tiny Tot by our local photography store. They are reasonably priced everywhere.

I can talk to Tiny every time I open the fridge!

Thank you for joining me. The birds give me so much joy and there are so many it is hard to keep track. Right now my focus remains on Tiny Tot and Big Red and her family. Then I will be switching to some of the Ospreys that will be fledging soon – and then to the lovely Royal Albatross Cam Chick as she approaches fledge.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Poole Harbour Osprey Project, and Cornell Bird Lab and the RTHs. I also want to thank Rebecca Alexander for the video she posted that I have shared and to Lady Hawk for keeping me up to date on the owls and the pigeon.

Osprey Lessons and Sharpie pays a visit

A couple of weeks ago, a really good book landed on my desk. It is The Rutland Water Ospreys. It is beautiful, full of colour photographs, drawings, and brimming with all the information that Roy Dennis, Tim Appleton, Tim Mackrill, and Helen McIntryre learned when Rutland Water set about to increase the number of Ospreys in the United Kingdom. What they and other researchers learned through direct observation, banding, and using satellite monitored trackers has changed many commonly held beliefs about Osprey. I hope, over the course of the next weeks to introduce you to some of the things they learned, along with others.

Translocating. When Roy Dennis set about to take young osprey from their nests in Scotland and introduce them to Rutland, the team learned one big important aspect that increased their success. I mention this first because I am once again hoping there would be a break at the Achieva Osprey Nest in Dunedin, Florida. Tiny Tot has not had anything to eat since 11 am on April 11. Despite fish deliveries including a whopper by Diane, Tiny did not get that much food. How could Tiny thrive too? I wished that the rangers in Florida that work with USFWS would remove Tiny from the nest and hand feed him til he was strong enough to be introduced. And this is precisely what they did at Rutland in the beginning. What they learned is you do not remove the runt from the nest. Instead you take one of the larger, older chicks leaving the little one with its parents and possibly another sibling. By removing the bigger older chick that required more food and was being the most aggressive, the little one grew and thrived. At the same time the bigger old chick did better being translocated. It did not have to be fed by hand but could eat on its own and did not have difficulties being removed from the nest.

The image below is of the 2011 chicks of Monty and Nora from the Cors Dyfi Nest in Wales. There they are: Einion Blue DH, Dulas Blue 99, and Leri Blue DJ. They have just received their trackers. Look how the trackers fit in a little pack on their backs. [Note: 3 healthy Osprey chicks raised in the same nest. No problems with rivalry].

The satellite trackers do not harm the birds. There are various models, some are battery powered while some are solar. Many weight only 0.15 grams. They get very sophisticated and expensive depending on what data the researchers want. Some fit directly on the feathers while others are inside a kind of backpack. Using super glue, some plastic tubing, and some dental floss the tracker is fitted onto the central shaft of the tail feather if it was a tail mounted device or on the back.

Researchers check to make sure that the feathers of the young Osprey are hard-penned. When feathers begin to grow, there is blood flowing through the shaft. As the birds ready to fledge, the blood supply to the feather stops flowing and the shaft turns white. At that stage, the feather is hard penned. Some of you might remember that Joe and Connie’s oldest chick, Hope, in the Captiva Florida Bald Eagle Nest on Santibel Island died from a broken blood feather. The real cause was rodenticide but the young bird, having ingested the poison from prey she was fed, broke off one of her feathers jumping about the nest. Because the poison was an anti-coagulant, she literally bled to death. Blood feather versus hard penned.

Solly, the Port Lincoln Osprey is wearing a tracker positioned on her back that is expected to last for seven years. Others are only intended to last a year – for short term research projects. They will come off during the moult. That is the kind that the two Royal Albatross, LGL and LGK, have on their back.

Solly is 205 days old. From her backpack satellite transmitter, we know that she spent last night at Eba Anchorage. We have also learned from Solly that juvenile Eastern Osprey travel as much as 200 kilometres from their natal nest. The assumption had always been that juvenile osprey stayed closer to home. Not true!

Another common held belief was that male Ospreys always return to the area of their natal nest after their first migration to breed. The evidence this time came from banding, the coloured Darvic rings. The sighting of a male Osprey, orange/black 11 (98), a Rutland bird, in a Scots pine in north Wales, some 200 miles west of Rutland, proved that belief to be wrong. In fact, the sighting of orange/black 11 (98) in Wales did something else – it confirmed that the bird had survived. When it did not return to Rutland, it was wrongly assumed to be dead. Another sighting on that trip enroute home was of another Rutland male. This time 07 (97) was not dead either but had a female and a chick in a nest in mid-Wales.

These are only a few of the common beliefs that have been debunked through the use of logic, banding, or satellite transmitters. Every day researchers are learning something new and exciting. It is a great time to be learning about birds.

———————————————————————————-Some fun images to close off. Louis at the Loch Arkaig Osprey Nest. Instead of pacing and waiting for Aila to arrive, Louis (pronounced Lou-ee) is using his talons to dig up the nest and refurbish it. His digging is quite efficient. Everyone is holding their breath waiting for Aila to arrive.

12 April 2021. Louis is doing nestorations.

Louis continues to wait for Aila on the 13th. Oh that she would arrive. The migration is so difficult. A healthy Kielder Osprey, Blue Y6 (18) female was spotted in Santander, Spain a couple of days ago. She was healthy. Then she was found a couple of days later dehydrated and with a broken leg. All of Louis and Aila’s fans are hoping that she is in the last group of ospreys moving north from Africa into the United Kingdom.

And a glimpse at the cutes little baby osprey – the first hatch of the year in the Savannah, Georgia Osprey nest on 13 April. The pip started at 10:58 on the 12th. There are three eggs on this nest. If you want to follow this new little one and its siblings, I have posted the information below.

Sharpie must have known that I am feeling a ‘little blue’ over Tiny Tot and he decided to pay me an early morning visit. He caused quite the commotion on his arrival. There had been a glut of European Starlings at the feeders. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were no less than 35. And then we got the most beautiful murmurations – two of them – thanks to Sharpie! It is always a treat to see that Sharpie is surviving. He stays with us in the cold Canadian winter, never migrates and made a bit of history on Cornell birds because of that. Here he is today another snowy day – in April!

Thank you for joining me today – as I wait, impatiently, for Tiny Tot to be fed enough to survive. It is lovely hearing from you, too. Stay safe. Enjoy the birds!

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Woodland Trust and Post Code Lottery and Rutland Water, Cornell Lab & Skidaway Audubon. Thanks also to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and the telemetry they post on their FB Page.