Less can be more

Hopefully today’s ramblings will make a point on how to help our birds. Bear with me. I love to tell stories and revisit memorable moments.

More than a decade and a half ago, I was in Beijing teaching some special workshops at the International School and also giving lectures on the history of Chinese ceramics. Yes, you read that correctly. A Canadian was in China talking about Chinese pottery! I had been there several times before and always enjoyed myself and treasured the friendships that I made. This particular visit I was staying in a hutong that had been converted into a small guest house. Hutongs are the traditional courtyard houses, many torn down now. During breakfast I met a very interesting lady whose name was Fanny Farkles. She had retired from owing a restaurant, catering, and cooking school in New York City. I asked her, being terribly curious, what she was going to purchase and take with her as a reminder of her time in Beijing. What she told me has stuck with me. She said, ‘I spent the first 50 years of my life acquiring stuff and I will spend the last 50 getting rid of it’. Instead of ‘something’ she was going for an experience – a 17 course Ming-Dynasty meal fit for the emperor.

It wasn’t until later that I fully grasped the wisdom of what Farkles was saying but when I did, it hit me hard and, like all great insights, you wish you could turn back the clock and start again sometimes. Stuff. This coming year I will be spending much time finding new homes for ‘the stuff’. Thankfully, my resolution for 2021 was not to buy any new books. I almost made it had it not been for Chris Packham’s Back to Nature or Emyr Evans, Monty. Almost any book can be purchased used from a myriad of international sellers but not those two when I checked.

Speaking of Emyr Evans’s book on Monty, the DFYI on line shop is now open. If you are interested, here is the link to their on line shop:*

https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/

A signed copy is 15 GBP. If you live in the UK, the postage is a very low flat rate. The round the world flat rate is 11.99 GBP. If you are a fan of the Dyfi’s Monty, the super star of the male Osprey world (by some), it is a great book or gift. It is also a fundraiser for the Dyfi Osprey Project.

One other year a young woman asked women around the world not to buy any new clothes. To wear one thing and switch it up with what was in the closet. It was the year of my black sheath dress. The money saved was given to young women in India to purchase school uniforms because we all know that education is important but you cannot go to school without a uniform in India. It was a brilliant idea.

An article in the environmental section of The Guardian today talks about ‘stuff’ and how to save the environment by not buying. Several months ago, an economist suggested that if everyone in the world cut their spending of non-essential goods by 15% it would have a major impact on climate change. If it is good for the environment then it is good for the birds. Have a read.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/20/we-need-to-stop-buying-stuff-and-i-know-just-the-people-to-persuade-us

A quick check on those adorable feathered creatures that inspire us to leave the world a better place reveals that Middle Bob and Little Bob on the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge had a tug o war over the fish tail this morning. I think Middle Bob won but, that’s OK. Little Bob won when he pulled with Mum!

Despite their amazing growth and those awesome curved juvenile feathers, you can still tell Little Bob from the circle on top of its head. You can also count on Little Bob being as near to where Mum is handing out the food as anyone. They line up and he is there, right at the beak with gleeful anticipation in his eyes.

Mum is happy to oblige!

The feeding is over and Little and Middle are tugging for the tail. The osplet behind Mum is Big Bob. It looks like a circle on its head but it isn’t. It has lines radiating out when you can see the full design.

Middle Bob is eating the tail and Little Bob is checking to see if Mum finds any more food on the nest. Oh, he loves leftovers, too. First up to the table and normally the last to leave. Sounds like Little Bob is a female to me. They need about 25% more food than the males.

Yurruga is currently sleeping off that entire Starling that Xavier fed it for breakfast. It is a wonder the baby didn’t pop but, like a good falcon, when Xavier suggested it eat more and made that chumping sound, Yurruga ate. It is learning to eat when food is available. You don’t always have the luxury of a stash in the corner of a scrape box in the real falcon world.

At least one of the Collins Street Four looks like it wants to try out for one of the local rugby teams. My goodness these chicks are enormous. Look at those feathers coming in. One day we will wake up and they are going to look like their Dad and Mum – it will happen in a blink I am afraid.

No other news from the little sea eaglets that flew off the nest yesterday. Keep them in your positive thoughts.

Thank you for joining me today. Everything at the nests is just fine. What a lovely relief. You take care. See you soon.

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

* I might mention books or other things in my blog. I do not make any money if you purchase the items and never will. My purpose is to simply bring news of the birds as they add so much joy to our lives and to alert you to ways that you can help make the world a better place for those birds.

Who has 3 breakfasts? and 2 lunches?

Xavier and Diamond are on a roll to keep their week old chick fed. Xavier came in with a pigeon while Diamond was away. He might not have had long to feed his baby before Mum returned but, Xavier did a splendid job and Only Bob got some very nice bites.

Xavier was very good at connecting with the little one’s mouth.

It is so cute when they can finally see their parents and that beak of food. Look at it opening wide. What a little sweetheart.

Priceless.

Xavier had really been enjoying feeding his chick. He has demonstrated repeatedly that he wants – very much – to be more involved in the care of the eyas. Hopefully, Diamond will be less protective soon.

Bye Xavier!

There were, of course, many more feedings during the day.

Xavier had some time to cuddle with the little one after he brought in the prey for Diamond for one of the evening meals. So sweet, that little one leaning up against Dad.

Only Bob is ready for its 17:30 meal – beak wide open!

Look at how big the little chick’s wings are getting. Yesterday, this wee one was only a week old.

There might be only one but it looks like it is going to be big and strong!

Thank you so much for joining me. So many of you really enjoy watching Xavier and Diamond. If you haven’t ever looked into their scrape box, here is the link. They are fantastic parents – lots of fun with the prey and Xavier trying to get some ‘chick time’.

Take care all. See you soon!

Thank you to Charles Sturt University at Orange Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots.

Time to Catch up with the Royal Albatross

The 2021-22 breeding season is beginning. One of the first to arrive on Taiaroa Head was OGK (Orange-Green-Black), the mate of YRK (Yellow-Red-Black) and the father of Miss Pippa Atawhai, Royal Cam chick of 2021.

OGK arrived on the headland a few days ago waiting for his mate. The males generally arrive first and select the nesting site. Then the females arrive. Last year, YRK arrived in the middle of the month.

OGK has been making sky calls.

Look carefully. To the far right are two Royal Albatross. One of them was OGK doing his sky call. Is the other YRK? Has she arrived? The couple were first spotted doing sky calls together on 10 October at 16:22:54. Oh, I do hope so!

Wish we could see through grass! According to Ranger Sharyn Broni, there are now 30 toroa back on the peninsula. After the chicks have fledged, the new birds arrive on the headland. (The younger first time to return home since fledge birds arrive in late November and December). The adults have been at sea for 12-13 months. They will build their nests and mate. Often the male will pick a spot for his nest close to the one where he hatched and fledged. Those that breed successfully will remain until their chick fledges next September going out to sea to forage for food for themselves and the little one, returning to the headland and going out again. Because of the stress on their bodies, the Royal Albatross raise a chick every other year – not every year.

Here is a short video of OGK doing some of his amazing sky calls several days ago when he first arrived at Taiaroa Head waiting for YRK.

This year’s Royal cam chick, Tiaki, was fitted with a satellite GPS locator just like her parents. She has really been making good progress and is getting near the Chatham Islands.

Here is the link to follow Tiaki’s progress as she makes her way to the waters off the coast of Chile:

The satellite pack on Tiaki’s mother, LGL (Lime-Green-Lime) stopped working long ago. It was faulty. The one on her father, LGK (Lime-Green-Black) was functioning properly until recently. No data has been uploaded for 8 days. Ranger Sharyn Broni says this could because his feathers have moulted and the tracker is lost or a failure for it to charge properly. It could also have been a malfunction. The last option is that something has happened to LGK. It may be some time before there is any confirmation.

Mel, the manager of the retail store at Taiaroa Head, is adding more products for holiday shopping to their on line store. Check out the soft Albatross plushies and the books or the other unique gifts. You might find something for just the right person – and it will not only make them happy but will help support everything that is done for the welfare of the birds at Taiaroa. If you have questions for Mel, he normally answers quite quickly. His e-mail is: mel@albatross.org.nz

Here is the link:

https://shopalbatross.org.nz/

Here is the link to the streaming cam on Taiaroa Head:

There is lots happening in Bird World! Things will start to get complicated soon.

OTHER BIRD WORLD NEWS: Sad news today. The environmentalist and BBC presenter, Chris Packham, was the victim of an arson attack on his home in The New Forest. The perpetrators burnt his gate and set a car alight in front of CCTV cameras. This is the article on this tragic event in The Guardian. Thankfully, no one was injured but they could have been.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/oct/10/chris-packham-vows-to-continue-activism-after-arson-attack-on-home

The Big Bird Count that took place on the 9th of October had wonderful results. 29,282 participants took part around the world. There were 6885 species and 66,020 checklists submitted. Fantastic! If you want to check out more data surrounding the results and checklists, please go to:

https://ebird.org/octoberbigday

Still waiting for news of a second hatch for Xavier and Diamond at the scrape box on the water tower at Charles Sturt Orange University. Xavier is there with Diamond and is doing is creaky door call to welcome the day. Will check in with them throughout the day.

It is a soggy but welcome rainy day on the Canadian Prairies. Tomorrow Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving – quite different in spirit than that of the Americans south of us. For Canadians, its origin was a time to be thankful for the bounty of the fall harvest. It is a time for families to join together, if they can, and share a meal and is quite low-key compared to the American version. There are so many things and people to be thankful for. The list is long!

Thank you for joining me today. Please take care. See you soon.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Cornell Bird Lab and the NZ DOC, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam Project and Cilla Kinross.

Incredible

The weather in Port Lincoln, Australia deteriorated further with winds blowing at 47 kph around noon with even stronger gusts. The humidity is 74% and it is 14 degrees C.

The little ospreys were fed at 7:00:33 and again with the same fish returned at 8:09:50.

Dad delivered a whopper of a fish at 11:20:11 for the third feeding. Just look at the size of that nice fish. Little Bob is staring. It looks like his eyes are going to pop out! I bet he is already calculating where to get in the feeding line. Right now it looks like Big Bob is eating first. That is Middle Bob kinda’ slumped over. He still has a crop from the earlier feeding and he looks like he would rather sleep than eat.

That is an amazing fish. Thanks, Dad.

Nothing has changed in those three seconds. Little Bob is still staring and Big Bob is still eating.

Well, you can see from the image below, taken 29 minutes later, that not only did Little Bob figure out where to sit at the table but he has already been fed enough to make a nice sized crop. Middle Bob seems to have woken up and is ready to eat, too. Of all the chicks, Middle Bob seems to be terribly laid back for a raptor.

Thirty-eight minutes later and the only one remaining at the table is – yes, you guessed it – Little Bob. This kid can sure pack away the food. And he doesn’t seem to stop when he is full but keeps on going if there is fish to be eaten.

Speaking of fish. Look! There is hardly any fish left. What a feeding.

It had to be difficult trying to feed the chicks in such wind gusts. Can you believe it? Little Bob is still at the table, still eating.

Little Bob has one of those nice big crops that looks as if it would feel rock solid if you touched it. Of course, Little and Big are still waiting to see if there is any fish left. Middle Bob is out! Meanwhile, Mom has also gotten to eat some good pieces. She needed fish. That huge fish fed the entire family very well.

Little Bob is certainly doing well and can hold its own on this nest as long as Dad keeps getting the food in. He is certainly growing.

Everyone is full. Mom is holding those babies down tight on that nest – as tight as she can. The trouble is trying to get them all under! Look at that tail and those big feet. These osplets are doing well.

Let’s keep their hatch dates in mind. Big Bob on 13 September 22:03, Middle Bob on 14 September 02:30, and Little Bob 16 September 00:51. Little Bob is 51 hours younger than Big Bob. Today, Big Bob is three weeks old.

As you can see the chicks are getting their feathers. The rusty-gold-coppery ones (I often call them peach) are coming in nicely on the head and neck. You can see in the image above, the feathers starting on the wings and the little tails. Those feathers are often called ‘blood feathers’. Feathers need blood to grow. The blood quills will disintegrate once the feathers push through that quill. The flight feathers on the wings and tail will be the last to appear. The chicks are already doing some preening and, indeed, will spend a substantial amount of their time cleaning those feathers. Some researchers say as much as 70% of their time is spent working on their feathers. Right now we are in a rapid growth period where the size of the chicks is continually doubling with the feathers growing and the muscles in the legs and the wings developing. They seem to change their appearnance almost before our eyes. Most times it is hard to differentiate one from another.

The Collins kids are doing well, too. Here is a good look at all four of them from this morning:

This is an image from their last feeding about a half hour ago. No worries here either. Eyes are all open, everyone keeps their head up nice and high for food, and Dad is really cutting down on the number of pigeons in the area.

It is early afternoon for these Australian bird families. It is late on the Canadian prairies. I always sleep better when I know that all of the ‘babies’ have eaten. Take care everyone. Continue all those powerful positive thoughts you have been sending to Port Lincoln during this period of bad weather. It is obviously working!!!! See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac.

It is 4 little falcons for Melbourne!

I don’t know when the hatch happened. It has been quite the day around here. Every once in awhile birds will fall down our chimney. It is a huge effort when this happens to get them out of the house safely. It is also a reminder to have the chimney person come and check. The cover must be rusted and gone. It has been three years since the last incident.

But, that is not why you are here! Dad came to check on the babies.

I want you to look very carefully. There are four of them at this feeding. The fourth hatched during the night. Well done Mom and Dad!

And do not worry. They all eat. By instinct they hold up their heads with beaks open. They will begin to eat bigger pieces. Indeed, the one on the left gets a few nice sized bites today. These are experienced parents. They have been on this ledge raising eyases successfully for the past five years (the same couple). Falcons have been breeding on this Brutalist building with its ledges since the 1990s. Sadly, the new glass buildings only cause birds to fly into them not nest upon them.

Oh, this is just wonderful. Four. Dad you will need a stash of pigeons!

Thank you for stopping by for this quick announcement. It is so exciting. BTW. The Guardian is holding its Australian Bird of the Year voting. The falcons are still in contention. If you don’t know about it, Google Australian Bird of the Year contest and vote for your favourite.

Thank you to the 367 Collins Street by Mirvan where I took my video clips.

1,976 people watch the hatch at Collins Street!

And at 10:02:38 the second eyas broke through its shell. Mum picked through the yolk and it is right in the middle of her breast.

Now she is looking around for Dad to tell him all the good news if he doesn’t know already.

One of the things I find fascinating about falcons (all birds that I know) is that they talk to the chicks encouraging them to hatch. That coupled with hearing the peeps from their siblings must be invigorating.

Let us hope the other two are out by noon. It could certainly happen.

Wait, are there three now? That one egg was pretty smushed. Oh, gosh. It could be. We will wait to be sure.

Meanwhile there has been a feeding at the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge. Dad was taking a fish to the nest around 7:25. The camera was focused on the ropes so it was hard to tell. By 7:48:46, the trio had small crops. (The fish did not look huge).

The babies are so sweet with their big feet, fat little bottoms and tails that are beginning to grow.

Wow. It is an absolutely great morning down in Australia. How could it be any better?

Well, it just did. I heard Mom talking to Dad and she is letting him brood and incubate while she takes a break. Way to go!

Looking forward to the next two confirmed hatches at Collins Street. Tomorrow they will be soft and fluffy with little pink beaks and feet! Adorable. I cannot wait.

Meanwhile, you can check it out yourself on YouTube. If you have never watched peregrine falcon eyases eat and grow, then I encourage you to do so.

Bye everyone,. Thanks for joining me on this very short announcement. Stay safe.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project and 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac.

Big crops at Port Lincoln

The sun is bright and it is another blue sky day on the Canadian prairies. By evening, the temperature will be the same as the islands in the Caribbean — 29 C. It is hard to even imagine it and yet, day after day, this has been the story of 2021.

Just as remarkable as my weather is the parenting on the Port Lincoln Osprey nest. The historical information only goes back to 2015 so we know the couple have been together for six seasons, at least. In that time, they have fledged 10 chicks. In 2015, the eldest killed the two younger ones and went on to fledge. In 2016, it was a repeat of 2015. In 2017, the eldest tossed the youngest from the nest. 2 fledged that year. In 2018, two fledged. In 2019, two fledged. They were Calypso and Star. In 2020, the eldest killed the youngest. Solly, the eldest and DEW, the middle, fledged.

2021 will be a record for this nest if all three survive and all three fledge. It is looking good but, anything can happen to change this.

Yesterday, there was a fish delivery at 9:37:58. That was the one where Little Bob was running to the table. Everyone was full after and as far as I could determine no fish was left. There were two other deliveries.

The second delivery came at 14:49:57. The angle of the camera meant that it was difficult to see the chicks being fed. That said, each and every one of them had enormous crops when the third fish arrives at 18:19:09.

Mom sees Dad coming with the fish and starts doing her calling. Look at how the trio blend in so well with the dark material that has been brought to the nest. Also notice that they are now beginning to appear like old charcoal coloured rugs with light grey stripes! These three are doing so well. It is glorious.

Thank you, Dad!

Mom reaches over, carefully, to get the fish without stepping on the chicks.

Look at all of them lined up so nicely. There is no nonsense. Each gets fed til they are full or there is no more fish. There is definitely food security going on and it is shown in the civil way that the chicks react to a fish arrival.

The sun will be going down soon and these chicks are going to sleep with huge crops. They look like they could pop! Dad will have to go and get another fish for him and Mum.

Dad is spending a bit more time on the nest when he delivers a fish. Has this been a tactic by him and Mum to keep the kids lined up like a choir eating and not fighting? Whatever they are doing, it has been a couple of days since Big Bob tried to reinforce its dominance. Indeed, it has been a wonderful Osprey nest to watch!

One other check in. The two adults at the 367 Collins Street Peregrine Falcon scrape are going to be busy soon. They are incubating four eggs and the first one laid is now 38 days old. It is definitely hatch watch for this couple!

Thank you for joining me and checking in on the Osprey chicks. It is so nice to have you with me. Enjoy your day. Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: 367 Collins Street Falcon Cam and the Port Lincoln Osprey Project.

Godwits…and more

I have heard the name but have never seen the bird – or, at least, I do not think I have. With my lousy shorebird IDs, I might have even confused this beautiful long-legged shorebird with a Greater Yellowlegs. Of course, everyone would have laughed.

Godwits are ‘very’ long legged shorebirds but their legs are not yellow! Their beak is ‘very, very’ long and is bi-coloured – light rose and espresso -and ever so slightly upturned at the end. They are called waders because they live in the mudflats and the estuaries. See how their legs go deep into the mud, too. They feed by sticking that very long beak into the mud, rooting around for worms and small shellfish.

“Bar-tailed Godwit” by naturalengland is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The breeding adults have a chest that ranges from a deep terracotta for the males to a brighter orange for the females. The wing and back feathers are more brown and white overall with a touch of the breast colour, sometimes. They have gorgeous dark eyes.

“Bar-tailed Godwit” by 0ystercatcher is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The juveniles have a cream coloured breast with overall brown and white feathering.

“Bar-tailed Godwit” by 0ystercatcher is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What is so miraculous about these shorebirds is their migration. They breed in Alaska and fly in September to New Zealand! They make only one stop, normally. And they do the trip in record time. It is an 11,265 kilometre journey or 7000 miles. They accomplish this in eight days! Yes, you read that correctly, eight days.

“Bar-tailed Godwits” by naturalengland is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Neils Warnock, the Executive Director of Alaska Audubon in 2017, remarked,These godwits are epic migrants. We had a bird, E-7, that we had tagged, and she left New Zealand in the spring. She flies non-stop seven days, ten thousand kilometres, to the Yellow Sea. All of the Bar-tailed Godwits of Alaska, they stop at the Yellow Sea.”

The Yellow Sea is located between mainland People’s Republic of China and the Korean Peninsula.

Historically the mudflats of the Yellow-Sea have been rich with food for the Bar-tail Godwits so they can fatten up and make the rest of the journey to their winter homes in New Zealand without having to stop. Today, the mudflats of the Yellow Sea are under threat – they are disappearing with coastal development. This could prove to be a major challenge for these beautiful shorebirds. There have been many studies and the researchers have seen a drop in the number of shorebirds by 30% in the last few years because the mudflat areas have been reduced by 65%.

https://www.science.org/news/2017/04/migrating-shorebirds-danger-due-disappearing-mudflats

The reports of the shrinkage of the mudflats has been coming in since 2013 with alarms sounding.

Today the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre in New Zealand reported that Bar-tailed Godwit 4BYWW made his flight in 8 days and 12 hours arriving home at 03:00 on 26 September. He flew 12,200 km. His average speed was 59kph. 4BYWW may have set a new distance record for the Bar-tail Godwits. We will know when the others return home. Isn’t that amazing?

What I found most interesting was her route. She does not appear to have gone via the Yellow Sea. Is this because of the decline of the mud flats? Have the birds adapted their migratory route? I definitely want to look at this more closely.

This was the satellite tracking image posted by the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre FB page:

The Centre was tracking another four adults and 3 juveniles on their journeys home. One of those, 4BWWB, has been reported as flying non-stop for 163 hours and over 10,000 km. Seriously, my head can’t comprehend what that must be like. I am also truly amazed at what these sat-paks can tell us about the birds and their amazing resilience. Just incredible.

Tiaki officially fledged on the 25th of September. The Royal Albatross cam chick of 2021 is foraging off the coast of New Zealand at the present time. She will eventually make her way to the waters off of South America near Chile. We wait for her return in four to six years to Taiaroa Head where we will hear that beautiful Sky call, again.

While millions and millions of birds are moving from their summer breeding grounds to their winter homes, others are waiting for eggs to hatch. Holly Parsons posted a table of Diamond’s incubation history.

Xavier and Diamond’s first egg was laid in the scrape box on top of the water tower at Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia on 31 August this year. Cilla Kinross, the main researcher, is expecting a hatch from 6-9 October with the most promising day being the 7th. Can’t wait!

Diamond was catching some sleep this morning. If all of the eggs hatch, her and Xavier are going to be very busy!

If the hatch is expected around the 7th of October at Orange, then what about those Melbourne Peregrine Falcons? The first egg was laid on the 21st of August – yes, that is right. Ten days before the Orange falcons. So, I am going to be looking for a hatch at Melbourne starting in two days!!!!!! This means that all of the Melbourne eggs, if viable, will hatch before those in Orange. It will be nice to get to enjoy them without trying to watch both at the same time!

For those of you wondering about those beautiful White-bellied Sea Eagles, 27 and 28, here they are. Talk about gorgeous.

Things will really be starting to ramp up shortly. Bald Eagle breeding season in the United States begins in a few days. Looking forward to checking on some nests to see if the birds have returned – such as Anna and Louis who had the first hatch on a nest in the Kisatchie Forest last year since 2013. His name was Kistachie – very appropriate.

Then there is always the trio at Port Lincoln. They had two feedings this morning and a third at 11:31:27 when Dad brought in a very small fish. All of the chicks were well behaved – quite civil to one another. And, of course, Little Bob is right there in front! Look carefully you can see him.

Life is good. Everything seems to be going really well for all the nests.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you enjoyed learning about the Godwits as much as I did. Incredible birds. Take care everyone!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots or for postings on their FB pages that I have shared with you: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac, Falcon Cam Project at Charles Sturt University and Cilla Kinross, Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre, Sea Eagle Cam @Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, and Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC.

Feature image credit: “Bar-tailed Godwit” by 0ystercatcher is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Oh, Little Bob!

Oh, another glorious fall day on the Canadian Prairies. The sun is shining bright and the sky is blue. The leaves of the vines looking like stained glass ranging in colour from rust to orange, light yellow, and chartreuse. Just stunningly beautiful.

I always worry about the third hatches. I have worried about the third at the Port Lincoln nest the minute the egg was laid. Last evening one of the chatters called #3 “Tuffet.” That is a great nickname for Little Bob.

And Little Bob looks like such an angel. If you are having trouble telling who he is, he still has his egg tooth today. That is him wide awake smiling at the camera.

My goodness. I have begun to feel sorry for Mum. She has only to wiggle or get up to stretch and he has his mouth wide open!

Big and Middle are not bothered at all. Little Bob still has a crop but he is sure curious as to whether or not Mom will give him some bites!

“What cha’ doin’ Mom?”

Little Bob is decidedly not hungry. When I last left the family Dad had brought what was left of the ‘whale’ that he had brought in at 12:35:44.

There was another feeding around 13:08.

If you are wondering, yes, that is Little Bob being fed!

By 13:24 Mum has them all tucked and Dad is over on the ropes.

Around 16:00 the chicks are fed again.

With the whale finished, Dad is going to need to go out and fishing. At 16:49 Dad comes to have a consultation with Mom. She puts in an order for a fish as the kids are growing restless.

The delivery comes in half an hour. Well done, Dad. I wonder if he has a stash of these nice large fish?

Notice that all of the chicks have some fish still in their crop from the earlier feeding.

Oh, dear. That fish was flapping. Hope that little one is OK. It sure isn’t stopping Little Bob with his crop from wanting a meal. There he is near that flapping tail.

Oh, these three are really going to be a handful when they are older. Dad is going to have to bring further reinforcements for the walls. Mom finishes feeding them and then…

She moves the fish and starts again! They all line up again.

Look carefully at the back of Little Bob on the end. Can you see the two dark stripes starting to emerge? and just look at how adorable those little wings are. Gosh these kids are cute.

Dad will remove the fish and return it at 18:20:01.

There’s Little Bob flaunting his crop – wondering if his is the biggest or not.

Mom probably thought she could have a few bites in peace and quiet. What do you think? Yes, that is Little Bob with his mouth open! Poor Mom.

Now another wants some fish. You can still see their crops from the 18:22 feeding. But there is also something else we can see. Look, pin feathers are coming. Soon they will look like reptiles. Their light coat of down will be replaced by a darker woolier coat at 10-12 days. That is followed by the reptile phase.

We are entering the second week. Already these chicks have more than likely tripled their body weight. It should, in fact double again in the next three to four days. The fastest period of growth will come at 15-30 days. This is when we need fish on this nest.

It is possible that when Mom got up to eat some fish she fed some of the Osplets around 21:13.

It was hard to tell because Mum swung herself around so we couldn’t see.

Little Bob wiggles his way out from under Mom in the middle of the night and is calling for fish!

And we are back where we started. Around 1:13, Mom wants to stretch her legs and Little Bob thinks it is time to eat again – crop or not.

It is now 2:51 in the morning, 22 September in Australia. Mom and chicks are fast asleep. No doubt Little Bob will be right up front at the table the minute that fish lands on the nest.

This third hatch is anything but shy or afraid. This nest has really turned itself around thanks to the good deliveries of fish by Dad and the continuous feedings by Mom. No one on this nest has been hungry.

The crucial period is not here yet. We need to make it through weeks 3 and 4.*

Looking for hatch watch with the Peregrine falcons in Melbourne in 6 days. That will liven things up a bit. Over at the WBSE in the Sydney Olympic Park, the parents are dropping prey now that the eaglets are self-feeding. Most of the time 27 gets the food. Yesterday, Mom did the feeding. 28 had a nice crop. The first seen in awhile. The pair continue to work their wings.

Thank you so much for joining me today — and thank you for your interest in the Eastern Ospreys at Port Lincoln, Australia. So far, so good. Continue to send warm wishes to all the nests.

Thank you to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and the Sea Eagles @ Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots.

* Last year, the feedings were not as good at the PLO. Around Day 15 there was a perceived drop in food delivery. Siblicide occurred and sadly, little Tapps died when he was 18 days old.

The Birds ‘Down Under’

As people in North America wait for the Bald Eagles to begin preparing their nest and breeding, much of the ‘bird’ action is in Australia. I pulled up a map so that we can locate the nests that are on streaming cams in Australia – fondly known as ‘Down Under’ here in Canada.

I made the map a little larger just so it is easier to see. Or is it just me that is having trouble reading all that small print?!

The White-Bellied Sea Eagle Nest is in Sydney. On the map it is in bold letters on the lower right hand side. The Peregrine Falcon Nest of Xavier and Diamond is in Orange. Orange is just outside of Sydney. Trace your finger to 10 o’clock from Sydney and you should see Orange in grey letters. The 367 Collins Street Falcons are in Melbourne. It is at the very bottom in black letters. The Port Lincoln Osprey Barge is in Port Lincoln. This is a small place. Locate Adelaide which is up the coast from Melbourne on the left. Take your finger and move it over in a straight line to the left from Adelaide to the bottom of the second peninsula. There is Port Lincoln. I am also going to include Solly’s Location so you can see where she is relative to where she hatched and fledged at Port Lincoln. Solly is currently staying the majority of the time at Eba Anchorage. Solly is 311 km from the place she fledged. Prior to Solly, the general understanding was that Eastern Ospreys stayed much closer to their natal nest. The evidence from the satellite tracking is changing the understanding of how far these fledglings might travel upon fledging.

Time flies. It was only a blink and Pippa Atawhai, the 2020 Royal Cam chick, had fledged — BUT, that was a year ago. Now we are waiting for Tiaki to fledge soon. It seemed like the month of August just melted. It was on the 3rd, the 6th, and the 9th that Mum at the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge laid her eggs for the 2021 season. At this very moment, the PLO FB Page is taking guesses on when the eggs will hatch. Yes, we will be moving into hatch watch within a week. Baby Ospreys are coming. Oh, those lovely little reptiles!

Dad continues to bring in materials for the nest. They are all over the place – big strips of bark and moss – even some more rope. He is a bit of a pack rat. Thank goodness he hasn’t been bringing in toys like Richmond and Jack in the US. It would be awfully crowded if that were to happen.

Watching this nest is not for the faint of heart. Siblicide is a regular occurrence.

The dominant hatch of 2021 was Solly. She is 352 days old on 7 August, Australian time. Solly was considered, out of the two surviving chicks, to be the one that would succeed. We have no news of DEW and unlike Solly, DEW was not equipped with a satellite transmitter. Solly has, however, demonstrated that she can survive and today she flew rom her normal home tree in Eba Anchorage to Perlubie to check out the fish. This is the graph from the satellite transmission.

The Port Lincoln Osprey Project is taking guesses as to the date of the first hatch on their FB page. You don’t need to be a member to pick a day – go and have some fun!

The White Bellied Sea Eaglets are doing fine. They are well fed and protected and they are growing so fast. Those beautiful juvenile feathers are coming in changing their appearance almost daily. They had a good fish feast the morning of the 6th and the wee ones slept and then woke up and began picking up sticks and leaves on the nest moving them about with their beak. They are not yet steady on their feet but they are standing more and 27 was attempting to walk today.

Both still had big crops after the fish breakfast. 28 got the majority.

Just look at those beautiful colours coming in. 27 is on the left and 28 is on the right.

Here 27 is standing watching 28 play with some sticks with its beak and talons. The sea eaglets are developing at a normal pace. It is all good.

The golden glow of morning fills the scrape box of the Peregrine Falcons, Xavier and Diamond, in Orange.

Each parent takes turns incubating the eggs so that the other can have a break. Diamond will do the overnight incubation and Xavier will be the security guard.

Here is a short video of the hand over of incubating duties from Diamond to Xavier:

Remember that the males are about 30% smaller than the females. Xavier works with his feet and wings to get those three large eggs under him so they can all be warm.

It is even harder for the tiny male at the 367 Collins Street nest who has four eggs to warm!

Mom arrives for her turn.

She is working her wings too to get those four eggs under her.

Looked at how poofed out all those feathers are. Wow.

Here is Dad. His feathers are all poofed, too. He is so tiny compared to mom. My goodness – he really does have to work to get all four under him properly.

After wiggling about he gets everything settled. We will be looking for hatch towards the end of September.

Thank you so much for joining me. All of the birds in Australia seem to be doing just fine. We will watch the sea eagles change colour before our eyes and anticipate the arrival of the Ospreys. It’s a few weeks before falcons start hatching. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots and video clips: The 367 Collins Street Falcons, The Falcon Cam at Charles Sturt University and Cilla Kinross, Sea Eagle Cam @ Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, and the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and FB Page.

PLEASE NOTE: I am taking my computer in for servicing. I hope to have it returned to me sometimes on Thursday so I will be back with another newsletter Thursday or Friday.