The Daisy Chronicles, day 5

Daisy, that little Pacific Black Duck, arrived at the old Ironwood Tree deep in the Sydney Olympic Forest at 05:10:31 on 7 December. She is due to lay her fifth egg today.

Little is Daisy aware that a Raven came to the nest on Day 4, yesterday, and became curious. It did not, however, disturb the eggs. I am led to believe that this is because they cannot smell them. So if Daisy is able to gather more leaves – these are large eggs – she will be able to thwart the Ravens until such time she runs out of leaves and twigs and must use her down.

Also unknown to Daisy is the fact that Lady and Dad have returned to their River Roost from Goat Island. The streaming cam picked them up today roosting. Will Day fly into the nest to check today? He often does a quick security run.

See the two white dots on the tree in the middle. That is Lady and Dad.

The camera could not focus in on them but it is definitely the White-Bellied Sea Eagle couple that own this nest!

Last year Dad broke one of the eggs and ate it. He did not like the taste. Neither sea eagle likes the down – it sticks to their beak. They simply do not understand it – it is foreign to them. They were curious as to who was using the nest and Dad understood that eggs are not bothered. Indeed, one time I thought Dad was going to incubate those eggs of Daisy’s!

Daisy arrived at 05:10:31. Once again she was very cautious approaching her eggs.

Look who has come to see Daisy! Last year 8 or 9 Rainbow Lorikeets would come and visit Daisy every morning. They were all over the tree surrounding her. It was simply beautiful.

The bird coming down on the top right is called a Noisy Miner. Noisy Miners are members of the Honeyeater family. They are grey with a black head, a yellow-orange beak and feet with a light yellow patch behind the eye. There are also white tips on the tail feathers. They will not hurt Daisy or her eggs. They are curious but it is possible that they could draw the attention of other birds, like the Ravens, that could predate Daisy’s eggs.

The Lorikeets seemed to come every morning like they were saying hello to Daisy. And here they are today. The one must have told the others that their friend, the little Duck, was back in the nest of the sea eagles.

I don’t know about you but I had to run and get a tissue.

No words necessary as the Lorikeets continue to gather around Daisy.

We are nearing the time that Daisy laid her egg yesterday. I can still hear the Lorikeets and the Noisy Miner.

Oh, how grand it was to see the Lorikeets come to welcome Daisy!

Yesterday Daisy laid her 4th egg at 06:19:36. Egg 3 was laid at 06:55:07. I am hoping that it is earlier for Daisy today so that she can wait for the egg to harden, cover the eggs well, and get away from the nest before the Raven or the Sea Eagles arrive. Fingers crossed they stay away!

Daisy began gathering leaves around 06:23.

With the Sea Eagles back at the River Roost, I am so nervous for Daisy. Last year Dad visited often – curious to find out who was using his nest. I do not believe they would harm Daisy but Daisy and Dad certainly played tag with one another. I hope it is more peaceful for our little duck this year but who knows! Wonder when Dad will come and check on this nest?

It is 06:28 nest time. Daisy hasn’t laid her 5th egg. You can still hear the Lorikeets in the tree. Last year they seemed to be around when the larger predators weren’t. Come on Daisy, hurry! Lay your egg and get out of the forest.

At 06:32:55, Daisy lays her 5th egg!

Daisy moves around in the nest bowl clockwise.

She is moving the eggs about but she appears also to be using her paddle feet to enlarge the egg cup. How smart is that?! She needs those eggs to sink down low especially if she is going to lay several more. Notice how big those eggs are. It takes a lot of nutrients out of Daisy’s system to lay all those eggs.

Daisy has settled down lower than on previous days. She has also brought in some more leaves closer to the egg cup.

Daisy is trying to rest. If today, follows what has happened on the previous four days, Daisy will stay on the eggs for about 2 hours, cover them and depart. Let us hope that she is not disturbed and has time to get those leaves over so that nothing seems out of place if Dad or the Raven come calling.

At 06:42, there was only one Sea Eagle at River Roost. Is Dad fishing? or is he coming to the forest? We wait.

Daisy is way down on the eggs, her head tucked in. So far no Sea Eagle coming. Sometimes last year Daisy just got away in the nick of time. She needs to cover those eggs well though and not be in a rush.

Thank you for joining me today. I will continue to monitor Daisy until she departs and check on the nest throughout the day. If anything happens, I will let you know. Take care. Keep sending your positive wishes to our little duck, Daisy!

Thank you to the Sea Eagle@BirdLife Australia Discovery Centre for their streaming cam where I took these screen captures.

Rainbow Lorikeets miss Miss Daisy

The Rainbow Lorikeets came to check on Miss Daisy Duck almost every day that she was incubating her eggs in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park. Yesterday was no exception. The beautiful coloured parrots showed up in droves yesterday wondering where Daisy had gone. You could almost hear them saying , ‘Where is Daisy?’ to one another.

Despite the fact that Daisy isn’t there incubating her eggs anymore, it really does put a smile on your face to see these beautiful parrots coming early in the morning to check on their friend. Daisy had not even been away from the nest for twelve hours when they arrived. I wonder if they will come and check again? They were chattering so much to one another. Maybe they thought that Daisy had covered her nest and gone out dabbling? It is possible. Will keep everyone posted if they return.

For the Rainbow Lorikeets it must have been a shock to see the gentle duck on the nest of the big sea eagles. These parrots, too, would be at the mercy of some of the bigger birds such as the Ravens and no doubt the Ravens have raided their nests as well. Thinking about the Ravens got me to wondering about the White-Bellied Sea Eagles. The behaviour of the Ravens was the same as normal, what you would expect from a Raven. They wanted Daisy out of there so they could eat her eggs! No doubt about it. They came several times when she was incubating and knew that there were eggs. They just waited when she was no longer on the nest.

Daisy happily incubating her eggs.

But it makes me wonder. The WBSE were perplexed and curious. At first, they were upset about ‘something’ trespassing on their nest and their territory. Lady tore more duck down off the nest than Dad who has mellowed over the years. He is now 19 and I believe that Lady is about 6 or 7 years old. I expected the sea eagles to eat all of the duck eggs but they could not manage them with their bills in the same way the Ravens could with their sharp pointed beaks. But the sea eagles kept coming to check. Were they trying to catch Daisy? what were they thinking? and why were they not very aggressive? And then it occurred to me last night and you know what? I was glad that the Ravens got the eggs before the sea eagles came and killed the ducklings when they were born. If all of the eggs had hatched and we certainly know that the one was fertilized with a growing duckling inside, then imagine the peeps and peeps in the forest and Daisy trying to keep the ducklings quiet til they were 24 hours old, old enough to take that leap of faith to the forest floor and follow their mom to water. The sea eagles and the Ravens and other predators would hear those same peeps.

A very sad day when the ravens arrive and eat Daisy’s eggs.
WBSE Lady is very curious about those eggs.

In a way, the Rainbow Lorikeets and Daisy, the Pacific Black Duck, had a lot in common. Kindred spirits I would like to think of them. They both enjoy eating plants, pollen, the nectar from flowers. Like the ducks, the Rainbow Loris do not hunt prey like the sea eagles and the ravens. In fact, Rainbow Lorikeets are known to be terribly territorial and are parrots that do not like other birds. I am sure that they were very curious by the gentle duck in the big sea eagle nest. Indeed, both would be a meal for the sea eagles if the eagles decided that was what they wanted. And both of their hatchlings would also warrant attention by birds of prey. I wonder if that was what drew the lorikeets back to the nest, a kind of kinship?

Hi. Just dropping in to say hello, Daisy.

Daisy understood which of the birds coming to the nest were friendly and which were predators. She seems to always have welcomed the Rainbow Lorikeets!

Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the streaming cameras where I captured these images.

Ravens threaten Daisy!

Daisy’s Monday morning in Australia (Sunday in North America) started out as beautifully as it ended the evening before. She had gone to forage returning at 19:45 yesterday evening. It appears to be a growing pattern, leaving in the heat of the afternoon and returning right before dusk. This pretty much ensures that she will miss the sea eagles if they come.

While she was away yesterday, the Rainbow Lorikeets came to visit Daisy, full of energetic chatter but, at the same time, wondering where she was! They are so cute. They almost look like stuffed plushies someone has placed on Daisy’s nest tree.

Where’s MY Daisy?

It is going to be hot again today for Daisy. They are predicting temperatures of 34 climbing to 39 tomorrow. Our pour little duck needs a paddle pool up there with her!

Daisy decided not to leave this morning for a bathroom break or to forage. Instead, she stayed on the nest. The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos can be heard around 7:15 but it is an Unkindness that rattles Daisy’s world at 8:04. A group of Ravens is called an Unkindness and they were certainly not nice to Daisy. In fact, they were downright threatening. They moved from the top of the tree down closer. It was impossible to get am image of them in the tree (see second image below) but their shadows could be seen and their noise was deafening. Daisy was so frightened.

Australian Raven. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Look at the image below. Notice that Daisy has spread her feathers out in a manner similar to when a raptor mantles its prey. Her tail is fanned out and the feathers on her back are raised. She is protecting her clutch of eggs from these predators. The Ravens try harder and harder to get Daisy off her nest of eggs so they can eat them!

Daisy flattens her feathers and her head against the nest.

The Unkindness bullied Daisy trying to get her off her nest for five minutes. It must have seemed like a life time. And then they were away!

Except for the heat, the rest of the day has been relatively uneventful. The birds and animals of the forest are trying to expend as little energy as they can and remain cool in the hot Australian heat.

Daisy gathers up leaves and methodically covers her clutch of eggs and flies off to forage at 13:04:44.

Daisy leaving her nest to forage.

Notice how Daisy has moved leaves over on top of her down and tucked it in tight today. She might be worried about the Ravens coming back to try and find her nest. Or maybe she thinks the sea eagles might stop in to see if anyone is incubating the eggs.

Daisy flies from the nest.

Look at the image above. You can just see Daisy flying off. It got really hot on the nest today. The afternoon is the worst. Daisy left a little earlier than usual. Eggs are incubated at 37.5 degrees. It is possible that the heat from outside and the down stuffed around could keep the eggs toasty warm until later today. I wonder if Daisy will return around 17:00 or if she will wait til almost dusk.

Update: It was a very short foray for Daisy. She was gone only until 14:32 – so under an hour and a half. When she returned it looked like she was pretending like she had just landed on the nest. Like always, she looked around and walked very slowly before going over to her nest. What I find interesting is that she does not immediately move the leaves or open the down. It is always like she is simply waiting a little more being overly careful. Daisy is so cautious. What a good little mother!

Thank you for joining us and checking in on the little duck that built her nest inside the nest tree of the big sea eagles.

Thank you to the Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the cameras that provided the images.

Galah and more Rainbow Lorikeets come to visit Daisy!

Yesterday afternoon Daisy the Duck, the current ‘illegal tenant’, if you like, of the WBSE nest in the Ironbark Tree in the Sydney Olympic Park forest, went for her usual break to forage in the canal and the Parramatta River nearby. Right before she left a couple of Galah decided to come for a visit. Daisy has had a lot of curious visitors!

Galah in Kensington Park, Sydney, Australia. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Galah are also called the ‘Pink and Grey Parrot’ or the Rose-Brested Cockatoo in Australia. Galah is the Yuwaalaraay name for them, a native language, where the word means ‘fool’ or ‘clown’. They are highly intelligent and are said to make very good pets. That said, anyone who has spoken to me about them in relation to the Peregrine Falcons and Sea Eagles of Australia, thinks they are not very smart. I was told that if you visit Australia and someone calls you a ‘Galah’, it means they are saying you are stupid. Remember that if you travel ‘down under’. Galah eat plants and insects and would not harm Daisy or her eggs. They are, like the Rainbow Lorikeets that also visited yesterday, curious about this new bird in the forest who is brooding eggs in an active sea eagle nest (off season for them now).

She returned to her nest to brood her seven eggs and then, she took another break, returning around dusk. Save for the arrival of a host of Rainbow Lorikeets and the sound of ravens nearby that caused Daisy to lay flat and still for over half an hour, her day brooding her eggs was relatively uneventful. The WBSE did not show up and none of the animals or birds living in the forest bothered her eggs. Even BooBook Owl did not show up in the middle of the night to go ‘bump’.

But something very odd happened the morning of January 21. Daisy covered her eggs, as best she could, pulling down and leaves and even small sticks over it, and left the nest around 4:25 am. Sunrise is at 6:05. That is when the WBSE come, if they do, in the mornings. Why so early?

Daisy leaves her nest at 4:23. She returns in about an hour, before dawn arrives.

The leaving of the nest at 4:20 and returning an hour later leads me to wonder about the eyesight of the Black Pacific Duck. The sea eagles fly right at or after dawn when they are about. They come back to the nest or their roost at dusk. But Daisy is able to come and go when it is dark. Plan to do some research on the eyesight of ducks. Daisy is similar to a Mallard and that might help me. If you know about the difference in night vision, please leave me a note. It would be much appreciated!

So far, it has been a pretty uneventful morning for Daisy and that means it is a great day for a little determined duck brooding her eggs.

Around 9 am the visitors begin to show up. First are the curious Rainbow Lorikeets and then you can hear but, not see, the Ravens. The Lorikeets or Loris are chattery and loud and very curious but they will not hurt Daisy, her eggs, or her ducklings. But the Ravens will. Daisy always places her body really low on the ground when the Ravens are about.

One of the Rainbow Lorikeets peaking at Daisy (on the right).
The old Ironbark Tree is full of Lorikeets this morning wanting to see Daisy!
Daisy can hear the Ravens. When she does she begins to lower her head to be flat with the base of the big WBSE nest.

Daisy gets low and really still, just as if she is frozen. Soon, the Ravens disappear. Not only would they eat the eggs but, the Ravens also chase after the White Bellied Sea Eagles. They are, often, a warning of their approach.

Daisy is frozen waiting for the Ravens to leave.
Daisy is relaxed, brooding her eggs.

It is even quiet enough for this busy duck to catch a few zzzzzs.

It is 10 am in the forest and all is quiet. The WBSE were seen at Goat Island last night. Maybe they will stay there. It is a nice vacation time for them with no eaglets to raise and both are moulting which causes some distress. That would be good for Daisy. She can rest all day like she is now incubating her little ones.

Stay tuned for updates later in the day. Have a good one.