It’s a Pip for Port Lincoln …and is Iris still in Montana?

The poor mum at the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge nest has certainly been stared at! Chatters want a stick moved and Dad seems to continue, on occasion, to bring in some more nest materials.

At 02:06, many were certain there was a bump. By 05:33:13 there was a definite pip. The bump expanding for three hours certainly seems logical.

You can see it here – the back egg! The first egg was laid on 3 August. I think it makes it 40 days on the dot – but don’t trust me, do your own math, please. It looks like there will be a little Osprey by morning tomorrow. Lovely. I hope the weather is good for mum and chick.

Thanks to the two ‘Ss’ for alerting me. It seems that Iris was enjoying a fish yesterday on her favourite tree at Mt Sentinel. You will read later in this newsletter that Ospreys prefer trees without branches. This one is certainly perfect. She can see all around her. Oh, the survival skills the Ospreys have developed over millions of years.

Oh, these birds are so smart. If the weather is bad, maybe they know it. Certainly they anticipate local weather and act accordingly!

Hurricane season officially lasts from 1 June to the end of November. Last year several of us worried about Tiny Tot and we became curious about the impact of hurricanes on the Ospreys and other birds.

This is an excellent document on the subject.

In his book, Soaring with Fidel, David Gessner talks about visiting Sanibel Island after Hurricane Charley hit the area in August of 2004. Santibel took a direct hit and it is home to many sea birds including lots of Ospreys. Some of you might have watched the Captiva Bald Eagle nest last year – Joe and Connie. That nest is on Santibel Island.

According to Gessner’s friend, Tim Gardner who lives on Santibel, the hurricane hit with 140 mph winds, a category 4. “The Ospreys, according to Tim, moved lower and lower in the trees, until they hunkered down near the ground in the brush.” “But no amount of hunkering could protect them.” Gardner revealed to Gessner that all of the nests were gone after the hurricane. Blown away. Gardner also added, “The remarkable thing was the birds’ resilience: those that had lived through the hurricane had come back to rebuild on the same spots”. He noted that the few trees that remained looked just like sticks pushed up out of the ground with no branches —– well, lo and behold, our Ospreys love trees without branches. Perfect. They can see all around them. As hurricane season continues for 2021, let us wish all the wildlife resilience and strength.

I have so enjoyed Gessner’s writing that I was able to find his first book at a used book shop. It is Return of the Osprey. A Season of Flight and Wonder. I hope that it is as informative as it is a good read. Certainly Soaring with Fidel fit that. I continue to return to that book. It is a delight.

After posting the article, “The Tears of the Albatross,” my friend, ‘L’ send me a link to this wonderful video, Albatross – A Love Story! It is excellent. Have a look. Thank you, ‘L’!

So many of you have sent me the most beautiful images of your the birds. Thank you! The care, love, and concern that each of you have for the wildlife visiting your gardens is so endearing. I wish we could spread that love and care like an aerosol.

Oh, the joy and laughter the birds and animals bring with their antics! This evening as the sun was setting, the three Blue Jays that visit my garden and two of the large grey squirrels had noticed the ears of dried corn that had been put in a bowl for them. My view was mostly blocked but oh, you could see the crest of the Blue Jay pop up and down and, on occasion, the cob would roll and you could see the Jays getting a kernel and eating it. One decided to have a bath. Of course, he will never use the bird bath. This fellow, the male, prefers the old gold water bowl.

I am also certain that he can hear when I take the cap off the lens since he absolutely refuses to pose! Seriously, he had been looking straight at me prior to this.

The Blue Jay couple are year round residents in the back garden. They always come out in the morning and late afternoon to almost sunset. They often arrive with a single juvenile every summer. To my amazement, they get along with the other regulars – the little Downy male woodpecker (and his juvenile in the summer), the lone Black-Capped chickadee, the three Grey Squirrels, Sharpie the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Hedwig the Rabbit, and ‘Little Red’, the Red Squirrel. OK. Red and the Grays dislike each other completely.

These characters that give us so many giggles are really a part of the family. It is always comforting, at the end of the day, to check off that each has been seen.

The link to the Port Lincoln Osprey cam is here:

My newsletter will be late tomorrow, very late. I am hopping to get a glimpse of some birds during the day if the weather cooperates. On the list are Sandhill Cranes. In fact, it might not arrive until Tuesday late morning so don’t worry.

Thank you so much for stopping by to check on our friends in Bird World. No doubt everything will happen at once – the chick at PLO will hatch the moment that Tiaki fledges and Iris arrives at her nest! The birds certainly keep us on our toes. Stay safe everyone.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or their FB pages where I took my images: Montana Osprey Project and Cornell Bird Lab, Sharon Leigh Miles from the Montana Osprey Project who allows me to use images from their FB Page she posts, and the Port Lincoln Ospreys.

A Date with an Osprey

An ex-library book, Soaring with Fidel. An Osprey Odyssey from Cape Cod to Cuba and Beyond arrived in the post on Friday. I hadn’t intended to have it occupy most of Friday night and all Saturday and this morning but, David Gessner’s writing style pulled me in. It was as infectious as Gessner’s obsession with Ospreys that simply screams through the paragraphs. It is clear that he has a love for these large fish-eating birds, almost the size of an eagle, with their dark brown masks, and nearly 2 metre wingspans. His language is so descriptive that I felt that I was on the journey with him following the Ospreys throughout their migration. He got me excited.

An 1887 print showing an Osprey fishing near Nantucket.

The story begins on 4 September 2004, seventeen years and one day ago. The BBC were making a film about the Odyssey of the Osprey following several birds fitted with satellite trackers. Gessner was going to follow the ospreys the old fashioned way. At one time Gessner had hoped to work with the BBC but, it became a competition of sorts. It is simply the back story to one of the best books on Osprey migration that I know. The book keeps you interested – it is not clad in scientific jargon but, don’t get me wrong, it is faithful to the facts and there are many discoveries made about our beloved birds.

Gessner’s surprise comes when he discovers that Ospreys travel in flocks. It was believed that they were lone fliers. Witnessing hundreds of Ospreys flying together over the very top of the La Gran Piedra in the mountains outside of Santiago, Cuba with his soon to be friend, Freddy Santana, mesmerizes our author.

“La Gran Piedra” by erikainthevillage is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The La Gran Piedra is actually a 70,000 lb boulder at the summit of the Sierra Maestra mountain range.

@Wikimedia Commons

It is here that Santana showed Gessner the ‘flocks’ of Ospreys flying together on their migration from the northeast United States and Canada. Can you imagine what it would feel like to see this spectacle. I get teary eyed just seeing juveniles hover!

“Sierra Maestra Mountain Range” by Martin Cathrae is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I don’t want to give away all of the story but since it is Osprey migration right now, I want to recommend this fantastic book to you. Get your library to bring it in for you or find a good used bookstore. My ex-library edition arrived in mint condition!

I looked to see if anyone had posted videos of the birds flying over the mountains in Cuba. I could not find anything. What I did find was a short video showing the routes that the birds from Cape Cod take to South America. It does show the route over Cuba.

If you get the ‘itch’ to see the Ospreys travel over the mountains but do not feel quite physically up to it climbing it- you are covered. There are 4 x 4 jeeps available with a guide. In addition, the Cuba Travel Network has guides and information on all of the birds that are indigenous to Cuba or others that travel through on their way to South America. They look like a good resource but I have not checked them out – yet.

I also found another very interesting web site just for birders. It is BirdingPal. A Watching Club for World Travellers. Cuba. The interests of the members vary. This is the link to their website:

http://www.birdingpal.org/Cuba.htm

If you live in a country where you are free to travel to Cuba, it is important to note that you will require a guide (unless that law has recently changed) if you wish to go out into the country birding. The fees are very reasonable. The price I was quoted was 146 USD for the guide and the 4×4 jeep to the top of the mountains to see the Osprey.

One of the things that the pandemic has taught many of us that we are finding joy in things we never imagined. It also taught me that your life can be taken away in a blink. So live it.

Next year, I will keep on top of what is happening at my local nest since it was not included in the world listing of Osprey nests in Osprey Watch. I will, indeed, take images at every stage of the nest to help the data collectors. But, instead of travelling to Poole Harbour in the UK to see the migrating Ospreys stopping over for a rest and some fish before heading on to Africa in late August, I want to see the Ospreys fly over the Gran Piedra in September. I have a date with an Osprey.

Thanks so much for joining me. I also highly recommend Belle’s Journey if you have children or are a teacher. It is a fantastic book with great images that explain the challenges of Osprey migration. If you have an Osprey nest near to where you live, I urge you to check out Osprey Watch run by the Centre for Conservation Biology. It is also a great resource on Osprey. See if your local nest is on the list! Mine wasn’t – it is now. Take care everyone. See you soon.

The featured image is Iris. Iris is the oldest Osprey in the world. Her breeding area is in Missoula, Montana. Iris is unringed. It is not known where she spends her winters.