Tears of the Albatross

As we prepare for the 2021 Royal Albatross to fledge off Taiaroa Head, New Zealand, it is a good time to think about these beautiful sea birds.

Last year I came across this document, The Tears of the Albatross. It gives you the history, the mythology, and the environmental challenges that the Albatross face. It is an excellent read and I want to include it again. You will learn so much about these magnificent sea birds.

Also highly recommended is the website of the ‘Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.’ This is more up to date information on what the ACAP is doing to protect the birds.

https://www.acap.aq/?fbclid=IwAR1CzLWh-w3-Zcr8ka0KBllcN8HWlaAKuMxeu7EmIbFRMvko8v3uFE7G_wo

As far as I know Tiaki is still with us. The remaining chicks of which there are 26 at last count could fledge anytime.

This was the view of the camera installed by Cornell Bird Lab and the NZ DOC so that we could watch Tiaki as she grew from a hatchling to a fledgling. It seems Tiaki is off around the bend or down the hill! It would be so nice if we could see her fledge! Come home Taiki! We want to say goodbye.

It is a quiet day in Bird World. The female at Port Lincoln doesn’t seem to have a pip in the first egg yet although it could be anytime. The Bald Eagles in the US are bringing in stick and twigs and refurbishing the nests from last year. There is no confirmation of Iris one way or another. Aran was seen at 13:47 tucking into a nice fish and at 17:00 in the Glaslyn Valley so he is still with us. The Peregrine falcons continue to incubate eggs. We are just about at the half way mark to fledge.

Thank you so much for being with me today. Take care, stay safe. I hope you enjoy The Tears of the Albatross.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my images: Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC.

Credit for the feature image: “Albatross” by AdeRussell is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bird World 9 September 2021

WBSE 27 and 28, the two little sea eaglets in the old Ironbark Nest in Sydney’s Olympic Park, had an early morning breakfast of bird.

Ah, just guess who was the first one up at the breakfast table? If you said, 28 you are absolutely right.

The little bird filled up their empty tummies but it wasn’t big enough -like a grand fish -to fill their crops, too. After breakfast the pair did some wing flapping, standing, and attempts at walking. They still need their wing tips to help with their balance.

Look at the tail that is growing on WBSE27! 27 is the one flapping its wings below.

Well, the Australian Magpie was not giving the White-bellied Sea Eagles a break today. For a couple of hours after feeding the eaglets, Lady defended the nest ducking and honking as the Magpie swooped down trying to hit her.

In the image below, Lady is honking at the Magpie.

Here is a good image of the bird as it goes to land on a branch of the nest tree. This bird is cheeky – they must taste terrible or Lady could have that Magpie for lunch! I would not blame her.

In this image you can see the Magpie caught in flight right above Lady’s head.

Here the Magpie is flying around Lady. It is right over her head.

Dad came to help Lady. All of the big raptors – at the top of the food chain – attract all the small birds and owls. It is surprising how much physical damage these small feathered creatures can do. Last year, BooBook Owl injured Lady’s eye. They can, of course, knock the eaglets out of the nest.

Tiaki looks out to the world that awaits her. Her name means protector of the land and the seas. I hope that they also protect her.

As Albies fly around her in the strong winds, Tiaki raises her wings. She will be off on her big adventure soon.

The chicks are all hovering in the strong winds. In a blink they will be gone. I think I put down 12 September on the guessing game but it could just be any time. Quarry Chick fledged 3 days ago.

Tiaki received her GPS tracker today. Ranger Sharyn Bronte said, “A wider study of the entire Northern Royal Albatross is being conducted this year. And in a first for a Royalcam chick Tiaki as received a tracker. Trackers have deployed on northern royals on the Chathams where 99% of the world population of this species breeds.We are extremely lucky to have 20g devices are available to track LGK, LGL and Tiaki. Although LGL’s device failed it has provided valuable data. Devices are extremely light compared to the weight of the bird and attached to back feathers. These feathers molt within a year and the device will fall off. The device is solar powered and will remotely send data until molting.”

If you read my column regularly, you will know that I am a big supporter of GPS trackers. I also support Darvic bands. Much new information on the migrations, winter and summer breeding grounds – and yes, deaths, are revealed amongst other things. Studying birds or watching them in their nests is never for the faint of heart. Their lives are full of challenges, most placed on them by humans.

Last year, a lovely Polish woman wrote to me to tell me she didn’t know how I could be so calm when ‘bad things’ happened to the birds. Those were not her exact words but that is what she meant. I was not the least bit offended. The truth is I feel for each and every one of them. That caring is inside a bigger box that is now labelled ‘ avian activist’. I want to help stop those things that cause the birds injury or death when it can be avoided. Rodenticides, sticky paper traps, lead shot, lead bullets, lead in fishing equipment, fishing line, fishing nets, windows, garbage dumped on the roads, habitat loss, wild fires caused by arson, electrocution, bread fed to the birds —— and simple neglect or oversight. Like having emergency contact numbers for the streaming cams where there is no 24/7 chat with knowledgable moderators.

I am working on a way to remember Malin, the Osprey nestling at the Collins Marsh Nature Centre, whose life was needlessly cut short. The Malin Code. Osprey streaming cams that follow The Malin Code would have either 24/7 moderators who can access emergency help immediately or emergency numbers at the top of the historical information on the nests. Individuals who are in charge of parks or areas with nests would be trained to recognize the physical signs (11 of them) from food begging to alerting and the 8 vocalizations. It is the least requirement. The other is that they pay attention to what is happening on the nest. They need to know the difference between a juvenile and an adult. Etc. Whew. Yes, I get worked up. If you can think of anything else that these organizations should be doing, let me know. Don’t be shy! At the end of the year, the streaming cam that best implemented The Malin Code would get a donation, big enough to motivate them to do what is right for the birds.

OK. On to what is happening in some of the scrape boxes:

Diamond and Xavier spent some time in the scrape box together today. There was a bit of a conversation between Diamond and Xavier. I need to learn to speak falcon.

There is a real soft spot in my heart for the little male Peregrine Falcon in Melbourne. Maybe it is the ledge where he comes scurrying in to take his turn incubating the eggs or when he brings prey to the eyases.

He is the cutest thing and makes the biggest messes plucking pigeons right in the nest with the eyases. But, last year, I noticed that those three girls really knew what to do with a feathered bird. They were not shy. By the time they fledged, they were professional pigeon pluckers. Can you say that fast 10x?

What a cutie! Our stealth raptor.

Have you ever wondered about the black faces of the Peregrine Falcons? Did you know that the size and intensity of the black varies by region? Have a read.

Cody and the lads down in Kisatchie National Forest have done a great job with the camera for the Bald Eagle Nest of Anna and Louis. Cody says that the sound is going to be fantastic.

Isn’t that a gorgeous sunset over Lake Kincaid? Such a lovely spot for a Bald Eagle nest —- and, of course, there is the lake that is stocked with some really nice fish. Couldn’t get much better. Everyone is just waiting for the Eagles to return.

Speaking of Bald Eagles returning, both Samson and Gabby are at home in Jacksonville and Harriet and M15 are in Fort Myers. All that reminds me I have to check and see what is happening at Captiva.

I want to leave you with an image of Tiny Little. She is one of the fledgling Ospreys in my long time study of third hatch survivors. She has a Darvic ring-Blue 463. Here she is as a wee one.

Blue 35 is feeding Tiny Little by herself. Look at ‘big nasty sister’ in the middle. It really is thanks to excellent parenting that Tiny survived – and became the dominant bird. Gosh, I wish she had a tracker. Is she at Poole Harbour? has she made it to Brittany? will she go to The Gambia? or Senegal? or Southern Spain? My ‘wish list’ includes getting someone to look for her if I can’t be there myself during the winter of 2022.

That’s it for me tonight. Tomorrow I am off in search of a Green Heron. Take care everyone. Stay safe. Be kind. Remember: Life is for living.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: 367 Collins Street Falcons, Sea Eagles @ Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, The Kisatchie National Forest Bald Eagle Cam, The Falcon Cam Project Charles Sturt University at Orange and Cilla Kinross, Cornell Bird Lab and NZ Doc Royal Albatross Cam and FB Page and The Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest.

Friday Morning in Bird World

Have you ever started looking for something and found something else, equally as interesting? As it happens, yesterday I was looking for a short film about a Japanese man living in Hokkaido with his falcon. What was found was a new film released on 1 June 2021.

The documentary is the story of the only African American falconer, Rodney Stotts. Stotts says falconering for him is all about second chances – for people and for the birds. Have a look at the trailer for The Falconer:

Yesterday there seemed to be no news in Bird World and then there was. Do you follow the Welsh Osprey Nests? If you do, you will recognize the name Aran immediately because he is currently Mrs G’s mate. Aran injured his wing (primary flight feathers) at the end of May or beginning of June. He had been battling crows around the nest and then the storm came. No one knows how he got his injury. No one saw. But he was unable to provide fish for the nest while Mrs G was hatching the chicks. The volunteers and people of Glaslyn set up a fish table for Aran and Mrs G. They lost their chicks and both have been rebuilding their strength.

Yesterday, Aran was in a ferocious battle with a blue ringed bird a distance enough from the nest that it caught the attention of Elfyn Lewis of the Glaslyn FB group who posted the following image that made the rounds of several groups so I am reposting it here. Aran is the bird on the bottom. The white is the injury he sustained earlier. Are there birds attempting to usurp Aran from the Glaslyn nest? Always it would seem.

@ Elfyn Lewis

Other news comes out of Hawaii. The State of Hawaii bans the release of ‘Albatross Killing helium balloons’. It seems they are not banning the balloons but the intentional release of them. Here is that announcement through the AP:

https://apnews.com/article/hawaii-environment-and-nature-government-and-politics-fb9c1cd959ffaad608f08610be548428

What child does not love a balloon? and how many young women did I see lined up at a shop with balloons in hand for a party the other day? The question is how to dispose of them properly — and it isn’t sending them off in the air with wishes attached! Release the air, put them safely in a scrapbook, etc. Or eliminate balloons from festivities altogether. It is not only the helium balloons that injure the birds, it is also the normal ones that blow away in the wind. It is a good way to educate your children about the many challenges the birds face and that balloons and strings can kill them.

Speaking of Albatross, the Royal Cam chick, Taiki, is now 165 days old (nest time). On 5 July she weighed 8.3 kg or 18.3 lbs. She will be stabilizing her weight so that she can fledge in mid-September. Her dad, Lime-Green-Black (LGK) has now travelled over 42,000 km or 26,000 miles in total since he received his satellite tracker in February to feed his precious chick. (The mother is alive but her tracker stopped working).

It is still two months until Taiki fledges in mid-September. She is just getting her beautiful black wings, she is building play nests, and the parents are flying in to feed her. It is all very interesting and it is such a calm nest to watch. The Rangers weigh all of the chicks on Tuesday morning and that is fascinating to watch also. Humiliating for such a beautiful girl to be stuffed in a laundry basket but – it is necessary. Supplementary feedings are given should any of the chicks require it. NZ really takes good care of their birds! As North American streaming cams wind down for the breeding season, why not have a look at some of the amazing birds in the Southern hemisphere?

Taiki stretches her wings and flaps them to help them get strong.

Here is the link to the Royal Cam chick on Taiaroa Head New Zealand:

Lady and Dad will be on hatch watch in about two weeks time. This is the only White Bellied Sea Eagle Cam in the world. These beautiful birds are the second largest group of eagles in Australia. The nest is in an old Ironbark Tree in Sydney’s Olympic Park. It is not always an easy nest to watch because their can be sibling rivalry but the sea eagle chicks are so cute and the juvenile plumage is simply gorgeous.

If you are a lover of Ospreys, there is still plenty of action in the UK nests where the nestlings have fledged or are getting ready to fledge. They will be around for another five weeks or so until they leave for their migration to Africa.

In Australia, the Osprey couple on the barge in Port Lincoln have just finished lining their nest with soft materials and the streaming cam is now live. These are the parents of Solly and DEW. Solly is the female Osprey with the satellite tracker. This is also not an easy nest to watch because of siblicide.

There are two falcon cams in Australia. One is on year round and the other, the CBD Peregrine Falcons in Melbourne, will start once the falcons are back in the scrape box. Here is the link to Xavier and Diamond’s scrape box on top of the water tower on the campus of Charles Stuart University. No one knows what will happen this year. The couples’ 9 month old son, Izzi, still continues to come to the scrape box and might even believe it is his own home. In the UK, chicks from an earlier hatch have helped the parents raise their new brood. In Australia, we watch and wait!

In Eastern Europe, there has been some concern over the amount of prey being brought in to the little Golden Eaglet in Buconovia, Romania. Lady Hawk was able to capture the delivery of a hare by the father and a really good feeding yesterday. That is excellent news! When the camera was first installed he was afraid of it and he is becoming more comfortable day by day.

That’s it for Friday. The Achieva Osprey Nest has not return visit from Tiny Tot and Electra is at the nest less and less. The Canadian chicks in Alberta seem to be doing fine as is Kindness up in the Glacier Gardens Bald Eagle Nest. Fingers crossed for continuing good health to all the birds.

Thank you for joining me today in Bird World. Have a wonderful Friday. Take care, stay safe.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project and the Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC Albatross Cam.

Nest Hopping News for 1 July

Juvenile Osprey Blue 096 has fledged from the Rutland Manton Bay Nest of Maya and Blue 33 (11). It happened at 12:12:27 pm.

He looks up.

Wings begin flapping. Blue 095 goes, “oh, not this again! This nest is getting too small for flapping. I wish you would just go away!”

He’s on tippy toes and grabs the wind and…

Blue 096, male chick of Maya and Blue 33 (11) fledges on 1 July 2021.

Jack delivers a breakfish to Tiny Tot this morning. Oh, thank goodness! It is 28 degrees C and the weather service says there is a 40% of a thunderstorm around 5pm in St Petersburg, Florida. Thanks, Jack!

By 9:29 Tiny Tot will have that fish out of dad’s talons and she will be saying ‘Yum’.

There were, to my knowledge no fish deliveries to Tiny last evening. She was really waiting and watching for dad. Turns out it is a small headless fish, a bit of a teaser for our gal who chowed down on that whopper the other day, this morning.

Look at those magnificent wings. Tiny, you are such a gorgeous bird!

Well, one of those nests that I suggested you watch when others get stressful just turned up the noise. Lady Hawk posted a video of the Royal Cam chick going to visit her neighbor SSTrig and the neighbour gets into a big territorial dispute. Taiki is very social and meant no harm but we now know there won’t be any afternoon tea parties with these two. Here is that video:

There is great news coming out of New Zealand. Remember I love this country for the way in which it takes care of its wildlife. Well, today, New Zealand announced that it is putting surveillance cameras on all of its fishing boats to make sure that they comply with safe fishing so that no seabirds are caught as bycatch. Way to go New Zealand!

The landscape at the Glaslyn Nest of Mrs G and Aran in Wales is stunningly beautiful. I admit to dreaming of trees and places where you can look out and see birds and not the concrete of the city. Of sitting and smelling the wet grass and hay and not the petrol fumes of cars. Of disappearing into the wilderness.

Aran and Mrs G are spending more and more time together. Aran is able to fish after his injury in early June but he is still healing. There will be no more chicks this year but the couple was seen bonding. That is fantastic!

Aran brought in a big fish earlier that he was eating. I wonder if he shared it with Mrs G who now has a nice chunk and the tail in her talons. He has provided at least one fish to her that was caught on camera which is a great indication of Aran’s continuing progress in healing.

The two Bobs at the Dyfi Osprey Nest in Wales are enjoying a lovely fish that Idris delivered. Telyn is a fantastic mom but that nest is getting a little crowded. She may have to stand on the rails to feed her babies soon. These two are growing like crazy! You might remember that Dysynni, the male, is the largest male Osprey born on this nest ever. Idris has really brought in some of the large fish. It has been determined that many of those fish actually weigh more than Idris – breaking another myth that Ospreys can only carry a % of their actual weight.

It also demonstrates how much food and the quantity of it matter to the health and well being of the chicks. This is the nest of a super dad – as are many of those in Wales and other parts of the UK.

Meanwhile, over in Scotland, the two Bobs on the Loch of the Lowes nest are waiting for NC0 or Laddie to bring them in a tea time fish. Gosh these Bobs are beautiful. The time has flown by and they will soon be hovering and fledging but, in those very first days, I really wondered if Bob 2 would survive the bonking from Bob 1.

And goodness, I woke up this morning and had to look twice to figure out which of the chicks on the Foulshaw Moss Nest of White YW and Blue 35 was Tiny Little Bob! Which one do you think is Tiny Little?

If you said the one closest to the right looking out, you would be right. She or he is watching for one of the parents to arrive with a fish! As noted from the people who ringed the chicks, they could not determine the gender of Tiny Little from the measurements because of its small size at the time. Rumours had gone around that Tiny Little is, in fact, a female.

Today, the Cumbrian Wildlife Trust put out their announcement about the ringing of these three Ospreys. Part of the celebration is that Tiny Little was the 100th osprey chick to be banded in Cumbria since 2001. That is amazing. Here is part of the text that was posted:

“I’m incredibly pleased that we have ringed another three osprey chicks at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve this year. For a time we we’re unsure if the smallest chick was going to make it. It was rapidly being outgrown by its bigger siblings but it carried on fighting for its share of the food from mum and dad. Now there’s not much difference in weight – and it was the smallest one that was the 100th osprey chick to be ringed in Cumbria since 2001! Osprey chicks are weighed by the licenced bird ringer and each chick is given a coloured leg ring. This year we have Blue 462, a female weighing 1.6kg, Blue 463 weighing 1.5kg – gender unknown, and Blue 464, a male weighing 1.6kg”.

Paul Waterhouse, Cumbria Wildlife Trust

I wanted to check in on the little Golden Eaglet in Bucovina, Romania. He has changed so much in just a few days. Most of the white feathers are gone and are now replaced with the beautiful dark black kind of espresso coloured ones for the juveniles.

The female has come to the nest to feed the eaglet. There were lots of bones and scraps of meat left on them. It is unclear to me whether or not the mother has brought in new prey or is using what is in the pantry.

You can look and see the remote mountain area where this nest is located. I continue to hope that the parents are able to find enough prey for this little one to thrive and fledge.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I regret I have no images of the Ks for you – maybe later today. They are off exploring the trees and some of the buildings with Big Red and Arthur. Everyone is fine; they are just not around the nest!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I obtained my screen shots: Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Friends of Loch of the Lowes, Achieva Credit Union, Asociatia Wild Bucovina, LRWT and Manton Bay Osprey Nest, Cornell Bird Cam Royal Albatross and NZ DOC, and Dyfi Osprey Projec. I would also like to thank Lady Hawk for her video clip of the territorial dispute between Taiki and SSTrig.