Maya lays first egg of the UK Osprey season

Maya is a untagged/unringed female Osprey. She is the mate of Blue 33 (11) at Rutland. For the 2021 Osprey season in the United Kingdom, the pair returned from their winter migration to Africa on 19 March. They were the first two to arrive back! Blue 33 (11) arriving at 12:29 and Maya (unringed) arriving at 12:56. That was fabulous timing. The pair actually mated at 1pm. And no sooner than the couple had finished their nestorations than Maya laid the first egg of the 2021 Osprey season. It was around 21:00 on Sunday the 29th of March. Congratulations Blue 33 (11) and Maya!

You can see the pair on the nest and Maya laying that historic egg here:

Maya left the egg to take a short break. There it is!

And while Maya and Blue 33 (11) will be contemplating a second egg, others are just arriving in from their migration. The list of the arrivals is growing and instead of making a lengthy list, you can check the arrivals on the following link:

http://ukospreys.uk/arrivals.htm

The list is updated including the column for eggs, chicks, and ring numbers daily. The United Kingdom loves their Ospreys and they have an amazing network to monitor arrivals and departures.

Here is a gorgeous shot of Blue F5 called Seren. She arrived back on the 29th of March. She is the mate of Dylan (unringed) on the Clywedog Reservoir Nest. Located near Llanidloes, Wales at the head-waters of the River Severn, it is truly an area of great beauty. In the winter 5F spends her time in the Tanji Marsh in The Gambia. She has been photographed there for the past seven years by Chris Wood.

Here she is with the sun setting looking out over her territory. Isn’t she gorgeous?

What a view Seren has!

“Llyn Clywedog” by Darryl Hughes is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Loch of the Lowes in Scotland is equally enchanting and is home to Laddie and NC0, we think. NC0 did return to Laddie’s nest after her migration to Africa and they have mated. We will have to wait to see how this goes! They are sometimes a bit awkward with one another.

“Loch of the Lowes” by Graeme Pow is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It’s such a gorgeous place that Laddie and NC0 (in the nest) have had to chase off intruders! Too few great nests in good prey territory.

Here is beautiful NC0 all by herself on the nest:

Sadly, the third osplet on the St Petersburg nest has been shut out of all food deliveries today, thus far. There were two small fish and then one huge one. 3 or Tiny Tot got 1 bite. You can see him leaning over the rim of the nest at the back right behind one of the elder ones. The two older kept it from eating even when they were full.

The biggest one went over when it thought the mother would feed the small one and made sure it did not get up to get fed. It is a sad reality when there is a sense that there is only enough food for 1 or 2. If you could scoop Tiny Tot up and take it to a facility and it could eat and get bigger and stronger and put it back on the nest, this chick might survive. The issue is that no one is ready to intervene in that way – yet. They did at Rutland and I am very impressed. They even brought a food table for the mother. I often think of Spilve’s nest in Latvia. If someone had placed a food table for her, Klints might have lived and fledged. But the rules of engagement with wildlife have to be changed in order for these things to happen. If we can only help wildlife when something that a human did has caused the issue, then what about habitat loss, toxic water, and pollution reducing prey?

Will Tiny Tot survive another day with one bite of food in three days total and temperatures of 28 degrees C? I will remember this clever little one for the energy he drew up in himself to figure out and walk around the rim of the nest, to get under the mother to eat. He is too dehydrated today to do that. He is too worn down and he cannot PS anymore which means his body is shutting down. I hope his suffering ends. It feel utter despair and I hope that there will be a conversation of the role that humans need to have in helping the non-humans.

So when you see me say that I wish all nests had only two eggs hatch, Tiny Tot and Tapps from the PLO Nest and the third one of Iris’s osplets a couple of years ago are the reason.

We need to see a couple of other happy bird moments and there are so many. I want to close with two. The first is a picture of the two chicks in the Black Kite Nest in Taiwan. Their mother is feeding them. It is such a peaceful sight and to think they survived a fire just two weeks ago. They are simply adorable these two.

The two youngsters on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nest are doing splendid. This is the nest of four year old Harry and his mate, unknown age, Nancy. Harry struggled and he has even caught on to feeding the little ones. It is magnificent.

Look at this girl. This is Legacy from the NE Florida Bald Eagle Nest in Jacksonville. Oh, this wee one had an eye irritation and then got Avian Pox and over came it to turn into this big strong eagle. Oh, how I wish we could put a coloured ring and number on these kiddos so we would know what happened to them. Sadly less than 50% of all juvenile eagles survive. She looks like a survivor to me!

Thank you so much for joining me. The birds bring us great joys and deep, deep sadness. Who would have thought? Take care everyone. Stay safe.

Thank you to the streaming cams where I took my screen shots: the NEFL Bald Eagle Nest and the AEF, The Black Kite Nest in Taiwan, MN DNR, Achieva Osprey, Scottish Wildlife, the Rutland Wildlife Trust, and Clywedog.

Featured image is Mrs G and Aran at the Glaslyn Nest in Wales.

It’s a wonderful day in Bird World

It is always such a joy to wake up and see Big Red incubating an egg. There is something about the annual rhythm that is very reassuring. She was there all night but, at 6:36 Big Red turned incubation duty over to Arthur. Over the years Big Red has given Arthur a little more responsibility each year. This morning he was on the egg from 6:36-8:56 and again from 10:56-11:13. I wonder if she will allow him to feed and brood the eyases more, too???

Handsome Arthur with his light plumage and deep dark eyes.

Over the years Arthur has gotten more confident.

Big Red’s plumage colouring is darker than Arthur’s. Here you can see both of their beautiful tails – those red tails that define them as Red-Tail Hawks. Notice the way the wings fold and make a ‘V’. This is known as the scapular V and often individuals identify untagged birds through the patterning of the scapular V.

We are finally getting a glimpse at the MN DNR of that little one that started hatching at 6:27 on the 25th. Oh, the woes of trying to feed a little bobble head! Oh, a little bobble, so cute. In a couple of days this little one will know precisely what to do o grab that fish that its dad brought in!

Last year on 27 March, Osprey spotters in the UK had charted 52 sightings. This year there have been more than 100. The Welsh, the Scots, and the British love their Ospreys and they are so organized with web sites and keeping up on every arrival at monitored – and many unmonitored – nests. This is the type of interactive chart they have:

If you are keeping track, to date the latest arrival on a monitored nest is Blue 7A (14) at Esthwaite Water in the Lake District. This is Ozzy and his mate is unringed Olive, yet to arrive.

The most wonderful thing is to wake up and have breakfast with Big Red – as so many of her followers do. She is one of the most known and loved Red Tail Hawks in the world. But this morning I looked at the weather on my phone. I have all of the main nest sites that I watch listed. It was 23 degrees in St Petersburg, Florida when I woke up. I have been trying to get to the ‘why’ of the fish deliveries at this Osprey nest and thus, the nest competition leaving Tiny Tot behind. The graph that I have charted shows that when the temperatures in St. Pete’s are in the 27-30 range or there is a storm or it is windy (such as 30 kph), Jack does not bring fish to the nest. It just seems logical. Yet many Bald Eagles are very successful fishing in those conditions. So to test this, I wondered about this morning when it was 23 and no 29 like it was yesterday. In fact, last night I decided that I would not check on the Osprey nest with Tiny Tot until Tuesday. My heart had simply ached for the past two days and I didn’t think I could watch another one starve to death on a nest. But 23 degrees. Would this nest turn around yet again? It is clear from Tiny Tot’s actions that it wants to live. How this little one got its energy yesterday, I don’t know. But it tried being fed by walking around the rim of the nest. Sadly there were only 7 bites of fish left when it came its turn. This morning, a fish was brought in at 7:30. Tiny Tot persisted walking again up on the rim of the nest to where the mother was feeding. At 7:59 he was eating. Another fish was brought in at 9:48. Tiny Tot left with a big crop. Tiny Tot is smart and he has figured a work around to the two big siblings. The issue is the amount of food. As long as the fish are big enough and delivered close enough together Tiny has a chance.

You will have noticed that I continue to call Tiny Tot a ‘he’. You mostly hear the word used in falconry, the old medieval term tercel (UK) or tiercel (US). It refers to the belief that only 1 in 3 eggs is a male – the third. It also refers to the fact that male raptors are one-third smaller than the females. That is the reverse sex-size dimorphism.

You cannot tell the sex of a bird, for certain, without doing DNA testing or seeing them laying an egg like Big Red yesterday. Many experts have been fooled trying to use clues such as the size of the feet or the length of certain parts of their bodies. So, there is nothing saying that Tiny Tot is a small male. I don’t know!

Here is Tiny started to move to the rim to get fed, away from the big ones.

Bingo. There is fish left and Tiny gets a good feeding. The two others are satisfied and leaving him alone.

This is Tiny in front after having some of the second fish. Look at his crop. Just puts a big smile on my face.

I just want to close with a few quick images. Maybe some of these are your favourites. The first is Mrs G, the oldest Osprey in Wales eating a fish up on a tree branch. She is at the Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn nest in Wales and she is waiting for her mate, Aran, to arrive from his winter migration.

Everything is absolutely fine at the GHOW nest near Newton, Kansas. Those owlets are growing like bad weeds. I wish I could crochet! Wouldn’t a white mohair beret with those colours and patterns look fantastic?

Kisatchie at the Kisatchie National Forest nest on the shores of Lake Kincaid has really grown. As an only eaglet, s/he has grown big and been spoiled by first time parents, Anna and Louis.

And I will close where I began – with Big Red – my best raptor mother of the year, always! Thanks for joining me today. Take care. Stay safe. Enjoy the weekend.

Thank you to the following streaming cams: KNF, Cornell Bird Lab, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, Farmer Derek, MN DNR, and Achieva Osprey.

World Osprey Week Days 2 and 3

Oh, the postman delivered a copy of The Rutland Water Ospreys by Tim Mackrill. If you are really into Ospreys – their history and the reestablishment of them in the United Kingdom, I suggest you either order your own copy or ask your library to purchase one. It is an excellent history with beautiful images. There are photos of all the Ospreys and their genealogy, lovely drawings of the birds, a chronological history of the reintroduction of Osprey into the United Kingdom as well as a look at the people involved and the migration to Africa. It will keep you busy for several full days!

The history of the Osprey as a species is very long. Did you know that there are fossils showing that Osprey lived 10-15 million years ago? Storied in Natural History museums and in research facilities, there are a few claws of Osprey from the Eocene epoch which was 50 million years ago. Further evidence such as wing bones have been found and dated to the mid-Miocene epoch or 13 million years ago. Those were found in California and Florida in 1976 Stuart A. Warter. Warter was highly skeptical of the remains attributed to the Eocene era. Eggs of Osprey were found in Austria and the back limb ones in Florida from the late-Miocene era. All of that suggests that Ospreys were present in the southern US and in Europe from 10-15 million years ago. More fossils were found in Western Europe, North and Central America during the last 2 million years. Ospreys were found in the period from 9000-5000 BP in the Balkans as well as the rest of Central Europe, including Switzerland. All of a sudden no remains are found for nearly 4000 years. The Osprey show up again in the Baltic, in northeast Germany. Because of hunting, egg collection, and taxidermy and then the use of DDT, they reach near extinction again. This information has been taken from the article, ‘Archaeozoological records and distribution history of the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in Central Europe’ in The Journal of Ornithology, vol. 10, no. 1, 2006. I am also reminded that the Roman writer, Pliny, mentions that the Osprey parents have their chicks fly to the sun as a test and that Shakespeare mentioned Ospreys in his 1609 play, Coriolanus. Osprey specialists in Britain believe that he must have seen the live birds. In China, Ospreys are symbols of fidelity.

World Osprey Week is to celebrate the rebuilding of the Osprey in the United Kingdom and what better way, on this the third day of World Osprey Week to check in on the monitored nests to see who has returned. To the time of my writing this on 24 March at 2:45 pm CDT, only four Osprey have returned to the United Kingdom so far.

Laddie (unringed) or LM12 arrived at 5pm on 21 March. This will be his tenth season at the Loch of the Lowes and Laddie wasted no time in fixing up his nest and hoping that his young mate of last year, Blue NCO will return. In the image below he has come to the nest with a morning fish hoping that his mate might have arrived. He has spent the last two days doing nestorations. Look at how clean and nice that nest is! Laddie we sure hope that a wonderful young lady comes to you.

Laddie on the nest at Loch of the Lowes 24 March 2021.

Maya and Blue 33 (11) came in on March 19 within minutes of one another. Blue 33 (11) arrived at 12:29pm and Maya came in at 12:56. They got down to business renewing their bonds at 1pm and then began nestorations. Today they have had to fend off some intruders. They are at Rutland MB.

Maya and Blue 33 working on nest and defending it against an intruder. 24 March 2021

The very first osprey to arrive on a monitored nest was back on the 19th of March and that was a female at Rutlands, Blue 25 (10).

Blue 25 (10) checking in on the Mantou Nest at Rutlands. 19 March 2021.

Black 80 is said to have arrived back at Threave Castle on 23 March. No doubt waiting for its mate unringed Mrs O. However, friends of Threave Osprey have been near to the nest and have not seen an Osprey.

Had a visitor to Loch Arkaig but not the one everyone was counting on! 

If you would like to keep track of the Ospreys coming and going, you can find the chart here:

http://ukospreys.uk/arrivals.htm

That link also gives you the history, the genealogy, and more information that you could ever hope to find on one site. It is excellent. And so we wait and mourn the two Osprey migrating back from Africa that were shot on purpose over the island of Malta. What a sad sad event and one that happens to often over this small Mediterranean Island. One of the stories can be found here:

Protected Ospreys shot down by hunters in Gozo and Malta

Moving back to the United States. Oh, that Osprey male, Jack, at the Dahlgren Nest is such a hoot! His nest is simply full of all manner of things. And it is raining! Poor Harriet. Their first egg arrived at 4:33 on 23 March.

And I am honestly not sure why many male Osprey are called Jack but a check on the Achieva Osprey nest reveals that yesterday, Diane came in with a gigantic catfish and fed the trio for several hours. That feeding seems to have turned the tide in that nest for now. Jack came in with a fish at bedtime and all three went to sleep with large crops. This morning Jack brought in two fish. Peace reigns and little Tiny Tot has been well fed for 2 days. I am hoping that this will blast away any food insecurities that the two oldest have and that Jack and Diane will both bring in lots of fish.

In the image below Tiny Tot is still eating. The two older sibs are in a food coma. So all is good. Let’s hope that large fish come in regularly now and the weather stabilizes for them. It would be fantastic for this nest to fledge three again this year!

Thank you for joining me today. By the end of the week there should be some more osprey arriving in the United Kingdom – news for celebration as World Osprey Week continues. Have a great day.

Thank you to Achieva Osprey, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Rutland for their streaming cams where I got my scaps.