The 2011 season started early, with our resident Ospreys, Dad and Big Hook mating in June. Over the last couple of weeks, no mating has been observed and both birds have been taking turns in sitting within the nest cup. Pete and Madame X have both observed true brooding behaviour. I took my long lens with teleconverter to the nest this afternoon and shot quite blindly whenever the nest cup was uncovered. To my surprise and delight, I actually captured a photo of one egg. In this shot, Dad Osprey is on the left side of the photo and just by his left leg, there is a brown, speckled egg. Both birds are looking at it. It must have been moved after I took this shot, because I can't see it in any subsequent shots.
It sure is, BeaHive. The more I observe these birds, the more fascinating they become.
After Dad had finished his coif, he went up onto the branch above the nest and dozed and watch Big Hook sitting on the egg for a while. Eventually it became too much for him to bear and he flew down onto the nest and gently manoeuvred Big Hook off the egg and resumed sitting. She is not only much larger than him, she is also much darker. Big Hook is in front.
Big Hook flew down onto the low branch and luxuriated in a pedicure.
I saw Whopper flying by a couple of times. She and Dad did a back and forwards "kik, kik, kik" before she landed on her favourite branch underneath the nest. No photos as the live part of the nest tree is in such heavy foliage. Neither Dad, nor Big Hook were perturbed by her presence. I'd really love to get some shots of her. Madame X sees her regularly in the tree below her place.
Nanny, it's my 4th season watching the activities at this nest, although it's only 3 years. I started watching them on August 22, 2008.
Thanks, Pelle. They're good subjects - when they're on the nest, at least.
Kim, I love seeing them with their heads together, gazing at the egg.
Thanks, Burn. It really is exciting and you're right, Dad is the most gorgeous bird. He's so relaxed and gentle. I think the only time he's ever been seen to show a feisty side was when Pete grabbed photos of him coming in, talons extended, for a poor hapless Darter that had the temerity to land on a branch below the nest.
Hi Dave. Thanks. I never take the privilege for granted. I still marvel at being able to watch them as often as I like, at such close quarters. The timelessness of what I'm seeing sometimes becomes quite overwhelming.
LOL, Mrs Ed. They do look pretty satisfied, don't they? I wasn't able to see the egg/s today.
Thanks, Granny. Every time there's a changing of the guard, or even if the sitting bird changes position, they gaze down it the egg/s.
What a great shot of the egg!! I can't beleive it's visible as I'd assumed the cup was too deep. Never seen an egg before and to be hones it's quite beautiful. Let's hope there's more in there. It augers well for the birth(s) if you can see the egg as even when hatched they should be visible. Which teleconverter did you use?
Well I've been a bit lazy this year. Last WE I visited the nest a couple of times and wanted to post the following three shots but that evening I was travelling to Taiwan for a couple of days business. I've just got back and walked the dog so thought I'd upload these three before I forget or they're outdated.
It was clear that the birds are now incubating-my wife Sarah walks the dog close by and reported the week before that it looked like eggs might be present. I reckon they could be at least a week now.
Both birds take their turns although I sense Big Hook does the lions share. Here's Big Hook (I think) returning to relieve Pa.
Hi Pete. I wondered where you'd got to. Great shots. The egg seemed to have been rolled up onto one of the larger branches on the perimeter of the nest cup, because minutes later, when I looked in the same area, it was no longer there. Madame X is sure they've been sitting on an egg or eggs for well over a week.
I used the 2x II teleconverter on the 500mm, but it won't autofocus - neither will the 1.4x. I've contacted Canon to see if they can explain why.
I'll try to get back there again this afternoon. Over the weekend, I might try the trek beyond Madame X's house to see if I can get some shots of Whopper. Did you see or hear her whilst you were there?
From Wednesday afternoon, quite few shots, so bear with me:
Dad arrives with a headless fish for Big Hook, who behaved as if she hadn't had a feed in a fortnight.
From there she flew off, did a couple of tight circuits and flew back to the nest. I am lamenting that just before this shot, I missed what would possibly have been one of the best shots I've ever taken - however, it was irretrievably out of focus.
Her persistence pays off and he eventually capitulates, but decides to rearrange some of the nest cup and tugs at that damned plastic bag. I was hoping the wind would catch it and send it away from the nest, but it didn't.
Shortly after this, Dad flew off to the other side of the river. I followed him and eventually could see him way off in the distance flying around with at least two other Ospreys and a couple of Ravens. The shadow was completely over the nest when I left.
Thanks, BeaHive. I'm glad you enjoy the commentary.
Kim, it'll be a short line for the book, I think. You won't need to camp out overnight. LOL
Burn, sometimes their actions just cry out for an anthropomorphic interpretation. I wish I could do talk bubbles.
Wha', thank you GG. I hope the bag makes it's way out of the nest as well. She really made me laugh when she sat on his head - she was so desperate to resume sitting, I don't think she cared what it was. Anyway, it was warm and round.
Love how much Dad wants to sit on the eggs...too bad she spoiled his time on the nest. Your comment on the missed shot...how many times have we all thought that? So MANY missed shots. I also love the way you tell the story. Thanks, Margaret.
GP, he is such a good mate - and Dad. He clearly relishes being able to sit. Mind you, saying that, he headed off over the other side of the river again this afternoon and I didn't see him return by the time I left, which was just on 5pm.
Really no action this afternoon. It was cloudy and the only reason I stayed on was that there was a troupe of adolescent lads mucking about along the low path and I maintained a warden's vigil to see that they weren't going to try to target the nest.
Once again I saw Whopper flying past way below the nest.
I am so curious to if Dad wanting to sit on the eggs is rather usual in general for a male osprey. He truly seems so domestic!! I am so sorry you missed a shot but I love that one!! And I always love the navel inspection shots...makes me laugh...along with sitting on Dad's head!! lol
Margaret, it's always such a treat to see your beautiful photos and catch up on the story. Sorry about the missed shot, but there are so many beautiful ones here. I hated to see that plastic bag too and hope that it won't harm the little ones later on.
Thanks for keeping the vigil on those kids-this osprey pair is very lucky to have you guarding over them.
Nanny, both Ospreys share incubation duties, although the female does the lions share. During the incubation period and when the chicks are being fed, the male catches all the fish and brings them to the female on the nest. So, by necessity, his spells at incubating need to be relatively brief.
Thanks, duc. It's good to have such a vantage point wherever there's possibly mischief or disturbance. Big Hook made a couple of small sounds when they first arrived, but then settled down. I don't think the kids were even aware of the nest - I suppose that's one good thing about the living part of the tree growing at a rate of knots - the birds are pretty well hidden from view.
We have THREE EGGS! I hadn't even considered this, but Pete has some concerns about the time between laying the first and last eggs. It would be dreadful to have a repeat of the problems we experienced last season. So, cautious optimism at this stage.
Dad landed on the nest and he and Big Hook had a discussion about how best to incubate the eggs. It probably won't show up on the downsized image, but I can actually see the white of Big Hook's eye (she's on the right). I've never seen that before. It looks quite odd.
Wow, THREE! My emotion is one that's mixed. Excited with the number of 3 adorable offsprings, but concern too about the unforseen of littlest chick. Keeping fingers and toes crossed for the best. I couldn't help but feel all these mixed feeling Margaret.
Yes, Kim, I know. I hadn't even thought of it until Pete mentioned it, but yes, who could forget last year's events. I still have two little sprigs of lavender taken from the site, in a little vase in memory of the chicks that sadly didn't make it.
Hi Pelle. They are a real treat. I often see them a little farther out, but this time, they were passing directly below the nest. the brown blurry thing in the photo is one of the branches supporting the nest.
Duc, you're far too kind. The manual focus is fine, providing the subject is relatively stationary. I wouldn't have a snowball's chance of getting a flight shot with manual focus and I have the greatest admiration for those who can.
Thanks for the positive thoughts, Kim. Here's hoping for the best possible outcome.
nanny, I really have to force myself to leave there every time I visit. It is a truly beautiful place.
Thanks, IrisMA. It looks like the plastic bag is making its way out of the centre of the nest.
Very little action this afternoon. This Rainbow Lorikeet had been crawling around right under the nest. It then started making its way up the side of the nest. Shortly after I took this shot, the Lorikeet obviously saw Big Hook sitting on the nest as it climbed close to the rim. It shrieked and flew off, its feathers standing on end.
I could have kicked myself for not being quick enough to get a shot of the lorikeet when it saw Big Hook.
When I arrived at the nest this afternoon, Dad was happily sitting on the eggs. Big Hook arrived and landed on the pole branch and quietly watched until Dad started making his gentle "kek kek" sounds. This was obviously a signal to Big Hook that it was her turn, and as he moved off the eggs, as she became instantly focussed on the nest.
She went over to the eggs and settled straight down on top of them. A few minutes later, she got up, rearranged some nesting material and then gently pulled the eggs towards her, before covering them with her "brood patch".
There was no other activity on the nest today. I did, however, see Whopper, who is now eleven months old. She never attempts to land on the nest or any of the branches leading out from it, although a couple of weeks ago she was on her favourite branch underneath the nest. Both adult birds communicate with her, but they are not the least bit concerned by her presence.
Thanks, GP. You're right about care of the eggs and chicks. Their lack of interest when the bullying was taking place was a little disconcerting. What really amazed me was that after she had sent that poor little chick flying to the edge of the nest, it was as if it had ceased to exist from that moment. Even when Dad returned to the nest minutes after it happened, although the chick was in full view, he didn't even glance at it. Watching these birds is such an education. I've come to the conclusion that ospreys have little sense of fun, unlike ravens, parrots and magpies, who are always up for a good time.
I'm glad to hear that Whopper is doing fine and is not being a threat to the nest. I'm anxiously waiting to see, if the three eggs will hatc
Wonderful photos, along with the story, always a joy to read.
Burn, I'm really interested in seeing just how long Whopper is around. Aussie and Harmony were well and truly gone by the beginning of May. Madame X and Pete have observed similar departure dates in the years prior to Aussie and Harmony. This is Pete's 7th or 8th year observing and photographing this nest.
From the nest this afternoon. Three eggs still clearly visible. Big Hook was on the eggs the entire time. It was a windy day, which stimulates ospreys into flight. Dad came and went several times. He tried to move his mate off the eggs so he could sit for a while, but she gently resisted his efforts.
At one stage he flew off to the other side of the river. I lost sight of him and thought I'd occupy myself by seeing if there was any activity at the other nest, about a kilometre away. I could see an osprey being harassed by a raven (see pic). The osprey landed towards the top of the Norfolk Island Pine where the other nest is and it then took off. I followed it and it turned out to be Dad, who returned to land on "our" nest. I've been to watch the other nest a few times (this is the nest where the male was rehabilitated and released several months ago). I often see an osprey there, but it's really hard to tell if it's male or female and I haven't seen two birds together there, so am not sure if the nest is active this season.
Oh, the nest is in the Norfolk Pine, the top of which is at the bottom centre of this photo.
They are a beautiful pair, GG and Pelle. If I upgrade my camera, which I'll need to reasonably soon, because this one is showing its age, I'll get one that takes video.
Nanny, each day I arrive at the site, I get a quick glance. It's wonderful to see their reactions to other people. The person on the embankment yesterday was there specifically to see the ospreys.
GP, I'm not sure exactly when the eggs were laid, but it must be three weeks by now. Ospreys lay eggs anywhere between 1 and 4 days apart, although it seems that there would be a greater chance of all hatchlings surviving if the eggs are laid 1-2 days apart. As we saw last season, 4 days gives the older chick a great advantage. The eggs hatch at approximately 40 days, so we have a way to go yet.
Dad was on the nest when I got there this afternoon. Big Hook was on the pole branch, preening, and had obviously had a bath. No pix as the pole branch was in full shadow. She flew off and came back and landed on the nest. She approached Dad and asked him to move, but he was having none of that. He was perfectly contented where he was.
The pond is great. The Koi are enjoying their summer swimming and I have lots of local birds enjoying their bath time splashing in the stream. Still waiting for some frogs to show up. Hope they do as I miss them.
GP, the first chick hatched on the 2nd October last year. Yesterday, I actually went through my photos from when one chick was sent flying to the edge of the nest last year, to see if I could tell which one had perished, but I'd deleted them all, so no way of telling if Whopper was the first or second hatchling.
It was, in fact, Big Hook's unique way of getting her mate to get off the eggs. I think he was happy enough to do so yesterday, as it was quite warm and he had been sitting there, beak open, panting. He flew down onto the low branch and watched the activity on the river and preened himself.
Yesterday afternoon, Big Hook was sitting on the eggs when I arrived. Dad arrived with a headless fish for her, which she eagerly relieved him of and took it to their favoured branch outside Madame X's place. It normally takes them half an hour to 45 minutes to eat a fish, but only 10 minutes later she flew over the top of me, about 15 feet above my head. I have a vivid picture in my mind of a very large, dark shape flying over. I've never seen any of the ospreys leave via this route before. There had been no sound which would indicate that a raven had harassed her into dropping the fish, but clearly she had. She landed on the pole branch and looked in apparent bewilderment at her feet and I fancied her thinking: "Well, it was there a minute ago."
Dad vacated the spot and Big Hook quietly settled back onto the eggs. He flew off and was back after only a few minutes with another fish, which he then took to the same branch where Big Hook had accidentally let her meal slip out of her talons. What was a trifle odd about this was that he would not normally go and catch two fish within 20 minutes (or thereabouts). She hadn't pleaded with him for another one, but he knew that her appetite hadn't been satisfied and acted to remedy the situation. The nest was quickly swallowed by the shadow that you can see creeping up from the bottom right, so no more pix from yesterday.
You're all right about how humans treat each other - and animals. It really gets up my nose when there's a comment such as: "They were behaving like animals" to describe some aberrant human behaviour. Animals don't act that way. With rare exceptions, animals kill to eat, not to purposefully inflict terror and harm upon other creatures.
Duc, if she did drop the fish on my head, at least it would be fresh.
GG, it wouldn't have been the first time I've had a gift from a bird deposited on my head. Some cultures believe it's good luck. I must be the luckiest person on earth.
I went to the nest yesterday afternoon, but there was no action. Big Hook was on the nest and I wasn't in a position to see the eggs when she moved position. Dad was quietly standing on the low branch. We're expecting storms tomorrow and then showers all week. I'll head down there if there are breaks in the weather, but otherwise it may be another week before an update.
I used to work in the loop in Chicago. One morning I had purchased my big cup of Iced Tea and was waiting to cross the street at an intersection under the "L". I felt this big plop. Yep. Pigeon poo in my hair. ewwwwww.
LOL, you are having much too much fun. Those birds interaction are priceless, Margaret. How heart- warming to watch their activities. It's also heart-breaking to witness their losses. Positive thought for the 3 eggs this season. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have triplet?
Kim, it would be amazing. Pete has seen two chicks successfully reared on this nest. This will be Big Hook's third year and hopefully she won't be quite as clumsy and inexpert. I'm convinced she is still a young bird.
I find it hard to believe this is her third year, too. For no real reason, Madam X, Pete and I have always thought that Big Hook is a young bird and I was never more convinced than the other day. A large yacht with a very tall mast went by just below the nest and Big Hook almost hunkered down. Dad was totally unmoved. Big Hook is on the left in this photo.
Burn, last year, the first egg was laid on August 22nd and the first chick hatched on October 2nd. This year, there was one egg visible on August 23rd - it may have been laid before then. Three eggs were seen on the 29th. So I reckon we've still another couple of weeks until hatching begins.
I can't get to the nest again this afternoon because of rain.