Following the cold snap when we had views of our birds sitting on a nest full of sleet the joys of snuggling down in the equivalent of a warm duvet are becoming apparent. Building up the sides of the nest with sticks as a wind break has become a priority, particularly as Unring looked as if he was hanging on with both feet during some of the wilder gusts. However, bringing in a stick, as well as being a practical move, also has its psychological aspect as it signals that the other partner would like a turn sitting. This turned into a battle of wills yesterday morning as each of the birds came in at shorter and shorter intervals with sticks and then attempted to boot the other one off. This took the form of either ‘accidentally-on-purpose’ dragging the stick over the one sitting, sliding in a not so subtle foot under a wing or, in Unring’s case sticking his whole head under KL’s body and attempting a flip!
Here is a clip of Kl’s effort
What a difference there is when you compare the birds’ behaviour for this year as compared with their first breeding year. In particular the male Unring has become more and more comfortable around the nest. Both male and female ospreys have a brood patch – quite an unusual characteristic – although the female is more efficient. There is definitely a learning or experiential curve to incubating behaviours though. Reviewing old footage from 2013 shows this particularly. A few minutes after having laid her first ever egg KL lifted herself up to show it to Unring. The reaction she got was precisely nil. He appeared not to notice anything different in the nest at all.
Over the years though he has cottoned on and increasingly has inspected new eggs carefully, putting his head into the nest cup and gently turning them.
Again in 2013 Unring obviously found incubating to be a great bore, having to be coaxed in by KL and then constantly fidgiting, standing up, turning around and leaving as soon as any opportunity presented itself.
Now it is the opposite; it is all KL can do to stop him from incubating. A lot of their interaction now is characterised by gentle but determined battles of will where one is pushing the other out of the nest cup. There are a range of techniques to achieve this. Walking backwards into the nest cup by the sitting partner’s head, (oops, sorry was that your face – never saw you!) a well placed leg or wing levering at the side,( heave away and up you go!) or a circular walking path moving in closer and closer (He-he sneaky!) In the end though the female, being heavier, has the advantage and so the eggs will get their full share of her heat.
Now – guess who this might be?
With watery sun on her back KL produced her third egg – first seen on Bank Holiday Monday 17th. This is generally considered to be a full clutch – although very occasionally a fourth egg can be laid. Maya at Manton has done so this year.
Straight after laying our pair mated again, which was probably a reaction to the third osprey that has been here for the last week and had just caught a fish in the Derwent River mouth.
A bit later KL went down to the Lake shore and had a good bath, coming back to sit on the nearby tree branch preening each feather, whilst Unring sat on the eggs. A few crow chases later she settled down again and the day went by like clockwork with the two alternating incubation shifts.
Easter Sunday drizzled in with the cloud base so low that it allowed only glimpses of the nest tree from Dodd and at Whinlatter, pictures of a dripping wet KL sitting stoically on her two eggs. However, visitors and staff were dressed for the weather, fuelled by chocolate, and up for the challenge of spotting the nest through the curtains of rain with the best of good humour.
And in the case of not seeing ospreys, the Easter bunnies came into their own, gambolling in from their warren in the field below the Lower viewpoint to munch on their own Sunday dinner of peanuts and sunflower seeds.
No! 14 did not reach Cumbria on the 14th but took a sudden turn East to end up in Lancashire – perhaps because of contrary winds.
However TODAY, (16th) following an exuberant flight line, No 14 threw himself into Sunday with a 02.30 arrival to his native Cumbria. This was followed by a veer out to sea, close to where he turned left previously – a favourite fishing spot perhaps?
Then he headed towards Pennington, then visited the Roudsea pair; at 06.35 was at Cartmel and by 08.55 visiting a woodland East of Bouth.
Where does he find the energy?
The first egg, laid on Tuesday (as above) has been followed by a second one today.
Number 14 has continued moving up the country stopping at the River Avon on 12th April, the River Dove this morning and by this evening, at 18.07 was just sailing in towards Grange over Sands. He is probably snoozing on a familiar perch home again after his 4000 mile journey.
He’s made it!
At 3pm on Tuesday 11th April No 14 crossed the Channel and over the Isle of Wight. – (which will make at least one follower very happy!) The northernmost red dot on the mainland is at 6pm on the 11th April
Interestingly the sat nav line passes over Freshwater bay near Farringford House, the long term holiday home of Lord Alfred Tennyson, whose poem ‘The Eagle’ could just as easily have referred to ‘The Osprey’ (depending on how good a naturalist he was). Living from 1809 to 1892 he spanned the time the last Osprey bred in England in 1872, perhaps even witnessing a last migratory flight over the island. Tennyson was also a good friend of the Speddings, spending time at Mire house, overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake and the site where, a century and a half later, the first ospreys returned to England and where eventually No 14 was to be hatched.
HE clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Lord Alfred Tennyson
Which just about sums it up, I think!
KL laid her first egg at about 14.30 this afternoon (Tuesday). She had been seen looking slightly uncomfortable, sitting low in the nest cup with her wings braced forward a bit. However, having bred for 5 years now the actual lay was not the huge effort it was a few years ago and it was only when she stood up we could verify she had indeed produced an egg. Unring’s reaction was also very different from the young bird of 5 years ago. The reaction to his first egg 5 years ago was one of complete indifference. Sitting on it was a bore and he usually tried to get away as soon as he could. Today, he flew in within minutes and dived straight into the nest cup to investigate and then pushing KL aside he settled down to brood it. This was not quite what KL had expected but she rallied and with a few well positioned shoves, dislodged him, snuggled down over the egg and started the long process of incubation.
We hope she will lay another in a couple of days time.
On the 9th April our No 14 was just South of Anger; he is now to the North and flying directly towards England and the Lake District. Keep a look out for him from now on as with a tail wind it is feasible he could be here tomorrow.
Chateau d’Anger – photos Arlette
The Black City – Roof tiles of Anger
No 14’s flight for April 6th. Maps showing his morning start and evening roost in the Pyrenees. About 380 km. That bird can travel!!!
An Easter mystery at Whinlatter!
A number of people came into the Visitor Centre reporting a clutch of eggs laid at the base of a tree close by one of the trails. There were four, and being pure white did not match any of the ground nesting birds’ more camouflaged ones- an Easter bunny hoard we wondered?
Then came the answer. As the Carters walked past the tree a tawny owl shot over the path in front of them! Why she should have tried to nest in such an exposed and lowly place who can say. Perhaps she is a young and inexperienced fowl or perhaps her chosen nest hole collapsed or was taken by another owl. Sadly, despite her efforts no Easter chicks are likely to be hatching from this nest.
With a great sigh of relief we can see that No 14 has made it over the desert. With the Atlas Mountains in his sights he powered up, crossed over them and with hardly time to draw a breath had travelled over the Mediterranean and into Spain. Surely he must have fished at some point! His roost site on April 4th was in the rocky region Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, West of Almontaras in Granada province, Andalucía.
Beside the Lake:- Other than our pair of contented looking ospreys a male marsh harrier was spotted yesterday over the marshland. It would be great to say that there was a chance that a pair of these beautiful birds might one day make it their home but these are reed loving raptors and we have too small an area for them to be really interested. Leighton Moss, just over the border to Lancashire is their Northern stronghold.
Try this link to see the RSPB video https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/m/marshharrier/