Magpies have always been a feature around the current nest site. They have been seen to nip in and out of the nest at times to take fish scales and tails, and at the end of the season to ‘dare’ to be on the nest with juvenile birds. In the past they have been considered perhaps less of a threat than the buzzards that buzzed the nest on the side of Dodd and the goshawk drifting like a phantom through the understory at Wythop. Both of these would have taken osprey chicks if they could, and one reason for the adult birds changing nest sites could well have been to get out of reach of these fierce predators. But where the two birds of prey species failed in their attempts the disregarded magpies have won. With observation, cunning and boldness they have worked out that there is a moment of opportunity to slide onto the nest just as KL flies off for a comfort stop. She will not have time to turn in mid air and attack before they have been in and out. Unring, sitting on a nearby branch will not have time either to swoop in before they swing down under the nest and away into the scrub.
In this way the magpie stole away the newly hatched chick at 08.20 this morning. It was so fast that viewers could hardly believe it had happened, but sadly, clear pictures showing only two little bodies instead of three proved the sighting to be true.
It would seem that one or more of the magpies have learnt that,
1.chicks are a good meal and
2.has put into practice skills that were previously used to snatch a few fish scales and
3.has worked out a method of timing the attack when the ospreys cannot retaliate.
Unless KL and Unring can think up a counter-strategy it is very likely that the magpies will try again, and with persistence might very well be successful again.