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Maya sitting on the pile of sticks 33 has brought

The chance of romance

So what are the chances that Maya and 33(11) will produce a clutch of eggs together this season? We can only speculate. For the past two days he has seemed to ignore her, however today he has been attempting to mate with her, and he finally brought her a fish last night, which is a step in the right direction. Also, this morning, the third and final egg that remained in the nest cup has been kicked out, therefore there will be no more futile incubation.

The latest we have seen eggs laid at Rutland Water was 22 May. This was back in 2003, at one of the nests on private land. The female, 06(01), a translocated bird, was a youngster breeding at two-years-old, which is very unusual in itself. She paired up with male 03(98), also translocated, and they produced eggs very late on in the season. The eggs hatched at the end of June, the chicks fledged at the end of August and by late September they had set off on migration. Along with examples of late laying from nests elsewhere in the UK e.g. Dyfi last year, this proves that there is time for chicks to fledge successfully from eggs laid late.

However, in the above example, the late clutch of eggs was the first clutch. Maya has already laid a full clutch of eggs. So a second brood would rely not only on there being ample time for the chicks to develop before they need to migrate, but on Maya’s ability to produce healthy eggs. She has already put a lot of energy into producing three eggs. Ospreys are only meant to lay one clutch, therefore they put their all into it. She may not have the reserves left in her to lay another clutch of viable eggs. There have been cases of second clutches in Ospreys, for example, Loch Garten in 2007, but in this case the chicks were not strong enough to survive. Other factors may have played a part of course.

If 33 continues to bring in fish, if Maya is able to return to breeding condition, and if their mating attempts become more frequent and more successful, then we could potentially see more eggs this year. We cannot state anything for certain, but we are not ruling anything out.

The carnage

The carnage

Maya sitting on the pile of sticks 33 has brought

Maya sitting on the pile of sticks 33 brought

Maya looking into the nest cup

Maya looking into the nest cup

Maya and 33 on the nest

Step by step, day by day

Today has been much the same as yesterday with regards to the behaviour of Maya and 33(11). Again, 33 has been bringing lots of sticks to the nest and no fish, and again, he has not tried to mate with Maya. Perhaps he is a little fearful of her, as she had previously been quite aggressive towards him.

This morning, one of the eggs that had been kicked out was rolled back into the nest cup, and Maya was incubating two eggs. Since then, 33 has managed to kick out one of them, and this is the one you can see at the back of the nest. One is still on the right-hand side of the nest, and there is still one in the nest cup. Maya has hardly incubated it today, which strengthens our belief she will soon give up on it completely.

Maya and 33 on the nest

Maya and 33 on the nest

33 on the nest alone

33 on the nest alone

 

Several other intruding Ospreys were seen in the Bay today. At one point there were five Ospreys in total! Their identities are unknown, however 28(10) has a very noticeable kink in his wing, so we do not think he was one of them. 28 has not been seen for four days now. In the video below, Maya is mantling furiously and another Osprey flies over the nest.

33 moving a stick as Maya watches

33 moving a stick

 

None of the sticks that 33 brought today were as big as yesterday’s huge one! Here’s a funny video of 33 tripping over it!

 

You may have noticed that the view on the webcam changed slightly this afternoon… we decided to zoom the camera out a little bit in order to see more of the nest. Now that the Ospreys are sitting on the edge of the nest more often, we were finding that their heads were getting cut off the top of the screen! The camera view may change in future as and when we need to alter the perspective.

 

 

Maya and 33 on the nest together

So the story continues

33(11) has been around all day today. He has done some more nest scraping, and managed to roll the last egg out of the cup… but then later he knocked it back in again!

Maya has been incubating on and off all day. However, she has been off more than she has been on, and at one point it looked like she was trying to get rid of the egg herself. We’re fairly sure she will give up on this egg in the next few days – if 33 doesn’t manage to kick it out the nest in the meantime of course.

33 has been bringing in sticks and nesting material all day, leaving them for Maya to reposition. One of his gifts was a massive stick, which Maya did not know what to do with!

Neither Osprey has brought a fish all day, although 33 disappeared for a period of time. Interestingly he has made no attempt to mate.

Maya and 33 on the nest together

Maya and 33 on the nest together

One of 33's offerings

One of 33’s offerings

Maya finally managed to move the huge stick

Maya finally managed to move the huge stick

 

Away from Manton Bay, we have had some exciting news from Africa. You may recall that world-renowned raptor expert Dick Forsman photographed one of last year’s Site N chicks near Marakissa in The Gambia in December last year. Well, amazingly, we now know that the other Site N chick from last year, 1K, was seen at almost exactly the same location in late January. We’re waiting for some more information on this sighting, but it is incredibly exciting to know that both of the youngsters made it to Africa. We know that Ospreys always migrate alone, but it seems a remarkable coincidence that the two birds were seen at the same location, albeit more than a month apart. Could they have migrated there together? Of course we will never be able to answer that quesiton, but it is great to know both birds survived.

 

 

 

33 on the nest last night after kicking the eggs out

The end of one chapter, the start of a new one?

If you were watching the webcam yesterday evening, or have switched it on this morning, you’ll see that Maya is only incubating one egg. The other two have been kicked out of the nest by 33(11).

All day yesterday 33(11) hung around in the Bay. Maya sat resolutely on her eggs and chased 33 away when he came too close. As the day wore on, she gradually became less aggressive towards him, and more tolerant of his presence. He landed on the nest more than once, as was shown in yesterday’s videos. We began to think it wouldn’t be long before she accepted him completely.

At about 7:40pm Maya made a decision, and she left the nest to go fishing. 28(10) has not been around since Friday, and 33(11) didn’t bring his earlier catch to her, so she finally decided it was time she fed herself.

This was a massive indicator that things were not going to work out. The fact that she allowed 33 to sit on the nest with her as she ate served to reinforce that opinion. It was only a matter of time before he made a drastic move…

He got his chance when Maya took the fish away to eat elsewhere, and he was left alone with the eggs. We knew what would happen if this situation ever occurred, it was inevitable. No Osprey wants to raise young that are not his. It was truly heartbreaking to watch. First he stood all over the eggs, then he began to scrape at the nest with his talons, kicking the eggs out of the nest cup as he did so.

In the long-run, this has probably worked out for the best. As heart-wrenching as this situation is, this is nature, and nature is and always will be survival of the fittest. We knew that 33 was a stronger bird than 28. 33 knew it, that’s why he was relentless in his advances. 28 knew it too, and that’s why he stayed away whenever 33 was around.

Although Maya has continued to incubate the one egg that is remaining in the nest cup, there is no chance of that one hatching after last night’s events. We expect that 33 will try and remove it at some point today, but until he does Maya is likely to continue to sit on it – the urge to incubate will prove too strong at this stage to ignore it.

We believe that Maya will now accept 33 and form a pair-bond with him. This means that next year, all being well, they will return to this nest and breed together. They will make a strong partnership. 33 is evidently more capable than 28 of defending the nest, and his genes will produce healthy chicks. Perhaps it is even possible that, if Maya and 33 begin to mate, she could lay another clutch of eggs this season. We have not seen this happen at any of our other nests before, but who is to say that it couldn’t happen? Perhaps this is the start of a brand new story…

33 on the nest last night after kicking the eggs out

33 on the nest last night after kicking the eggs out

 

33 landed on the nest for a while this afternoon. He ignored the eggs though.

Drama in the Bay

This morning, the slight hope that things would return to normality today went out of the window. We turned up to find that 33(11) was still bothering Maya and 28(10) was still not here.

33 got even more daring this morning. He landed briefly on the nest, and he also tried to land on Maya’s back more than once, but she was having none of it! He caught a fish at about 11am, which he ate on the dead tree near Waderscrape Hide. We watched the screen with anticipation, would he bring the fish to Maya? As it turned out, he didn’t. If he wants to impress her, he’ll have to do better than that!

Later this afternoon, 33 landed on the nest again, for quite a long period. Maya had flown off, we thought to chase off 33, then he appeared on the nest! Where was she? A few seconds later she appeared with a clump of nesting material, and to begin with she seemed to tolerate 33’s presence!

Finally she chased him off and settled back down to incubate. 33 isn’t giving up though, he tried once again to land on Maya, and as I write he is still flying around the nest upsetting her. She has not been off the eggs that much today, so again, there may still be hope for them! However, if 33 does not give up, it is unlikely that 28 will come back, and if he doesn’t come back, then any hope we have for the eggs will slowly fade. The uncertainty is agonising, but all we can do is wait and see what happens next.

33 landed on the nest for a while this afternoon. He ignored the eggs though.

33 landed on the nest for a while this afternoon. He ignored the eggs though.