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Ain't no sunshine

Ain’t no sunshine

We had thought it was rather windy yesterday, but the wind today has made us reconsider – it was gale-force today, yesterday’s was nothing! In addition to the wind, it soon began to rain. It was an unwelcome change from the sunshine of the bank holiday weekend! There were a few hardy people who still visited Lyndon today, despite the inclement weather, to see the osprey pair and their three chicks. Maya spent most of the day attempting to shield all three of her youngsters from the wind and rain, which is difficult for her now that they’re so big.

In the rain (2) In the rain (1)

Despite the rain, the strong wind and the subsequent large waves on the reservoir, 33 managed to catch a lovely big pike, which he delivered in its entirety to Maya on the nest. It wasn’t quite dead and got itself into an awkward position, so Maya had to heft it about to get it where she wanted it!

Pike (1)

Pike (2)

At this age, the chicks seem to have rather large feet in proportion to their size! This is because their legs and feet grow the fastest and are the first things to reach maturity, and the rest of the body then has to play catch-up with them. Here are a couple of videos from yesterday of them lounging around the nest, stretching and showing off their large feet.

Yesterday, one of the chicks made us laugh by lying with its head underneath a stick! It didn’t seem bothered by this, and it couldn’t have been stuck as it soon managed to extricate itself.

 

 

Fishing in the wind

Fishing in the wind

What a windy day! The reservoir looked like the North Sea, with huge waves across its surface. It has still been relatively warm, though, and the sun even came out this afternoon! Due to the warmth, the chicks have been uncovered for most of the day. Maya finds it hard to cover them all now, as they are so big, and when they get their feathers they will be able to regulate their own temperature. They are getting better at moving around now, and are becoming more adventurous and straying to the sides of the nest. Maya keeps a close eye on them, and they cannot venture into danger as the nest is built up at the edges. They seem to like resting their heads on the sticks at the side of the nest, and have sometimes been seen nibbling at the twigs!

Those enormous two-week-old chicks are still being stuffed full of fish. 33 delivered another pike early this morning, and an enormous roach later on! The roach was so huge it lasted until well into the afternoon.

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The chicks are also getting adept at projectile poo! Ospreys are very clean birds, and do not soil the nest. The adults usually go for a fly round and evacuate on the wing, and the youngsters point their bottoms towards the sides of the nest and aim over the edge! When they get steadier on their feet they do an even better job, and it often travels a considerable distance!

It’s a good job the ospreys don’t have a very acute sense of smell, as they often get up close and personal with the remains of fish in the nest!

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Days of the dinosaurs

Days of the dinosaurs

What a fabulous bank holiday weekend! It’s been so busy at the Lyndon Centre, particularly in the lovely sunshine of yesterday, and this afternoon when it eventually came out. Yesterday evening was the first osprey cruise of the season, and it was a great trip, albeit a bit windy out there on the water! We had a lovely view of two ospreys displaying to each other in the north arm.

11 on celebrity cruise (Phillip Ward (2)

Photo by Philip Ward

 

The chicks in Manton Bay are enormous compared to the tiny things that popped out of their eggs just two weeks ago! The growth rate of ospreys always amazes me – over the next week they will start getting their pin feathers, another two after that and they will be ringed, then two weeks later they will be ready to fledge!

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At this stage the chicks take on a sort of reptilian look, and comments have often been made that they like dinosaurs. This is closer to the truth than we might think, as birds are incredibly closely related to the dinosaurs.

It was the discovery of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx in Germany in the nineteenth century that first led to the belief in a close relationship between birds and dinosaurs. They share many features, including hollow bones, gastroliths (also known as gizzard stones) in the digestive system, and several behaviours such as nest building and brooding young. Fossils of dinosaurs have also been found with preserved feathers. It has been discovered that birds and the T-Rex are more closely related to each other than either are to alligators – reptiles who evolved in the cretaceous period.

Of course, by next week these young ospreys will be looking a lot more like birds!

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Cloudy skies

Cloudy skies

It’s been a much colder, breezier day today, and the wind has been creating waves on the surface of the reservoir. The chicks were fed early this morning, and when we arrived at the centre they were all huddled up underneath Maya, keeping warm. Maya appeared very content, and looked as though she was falling asleep too.

Relaxed Maya

She left the chicks on their own for about 30 seconds while she stretched her wings, then returned to brood them again.

Chicks changing

33 had been having a bit of trouble catching a fish in the choppy waters, but eventually he brought in another fish for his family. The fish was a pike, caught in the bay, and it was entire – 33 had not eaten any of it yet. When the birds are incubating, the male generally eats the head of each fish he catches, and brings the rest to the female. When there are chicks, he usually brings the whole fish straight to the nest, sometimes coming back for the remains later. If there is plentiful fish and there is still some left on the nest, 33 might catch another one and eat some while Maya finishes the earlier one.

Here are the chicks happily scoffing the pike.

Feeding

 

 

 

Fight it out

Fight it out

As osprey chicks grow and develop so quickly, they change very fast and we can see a difference in them almost every day. They all look bigger today, and it’s not just the largest one losing its brown down and turning a darker colour, they all are! Here is a close up shot of one of the chicks today.

Close up

All three chicks are becoming a lot more mobile, and are even attempting to stand up on their large feet. They are shuffling around the nest and getting a bit more adventurous, using their wings to help them move. Despite their new-found curiosity, they are still spending most of their time in the middle of the nest, sleeping in a bunch in the comfort of the nest cup. They usually look peaceful and content together, but this morning one of the larger chicks seemed to have some anger issues, and began savagely biting at anything it could, the nest material, the fish, and its sibling!

The smaller chick either didn’t care it was being attacked or pretended not to, for it didn’t get up or move – perhaps it didn’t even wake up! The large chick was clearly feeling the need to vent its frustration, as it then began to attach the other chick! This chick was wide awake and fought back admirably, and it looked like an even fight, until the attacker eventually won out over the attackee, who lay down in defeat.

This sort of behaviour is common in chicks, particularly when food is involved, and it helps them to develop a hierarchy. It will only end badly if there is not enough food to keep all three chicks sated. That will never be a problem here, because even if the weather makes it difficult for 33 to fish in the reservoir, he can always pop to the River Gwash Trout Farm!

The fight between the two larger chicks did appear to be food related, as they usually are, as Maya was holding onto half a roach at the time. She was patiently waiting for the chicks to look at her so that she could feed them, which she did when they had calmed down!

Sleeping

The adult birds are still very nest proud, and continue to bring sticks in to the nest and painstakingly arrange them. Today, 33 brought in a very long stick, which caused them a bit of trouble to move about, and it ended up on top of the chicks a couple of times! No harm came to the chicks, and the stick was eventually moved to a suitable location.

Stick (1)