The long wait continues

How time flies. Today is the 27th day of incubation at Manton Bay, meaning that the first chick could hatch as early as next weekend (21/22 May). So be sure to keep a very close eye on the webcam in the coming days!

Incubation this spring has been notable only in the sense that it has been very uneventful. 5R has caught several fish each day – often close to the nest, and there have been very few intrusions by other Ospreys – the one notable exception being 00(09)’s visit last week.

Thanks to our fantastic team of volunteers, the nest has been monitored 24 hours a day since the first egg was laid. Lorna Burger is one of those people dedicated enough to sacrifice a night’s sleep to protect and monitor the birds. Here’s her account of her latest night shift…

“I knew it was going to be a chilly night, a cold wind had been blowing all day.  Would three fleeces be enough?  I feel well prepared as I meet up with Ray my night watchman.  I have my timer (so I don’t oversleep), furry boot slippers (easier to take on and off in the dark) and food and coffee for my night snacking.

We have only just started our watch when 5R takes off from his perch and I see a splash as he enters the water.  Could he have caught a fish?  Yes, he has and can be seen with a good-sized roach on his perch.  Things don’t get better than this!  We watch him munch his way through its head and then deliberately pull out the guts of the fish and discard them (first time I had seen this so clearly).  Our night vision was really being tested by this time – but we see him take the remains to the female and she is able to have her supper on the same perch.  We just manage to see them swap again and she settles down to incubate – he dutifully stays on the perch nearby.  It is time for the night scope! 

The night watching goes well, the wind has mercifully dropped.  I am still very grateful for the cushion and blanket provided by Ray!  My last sleep comes and I feel cosy except for my feet.  I decide I am not a suitable candidate for Antarctic exploration!  I try putting gloves on my feet – this doesn’t work, wrapping a blanket round them is better.  It is time for my last watch and gradually dawn approaches.  I confirm that it is still 5R on the perch and the female is safely incubating.  The Hebridean sheep must have worried a lot in the night – they have turned grey!  There is frost everywhere and I can see our breath.  Is it really May or are we in a time warp and it’s December?  Then I see the sunrise – it was a magical sight as you can see.  Suddenly any discomfort was forgotten.”

One response to “The long wait continues”

  1. Liz May, Canada

    Hi Lorna & Tim: Had to tell you both how much I enjoy reading your accounts of experiences during the night hours. It may be cold & frosty but what a great experience. You guys are really doing a wonderful service for the ospreys. I really hope you know that. I realize in watching the web cams in UK & reading the blogs that the come-back of the ospreys is an amazing issue. In Atlantic Canada where I live our ospreys have never been in jeopardy like they have been in the UK. I have always been aware of the ospreys over head here & always took them for granted. The UK with your help has really worked hard to bring them back. Keep up this important work.