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Happier families

Slightly better news to report from Manton Bay today. 5R has been less aggressive towards 9F and has allowed her to make numerous flights around the bay, while he’s been present. A few minutes ago, he did finally give chase, but that was the first time today that we had recorded any significant aggression. This all suggests that, as time progresses, he will allow his daughter to behave more normally. It also seems to point to the fact that all the aggression stems from the young female’s first flight when she knocked 5R off his perch. Let’s hope that as time progresses, 5R realises that she isn’t a threat.

It is encouraging to see 9F growing in confidence on the wing – today we watched her snatching at tree leaves as she passed in flight – but she is still not as advanced as her brother. The clearest example of this is in the contrasting ways the two birds behave when 5R delivers a fish to the nest. Whereas the young female still waits to be fed by her mother – see video below – 8F has started taking the fish off to a favoured perch, including the dead tree situated close to Waderscrape hide. The young male has spent much of the day there, providing great views for everyone in the hide (the tree is only 100 metres from the hide) and at one point this afternoon he was joined by the rest of the family too. What a fantastic spectacle for those lucky enough to be in the hide at the time!

Don’t forget that tomorrow is Family Fun Day at Lyndon, so if you are in the area and have young children, please drop by and join in the fun. It all kicks off at 10am and runs until 3pm with lots of games and activities to keep the children entertained. It costs just £10 per family and that includes access to the reserve and a chance to see the Osprey family from Waderscrape hide. We hope to see you there – there’s no need to book, just turn up any time after 10am.

Family fun

Family fun

The fall out of the Manton Bay family has continued today as 5R has been chasing his daughter 9F around Manton Bay again.
Whilst 9F is in the nest or on one of the perches in the bay, 5R is more than content to let her sit with the female and her brother, 8F, but as soon as she takes to the sky he leaps into action and chases after her.
There have been a couple of episodes today where we have held our breathes and watched to see the outcome of these chases but we’re pleased to say that on each occasion 9F has out manouvered her father and made it back safely to land on the fallen tree. This seems to have become the favoured resting place for both the juvenile birds from the Manton Bay nest.

With family’s in mind we will be holding our Osprey Family Fun Day at Lyndon on Friday 27th July. Bring your family along and become Ospreys for the day!

More aggression from 5R and an account of a memorable morning

With 9F spending most of yesterday on the nest we weren’t sure how 5R would react to her flying today. Would he continue where he left off on Sunday and chase her every time she took to their air, or would he relent and let her enjoy her new-found freedom? Sadly, it seems to be the former. With 5R away for much of the morning, the young female made numerous short flights to and from the nest. This afternoon, though, with 5R back in the bay, she was chased as soon as she left the nest. For the time-being at least, it would seem she is going to make the most of the time 5R spends away from the nest. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue that way.

While all this has been going on, we have almost forgotten about 8F. The young male has now been flying for a week and is starting to make longer and more confident flights away from the bay. It doesn’t seem possible that only seven days have passed since he left the nest. That morning, volunteer Kathyu Reynolds was on duty to see the magic moment when he left the nest for the first time. Here’s her account of an exciting morning…

“Monday morning 16 July 2012, it is 5.40 a.m. as I quietly close the door on my sleeping husband and leave for my regular Monday morning shift in Waderscrape Hide, Manton Bay, observing our lovely Ospreys. As I close the door I think, why oh why did I volunteer for this shift. Of course that has been answered several times over the last few months; the barn owl looking for breakfast in the meadow next to the hide; the little owl perched on a fallen tree; the sparrowhawk; the cuckoo looking for a nest to lay her egg, the kestrel hunting in front of the hide; the marsh harrier and the female osprey giving a wonderful aerial display as she chased him away from the nest. What would I see this morning? 8F has been wing flapping and helicoptering vigorously over the weekend. Perhaps I would see his first flight?

I got to the hide weighed down with scopes, binoculars and my morning coffee. Both adults in the bay, chicks quietly in the nest. At 6.20 one of the chicks started to wing flap and helicopter, then stood on the side of the nest looking down, was he judging the distance? Then at 6:34 a.m. it was my great privilege to see Osprey 8F make his first flight.

I was not really sure if it was him at first sight. Was that an intruder? No, just one chick on the nest and 8F is flying around by the poplars with his mother. Excitement is building as I realise what a special moment I am observing. 8F stayed in the air for 45 to 50 seconds then he landed on the T perch just near the nest. At 7.05 5R returned to the bay having been absent for about 40 minutes landed on the T perch next to a 8F with a small fish as if to say “well done son”. However 5R quickly took the fish to the nest, was this to encourage his son to return to the nest?.
8F took his 2nd flight at 7.14 it was a short flight of 30 seconds and he just flew between the T perch and the nest and returned to the T perch. Between 7.14 and 7.30 he took several more short flights, it appeared that he was practising his turns and landing on the T perch. It appeared to be easier to land on the T perch than on the nest. The male and female joined him on the T perch and they also made short flights as if to encourage him. Finally at 8.42 he had another short flight and this time he successfully landed on the nest (see video below). He settled down into the nest: well he deserved a good rest after his exciting morning.

Now where is my flask of coffee forgotten about in the excitement.”

9F (left) enjoying the sun on the Manton Bay nest with her brother

9F sits tight

Once young Ospreys have flown for the first time there is usually no stopping them. Having plucked up the courage to finally leave the nest, they grow in confidence very quickly; making numerous short flights to and from the nest. That’s exactly what 9F did yesterday morning. She made 10-15 flights, becoming more and more adventurous over the space of a couple of hours. That all came to an abrupt end, though, when her father eventually returned to the nest. Whenever she took to the air, he chased her incredibly aggressively, forcing her to return to the nest or nearby perches. To catch up on yesterday’s events, click here.

We hoped that 5R would tire of this strange behaviour today, and allow his daughter to take to the air again. Unfortunately though, it would seem that yesterday’s events have made the young female understandably reluctant to leave the safety of the nest. As you’ll know if you’ve been watching the webcam, she’s been perched on the nest for most of the day. In fact she’s only flown three times – and it was significant that when she did finally leave the nest, it was when 5R was away fishing. It will be very interesting to see how things develop tomorrow – let’s hope that the young female is allowed to enjoy her new-found freedom.

The one other significant thing to report today is that the adult female caught her first fish of the season. Once her young were flying last year she began supplementing 5R’s catches with some of her own and it would seem that she is intent on doing the same this year. This has at least meant that, whilst 9F hasn’t had much flying practice today, she has been well fed.

9F (left) enjoying the sun on the Manton Bay nest with her brother

More problems for 9F

This is starting to get silly. Just when we thought things were looking up for 9F, we’ve had a day of what can only be described as bizarre behaviour from her father, 5R.

Having put 9F back on the nest yesterday morning, the young female showed very little inclination to move anywhere else for the rest of the day. She looked healthy enough, but it was clear that the stress of the previous 24 hours had made her reluctant to attempt to fly again.

This morning, though, things were very different. When I arrived in Waderscrape hide at 7:00am to join volunteer Mike Hunter, she had already flown to one of the artificial t perches at the western end of the bay and was sitting next to her mother. Little changed for the next hour, but then 8F flew to the t perch to join his sister. In doing so he seemed to panic her, because, clearly startled at his arrival, she hopped off the perch. She circled and then turned to head back towards the nest. As she did 5R – who up until this point had sitting quietly on the other t perch – took off and headed towards her like a rocket. Like Friday afternoon, this was real aggression. He dive-bombed his daughter and then chased her back towards the nest. Fortunately 9F was now better able to deal with the attack and after a circuit of the bay, she landed skilfully back on the t perch. Once she had done so, 5R circled once and then landed next to her. It was like nothing had happened.

Another hour passed with little activity from either chick; but their persistent food-begging suggested they were getting hungry. Eventually 5R went off in search of a meal. Once he had gone, a gentle breeze began to pick up and this seem to spark the two youngsters into life. 8F, who has now been on the wing for nearly a week, has become a competent flier and began to enjoy himself – making several dives into the water. OK he wasn’t even close to catching a fish, but his skillful aerial maneuvers were great to watch. Perhaps encouraged by watching her brother, 9F began to make numerous short flights backwards and forwards in the bay, too. In the space of an hour she must have made over a dozen increasingly competent flights. After what she had been through on Friday, it was encouraging to see.

It was just as well 9F was becoming stronger in the air; as soon as 5R arrived back at the nest – without a fish – he began chasing his daughter again. Like earlier he ignored her while she was perched, but as soon as she took off, he went after her with real aggression. This continued for another fifteen minutes. Each time 9F took off, 5R chased her. Bizarrely, though, as soon as she landed he tended to relent – landing next to her on the French perch above the nest and then actually on the nest too (see video below). It was noticeable, too, that it was only 9F who provoked this response. 5R barely even looked up whenever 8F took to the air. Soon 9F realised that staying on the nest was a much more sensible option and she remained there for the rest of the morning.

By mid-afternoon, with 5R still fish-less, the juveniles started to become active again. 8F made one very long gliding flight out towards Lax Hill and then 9F set off on a shorter circuit around the bay. By now we knew what was going to come next. Within seconds of the female taking off, 5R had left his perch and was chasing her again. Like earlier, 9F got the message, and returned to the nest.

At 5:30pm 5R went fishing again; and this time he was successful. Half an hour later he returned to bay with a small roach and delivered it straight to the nest, where 9F was waiting. She ate all the fish and 5R showed no aggression at all. Later on though, when she went for another fly, he chased her again. It was now clear that the only time 9F was able to fly for any length of time, was when 5R was away from the bay. Unlike her mate, 9F’s mother showed no signs of aggression whatsoever.

So what is going on? Well, to be honest, we don’t know. It is now clear that the aggression 5R showed on Friday when 9F first flew, was not a case of mistaken identity. His behaviour today shows that, for whatever reason, he is objecting to the sight of the young female flying in the bay. This seems totally inexplicable, especially as his mate acting normally with her daughter. All we can hope is that, eventually, 5R will stop doing it.

There was some positive news this evening. Volunteer Chris Ditchburn – who has been monitoring the nest – said that after 7pm both juveniles had been flying while 5R was present. So perhaps he is starting to relent? We certainly hope so.