Thursday updates

At 07.45 this morning 33 returned from fishing with this huge roach! Maya promptly relieved him of it and all of the chicks stood up in anticipation of getting a good feed. However then no-one seemed to know quite what to do and we thought maybe the sheer size of the fish was just too overwhelming! However all became clear a few minutes later that Maya did not want to share as she proceeded to eat most of the fish herself!

Shortly afterwards all 6 members of the family were together again as 33 returned to the nest to mantle as there was another intrusion in the bay from one of the unpaired males from the area.

The sun has finally started to shine again here in Rutland and in particular Saturday is looking like a scorcher! At the time of writing there are still a few places left on our evening Osprey cruise so book now before they get snapped up!

Lloyd of the rings

Lloyd of the rings

Early this morning Lloyd our field officer and other staff members set out for the Manton Bay nest. The mission was to ring our fantastic four! All chicks were adorned with a grey BTO ring, and a blue coloured ring. By attaching rings to the birds we are able to gain information on their whereabouts, their age and where they hatched from.

We now have the latest Osprey additions: 054, 055, 056 and 057! Of the four chicks, two are female (now with ring 054 and 057) and two males (ring 055 and 056). 054 being the first to hatch and 057 being the fourth chick to hatch.

All photos by Dave Cole

They are all healthy and we look forward to seeing them take their first flight in the next few weeks!

Flapping in the rain

It’s been a soggy week for the Manton Bay chicks so we are glad to see they are all looking well!

The chicks are sleeping, preening, wing stretching and flapping far more often than previous weeks. In 2-3 weeks time they should be strong enough to make their first flight from the nest under Maya’s watchful eye.

This afternoon there were fish deliveries and more nest exploring. At around 3 pm we saw 33 and Maya mantling while the chicks close to the nest floor. There was an intruding osprey, and it was incredible to watch the Manton Bay pair working together.

Keep an eye on the fabulous parental teamwork and fantastic fours flapping on our webcam!

Up to his usual twigs

Up to his usual twigs

Over the last few days Maya and 33 have been role-model parents to their brood of four. During daylight hours Maya has been consistently feeding the chicks by tearing off morsels of fish that the little ones are able to swallow.

33 has increased his number of daily fishing trips, offering a colourful variety of fish including roach, perch and something looking like it was from a garden heist!

There is already a visible size difference between the first and last hatched chick as demonstrated in a Sound of Music fashion below .

The first two chicks seem to be fed more frequently however Maya is consciously moving around the nest or leaning in to feed the smallest (most recently hatched) chick.

One of the larger sized chicks is already strong enough to leave the nest cup!

Today 33 has been conscious coupling, and looked as if he was helping Maya share the feeding duties!

However, having four demanding chicks has not swayed 33’s from his first love…

It is still quite rare to see ospreys raise four strong chicks ready for migration by early September but so far so good, these two parents are something special.

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

Following on from the diversity of eggs from a couple of weeks ago.. here’s a little blog about the fluffy, streamlined, colourful and perfectly designed world of feathers!

Feathers have been used by humans for hundreds of years as fashion statements, writing implements, pillow stuffings and in every kid’s arts and crafts basics box… but what about their intended purpose, and on their intended owners?
Feathers are unique to birds. Think about that for a second. Since the first feathery dinosaur (previously thought to be the archaeopteryx, but now science’s thinking is that feathers may have been found on species earlier than this, but not fossilised terribly well), birds have retained these specialised structures to enable them to fly, keep warm, attract a mate and camouflage themselves from predators. There are no other groups of animals alive on the planet today with feathers, other than birds, how crazy is that!

Some birds possess feathers specially designed for silent flight: like owls. Their feathers have bizarre serrated edges that break up the air flow and reduce drag, and therefore turbulence, which creates the usual ‘whoosh’ noise when a bird flies past you. Because of this, owls have become specialised hunters capable of sneaking up on their prey (photo below).

Other birds use their feathers for less mechanical reasons, preferring instead to waft, shake, jiggle or fluff their feathers up to attract a mate! The most fabulous example of that are of course the birds of paradise, which come in a myriad of exotic colours and ostentatious patterns. There is a famous outtake of David Attenborough attempting to do a piece to camera about the Greater bird of paradise, which is displaying very loudly above his head! Its bright yellow flank plumes fluffed up, spreading its wings in an arc and hopping about calling magnificently on the branch.

Displays of this extravagant variety are to attract a female and to out-compete other males in their territory, and what a display! Some birds of paradise have taken this ostentatious display to the very extreme, such as the long tailed widowbird or the ribbon tailed Astrapia… which have evolved such disproportionately long tails due to female sexual selection pressures, that they struggle to fly long distances with this feathery baggage! Females will therefore choose the males which are able to support their own weight!

Another bizarre, almost counter-intuitive bit of feather adaptation is showcased by the only non-waterproof diving bird: the cormorant. You heard it right! A diving, fish eating, water visiting bird lacks waterproofing feathers! But there is a method in this evolutionary madness: when cormorants dive for fish, they need to be able to sink to the appropriate depth, and waterlogging themselves makes them heavier, and reduces air bubbles which would bring them back to the surface. That’s why you will often see cormorants with their wings spread open like a pterodactyl on shorelines and on posts, drying themselves out after a morning fishing!