Whilst we wait in eager anticipation for the first Osprey to arrive in Manton Bay, here is a recap of last year’s events…
Unfortunately, no chicks were raised in Manton Bay last season, as most of you will know. The unringed female of the past four years, now called Maya, arrived on 17th March, but her long-standing partner, 5R(04), did not return. He is presumed to have come to grief on migration. On 6th April, a four year old Rutland male, 28(10), took an interest in the nest, and Maya accepted him as her new partner. Although only four-years-old and inexperienced, he was learning fast, and a full clutch of eggs were laid. The eggs were laid very quickly after 28 came along, only three days. Normally it takes up to two weeks between mating and egg-laying. Last year, as Maya had been waiting so long for 5R to return, she must have already been in the correct breeding condition. The swift arrival of an egg took 28 by surprise, and to begin with he didn’t quite know what to do with it. He soon got the hang of it though, and was taking his turn at incubating after bringing fish for Maya.
Regrettably though, the domestic bliss was spoiled soon after the third egg was laid. Another Rutland male, 33(11), wanted this nest for himself, and he relentlessly and aggressively harassed the pair until he succeeded in chasing 28 away. 33 was only three years old last year and also inexperienced, but he was obviously stronger than 28. This could have been due to 28’s slightly damaged right wing, which may have made him less manoeuvrable in the air. It did not affect his fishing though, nor does it affect his migrations.
Eventually Maya accepted 33(11)’s presence, and when he was on the nest alone he kicked out her eggs. The eggs were not evicted with malicious intent by 33, they just got in the way when he was nest scraping – a natural behaviour for males at the start of the season.
For the rest of the season, Maya and 33 stayed in the Bay together and they gradually formed a pair bond. They continued to add sticks to the nest and defend it from intruders, but no more eggs were laid. We hope that this season things will be different!