Watching the Manton Bay chicks hatching over the past few days has been wonderful and a real privilege, but sadly, things haven’t gone so well at Site B.
In April we reported that 03(97) had reclaimed the nest after a long battle with two other males 51(11) and 30(10). The initial clutch of eggs were lost in the fighting, but a week later the female laid a second clutch (without being able to see into the nest we don’t know how many eggs, but there was at least one).
For two weeks the birds swapped incubation duties just as we would expect, with very few intrusions from the two males who had caused so much trouble previously. All seemed to be well again.
Then, without warning, and for no obvious reason, 03 and the female suddenly stopped incubating the eggs. There was no fighting, no intrusions, they just simply stopped sitting on the eggs one evening. That happened just over a week ago and since then there have been no indications that the female will attempt to lay again. Exactly what prompted the birds to give up on the second clutch of eggs is unclear, but the most likely explanation is that they weren’t viable in the first place. During the fighting for the nest, the female hardly ate at all and, as a result, was in very poor condition. Bearing this in mind, we were surprised that she laid the replacement clutch so quickly. It is likely that she was deficient in calcium and so perhaps the eggs shells of the second clutch were simply too thin? Whatever the case, the birds were obviously able to sense that they were not going to hatch, and so gave up incubating them.
It is very sad that 03 won’t be adding to his tally of 32 chicks this year, but his various offspring who are breeding, should help to make up for that. The three Manton Bay chicks have made 03 a grandfather for the 46th time; and with his offspring breeding at four other sites this year, that tally should exceed 50 quite easily within the next fortnight. If you add in that he has great grandsons breeding at a further two nests and a great granddaughter breeding at Cors Dyfi in Wales then you really start to realise just how important this one Osprey is.
If you would like to find out more about the legacy of 03(97) – or Mr Rutland – as he is often referred to, then make sure you tune in to BBC Springwatch tomorrow evening at 8pm on BBC 2 when there will be a special feature on the bird who, we hope you’ll agree, is the most important Osprey anywhere in either England or Wales.