Only two

We have some more sombre news to report I’m afraid. The fourth chick, whose arrival we were eagerly awaiting, has sadly died. Looking back through the recordings we have discovered that it hatched yesterday evening. A crack was visible in the egg at 19:49, and you can just see the chick moving inside it in the below video, in the gap between those awkward sticks!

Bigger crack PAINT

At 20:04 the chick hatched fully, just visible here in front of Maya.

Maya stayed on the chicks all night, keeping them warm and dry. This morning, volunteer Peter informed us that she had been moving some egg shell at 07:26 this morning, making us think that perhaps the chick had just hatched.

Unfortunately, due to the sticks at the front of the nest, our view is impinged and we found it difficult to work out what was going on. But when a fish came in and there were clearly only two chicks, we knew something had to be wrong. We then had a view of the egg, and at first thought that it hadn’t hatched yet, but then it rotated and we could see it was just an empty shell.

Egg shell

On further scrutiny we noticed that there appeared to be a downy lump lying motionless in the nest near the other two chicks. Thanks to the recording system we were able to then rewind throughout the day and into yesterday, discovering when the chick hatched. We then found evidence that the chick was already motionless in the nest as early as 06:30 this morning. In the picture below you can just see a head to the right of the chick on the right…

With dead chick

As she did with the other chick, at 14:31 Maya removed the body of this one from the nest.

We expect that this chick did not live for very long after hatching, perhaps even only a matter of minutes. We can’t know why it did not survive, but it’s most likely that it simply wasn’t strong enough. Laying four eggs is fairly unusual, having them all hatch even less so. Chicks dying soon after hatching is not an uncommon thing, it is nature and it’s true that you have to be strong to survive. Raising a brood of two is still fantastic, and we are thankful that the two chicks are both healthy, are feeding extremely well and look very strong.


The larger of the two is already becoming very adventurous!

Adventurous chick




8 responses to “Only two”

  1. Dee Brigstock

    Finger crossed for the rest of the family.

  2. Sheila Elliott

    Oh dear, that is such sad news, but it is good that Maya has two strong osplets to care for and they will probably have a much better chance than had their been four. It has been an odd year.

  3. Mike Simmonds

    How sad Kayleigh. Let’s hope the rest of the season goes well.

  4. Michael G. Martin

    To Everyone

    I am quite sadden by the loss of Your Second Chick. Sometimes Nature can be cruel as we perceive it at times. But looking at the beauty that all of you bring to us will surely brighten Our Days to Come

    Michael G. Martin

  5. Alice Dovell

    Oh dear Kayleigh, this is sad news again. Could there have been some virus or is it not uncommon to lose chicks at this stage? It is usually such a productive nest. On the positive side at least the 2 remaining chicks will thrive.

    1. Kayleigh Brookes

      It’s not unusual for this to happen at this early stage, it just hasn’t happened on this nest before. Two chicks is still a great number to raise and these two look very healthy.

  6. Wendy

    How many breeding pairs are there this year, Kayleigh? Are they the same pairs as last year, or are there some new pairings?

    1. Kayleigh Brookes

      Hi Wendy, there are eight breeding pairs this season, seven are the same as last year and there is one new pairing of a Rutland male and a Scottish female on an off-site nest. We are hopeful all eight nests will be successful.