We’ve witnessed a fascinating couple of days at the Tweed Valley nest site this week. Having watched an empty nest for a few days we had begun to despair that the season was over for all of us ardent osprey watchers and followers, but all changed on Monday 19th. SS appeared at the nest and was joined soon after by female blue FS2. Just as we make a prediction about what we think may be happening it gets quashed by a new turn of events.
We had speculated that having mated with FS2 and her subsequent disappearance afterwards for weeks, she may have nested elsewhere. With the increasing absence of SS we wondered if perhaps he was away from his site raising a family with her, but both turning up together on the main nest has dispelled that little theory! If they had a family they would not have been together on this nest leaving the young exposed elsewhere. It just wouldn’t happen.
SS had a fish in his talons and at her first appearance he didn’t seem too happy, turning away from her, dropping his wings and mantling in characteristic fashion. Is that the osprey equivalent of talk to the hand? However, after a settling period, a more relaxed SS allowed FS2 to come forward and take the remaining fish from his talons and to eat it herself.
Bonding and nest tidying
After feeding for ten minutes SS took the fish back from FS2. She then flew up on to the perch and SS fed on the remains. That is quite a bonding situation between the two birds and there was no sign of Mrs. O about anywhere – she hadn’t been seen for a few days.
SS then flew off leaving FS2 alone at the nest. He returned 40 minutes later and landed beside FS2 and they did some nest tidying, moving sticks around. They stayed together for a further 20 minutes until SS flew off and then much later FS2 left the nest.
Look who’s back now!
Just when we were beginning to think that SS and FS2 have formed a partnership, who should appear on the nest the next day but Mrs. O. Firstly, she was alone and calling loudly and doing some nest tidying, when SS flew in and joined her. She was on the perch and he was in the nest and she dropped down to sit beside him. They seemed fairly amicable and no mantling of wings.
Mrs. O was persistently calling out with high pitched squawks and this continued for some time. When SS didn’t seem to pay any attention, her tone softened and pitch lessened to a degree. Unfortunately this didn’t last and she soon pumped up the volume again.
SS squatted down into the nest and began digging out a scrape with his legs into the mossy material on the floor of the nest. Mrs. O kept up her constant calling and he flew off leaving her alone. She then dropped into the main nest and squatted down into a prone position, bobbing her head up and down and calling.
She remained like that for a while until he returned. After a few minutes he joined her in the nest but positioned himself with his back to her. She stood back up into normal posture and continued to call persistently and on they continued like that.
Good guy or cad?
So is SS really a nice bird who just can’t make his mind up between the two females and gives fish to both or is he a cad? With no eggs or family to defend, and being part of a small population of available breeding ospreys, is this the best thing to do? Any osprey advice lines, for sure, should they exist, would be advising to “keep your options open SS”!
Next year if all three return, it would no doubt be a race between the females to get to breed on this site with SS. Then serious battle lines would need to be drawn to defend the site in order to raise a family. No sharing would be tolerated; it would be a case of the best female wins. Unless of course another male turns up too, to really upset the order of things!
Adult behaviour insight
So, the season is not over and we are witnessing some incredible behaviour that we have never seen before. In previous years we have just watched ospreys raising a family and it has been quite idyllic. This year we are gaining real insight into some behaviour between adults and how they conduct themselves in this situation and the dynamics of their relationships with each other.
Watch the latest videos of the nest