We have fantastic news that all three eggs have hatched and there are now three very healthy looking chicks for the doting parents of this pair in their eleventh season together at the main nest site. The first two chicks hatched on the 29th May, hatching of the second chick was watched live on screen by the volunteer on duty mid-afternoon and then the third chick hatched out in spectacular style on 1st June. Part of the egg could be seen, although slightly obscured by the nesting material, movement was noticed, followed by the emergence of a chick who seemed to break free at lightning speed with a ‘ta dah,’ entrance into the world!
The parents were having a touching moment where the male was busy feeding his partner and both seemed to not even notice the arrival of number three, despite the flourishing birth scene.
After the female had eaten enough fish, she took the remaining portion from white leg SS and began to feed the young chicks. The two older chicks were very hungry but the new arrival did not seem too interested in feeding.
To play dead or not to play dead?
A fascinating scene played out a little later on where another bird was pestering the parents at the nest. The ospreys both positioned themselves into the nest with the chicks in the middle and we could see the shadow of a large bird repeatedly flying over the nest. The parents were extremely upset and were alarm calling and posturing but all the while they resisted the temptation to leave the site to deal with the intruder. They are very experienced parents and they instinctively defended their chicks by sticking with them and guarding them, as to leave and give chase would place the chicks in very real harm. Leaving the chicks would expose them to predation from any other lurking chancer such as a crow, squirrel, jay, buzzard or passing sparrowhawk.
We have witnessed scenes of intruder birds harassing the parents at the nest many times over the years, often it is a another harmless, nosey osprey checking out the territory but always we have noted the behaviour of the chicks to be the defensive ‘play dead’ position in the nest when there is danger. However, at just a couple of days old, these young chicks did not play dead but were sitting upright with necks outstretched as though mum and dad were about to feed them. This begs the question – is fear a learned behaviour? As the chicks grow, is it instinct or do the parents teach the young to play dead?
We are always learning more about these birds and their behaviour and each season brings new surprises.
At the heron nest site there remains one young heron, now adult sized but we have not seen any indication of fledging. The bird wanders around the nesting area through the branches of the trees but there has been no serious effort in wing stretching and developing those flight muscles. There has also been no sign of parent birds feeding the youngster either, although it may be that this happens before the cameras come on. Worryingly though, it does appear to be fairly lethargic and so we hope that it will be ok.
Osprey Time Flies
The much awaited celebration book, ‘Osprey Time Flies, 10 years of osprey in the Tweed Valley’ has now been launched and this has been part of a collaborative project with St. Ronan’s Primary School, The Tweed Valley Osprey Project and The Friends of Kailzie Wildlife, this was made possible with funding for its production from Awards 4All Scotland.
A Rarity Spotted
On visiting the school to take some photos of the children with the new book, I spotted a fantastic red kite flying over the school being mobbed by a jackdaw as I was on my way out of the school gates. It circled for several minutes and then took off in a westerly direction towards Peebles. That was a fantastic sighting and a real rarity for this area. My camera had no batteries, of course…
Thanks for reading!