This year continues to throw up new surprises and new experiences and so I thought I’d better update you all on what is happening at Border Ospreys. Our new female is gaining familiarity with the area and spent a lot of the time during her first couple of weeks here flying around, fishing and fending off Samson’s frequent and clumsy amorous advances! Things are now beginning to settle down and, dare I say it, the pair are even starting to create a pattern of behavior. It is fascinating to see her learning and starting to behave as the mistress of a nest site and territory. It reminds me of a set of Christmas lights. When you first get them out of the box, the odd one or two work but, as you work on them, more and more light up. There’s a sense of that with NH0. Slowly but surely her instincts are starting to activate, often as a result of Samson’s coaxing. She’s staying much closer to home, usually waiting for him to provide a meal for her and returning to the nest to collect it from him (although her impatience/appetite sometimes gets the better of her and she goes off and fishes for herself). She has successfully seen off a couple of intruders and, most excitingly, she has started to bring nesting material in, a sure sign of the way her thoughts are turning. She still has a way to go. She was seen twice bringing in a long stick last week and then being unable to fathom out how to land on the nest with it clutched vertically in her talons. The problem was solved on both occasions by her catching the trailing end on the edge of the nest during a low pass and having the other end wrenched out of her grasp!
NH0 trying to work out how to land on the nest with a vital stick!
Samson has also settled down and is content to fish for her on demand, although he sometimes eats part of his catch in front of her before handing it over which means he is subjected to outraged food begging calls from her. He still is keen to attempt mating and, although this will continue throughout the season and hopefully help strengthen the bond for following years, it is most unlikely that there will be eggs or chicks this year.
On Thursday last week, we had some excitement when a male intruding osprey came into the area. He landed on the nest perch and seemed quite content to stay. Samson was a little slow initially to take action but then started dive-bombing him from the top of the nest tree and forced him to move to the dead tree where our female was sitting. Another circuit by Samson and then he dived in, talons extended, and knocked the intruder out of the tree. Eventually, after some aerial combat, the intruder headed away downstream with Samson in close escort and peace resumed. A family happened to be standing by me looking through my scope at our birds and witnessed the whole incident. I am grateful to my two young assistants, William and Noah, who kept a running commentary of which birds were where and, in particular, to William whose eagle eyes picked out the combatants returning from distance at one stage. I hope that both boys enjoyed their visit and will have exciting memories of the spectacle they witnessed. This bird was ringed and I have therefore asked for more information about him and I’ll let you know when I hear back.
Samson sees off the male intruder from the dead tree while NH0 looks on from lower down.
The male intruder’s leg ring. Who is he?
Two days later, an unringed female osprey intruded and NH0 displayed very aggressively to see her off, mantling (half extending her wings and flapping them to make herself look as big as possible) and screaming. As is usually the case, the resident bird of the same sex as the intruder takes the leading role in deterring the incomer. It was another encouraging sign that NH0 now sees the nest area as “hers” to be defended from other females, although she did need Samson’s assistance to ensure that the intruder left the area.
So, although there is little action to be seen on the camera, outside it is a very different picture and I would encourage visitors to take the time to walk alongside the river. You may well be treated to some exciting behavior and flying and I’m often there to interpret what’s going on.
In my next blog, I’ll let you know about the ringed male intruder. We’re also asking for suggestions from staff and customers alike for names for our beautiful young female osprey. You can contact us via email, comments under this blog or by dropping a note in our suggestions box at the restaurant. The closing date for suggestions is Sunday 17th June and we will announce our female’s new name in the next blog.
8th June 2018