(My apologies for the quality of the photos which were taken in extremely challenging conditions of intense sunlight, often straight towards the cameras, and heat haze. My thanks to Brian Clark for the first photo of Freya and the two of Samson bringing back nesting material, and to Kate Sumner Wilson for the two of the fish delivery and subsequent carry out).
Our new female was ringed two years ago today, as a chick probably about 6 weeks old, a couple of weeks before she fledged. What a journey she could tell us she’d been on since then!
There’s not much new in the way of activity to report from Border Ospreys. Our birds are continuing to enjoy each other’s company and our new female is bonding closely with both Samson and the nest area. She’s now been with us for 2 months so we took the step to ask our customers, the readers of this blog and the staff to come up with suggestions for a name for her. We had some “interesting” ideas but she was never going to suit Osprey MacOsprey Face (thank you to whoever it was who suggested that one!) and we eventually settled on Freya. Freya was the Norse goddess of love, beauty and fertility, among other things (she was clearly a busy goddess), and we thought it a very appropriate name for our beautiful young female who hopefully will start a whole new dynasty of Border Ospreys next year; no pressure now, Freya!
Freya giving us the once over
I also promised to let you know about the ringed bird that intruded on the nest and dead tree. Unfortunately, I have yet to hear from the ringer so I can’t tell you anything more about its origins. The ringers are busy ringing and logging all the new chicks at the moment so it’s perhaps not surprising that I haven’t heard back but I’ll keep you informed.
Both Samson and Freya have been continuing to bring back nesting material to the nest but have also been making a few attempts to create another nest in the nearby dead tree. This is quite a common thing and is known as a so-called “frustration nest”, often built by birds that have no family to raise for whatever reason in a particular year. Sometimes it goes on to become the main nest if the previous nest had been damaged, for example, but often nothing more comes of it. I hope it’s the latter in this instance as the dead tree is not very strong and I would hate the idea of the pair starting to raise a family in a newly built nest and then the whole thing collapsing. The efforts to build this new structure are, to say the least, casual with only one or occasionally two sticks being brought in each day mainly by Samson. At this rate, it wouldn’t be finished by the end of next year, let alone the beginning of the breeding season, so I don’t think their hearts are in it.
Samson bringing in some material to the “frustration nest”
People visiting often ask me when the birds will leave as they have no chicks to look after, and the honest answer is that I don’t know. We have built up an idea of when the birds do certain things during the season when they are breeding; how long eggs take to hatch, how long before the chicks fly, how often does Samson bringing a fish etc etc. I’ve never seen Samson in this situation before and, of course, we are learning all the time with Freya. I imagine they will stay for a while yet. They will need to defend their territory from wandering ospreys and their migrating instincts probably won’t kick in just yet, so I guess that they will be around until next month. As you will remember from last year, Delilah left in mid Aug and Samson didn’t leave until the end of the month. It will be interesting to see what Samson and Freya do this year. All I can hope is that she makes sure that she puts the correct post code into her satnav so that she comes back here in Spring 2019. One thing we can be fairly confident that she will do is that, if she survives her migration south and the subsequent winter, she will come north again earlier than she did this year now she’s got a nest, a territory and a mate to which to return.
The pair are still exciting interest down by the river, spending hours just sitting(posing?), occasionally coming in with a stick (Freya is now very competent at dropping sticks onto the nest unlike I reported in my last blog) or some dead grass and sometimes just floating around the sky, seemingly with little plan as to why they are airborne. They are absent for part of each day either fishing or bathing but patience is often rewarded by them then returning to eat or dry out and preen. Lucky observers can watch when Samson brings back a fish when Freya is on the nest and can see him hand over the fish to her or, sometimes eat at least part of it himself which causes her to scream at him, angrily food begging at maximum volume!
Samson bringing in a nice bit of dinner with his usual dive to the nest and Freya flying off with what he left her.
I will write again when I have more news. Thank you for your invariably positive comments either by writing on this blog or chatting when I see you when you visit. It’s nice to know you’re out there!
1 July 2018