You will recall from my last blog we were left with the question still unanswered as to whether the female, leg ringed KX7, would stay or not. Well, the answer I have for you in this blog is that she probably will as she is still with us (that’s 7 weeks now!) and is looking very settled. There. I’ve said it. That should have her high tailing it out at first light tomorrow!
Joking apart, the pair are looking increasingly comfortable and settled with each other. In fact, they have set up such a routine that there’s been very little to report until recently. He has flown off and got her a fish in the morning. She has eaten it and then disappeared off to have a bath and a fly around the area, settling in a nearby tree on the far side of the river or in the dead tree to sit and sit, like ospreys do, until it’s time to shout for another fish which Samson normally provides in the early evening. He often eats away from the nest area as she sometimes nags him for some of his fish if he brings it where she can see him.
She has been displaying some very encouraging signs to show that she sees the area as her territory to be defended. She won’t tolerate crows coming near her and she chases them off. She is particularly intolerant of buzzards and I watched her recently chase one off that was circling on the far side of the river, not actually bothering her at all. She was doing a grand job until its mate got airborne and she had to beat a hasty retreat once she realised that she was outnumbered! This week, she saw an approaching female osprey intruder and she immediately got airborne with a very aggressive posture of legs (and talons) lowered. She chased it from the immediate vicinity and was later seen high in the sky, escorting it well away.
Samson’s behaviour has been changing over the last few days. Regular readers of my blog will remember last year that he started attempting to build a nest in the dead tree and I remarked that this was something that ospreys often do and that it is referred to as a frustration nest. He’s started again this year and has been (similarly to last year) both enthusiastic and unsuccessful. He has been driving KX7 mad as she sees him approaching and comes rushing in, only to find it’s a stick in his talons, not a nice juicy fish for her.
His enthusiasm for new nest building has only lasted a few days and he has now reverted to bringing in bits for the original nest. I was sad to see a huge lump of baler twine being brought in by him. He clearly mistakes the stuff for grass and tries to arrange it in the nest, little realising the peril he has brought back with him. Tangled around an adult bird’s legs or talons, it could easily snag on a tree branch and potentially lead to the bird’s death. A chick could also get tangled in it in the nest and choke. Unfortunately, the river brings lots of such debris down with it and there is little we can do. Whenever we visit the nest we remove any that we find but it is a great concern to us.
The other thing that has changed is that Samson is starting to ignore his mate’s calls for fish or is sometimes bringing back a fish and then not sharing it or eating most of it and leaving her only a small piece. As I’ve mentioned several times, she is much bigger than him and you’d therefore think it was quite a risky strategy to annoy her. I wonder if it is as a result of the advance of the season and the lowering of his instinctive drive to provide for her? At this time of year, if they were breeding, the chicks would no longer require a parent to feed them once the fish had been provided, they would be fledging and starting to explore the area and the female would be starting to loosen her bonds with both the family and the nest. She would then start to feed herself up in preparation for migrating in August. While most females are not averse to eating fish provided by the males, his priority has become to supply the chicks and less so the female. Perhaps, with no chicks to feed, Samson feels less need to bring back the steady supply of fish that he has done since KX7 arrived. It’s just speculation on my part but it does seem to be a noticeable trend.
There hasn’t been too much to see on the restaurant screen as they don’t spend a lot of time actually in view of the camera being as they are not breeding. However, he always brings her fish onto the nest to pass across to her so viewers/diners can’t afford to blink as they never know when there’s going to be a flurry of activity to watch. I was chatting to a group earlier this week in the restaurant and had just explained about the lack of screen time when Samson landed on the nest followed rapidly by KX7 and, not for the first time, the ospreys made me out to be a complete idiot!
Nevertheless, down by the river one or other and often both are seen for most of the day.
As you will have noticed, we have not yet named our female. We had a bit of a think about it and decided against naming her this year, not wishing to tempt fate. We have several ideas for names for her, assuming she returns next year, but if you think she suits a particular name, let us know and we’ll keep it in mind.
In the meantime, if you’re in the area please pop down and say hello and enjoy watching the two of them interact. Like all ospreys, they do a lot of sitting around and they are a lovely sight. If you’re lucky, you might even see a bit of sky dancing from him or intruder chasing from her; they are well worth watching. I’ll update you as they start to prepare for migration…..where has the season gone?
10 July 2019