So, Saturday dawned and we eagerly looked to see who we had on the nest and the answer during the morning was……no one. Eventually, JW6 appeared and Samson brought her two large fish during the day, both pike. He kept showing her the centre of the nest, even lying down in it to encourage her down and to get on with laying an egg, but it was all in vain. In the evening, the mayflies were hatching and swarming over the surface of the river, bringing lots of fish to the surface to leap and feed. Unfortunately for 4 of the fish, Samson was watching from a convenient tree and snaffled them when they were too intent on mayflies and not looking out for danger! They were small but JW6 found three of them very tasty, although Samson kept the fourth for himself. She was on and off the nest for most of the day and it was clear that she retained possession.
Sunday morning saw the nest empty again apart from a couple of quick visits by Samson. Then, at about 1330, a female arrived and, surprise, surprise, it was the dark lady. When Samson came back with a fish, he looked a bit shocked but, ever the pragmatist, he handed over the fish to her, had an unsuccessful attempt to mate and then went and sat in the dead tree. He brought her another fish later on and she did some nest tidying and, as the evening darkened, she eventually flew off to roost.
She was back in the nest on the Monday morning, always keeping an eye out for any sign of JW6 but she remained in residence for most of the day. Samson seemed reluctant to fish for her but was eventually persuaded and she settled in, moving bits around the nest and generally making herself at home. She left the nest on a couple of occasions and, it was during one of these short absences in the early evening that Samson suddenly returned, flapping his wings high to greet the arrival of JW6. She had hardly landed when the dark lady came swooping back and made a dive at her, talons extended. JW6 screamed at her and Samson wisely departed the nest at some speed.
The dark lady circled and came in even faster, clearly intent on knocking JW6 from the nest. The two females collided and crashed off the side of the nest and through the branches lower down in the nest and neighbouring trees. In the video below, JW6 can be seen flying away towards the river and the dark lady must have departed in another direction. Samson is the bird seen flying in the extreme top right hand corner of the picture. It was a violent end to the dark lady’s tenure of the nest as JW6 returned later in the evening and no further sight of the dark lady has been reported.
Over the next few days, JW6 has been slightly more visible but still disappears for long stretches. She has occasionally allowed him to mate with her but usually refuses him and the window for laying eggs this season, realistically, has now closed. So it will be another year without a family for Samson.
The last few days has been a bit of a mystery as the camera electronics suddenly decided to go on strike and I haven’t yet found the guilty component. I have also not been able to be down watching from the ground as frequently as I would have liked but, as I opened the car door today, I was met by the dulcet tones of JW6 demanding fish and the sight of Samson, ever hopeful, attempting to mate with her. So it seems the pattern is now established and JW6 remains in charge. The weather continues to be challenging for fishing but pike is now back on the menu and that seems to have eased Samson’s supply problems. I can only think that a temporary disturbance where he fishes for pike must have caused him to avoid the area for a couple of weeks.
Hopefully, the drama will slow down for a bit so I will end this blog with a series of pictures showing some of the human rubbish that is left lying around that Samson picks up and brings into the nest. Just imagine the dangers some of it would pose if there were eggs or chicks in the nest.