Juno finally allowed us to see that there were 3 eggs and, at present, we are on track for the hatching window to open on 30 May.
She has continued to make me eat my words of last year and she has been an attentive and careful incubator – when she has been allowed on the eggs. Samson clearly feels he has a lot of lost incubating time to make up as there have been no eggs for the past 4 years and is proving difficult to move when he is incubating. His main role is to catch fish and he’s been doing that, despite some really unpleasant conditions, but she should be doing the vast majority of the incubating and that’s just not the case during the day. She is willing to do so and often flies up to take her turn but he won’t budge and she hasn’t yet got the confidence to force him off the nest. At first, she would land on the nest perch but he would just ignore her. She then started landing on the nest itself and that worked some of the time but she will have to learn the technique that her predecessor, Delilah, had off to a tee. She would get her shoulder under his keel and with a quick flick roll him off the eggs and over. By the time he recovered, she was safely nestled down and he had no option other than to fly off. Juno will work it out but at present he is enjoying hunkering down out of the wind for long stretches of the day and she has to find a sheltered perch as best she is able until he decides otherwise. She became so frustrated earlier this week that she took herself off for a very quick trip to Kielder and back and was spotted intruding on their Nest 6. She was allowed to incubate when she returned and Samson was able to mollify her with a fish not long after.
It’s been mainly quiet as is often the case during incubation but there has been an unringed female osprey that hung around for several days and caused the pair a bit of concern. The worst was on Monday 9 May when she had a real go at Juno who was on the nest with Samson. The two females battled on the nest and in the immediate surrounds but Samson, bless him, stayed tight on the eggs, protecting them from any harm and probably got well trampled upon for his troubles. She now appears to have left the area but Juno does occasionally patrol the skies when Samson is incubating just to make sure that she hasn’t sneaked back.
I’ve mentioned before how there seems to be a constant battle between Samson and Brian (my colleague, photographer and fellow observer), as to whether or not Samson can get onto the nest with a freshly caught fish without Brian being able to take a photo of him. Samson is winning by about 978-3 at the moment since we started Border Ospreys! Well, it now appears that the competition has been extended to include my taking screenshots of events on the nest. I came in one morning to see that one of them had erected a screen of beech leaves and branches, totally obscuring the centre of the nest and, potentially, any views of chicks from the camera. However, they had reckoned without the weather and one sustained gust of wind restored the view and deposited their screen over the side of the nest. I wait to see what they think of next.
Well, I think that’s about it for news. We are now just over half way through the incubation period for the first egg and excitement is mounting here. I probably won’t write again before The Big Event unless there is something important to say but please keep your fingers and toes crossed for this family and come down and say hello if you’re visiting.