Posted: Friday 29th April 2016 by Emyr MWT

Blue 24's Eggs

A week ago today, last Friday, 20th April, Blue 24 started to fish for herself again. Monty's fish sharing had come to an abrupt end as soon as Glesni laid her second egg.


The wonderful Citizen Science research we are doing into Monty's incubation times at his nest shows this manifesting itself as a significant increase in Nest 1 incubation times from DAY 3 onwards - the day Glesni laid her second egg.

 


On average, Monty spends around three hours per day incubating. Here's the same information as a table:

 

This week we have seen a significant decline in the amount of incubating by Blue 24. We have observed her off the eggs for several hours at a time some days.

So on Wednesday, 27th April, we decided to try to film Blue 24's nest from above once she had gone fishing to see (i) how much nesting material had been added to the platform this year and (ii) how many eggs she had. The problem was, she just would not go fishing when we were all set up!

We waited and waited and were just about to give up for the day with the light fading when suddenly an intruder osprey appeared - it was Dai Dot.

Monty escorted him off Nest 1 and both males flew directly over Nest 2 - Blue 24's nest. Suddenly Blue 24 took to the air too and soon enough all three ospreys has disappeared into the distance down the Dyfi estuary. This was our chance.

From the 360 Observatory we fired up the drone equipped with a HD camera, had one last look to see if Blue 24 was returning, she wasn't, then sent the drone over towards the nest.

 


Within a few seconds the drone was 100 feet above the nest. We gently descended and the first thing we noticed was the lack of nesting material on the nest - you could see straight through it! This confirmed our suspicions that the nest was scantily furnished - we had seen little evidence of nestoration activities.

 

The drone slowly descends to within a few feet of Blue 24's nest.


By the time the drone was around 20 feet above the nest we could clearly make out the eggs - here's the video:

 

 

So poor old Blue 24 has managed to lay three eggs with minimal investment from Monty with just a handful of sticks for a nest. She's desperate to breed.

With Blue 24 spending an ever decreasing amount of time incubating her eggs, I'm afraid there is only one likely outcome here - she will eventually abandon them. Her self-preservation will take priority over breeding for one year.

Let's answer one frequently asked question we get:

Will you intervene and incubate the eggs yourself, then rear the young ospreys?

No, we won't, and there are several reasons for this.

1. The eggs may already be non-viable.

2. The disruption that we would cause would be significant. There is also every chance that Blue 24 may try and take over Glesni's nest, or at least be disruptive for the rest of the season, which would compromise its productivity. By trying to help we could easily make the situation a whole lot worse.

3. This would be a huge undertaking. We do not have the facilities, the resources nor the expertise to rear birds of prey in captivity.

4. There are many obstacles in terms of licensing that we would need to overcome, and in a very short time - we just can't take the eggs, they are protected by law.


What we will do is review the situation at the end of the summer and talk to the regulatory agency, Natural Resources Wales, with regards to what, if anything, needs changing for 2017 now we have gathered this valuable information. We were instructed in 2010 to put this nest platform up and take Nest 1 down. Monty and Nora then bred on Nest 1 of course, so we couldn't take it down.

So there we have it, Blue 24 has three eggs and was back at the nest with a trout around an hour after she flew off with Monty and Dai.


She returned alone and we haven't seen Dai since, but I doubt this story has run its course. How uncanny that it was Dai Dot, not Blue 24's hunger and urge to fish, that was responsible for lifting Blue 24 off her nest, thereby allowing us to take the short video of her eggs.

Now if only e-Harmony did ospreys.

 

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