Thursday, 31 July 2008

Squirrels galore

It seems now as the ospreys are becoming harder to spot the red squirrels are becoming less so. Up to 8 have been seen from the squirrel hide off the Waterfall Walk. We have seen up to four on the live cameras and our whiteboard becomes choc a block with the sightings as they are about every 5 minutes at times. We now have a second live camera from the feeders, as the one on the live nest boxes proved rather fruitless once the great tits had fledged. This is doubling visitors chances of seeing a red squirrel, when they come into the wildlife room. For many English visitors it is their first sighting of a red squirrel in years and they recall the times when they used to see them as a child at home but unfortunately they no longer do. If you compare a map of the distribution of the red squirrel between 1954 and now, that area has almost halfed. Whereas in 1954 there was a good distribution from Scotland down to the south of England, now it only goes as far as the north of England. Sad times.

Are you there?

After the last entry our male did go off and get another fish and sat and ate the head before bringing it in to the female. Then the two chicks landed on the nest and that was the first time I had seen them both all day. The female started the proceedings off by feeding the juveniles but pretty soon they were ripping bits of fish off for themselves. One juvenile ate while mantling his wings and guarding the fish from the other juvenile. Only when it was finished did the second juvenile get a shot.
At one point it was hard to tell who was who as the female intruder flew in scaring the juvenile off the nest and then our female landed then took off, then landed again with the male coming and going and the intruder flying in and out.
How am I meant to see rings or head markings if they wont sit still!!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Come fly with me......

I've got empty nest syndrome! As soon as the cameras came on this morning, an empty nest greeted me. Both chicks had fledged. When? I dont know. All I know was that yesterday at 5:30pm they were still on the nest and hadnt fledged tho' one had been looking ready to go all day. I am quite surprised that both chicks had gone together, although one might have went last night and one this morning. I am also surprised that they are both off the nest,as in my experience they normally hang around on the nest. However, one has been spotted sitting off to the side in a dead tree.
"Mum" has been on and off the nest in response to our osprey intruder who keeps flying in. We had an excellent view of the male sitting in the same dead tree as the juvenile. He was sitting in a branch below the juvenile feasting on the head of a large fish. His meal was rudely interrupted however, when the intruder came down on top of him, he reacted but much to our consternation dropped the fish. I guess he better go off fishing again!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Feet firmly on the ground

Just to let you know that there is still no fledging here at DML either from the ospreys or the two remaining Barn Owl chicks.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Marked improvement

One chick seems to be determined to master this flying malarkey. It has been quite active when allowed and started with some rapid wing flapping. Then this was followed by wing flapping followed by a little jump. Next we had a little lift off. Now it has progressed to rising about 6 inches above the nest. The second chick watches on bemused.
This has all been done with repeated interruptions from our osprey intruder who seems to want to make her presence known. Everytime she comes in the chicks instinctively go down into the nest cup and flying lessons are disbanded until it is safe to come out again.
At 53 and 51 days old they are ripe for take off. Watch this space.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Heated argument!

Well the weather has improved finally, with today and yesterday being glorious sunshine. This has encouraged the chicks to get up and be active. The older chick was up practising its wing flapping movements this morning but he accidentally stepped back and stood on his sibling. This chick then got up and an argument ensued. They were pecking at each other with wings out and were vying for space on the nest. "This nest ain't big enough for the both of us..."

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Are you sure its summer?

Our osprey chicks have been very quiet this week considering that it is nearly time for them to be flying. However, I don't think the weather has helped. We have had one very blustery day where the chicks both stood up in the wind with their wings outstretched. They stood there getting buffeted by the wind which was just about knocking them off their feet and after a couple of minutes decided that actually maybe it wasn't a good day to practice and went down and lay in the nest cup. That was them for the rest of the day.

The next two days were much the same, apart from it was torrential rain rather than wind putting them off. The female sat off to the side on a nearby tree so people coming in to the room thought that everyone had abandoned the nest! When will these birds fly?

Friday, 11 July 2008

Barn Owl... and then there were two.

(Photo of another barn owl chick by Allison Henderson).

Unfortunately it seems our youngest Barn owl has died in the box. All three were seen on Wednesday but yesterday our volunteer noted this one lying prostrate on the floor of the box.

On Wednesday it did seem the two older ones were "ganging up" on the younger but no real aggression was seen. If anything I thought this one might have been eaten by its siblings so it seems a shame that it has just seemed to succumb in the box.

That's what these are for.....

Our oldest osprey chick has been getting more active on the nest the past week. It has been starting to stand up more on the nest and gingerly flap its wings. Its sibling has so far shown no interest in such matters and keeps well out of the way, lying in the nest cup. The chicks are now 40 and 38 days old, so it is now only just over a week till fledging age.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Ringing accomplished!

(Photo copyright Robert Scott)
The two chicks were ringed yesterday at 33 and 31 days old and all went well. The female knew something was in the offing as she was unusually absent from the nest when the camera first came on (10am) but the weather was kind, being bright but not too hot or windy, and the chicks were at little risk.

The chicks were removed from the nest about 12:30pm and taken down to ground level to have their rings put on. They lay quite flat against the ground, which is their instinct on the nest when predators approach. However, unlike the nest they didn't quite camouflage in as well. Feathers were taken from the birds for analysis to determine sex and once we know the results I will let you know on here.

Once all the measurements were taken they were put back into the nest after about 40 minutes. The chicks immediately lay flat on the nest and after a while were seen to poke their heads up. The female stayed away until 4pm until she was sure all was well and when she did come in she was quickly followed by the male with a fish. She then fed her chicks while keeping an eye out to check that the humans had definitely gone home.

Foxy lady!

Yesterday morning while waiting for the ringing to occur we were treated to a view of a fox on the live squirrel feeder camera. It came out of the bracken and sniffed around the mown area behind the feeders. It seemed quite relaxed and was there for about 15 mintues rooting in amongst the vegetation. It had very dark fur looking almost black in places, which one member of staff suggested that it meant it was a male. So maybe the title should instead read "Foxy laddie"!!