Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Drama at the nest

The Sea Eagle chicks are now seven weeks old and still growing rapidly. They are much more active on the nest now, pulling apart their own food when the adults are away although Iona still tries to feed them, tearing off tiny pieces of food as if they were still very small. Their diet has been very varied this week with fish, seabirds, pieces of a dead seal etc. and yesterday Fingal excelled himself by bringing in a mink. The chicks made short work of it but had to share it with their mother who is obviously very partial to mink.

We have yet to find out the sexes of the two chicks but, if I had to make a guess I would say that we have a male and a female as one chick is much bigger than the other and with only two days between hatching there would not usually be such a large size difference. The larger bird has already started standing on the edge of the nest and exercising its wings although it will be three to five weeks or more before it is ready to fledge. It's always a frightening time for those of us watching the nest when the chicks are wing-flapping as they stand right at the edge of the nest and it's a long way down if they slip.

Visitors at the viewing hide
Visitors at the viewing hide.  Photo Sue Dewar
Yesterday afternoon there was plenty of drama with the local Buzzard coming rather too close to the nest for comfort again. We can just hear the Buzzard chicks calling for food in the background, so the temptation for the adult to steal a piece of food from the eagle nest must have brought the adult Buzzard in.

It was not a good plan, though, as both adult eagles were at the nest and Fingal flew up, flipped over backwards with his talons in the air, and tried to grab the Buzzard. Although he didn't manage to catch it, the Buzzard got the message and took off with Fingal in hot pursuit. Our chicks are now much the same size as the Buzzard so we weren't worried that they were at risk, but the parent birds were outraged at the audacity of the smaller raptor trying to take the food that they had caught for their own chicks. It was an exciting time for our visitors and ourselves, but after half an hour everything had settled down and the nest returned to being a peaceful family roost.

Next week I am on annual leave so I can only imagine how much the chicks will have grown by the time I come back.

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