It has been an absolutely fantastic week here and we are all totally egg-static as Maya laid the first egg on Thursday 31st March at approx. 23:30, after only 10 days of her and male 33(11) being reunited! Ospreys will lay eggs every two to three days, so it wasn’t long before a second egg was laid on Sunday 3rd April at 18:31, and we are now waiting to see whether Maya will lay a third or a fourth.
An Egg-cellent Week
Unlike other species of birds like Great Crested Grebes, which put on a spectacular courtship dance, an Ospreys’ courtship predominantly relies on feeding and mating. As many of you will be aware, once the male of a pair returns he will take over all fishing duties, providing food to the female Osprey – this is called courtship feeding. You can regularly hear Maya food begging vociferously at 33(11) if you have the volume turned up whilst watching the webcam, which is fabulous to be able to listen to! The male Osprey will continue to bring all the fish back throughout the breeding season, lasting until the Ospreys leave for their autumn migration at the end of August/beginning of September.
You may also notice that when 33(11) has delivered a fish to the nest, it is usually missing its head. This is normal behaviour for Ospreys and once 33(11) has caught a fish he will take it to one of the nearby perches close to the nest – one of his favourites is a fallen poplar just behind the nest – and will settle down to his portion of the fish; the head, which has the highest nutritional value. Once 33(11) has had his share, he will bring the fish back to the nest where Maya will then take it to a nearby perch to eat. As is the case now, 33(11) will then take over incubation duties whilst Maya is eating.
One of the suggestions as to why courtship feeding is important to the success of a breeding pair is that the more well-fed a female is, the less likely she will be to food beg or copulate with another male, therefore ensuring mate fidelity.
When the eggs are laid, both Maya and 33(11) will incubate them, though Maya will do the majority of it and will usually incubate during the night. Having observed the Manton Bay pair and our other breeding pairs, we have found that 33(11) is particularly keen at making sure he completes his incubation duties, and is more so than the other breeding males. He even kicks Maya off so he can have a turn!
Incubation is vital for embryonic development and will commence after the first egg is laid and will last between 35 and 42 days, where the eggs will normally hatch in the order they were laid. For the first egg that Maya laid we will expect it to hatch between 5th May and 12th May and the second egg we will be looking for signs of hatching between 8th May and 15th May.
In other news, we have 16 Ospreys back in the Rutland area and satellite tracked male 4K(13) is making his way through France, although by looking at his data he is having a couple of days break from his migration and is just north west of Bayonne, southern France.
The images below track 4K(13)'s migration from Guinea so far...