Great news! The first of the 2008 Glaslyn chicks hatched this morning, just a few hours ago. The youngster began to break through the shell at 6:45am and took around an hour or so to fully emerge.
Our first full views from the next-cam were of a pink, goosepimply body flopping around.
In fact, as you can see from the image, it is pretty peculiar looking and certainly wouldn't win any 'bonny baby' awards - but we love it all the same. For now, it is completely helpless and still sort of egg-shaped, but it won't take too long for it to develop a little more.
Later today it's eyes should open and we should see the parents give a first feed. Visitors today and over the weekend should be in for a real treat. Not least because we expect the second chick to hatch in the next couple of days. Perhaps next time it will happen when we have visitors in the centre watching it live!
The female has been up and down all morning, sitting and standing, then turning around a few degrees to sit and stand facing in another direction. She is still incubating the remaining two eggs, and so the new chick is finding itself back underneath her again for much of the time. It will need to be kept warm and protected as it gets used to being exposed to the outside World.
The male was sat on the nest for the first parts of hatching, but perhaps the intensity of it all became too much, because he retired to a nearby tree for a little alone-time after around half an hour.
So, chick number one has joined us. We can look forward to a great few months of watching this little one develop. The ultimate success stage will come in mid-July when it takes its first flight from the nest and begins to become independent. How exciting!
It's been a busy weekend here at the Glaslyn. No sooner had the first chick arrived a second popped out of its shell less than 24 hours later! Usually there are two full days between the eggs hatching. We were all worried however that almost three days later the third and final egg was very much intact.
Our fears were thankfully all in vain. Late last night we noticed a small hole in the remaining egg and by early this morning the feisty little chick had managed to escape his shell fully and by 8 o' clock was feeding with its siblings, wolfing down a fish breakfast as quick as he could!
A big thank you to staff, volunteers and all that have helped us get this far this year, let's hope that all three chicks survive and fledge this time, that would be a first for this Glaslyn pair in their fifth year of breeding here.
Well, what a week! All three chicks are doing very well and are the size of pigeons by now being approximately two weeks old. As they get larger of course, so do their appetites and our male bird has been demonstrating his hunting skills this weekend bringing up to six fish a day back to the nest. Its at this stage also that the chicks become a little bit more independent and are now moving around freely in the nest rather than just staying in the brooding cup; it must be difficult for the female to protect all three youngsters when they can be several feet apart in the nest. Goshawks and other raptors will still be a threat for another couple of weeks yet.Of note also, today we saw the male feeding the chicks as well as the female for the first time this year. Disregard the old text books that say this doesn't happen, it certainly does in Wales!. Having said that however, it's Mum that is the boss in the nest — she allows the male to help feed the chicks only for so long until she decides to take over and banish him to a nearby tree or back to the cob estuary for more mullet.
A strange thing happened yesterday, whilst hovering over the nest with his latest catch (see photo) the male actually dropped the fish into the nest edge, something that we have not seen before. Perhaps he was afraid of being ousted out again by his bossy wife — can't blame him really..The intruder osprey is still around and causes our pair some grief from time to time; surely this bird is here to stay the summer now as its too late to be a migratory bird.Finally a big thank you to the dozens of volunteers that have helped out again this week, particularly Colin and Anne who finally made our protection caravan camouflaged!. Also, all those people that helped out in the visitor centre - we welcomed and joined our 200th member of the season to the RSPB on Thursday, well done.
The chicks are between seven and 10 days old now and getting bigger by the minute seemingly. This shot was taken at 10am this morning just after a hearty mullet meal and its at this stage that they take on the appearance of little dinosaurs; we can still just about make them apart - the oldest on the right and the (whiter) youngest in the background.
Great excitement yesterday morning. We know that at least one other osprey has been around in previous years but yesterday another bird actually landed on the Glaslyn nest to the horror of our female who reacted aggressively to the intruder. For the first time we had three ospreys (well, six including the chicks) in the same nest at the same time which is good news of course as we have other potential birds around that could displace our Glaslyn pair should something happen to either of them or if one fails to return from Africa in the future. Remember, we still only have the one breeding pair in Wales, officially our rarest breeding species.Unfortunately, we were unable to see if this intruder osprey had a ring on its leg, now eyes peeled for the rest of this week..
With just a handful of days left before we expect the first chick to emerge in the Glaslyn nest, things are getting pretty exciting up here.
Egg number one is expected to break open around the middle to end of next week. From then on the two adults will really have to get busy. The male will be bringing back plenty of fish so that his mate can feed the little one, whilst the female continues to incubate the remaining eggs. The eggs will hatch in the order they were laid, a couple of days apart.
Hormonally, the female is aware that hatching is getting close. Yesterday, she placed a piece of fish over the eggs, as if making the association beween her food and the eggs. She did this in the days prioir to hatching last year too. She knows that pretty soon feeding the brood will be her number one priority.
Whilst the female takes on all of the incubation during the night, the male is once again playing a very active role in domestic responsibilities and takes over incubating for about half the time during daylight hours. They have quite an established shift pattern and usually one bird will do a couple of hours on the eggs before the other will take over.
Actually the male is a less efficient incubator than the female. Perhaps it is because he is slightly smaller, so has less body heat and isn't able to quite cover the eggs fully. Or, maybe it is because he does not have the brood patch of the female (this is a balder patch of feathers on the front where she can nuzzle the eggs close to her skin and ensure they gat the most body heat from her). However, since the weather up here the last couple of days has been absolutely scorchio, the male has taken the chance to do more daytime incubation than ever, knowing that his less efficient incubating will be balanced out by the warm air temperature.
We still have a third osprey in the area. A glut of visitors arrived just after 10am yesterday telling us they had seen an osprey fishing over the Dwyryd estuary. We knew it couldn't be one of ours, as both our birds had been on, or within sight of, the nest all morning. In fact the male had just brought back the biggest branch ever to add to the nest, and had inadvertently walloped his missus with it on delivery (we know he has a clumsy streak after his antics of previous years, we also know he has an obsession with bringing back inappropriately huge chunks of nesting material).
So, this other osprey. Male or female? Well, we don't know. No-one got a close enough look to tell. But it seems unlikely that this osprey is still on migration - it's very late in the season now. Could it be scouting its own breeding territory? Could it even be one of the Glaslyn youngsters from 2005 or 2006? We may find out more as the season goes on...