It has been a great few days for Kielder with all the breeding birds returning after a slow start. Since 5 April five have arrived; this weather graphic from Paul shows well how the ridge of high pressure under the jetstream assisted migration. That loop is only just moving away to the east, so it was a great week for incoming birds.
Sticking with the weather, there was a welcome burst of spring until today. We have witnessed heavy hailstorms and high winds at Kielder. Late in the day the nestcam from Nest 2 appears to have succumbed, unfortunately.
The weather probably contributed to a relatively muted day on both nests. On Nest 1 the ‘long shot’ camera often gave most insight because either YA or the female was often on the nestcam pole or in a tree, with the other on the side of the nest out of range of the nestcam. But there was some action, including a mantling incident where an intruder was around but not picked up by the nestcam. Mrs YA was on the nest at the time and flattened herself to the floor of the nest whilst YA came down to the edge before chasing away the other bird.
YA brought a couple of fish to the nest; here is the first one being displayed to Mrs YA.
The second one arrived at around 15.45; fishing can’t have been easy with waves being whipped up by the wind.
There were a few mating attempts. The one below was just off camera but you can see quite well how Mrs YA has raised her tail (the dark feathers) to allow YA to curl his (the fan feathers) under and achieve the ‘cloacal kiss’ which transfers sperm.
On Nest 2 Mrs 37 is often not quite as receptive to 37. Of 5 observed attempts today she only lifted her tail enough on one and resolutely did not raise it at all on a couple of occasions. This short video shows an unsuccessful mating attempt by 37.
The female is in control, it doesn’t matter how long the male stays on her back, if she doesn’t lift her tail enough nothing will happen! Although a pair can take a while to get into functional mating it is striking that Mrs 37 accepted YA within 15 minutes of her return and without any courtship by him. Yet long term partner 37 is having to work very hard.
There was a mantling incident on Nest 2 – it could have been the same intruder as on Nest 1 as it was about 20 minutes later. 37 went off in pursuit of the bird which swooped low enough over the nest for Mrs 37 to be very agitated twice, but not low enough to see on the nestcam.
After the pair had calmed down they appeared to discuss what had happened!