What an interesting few days it's been here at Loch Garten. I'll fill you in as best I can!
After not seeing EJ at all for about two days towards the end of last week, she promptly turned up and laid an egg in the early hours of Tuesday morning! Of course, we were delighted and the news was met with excitement by the team and visitors alike. However, EJ soon started demonstrating rather strange behaviour. She has been standing on the nest next tot the egg but has not incubated it at all. Normally, when eggs are laid, she'll sit on them for the majority of the time, keeping them warm and safe from predators. Even today, however, she still shows no sign of incubating and is remaining standing on the nest, occasionally giving food soliciting calls. She has been joined frequently by the unringed male we've been seeing around but as of yet, he hasn't brought her a fish. When female ospreys lay, their male will take up all fishing duties and supply a regular helping of trout (or other local delicacy). EJ hasn't eaten for at least two days now so she must be getting pretty hungry. If it goes on much longer, she'll be forced to go and fish for herself, leaving the egg (or potentially eggs) at the mercy of the elements and opportunistic crows!
EJ and her egg (hidden behind the stick in the centre of the nest)
Today we've seen another unringed bird around, causing EJ to alarm call and mantle, and the young male to sit next to her on the nest in an apparent show of defence. He seems pretty set on this nest. We've also seen a blue-ringed bird (as yet unidentified) dive bombing EJ, potentially staking a claim for the nest! The big mystery, though, and possibly the reason EJ isn't incubating, is whose egg it actually is! It is possible that EJ, frustrated by a lack of activity at Loch Garten throughout last week, ventured to a nearby nest and began mating with a male there. If another female then returned to that nest and chased EJ away, she might have come back to LG to lay. Her reluctance to incubate might be some instinct telling her that the father is not around and will therefore not be providing fish. She does seem very unsettled and unwilling to commit to any serious incubation so this might be the reason. Potentially, the egg might still be OK at this early stage of incubation and if EJ decides to sit, it could still successfully hatch. We'll have to wait and see.
EJ surveying the skies for rival females and interested males
The take home message from this - we don't really know what's going on. Theories abound but, at this stage, there is no definitive answer or reason for EJ's behaviour. I think it's so exciting to wonder at what will happen next and the fact that I don't have a clue what that might be is brilliant. I hope you'll all stay with us as we find out!
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