Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Camp Report: March 21

Signs of life

by Lorna Hill

Camp Report: San Ignacio Lagoon

21st March 2017

I wrote a blog post at the beginning of the season about the Osprey and her nest, with 3 eggs inside. Well, I’m very happy to announce that those eggs have now all hatched successfully and Mama and Papa Osprey and their chicks are all doing very well. We watched the nest and dutiful parents-to-be for little longer than a month for those little ones to break their way out of their eggs. Once that happened, we kept watching, with equal excitement, for the first signs of those little heads to appear over the top of the large nests.

Both female and male Osprey will incubate the eggs but it is mainly the female who sits, while the male holds the responsibility of bringing the female her food, almost always some freshly caught fish from the lagoon. Upon receiving the fish, the female will take it out of the nest to eat somewhere close by, thus handing the temporary incubating time over to the male, returning once she has had her fill. A successful nest requires team work!

Ospreys are unusual among hawks in possessing a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Barbed pads on the feet also makes it easier to carry the fish. Ospreys also make excellent anglers. Studies have shown that Osprey caught fish on at least 1 in every 4 dives with success rates sometimes as high as 70 percent. The average time spent hunting before making a catch was about 12 minutes! 

Another good fishing bird is the Caspian Tern. As large as a big gull, the Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world. Its large coral red bill makes it one of the most easily identified terns throughout its worldwide range. This bird also dives into the water to catch the fish however unlike the Osprey, the Caspian Tern dives head first into the water to catch the fish with its bill. The Osprey dives towards the water but brings its talons forward last minute and grasps the fish - if you blink you will miss it! Here is a Caspian Tern eating its catch on the go. Luckily I didn't blink this time!