Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Battle of Manton Bay

Having arrived at the Manton Bay nest on Tuesday morning, the unringed female had appeared very settled. 5R had provided her with a regular supply of fish and the birds were copulating regularly. All seemed very promising. But then 5N turned up.

Just before 2pm yesterday afternoon 5N - who bred at the nest in 2007 and 2008 before moving to Site N last year - appeared over the nest and dive bombed 5R and the female, forcing them both to take to the air. For the next half hour 5N continued to bombard her brother and his mate. Each time either bird landed on the nest they were dive-bombed by 5N. Following 08's return on 31st March, she has appeared very settled at Site N, but the sight of a female on her old nest was obviously too much for her to take.

Eventually 5R did manage to return to the nest. However the battle between his mate and 5N showed no sign of relenting. By now the unringed female had turned the tables, and was attempting to drive 5N away from the nest and displaying above her. It is unusual to see a female displaying, so this demonstrated that the female now considers Manton Bay to be her own territory.

5N was not giving up without a fight though. Both birds were now gaining height, the unringed female attempting to shepherd 5N away from the bay. At one point the two birds must have been more than 3000 feet up; just tiny dots in a bright blue sky.

Eventually they dropped down again and the chasing and 'chipping' began once again. 5N was not giving up.

By 4:30pm the two females had gained height again and now they drifted south, leaving 5R alone in the bay. Another hour and a half passed before they returned, by which time 5R had headed off east from the nest in search of fish. The two females completed several circuits of the bay and then disappeared again. Ten minutes later 5R was back with a trout, oblivious to the fact that the two females had made a brief return. By 8:15pm it was dark and there was still no sign of the female. 5R though had only eaten half of the fish - keeping the remainder for the female for when she returned. But the question was, would she return?

We checked the nest at 7am this morning and sure enough, the female was back! She had just finished the fish that 5R must have given her when she returned, and was cleaning her bill in the nest. Buoyed by her return 5R was making frequent trips to collect nesting material. Several successful copulations followed, and more significantly, there was no sign of 5N. Hopefully there will be no repeat of yesterday's amazing scenes.

With the female back in Manton Bay, Shallow Water and Waderscrape hides are well worth a visit. You can access the Lyndon reserve from the minor road between Manton and Edith Weston.

Photos to follow soon.