Webcams set up at osprey nests around Britain pick up some interesting behaviours that have fascinated and entertained this breeding season.
Many of us will have witnessed the drama of Monty the osprey and his two battling mates vying for his affections on Springwatch last week, but one male bird in Scotland has gone a step further.
The male in question, nicknamed Drunkie after a local loch, was recently discovered to have fathered two separate broods, by two separate females, less than 200 metres apart.
His story is being caught on camera and relayed live to The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre in Aberfoyle.
Drunkie arrived back to his breeding site in the Trossachs ahead of his mate Katrine, after a 3,000-mile journey from Africa.
With Kat away, a new female called Arklet caught his eye. Drunkie mated with the new female before his original partner’s return.
Not that unusual for an osprey, but when Katrine came back he set up a nest on camera with her, who laid two eggs and started incubating, with Arklet nowhere to be seen.
However, rangers from Forestry Commission Scotland discovered that Drunkie had a secret.
Lucy Tozer the Wildlife Information and Education Officer for the Aberfoyle Ospreys, said, “We watched Drunkie with both females for several days before Arklet disappeared from view, and we assumed that she’d left the area.
“But when we visited the nest to fix a camera issue, we found a second eyrie, and Arklet incubating what we can only presume is a clutch of eggs, not 200m from the first nest!
“Katrine’s eggs have now hatched, but we’re not sure what’s happening with Arklet’s nest at the moment.
“It is difficult to know how the situation will turn out. Male ospreys work extremely hard to feed their families, and they have to provide for the female as well so that the chicks aren’t left alone on the nest.
“We do know that Drunkie has been bringing in plenty of big fish, but there are lots of factors to consider, including the weather. We’ll all certainly be watching with bated breath.”
Duncan Orr-Ewing from RSPB Scotland, said, “A situation of one male osprey with two females isn’t unheard of, but it is very unusual, and it may well be the first time that it’s been caught on camera like this. It’s seen more regularly with other birds of prey, like hen harriers, and small birds like dunnocks.
“If there’s plenty of fish all season, then the male might manage to get both broods to fledge. But if things don’t turn out so well, he may have to give up on one of them, or the females may have to fish as well, which can leave the chicks vulnerable. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
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