Too big, too awkward, too funny, ‘our’ Vic

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Yes, this is ‘Vic’
‘Vic’, short for Victory, it’s the nickname that we’ve chosen for the eldest of the chicks, the only one of the three to survive the terrible rainstorms that raged on the Loiret region at the beginning of June.

Victory of the instinct for survival, of the survival of the fittest that nature can offer when the elements blindly league together against life.

Victory of Sylva and Titom that bravely did their best during the crisis to at least save the least vulnerable of their young.

But this was also the Victory of the Mardié team that made following their battle possible through the live webcam coverage. Putting this naturalist website, unique in France, on line in just 15 months and with very little resources compared to equivalent projects. Putting this naturalist website, unique in France, on line in just 15 months and with very little resources compared to equivalent projects. By bringing together brains and muscle, advanced technology and voluntary work with no media coverage and without any public financial support we overcame obstacles and were finally ready just two days before the arrival of the first bird from migration.

In return, we received the enthusiasm of the public that we were so hoping for. In less than three months we have responded to over 460 comments (not one was negative). 31 000 viewers looked at 283 000 pages of the website during 131 000 visits.

Finally, it’s a Vic

Disaster strikes twice

The torrential rain that flooded the department of the Loiret, it’s villages and population, it’s roads and highways, it’s houses and fields…has also hit the natural world and it’s countless visible and invisible inhabitants. The damage is devastating for the wild animals, much of the reproduction has been destroyed in vast numbers.

But we won’t be seeing any of that in the media headlines. It won’t affect the national economy, or our own personal finances.

At the osprey nest in Mardié – that more and more of you are following on the webcam with attention and passion– in spite of Sylva’s obstinate protection of her brood, in spite of the regular food supply brought by Titom in the worst possible fishing conditions, the two youngest chicks have not been able to survive the rain, the cold and the exhaustion.

The violence of the rain and the knowledge that it would continue for days had led many of us to fear some days ago that the brave fight of the parents would not be enough to save them.

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On June 2nd, a little before 9 a.m., Sylva lifted off the brood and we could see that the second chick, already very weak the night before, was immobile : Only the oldest sibling was still moving.

He is then the single surviving chick of this long and uninterrupted series of rainfalls that have lasted several days. This exceptional bout of weather has produced three months of normal rainfall in just a few days.

Many of you have sent messages or have asked questions that we’ve done our best to answer as clearly as possible but we’ve also shared with you for the first this complete live coverage. There are many aspects of the behaviour of these heroic wild birds that we don’t yet understand, particularly in this kind of exceptional situation that changes the usual routine.

For those that need more explanations, the information in the previous article tells as much as we can of this painful episode along with some philosophical comments about the relationship between the human world and the terrible struggle of the animals that are going on so close to us.


Translation to English from French by Ian Stevenson.

A dark day …

Wednesday May 31st : As the day dawns slowly on a darkened world, the rain that has been hammering down now for hours and hours drowns out the usual sounds of the forest.

When the blacked out screen of the webcam finally shows a picture a rain soaked Sylva is still lying on her brood : the same image that the day before was only briefly interrupted by three or four rapid feeds.

Soon after 9.30 a.m. Titom joins her, she stands off the chicks and gives a brief glimpse of one of the young, lying motionless in the bottom of the nest, while the other two are moving around. A worrying sight.

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The worry then turns into a probability, and then certainty during the feed at 2 p.m. One of the chicks has died.

It’s probably the youngest : weaker than the older two and unable to resist the cold and the damp, fed less than the other two who were more aggressive during the feeds ; pushed around also by the older sibling and possibly crushed during the fight for shelter under the parents.

Life in the wild is not a story of Teddy bears, it offers some wonderful moments but death is waiting in many forms, always ready to take the weakest…

Translation to English from French by Ian Stevenson

May 22th : and then there were three … but the network hiccups continue

Finally, the third chick appeared this morning, as expected. First glimpse at 8.25 a.m. jerky and difficult because of the poor weather conditions : The rain sets in for the day and after 50 minutes of normal service, the reduced broadband feed is back…..

At 9.30 a.m. there can be no doubt : For the great joy of all, the family of three is now complete.
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As for the live feed problems we’ve been having for the last couple of days with the webcam, we again apologize and can confirm the following :
– The problem lies with the LTE connection
The problem will have been completely resolved by tomorrow morning.

So please be patient, a very necessary quality for all bird watchers !

Translation to English from French by Ian Stevenson

May 20th : the second chick hatches but the network has the hiccups

First of all we have to apologize for the problems with the network this morning. It appears that our provider’s 4G relay antenna has gone down and our router is automatically trying to connect to a relay further away. We’re trying to downgrade to 3G for the moment to work around the problem until the antenna is back up.

But all of that hasn’t stopped many of you watching the 2nd chick appear, just as hungry and ready to take a feed as the first one.

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Or to see Titom breaking up a huge fish right in front of the camera.

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Enjoy, in spite of the jerky feed.!

May 18th: the first chick hatches… and the first feed

37 days after the first egg was laid we discover the first chick, hatched last night or this morning.
A wave of emotion from the « FANS » messages are raining in ! Some already saw the « baby » at 7.52 a.m….. before the site was running.

We had to wait till Sylva stood up at 8.44 to see a little striped head moving down in the nest.

While we’re waiting for the video, here are a few screen shots :

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But all of this doesn’t stop an intruder from disturbing the happy family :

Sylva sees him off and everything calms down again at 9 a.m.

Around 10 a.m., Titom passes a small piece of fish to Sylva for the first feed. No problem, the chick is begging and Sylva manages to give him tiny pieces of flesh taken from the fish…

And to finish off the morning beautifully, Titom brings a a large curved branch that he installs in the forefront of the picture : very artistic, just look at the lovely ellipse that now makes up the edge of the nest…

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See the video : Titom and Sylva start mating after their return from migration

Titom and Sylva meet up again for the 4th time at their nest in Mardié : They first met during the summer of 2012.
The day after they returned, and to have the best possible chance of a successful breeding season in 2016, they mate repeatedly. Sometime successfully, sometimes not…..

(Video editing Sébastien Colas)

Titom’s enthusiasm is sometimes met with irritation on the part of his mate who is generally very receptive, as can be seen by her posture and calls that can be translated as an invitation.
This enthusiasm will only disappear once Sylva has started sitting on the nest to lay her first eggs.

Translation to English from French by Ian Stevenson.

See the video : the arrival of Titom from winter migration followed by Sylva

As promised, we’re going to start posting video extracts so that you can see again the most interesting moments of the 2016 season.

To start, the arrival of Titom, the male, on March 21st, followed by Sylva, the female, on the 23rd.

For those that were watching closely – and there were only three or four of us at the time – the concert of crows at the top left of the screen might have been a clue to the presence of a fish, indicating that an osprey was in the woods, before he finally turns up on the nest.

As for the arrival of Sylva, you can notice that she stares twice at the camera. Without really being worried by it, the female immediately noticed the intrusion into her world of this strange object and it’s wooden support stave. This is no surprise, she’s usually much more alert and on her guard than Titom.

The male, however, excels at fishing and had been gorging himself since early morning on March 23rd with a large fish, a good portion of which he then carries to the nest.
So when he meets up with Sylva again, that supposedly he hasn’t seen since the previous September, we thought that he might show a little gallantry and leave the fish to his mate, hungry after her long trip.

Unfortunately Sylva’s attitude seems to frighten him a little and he leaves again without even so much as a little mating session.
Luckily, he’ll make up for it later.

Red alert at the nest: Titom and Sylva stand their ground

It’s not the first time that one of their own comes to provoke our couple of ospreys at the nest.
On April 2nd, a bird ringed in Germany (black ring with white letters on left leg) actually landed briefly on the nest while the couple were there.
The day before yesterday, in the morning, there was again a long alert and a spectacular aerial chase because with three eggs in the nest there’s no question of kidding around anymore.

Titom, getting up off the eggs, stops the intruder from landing and he just brushes the nest before flying off and circling again.
On the photo you can just about see a black ring on the left leg of the intruder so it could well be the same bird as on April 4th
Sylva comes down from the nest perch and helps defend the eggs, both birds in threat posture, and a few minutes later things start to calm down again.

April 17th : A full clutch!

Yesterday, during and after lunchtime, several attentive observers thought they could see a third egg, particularly during the brooding relays between the two parent birds. We couldn’t confirm as the eggs were partially hidden by an unfortunately situated clump of grass.
This morning, during the relay at 09.08 there could be no doubt, the ospreys are now sitting 3 eggs, probably since yesterday morning !

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Ce sont bien trois œufs que nos balbuzards couvent, très probablement depuis hier matin !

Merci à eux pour cette jolie ponte, qui promet pour plus tard de belles envolées !

Just a few remarks :
– A 4th egg is always possible, exceptional but possible.
– Incubation will now start in earnest and we can expect hatching around the third week of May.