What do you mean?? WHAT was he doing over there?? 30m away, a raven had landed and picked into a piece of plastic in the sand. With something in his beak, he took the wings. What?? I really had to check this! I walked the 30m and at the place the raven had been picking, found the most beautiful nest of the whole Salina. I saw a plastic bottle of which the upper part was torn away by sun, water and wind, but the bottom was still there. Within this small circle, a plover had made his nest and still two eggs where laying on the small stones put as lining. A raw scream reminded me at the presence of the big bird. Within a few seconds he would be back for the rest of his breakfast. I had to do something.
We had quite some difficulties with them. They’re normal predators of the eggs and chicks of the KP, but these two had learned what “trapping on the nest” means. One morning they even followed the car, waited for the driver to get out and set up the trap, after which they landed straight beside it. They let themselves chasing away, but from the moment we took the trap and started the engine, they were back, knowing that where the trap had been, there was a nest with eggs. So it was really puzzling. Most of the time they arrived between 8am and 9am, till around 11am. We really had to take care that there wasn’t any raven around while we were trapping or, when they were nearby, stopped trapping and started to look for nests instead, although this wasn’t a good alternative either. Tamas had find a good way to deal with it, although a bit risky. One day he had taken the eggs away, together with the trap. When he turned the car, the raven couple landed, but only found an empty scratch in the sand. They spent a minute around it, but then took off, clearly disappointed. Two hours later Tamas was back with the eggs. When predated, parents still stay for a few hours around the nest. Even later, they feed in the surroundings of it. So by placing the eggs back into the nest, Tamas hoped the parents would find them and again take care of the brood. And it had worked that day. So this was the thing I wanted to try this day too.
I took the two left eggs. Out of my backpack I got roll of toilet paper, folded half a meter off and carefully wrapped the two eggs in it. I fidged the small package into the carton of the roll and placed the whole in the upper back of my backpack. Half past nine. I had two hours. With Alex we trapped a family that was a bit further away wandering on the mud plane. Of course he let me ring the chicks. They are more difficult to handle, move a lot, small, tiny… Women’s work I suppose. Then I took the measurements of the eggs, marked them and returned. I found my steps back to the nest in the mud desert. No ravens around, but a KP instead. Great. I unwrapped the package and placed the eggs one by one back into the nest. Now I was hoping the bird had seen my movements and would be curious enough the check her nest again. Let’s hope…
Two days later I passed by the nest. In this stadium of fieldwork, I’m mainly focused on the resightings of the families, so I don’t put much effort in the nests anymore. But I was very happy discovering a small brown head popping out of the plastic bottle. The female was incubating again!
Slechtvalk Blog: Ravens and Nests on Maio