Overview of nest cams in 2020 - PART I

Submitted by LK english on Tue, 08.09.2020 - 16:57

Overview compiled by Triin Leetmaa and Urmas Sellis from Eagle Club (Kotkaklubi). www.kotkas.ee


The 14th season of nest cams has come to its conclusion – the last chicks to leave their nests were the lesser spotted eagles, who left back in early august. The current season offered a variety of emotions for the regular viewer.   

The golden eagles Kalju and Helju had a successful season in Soomaa National Park. Successful were also the lesser spotted eagles Indrek and Karin in Tartu County, and the greater spotted eagles Tõnn and Tiiu in Harju County. All of them raised one male chick. We were pleased to see two fledging chicks for the ospreys Ivo and Iiris in Tartu County.  

The ospreys in Võru County - Marko and Miina - were less successful: an northern goshawk repeatedly attacked the nest and killed all their three chicks. Unsuccessful were also the black storks in Karula National Park: Karl II and Kati were late to lay eggs and abandoned them later on. The white-tailed eagle web-cam was at a new location and did not record any eagles this season.

In 2020 the nest cams were viewed from 85 countries for more than 4 million times. The most popular were the osprey cameras with 1.7 million views and the black stork camera with 0.96 million views. A third of the viewers were from Estonia, followed by Finland, Germany, Russia and Poland. In addition to 31 countries from Europe, the cameras were also viewed in Taiwan, USA, Japan, Canada, Brazil, South-Korea, Australia, Hongkong, India and elsewhere.

Now a summary of what was seen in 2020:

Golden eagles Kalju and Helju in Soomaa National Park

Introduction to the golden ealge nest cams: LINK

Eggs appeared on 11th and 15th March; chicks hatched on 21th and 23th or 24th April; younger sibling passed away; ringing on 29th May (the code is 401K); the remaining chick fledged on 3rd July.

In 2020 we placed a nest camera to a neighbouring territory of an earlier viewed Soomaa golden eagle couple – a nest, which had been inhabited since 2011. The live recording from Kalju’s and Helju’s nest began on 27th February. By that time, the eagles had already begun fitting their nest. The first egg was laid on 11th March and the second on 15th March. On 5th April we lost the live video feed due to some damage to the cables of the camera. Still, we were able to continue hearing the nest. Since 21st April we heard a newly hatched chick in the nest and when the video feed resumed we saw that both eggs had hatched. As ornitologists expected, the weaker sibling lost the battle for food and when eagle-club members visited the nest (to fix the camera and ring the chicks) on 29th May, there was only one, yet well-fed chick in the nest.       

The surviving chick grew and left the nest for the first time on 3rd July. The young bird will stay around the nest until autumn, when he will have to start looking for food himself. We predict that the young bird will migrate southwards for his first winter. Golden eagles start nesting at the age of 4-5 years.  

White-tailed eagles in Tartu County

The nest in Läänemaa which white-tailed eagles inhabited for many years remained unoccupied last year, thus we tried our luck at a new nest in Tartu County. Live feed started on 3rd March, but soon it became clear that we will not see nesting at this site. Probably the eagles noticed that someone had meddled with their nest, and avoided coming there. On 8th April we removed the camera and placed it on a nest of lesser-spotted eagles instead.     

Ospreys Ivo and Iiris in Tartu County

Introduction to osprey cameras: LINK

Eggs appeared on 22nd, 25th and 28th April; chicks hatched on 29th May and 2. June (one egg did not hatch); ringing on 10th July (codes UX and UW); chicks fledged on 20th and 24th July.

The live feed from Tartu ospreys started on 28th March. First ospreys arrived on 7th April – amogst them a female called Iiris. The owner of the nest – Ivo – returned a few days later, on 9th April. By 28th April there were 3 eggs in the nest, a normal size for a clutch of ospreys. Only two chicks hatched, however. The first hatched on 29th May and the second on 2nd June. The third egg might have been damaged, when it got stuck in the feathers of Iiris and was dragged to the edge of the nest. It remained there for more than 24 hours until Ivo rolled it back amongst other eggs.

In the end of June water entered the camera lens and video feed was offline from 3 – 15th July. Chicks were ringed on 10th July. First fledging occurred on 20th and 24th July. Since then the chicks have returned to the nest only for feeding. They will migrate to the wintering sites of ospreys in Afica (beyond Sahara desert) in early September. The ospreys will start nesting themselves from the age of 3.     

Ospreys Marko and Miina in Võru County

Eggs appeared on 16th, 19th and 22nd April; two chichks hatched on 26th May and one on 27th May; two chicks were killed by northern goshawk on 2nd July and third on 4th July.

We started the live feed from Võru County osprey nest on 9th April. Marko and Miina arrived a day later and started to fit the nest for the new season straight away. Three eggs were laid a little earlier than usual, during 16-22th April. The chicks hatced on 26-27th May. Everything went smoothly until a northern goshawk attacked the month-old chicks on 2nd July. Marko and Miina did not manage to fend off the goshawk, which dragged two chicks to the ground and presumably killed them. The third chick was no more fortunate – the goshawk returned on 4th July and grabbed him away. Thus all three chicks died before fledging. After unsuccessful nesting we saw the adult birds for only a few times in the camera. They probably started preparing for the autumn migration already in late August. Before the journey the male adult might still come back to the nest to adjust it.  

The team and supporters of nest cameras:

Kotkaklubi (Eagle Club) – works at the nest, biological information, co-ordination.

Beta-Grupp OÜ – testing and maintenance of cameras, microphone setup, coding the stream, technical support.

Looduskalender – forum and posts

Keskkonnainvesteeringute keskus (Environmental Investment Centre)– financial support

Akukeskus Tartus – help with batteries

TELE2 – mobile antennas for the receiving antennas, antenna setup at the cell tower, use of fibre-optical cable (black-stork and white-tailed eagle cameras)

Kernel – setup of receivers (black stork, white-tailed eagle cams)

Private donations – updating the cameras, unexpected expenditures. 


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