Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Counting down the days

 
Snowy mountain peaks have greeted me back in the Cederberg after two weeks away. Brrrr...
Today I visited three of the nests I am monitoring - they have been incubating for maximums of: 26 / 34 / 45 days. I normally visit nests around once a week. After recording incubation the actual laying date could be up to a week earlier depending on nest visit frequency. Incubation is 44-45days. So this basically means the nest which is on day 45 could hatch any day this week. But to add to the monitoring difficulties, most nests you cannot actually see into. So when the egg(s) (1 or 2) hatch I will depend on the behavior of the adults to find out. It won't be until the chick is larger that I will be able to see it on the nest. By this stage Canism* will have occurred and there will only be one chick.
 This nest has failed for the previous two years - 2009 there was a breeding attempt but it was unsuccessful. 2010 a chick was seen on the nest but it did not fledge. The reasons for failure are unknown, there has been speculation that the nest is too low and accessible  for baboons... but I don't think I believe this. Although the nest is relatively low, it is on a vertical face. I have my fingers crossed for these two and hope to put a nest camera up to monitor the chick if it hatches and shed some light...
*Canism: the first chick to hatch will out do their younger sibling for food and cause physical injury until death... 

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