On December 24, I did the grebe rounds with young Carter Kelly and was able to record that things appeared to have recovered with 10 nests with eggs.
As reported earlier, we try to record the lay date of the first egg (which we mark with pencil), and doing that allows us to estimate hatch date with a reasonable degree of certainty. Over the next three to four days we recheck all the nests that we think have not completed their clutch.
And it was on that follow-up check that I was to find that the single eggs on nests six and 13 had gone and all four eggs on nest five had disappeared. It’s a wretched business and very frustrating. Two of us searched the walkway of the marina looking for evidence of broken eggshell of which we found nothing. The absence of shell would then suggest that the eggs could only have been removed by scaup, the little black duck that outnumbers all other ducks around Roys Bay. And that is how it has come about that I have put the word out that I am looking for someone who would be able and prepared to dive to a depth of about 7m to see if there are any eggs on the lake bed in the vicinity of nest five and maybe any under nests six and 13.
To make me feel even more frustrated, good friends have lent me a trail or game camera. The one in question records all sorts of things and is able to take some 12000 individual images. I had set it up on nest five but had taken it down on December 24 to check that I had both programmed it correctly and set it at the correct angle to cover the whole of the nest. It is motion activated, meaning that every time something moves on or off the nest, a picture is taken. A busy Christmas intervened between when I took it down and put it back; by then the eggs had gone.
The camera check showed that I had neither programmed it correctly nor adequately covered the nest area. I had 6900 images of the back half of a nesting platform. It also clearly indicated that every time the platform moved as a result of small wave action on the lake, it took a photo. Back to square one and a hope that I can find a diver.
Guess who is being beaten up in the above photo and by whom?