We are pleased to announce that the first eggs of the season have been laid!
As you may remember from the previous update, male Pink Dark Green and his female Pink Red Right have been tending diligently to their nest scrape. He has lined it beautifully with thatch, creating a kind of woven border; and adorned it with tiny pebbles. Neither one has let up on singing nor displaying so we were hopeful she would lay very soon…
She kept us waiting quite a while even after we were sure of imminent lay. Spoon-billed Sandpipers lay large eggs for their body size, with the egg weighing 25% of their body mass! This makes it quite obvious when a female is about to lay as you can see the shape of the egg under her tail. We call this ‘gravid’ or ‘heavy’.
Finally, one late April morning, she laid her first egg of the season. Theses eggs are invaluable, and so the same morning we replaced this egg with a dummy and took it into our care. The second and third eggs were laid over the next few days, also replaced with dummy eggs which the pair were none the wiser to.
We don’t start artificial incubation until we are sure the final egg of the clutch has been laid. This is similar to the way wild Spoonies behave, ensuring all eggs hatch simultaneously. Spoonies usually lay 4 but 3 is not uncommon. Until the clutch is complete we store the eggs in a temperature controlled chiller at 13°C. This slows down development of the embryo until we are ready to incubate.
The eggs were put into the incubator early May. ‘And so my watch began.’
Stayed tuned to find out if the eggs were fertile…!!