I saw M2 about five or six days back with a female in his territory, but he didn't really pay any attention to her. As he flew away from me, one time, she seemed to slip away to the non-public area where I couldn't find her. Then, later that day, M2 also completely disappeared and I didn't see him for several days, though I could hear his calls.
Today, I saw both M2 and his female, I call F3, in their regular feeding grounds. I was really surprised when I saw mating behavior right out in the open. If you are averse to photos of animals mating, then you shouldn't look past the first photo.
This first photo was taken right before they mated:
Sorry the next photo is fuzzy, my auto focus wasn't working right and when I switched to manual focus, they had started the process and I couldn't focus fast enough. I wasn't able to photograph the actual copulation. I doubt that it was a predator defense stance as I have seen or discussed elsewhere.
This was taken right afterward.
Look how large M2's neck band got after the mating. In fact, it was so large that it was very noticeable even before I zoomed in on the photo.
Afterward, they did a little synchronized dance and call before flying off to a new area.
I believe the nest is in his "secret escape area" and it is probably safe from humans, though I do know that people on boats do land their boats in that area and walk around to fish. I sure hope no one hurts their eggs. Hopefully, M2 will bring his chicks to a place where I can see them.
Another thing that could happen is if he is bordering on M3 and M5's territories with his nest, he risks having his chicks being attacked by either of those two families, who may have already hatched young and would not be the same age as M2's.
In case you don't believe that he was actually standing on her back, here's another fuzzy photo that I took of them. I can't believe that both photos were fuzzy!
Next time I will have a better lens.
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