08(97) missing feared shot

Anyone who has followed the story of Ospreys in England will know that they were originally wiped out through human persecution in the Victorian era. You would hope that in todays far more enlightened times that this would not be a recurring problem, but events in Rutland in the past thirteen months suggest this may not be the case.

Last spring two male birds – 06(00) and 32(05) – disappeared within a few days of each other from the same area in south-west Rutland. Their disappearances were highly suspicious and lead us to believe they had been illegally killed – most probably shot. Our view was shared by the local police who investigated the matter on our behalf. Then last week, 08(97) also went missing. Although we have not been reporting 08’s progress on the website so far this year – due to the continued threat of egg collecting – he had returned to Rutland on 29th March, a few days after his mate, 5N(04). They began incubating on 15th April and seemed to be progressing well. 08 was catching a good supply of fish and the birds were sharing incubation duties without problems.

Then everything changed. On Thursday 08 was absent from the nest all day, and still hadn’t returned by dark. We began to worry because we knew that 08 regularly fishes in the areas favoured by 06 and 32 before they disappeared last spring. Nothing changed on Friday and it soon became clear that he was not going to return. 08 is fourteen years old, but we had seen nothing in his behaviour to give us any cause for concern. As ‘Lady’ at Loch of Lowes has shown, Ospreys can live well into their twenties. The only conclusion that we can draw from 08’s disappearance is that he has suffered the same fate as 06 and 32. In all likelihood he has been shot. To lose three healthy males from the same area of south west Rutland within thirteen months of each other is a very serious problem and one that, if it continues, has implications for the long term viability of the population. If we lose more birds in this way, then all our hard work trying to restore Ospreys to England could be in vain. Hen Harriers, despite the best efforts of hard-working conservationists, continue to be illegally killed in northern England. I sincerely hope that this is not going to be the case with Ospreys in England too. England has the potential to support hundreds of pairs of Ospreys, but only if persecution does not restrict their numbers.

08 in flight

The very sad aspect to this whole story is that the vast majority of people in Rutland are hugely supportive of the project. I have never been approached by as many local people as I have this spring, asking if the birds are back and how they’re getting on. Most local people are very proud to have Ospreys in the area. It is an absolute tragedy if one misinformed individual is threatening the success of the entire project. All of the birds usually favour the reservoirs – Rutland Water and Eyebrook – for fishing, but when the weather is poor they will often visit smaller lakes and ponds to hunt. Although they will have minimal impact at these sites, it appears that there is someone in Rutland who does not share our view. Most people are thrilled to see an Osprey in action but this is not the case with a minority of individuals.

We are now appealing for anyone with any information to come forward. Losing three birds in this way is totally unacceptable and we hope that the people of Rutland will get behind us to try and identify who is responsible for their disappearance. Aside from shooting, the one other possibility is that 08 and the other two birds died after becoming caught in netting over a pond – a cause of death that has been recorded in Scotland before. It does however, seem highly unlikely that three birds could have suffered this same fate – particularly two birds at virtually the same time last spring. We would however urge any one with a netted pond to check them regularly in case any birds or other wildlife have become caught – and to get in touch if they think 08 or either of the other two birds may have become caught at their pond.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of the story is that 08(97) was the first translocated bird to return to Rutland Water. His arrival in May 1999 was the first indication that our ground-breaking project was going to work. How sad that after all these years 08 has almost certainly come to grief at the hands of a human. All we can hope is that at least one of the six chicks 08 has raised with 5N(04) in recent years will return, and in doing so, provide lasting legacy for a bird that thousands of people have watched and admired-whether it be from an Osprey cruise on the Rutland Belle, or at Lyndon where 08 held territory between 1999 and 2008.

08(97) and 5N(04) at Manton Bay nest in 2007

08(97) and 5N(04) at Manton Bay nest in 2007

Of course 08’s disappearance means that 5N is alone at the nest. We have been putting fish near the nest since Saturday to ensure that she is well fed, and she has continued to incubate the eggs during this period. We are currently discussing various options with Natural England, because it will be almost impossible for 5N to raise any chicks should they hatch. We will, of course, keep you updated with any developments in the coming days.

In the meantime, if you have any information regarding the disappearance of 08 please do get in touch by phoning us at the Lyndon Centre on 01572 737378 or by calling Leicestershire Police 0116 2222222.   

31 responses to “08(97) missing feared shot”

  1. Sue James

    Apart from the mindless and pointless tragedy of this if these birds have fallen victim to a human with bad intent, here in our Home Counties, is the revenue that the Ospreys have brought to Rutland, to the town of Oakham, businesses, hotels, bars and the entire surrounding area by attracting thousands of visitors from around the Country and worldwide, each year.

    Even in Africa, where the Ospreys winter-over each year, local people and children are being educated to realise the benefits of protecting wildlife, so it seems such an ironic disaster that supposedly enlightened individuals here in the UK do not have the same mindset!

  2. karen

    I am watching the web cam at this moment 12.46 on 18th May 2011 there are two ospreys on the nest can any one tell me if this is 08(97)

  3. Pat Kelsall

    So very sorry to hear about this senseless death. As stated there is no rhyme nor reason to this behaviour. I do hope the police are successful and whoever is responsible is brought to justice.

  4. Gayle Maxwell Whalley

    I have just read this terrible news after a lovely day travelling to Loch of the Lowes and calling in at another project in the Tweed Valley. My smiling joy has turned to enraged tears, something must be done to stop whoever is doing these mindless acts. I will keep logging in to your blog to learn what becomes of 5N & the eggs.
    What a devastating blow to you all & the osprey community.

  5. Beverley Hopkins

    What a sad tragedy, heartbreaking to realise that there still people willing to persecute such wonderful awe inspiring birds. Such a shame to undermine all the wonderful work, great effort and time given by so many people to ensure these birds recover. I do so hope the police take this serioulsy and find whoever is responsible.

    Please take hope that Ospreys are beinging to spread within the UK. The Rutland female in now in Wales offering so much hope. Kind regards Beverley

  6. Claire

    I’m so very sorry to hear this news. What a senseless appalling act. I hope that the police investigation can lead to a prosecution and that this never happens again.

    Fingers crossed that the eggs hatch at least – might you retrieve the hatched chicks and save them f they do hatch?

  7. Michelle Pledger

    This can only be described as tragedy of enormous proportions. Having recently seen the Ospreys near Keswick, it is heart breaking to think these beautiful endangered birds are falling prey to uneducated and callous individuals. The RSPB does a wonderful job.

  8. Alwyn Evans

    As a people’s engagement officer at the Dyfi Ossprey Project, please accept my sympathies with all staff and volunteers at Rutland who have yet again have been witnesses to this wanton and senseless act. Sincerely hope the police are more successful this time. Our thoughts are with you all. Al

  9. David Lillywhite

    Sounds like somebody with a fishing lake to me,they seem to be springing up everywhere.Even if the police do catch them the fines are not enough to deter them.The law should be alot harsher.IT MAKES ME MAD.

  10. Keith Fitton

    Absolutely gutted to hear of 08’s demise. Words cannot express the sheer idiocy of this act. The sheer heartlessness of some people knows no bounds. Our thoughts are with everybody at the project.

    Keith Fitton
    Volunteer – Lake District Osprey Project

  11. Bacuez Frederic

    Oh, Tim, I just read this sad news: incredible ! Remember my soon in Ouagadougou taking picture of the osprey shot by the poor man near the town dam ! You don’t know how I’m so sad this afternoon. My winterings ospreys are in Europe, sure, but I just saw this morning two flying above the Lampsar river, and ihis evening an other one near the swamps.
    Best wishes.
    Fred

  12. Bacuez Frederic

    Sorry, Fred…from Bango, north Senegal…
    Best wishes. Fred.

  13. Karen Elizabeth

    Dear Rutland Team

    I am so very sorry and appalled to hear that this has happened again. I have been following the fortunes of the Rutland ospreys along with others for several years now. Last year I came to visit and took the dawn cruise on which we were lucky enough to get some wonderful views of one these magnificent birds. Later we had the opportunity to chat to one of the wardens and asked him about the two missing ospreys. His sadness at the loss of them, almost certainly by being shot, was obvious. So much love and dedication goes into this project and we are truly blessed to have our land and skies graced by these gentle and very beautiful creatures. We can only hope that the person responsible is caught and stopped very quickly.
    My thoughts are with all involved with the project at this time. Keep up the wonderful work and I hope to see some of you in the late summer when I hope to visit again x

  14. Another osprey probably shot - Wild About Britain

    […] osprey probably shot Sad to see another osprey ahs going missing from Rutland 08(97) missing feared shot Having been up there last year, I have seen all the hard work that has gone into looking […]

  15. Debby Thorne

    I am actually typing this with tears running out of sadness and anger at this terrible news – when will the persecution of our birds of prey stop? I know how much hard work all you guys put into this project and our thoughts are with you all. Hope they catch whoever is responsible for this mindless act.
    Debby Thorne
    RSPB White Tailed Eagle Information Officer, Isle of Mull

  16. Caryl Moore

    This is so senseless and heartbreaking. It could happen to any of our projects. We owe so much to your project here in Wales with two of your birds now settled here. I really hope they find whoever has done this and deal with them with the full force of the law so you can move on without fear of losing another bird. People’s ignorance defies belief.

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  18. Reg & Lin Heath

    How sad to here this news, it’s hard to put into words how we both feel.

    We have been volunteers at Glaslyn Osprey Project here in North Wales for six years, and hope that a solution is found to care for any chicks that do hatch.

  19. Shirley A Davies

    Oh My Dear God Almighty, I feel sick at the thought of what these ba****ds can do. I follow the Loch of the Lowes and Loch Garten Ospreys and paid my first visit to Rutland last month to Manton Bay. I CANNOT express my true feelings fully right now but needless to say I am shattered for everyone involved. We have brought this to the attention of the Scottish followers on our website. Please know that we are deeply saddened by this. X

  20. Jenny

    I have come across a pair of nesting Ospreys, knowone is going to know where !!! I intend to keep some sort of vidual to watch over them !!

  21. Barbara Dunbebin

    Have been watching the ospreys nest for some time,and cant believe what has happened. Will she continue to hatch the two eggs,and what will happen to them then. So sad.

  22. Martyn A

    This is the sadest of news – particularly about a bird that is such an icon of the project.

    However, there is a lot of assumption at the moment about what has happened to the three birds without any definite proof – there COULD be other explanations.

    Perhaps a reward for information might prompt a response ??

  23. Monica & Tony

    Oh, this is a great tragedy and we are both very sad at this happening. We are regular visitors to Manton Bay and saw this bird flying over with a fish on the 18th April, it was a wonderful sight and we were so happy that he had settled with another bird after the fruitless years in Manton. He was a pioneer of the project.
    Our thoughts are with the team and everyone involved in some way and do hope the ‘mysterious’ disappearances are quickly solved before we lose any more.
    Our best wishes to you all.

  24. Valerie

    Oh Tim this is such awful news and I send by best wishes to everyone at Rutland , I know how much your Ospreys mean to you and you all must be feeling devastated by these events . I know there is a trout fishery at Eyebrook have these people ever not welcomed the Ospreys – and do the Ospreys actually fish there ???

  25. john lindsell

    Dear osprey team, I am so very sorry to hear this tragic news, I was there when the very first ospreys were released, and have been coming back every year to see this wonderful project and fabulous birds!
    I am gutted and so angry, what would I give to have five mins with the Bxxxxxd
    who killed this beautiful creature.
    Sorry but you can see I am very upset by this wantan act of destruction.
    It makes me ashamed to be part of the human race.
    Hope and prey the person responsible is caught and the full force of the law is imposed.
    Regards,
    JOHN.

  26. Jo Heathdweller

    This is tragic – so sorry to all at Rutland where I have visited for the past 2 years & will return. I know you will do the best thing for the nest. If nothing else I know this will harden the resolve to find the criminals responsible for this. Thinking of you all.

  27. Jenny Cartwright, SWT member.

    So sorry to hear about the missing osprey 08. This is just so sad, and if this is because of human crime, lets hope the guilty ones are caught. Unfortunately this will not bring him back, so the best of luck with your fishy support of the female and her eggs.

    I live in Castle Douglas and we have a pair of ospreys who have returned to their nest at Threave Castle, they are thought to have laid three eggs, I just hope that nothing happens to this pair, rightly or wrongly AA signs have gone up on the main road advertising “osprey viewing”, I know that it’s good that everyone has a chance to see these spectacular birds, lets just hope they only attract right thinking people who love all wildlife.

  28. Lorraine Johnson

    I’m really saddened to hear of the probabe demise of 08. My sister and I saw him several years ago when he was still trying to attract a mate to the nest on Manton bay. I had never been so excited to see a wild creature. It was a magnificent sight 2 see him diving into the water. I hope 5N will be able to hatch the eggs without him. I know the team will do their utmost for them. I also hope that the police are able to identify the people responsible for this. Best wishes to all who work so hard at Rutland Water.

  29. Adam Fulton

    Tim,
    0897 was a legend. Reading about his breeding failures for many years and then his slight lack of interest when he did get a mate – seemed to me to give him an almost human side. These stories captivated me and like many others I’m sure, 0897 was may favourite of your ospreys – I checked your site every day eager for news.Gutted.
    You suggested that 0897 may have disapeared in the SW of Rutland and this was an area that he may have used in bad weather. If you looked at the fish species 0897 caught in bad weather and matched this with ponds in that area could that give you an idea of where he may have disapeared?
    I and others will not forget 0897 and I am sure this will help ensure this recolonisation is a success.Adam

  30. Hazel

    I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of 08. As with all of you and many other newcomers to the Osprey world, I am sure, I have been filled with rage and tears of this news.

    God bless you 08.

    As a newcomer, I only found about about Rutland through the Loch Garten forums (as a relatively new member of the RSPB). I’m glad you post there because if you hadn’t I would never have known of the Osprey project ‘just down the road’ (well, from Warwick anyway).

    I WILL come to see you VERY soon; as a fascinated newcomer to the Osprey world and just to pay my respects to 08 and to all of the Rutland team for what you do.

    Yours sincerely,

    H