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09's flight back to Rutland Water, 28th March

09’s return to Rutland

We know 09 arrived back at his nest at 2:10 yesterday afternoon, and we now have the data for his flight from Winchester to Rutland.

09 must have known he was close to home, because he set off from his roost just north of Winchester at first light. By 7am he had already flown 14 miles and was heading purposefully north at 38kph at an altitude of 103 metres. He stopped briefly at 9am, but an hour later he was another 12 miles further north-east, flying over Aylesbury. By midday he was passing Grafham Water and nearing home, maintaining a speed of between 35 and 40kph. By 2pm he would have bee able to see Rutland Water from his altitude of 349m…

09's flight from Winchester to Rutland, 28th March

09's flight from Winchester to Rutland, 28th March

…Meanwhile, John Wright and I were at 09’s nest waiting for him. His transmitter’s duty cycle meant that at the time we didn’t know exactly when he would arrive and so all we could do was sit and wait. Given his usual flight speeds on migration we estimated that the flight from Winchester to Rutland could take as little as four or five hours, meaning that he could have been back at his nest as early as 11am. Fortunately there was nothing at the nest (situated on private land and known as Site N) when we arrived. Phew, we hadn’t missed him.

At 11:30, a false alarm. An Osprey appeared from the south and alighted on the nest. It was 5N, the female 09 had paired up with last summer. She remained at the nest for ten minutes, adding a couple of small sticks, before heading off again. Perhaps she was just checking to see if 09 had returned?

By lunchtime, it was a beautiful warm spring day and there were lots of signs of migration. Newly-arrived Chiffchaffs were singing near the nest and a couple of groups of Fieldfare called above our heads as they headed north, back towards their Scandinavian breeding grounds.

We heard from Michelle that 5N was now in Manton Bay; food begging on the nest of her brother, 5R. If only she knew her own mate was about to arrive back in Rutland.

At 2:10pm an Osprey appeared above our heads from the south. It was low down and heading straight for the nest. What’s more, it flew in at such an angle that we could see a transmitter on its back. It was 09! He circled the nest and then folded his wings, dropping spectacularly down onto the T perch beside the nest. He was home.

09 appears above our heads

09 appears above our heads

09's orange ring is just visible on his right leg as he heads towards his nest

09's orange ring is just visible on his right leg as he heads towards his nest

The aerial on 09's satellite transmitter was easily visible as he flew overhead

The aerial on 09's satellite transmitter was easily visible as he flew overhead

09 dropping down to his nest

09 dropping down to his nest

It is always a very memorable moment to see an Osprey return in this way, but the fact that we knew exactly what 09 had experienced over the sixteen days since he had left his wintering site on the Senegal coast, made it all the more special. He looked in fine condition and certainly displayed no adverse effects of the long and arduous journey, and particularly his near-death experience off the coast of Western Sahara.

At around 2:40 he headed off towards the reservoir, leaving the nest vacant once again. We wondered if 5N would return while he was away, but by the time 09 eventually returned – just before 5pm – she was still absent. As 09 arrived back at the nest he performed a spectacular aerial display above our heads, advertising the part-eaten roach he had brought back to the nest. We thought it would be only a matter of time before 5N returned, but by dark 09 was still alone.

After roosting away from Site N, 09 returned at 7:30 this morning, again displaying with a part-eaten fish as he arrived. Unbeknown to him, 5N was at the Manton Bay nest where she was again hoping for a free meal from 5R! Once she realises 09 is back in Rutland we expect her to return to Site N, but for the time being it is just great to see 09 back safely.

09 returns home

Being at a nest when a familiar Osprey arrives home after its spring migration is always a very memorable moment, but it is even better when you know exactly what that bird has had to overcome in order to get there. At 2:10pm this afternoon 09 dropped onto his nest in Rutland, sixteen days after leaving his wintering site on the Senegal coast. After 3000 miles, which included an arduous nightime flight over the Atlantic, sandstorms in the Sahara and a flight in complete darkness across the mountains of central Spain, he had successfully completed his thirteenth spring migration. He is back on exactly the same date as last year having completed his migration in the same number of days as his autumn journey from Rutland to Senegal.

Although we know that 09 is home, his day’s satellite data has yet to come in, so we’ll post a full update on his flight from Winchester to Rutland and what happened once he was back at his nest, tomorrow. For the time being though, it is just great to know that he is home.

09's flight across the English Channel, 27th March

Almost home!

Yesterday afternoon we were wondering if 09 would make it across the English Channel. The answer is, yes he did! Last night he roosted close to Winchester, just 110 miles from home.

As Michelle reported yesterday, at 1pm he was perched in Northern France, just 15 miles south of the English Channel. An hour later he had evidently decided that the time was right to cross to England because he was flying north at 40kph. By 3pm he was over the sea, just 9 metres above the waves. He maintained a consistent pace of 35-40kph for the next four hours, at altitudes of between 6 and 32 metres. A NE headwind resulted in him drifting slightly west as he crossed the Channel, but by 6pm he was within sight of land, flying over the western part of the Isle of Wight , over the Solent Estauary and then on towards Southampton.

Once in English airspace, he turned north-east, his in-built compass directing him back towards Rutland Water.  The last GPS position of the day showed him perched just south of Winchester and later non-GPS signals showed that he roosted in a wooded area 3.5 miles north-east of the town. He was now just 110 miles away from Rutland Water after a day’s flight of 184 miles – exactly the same average speed that he maintained during his spring migration.

We’ll be at his nest today, hopefully in time to see him arrive home. Watch this space!

09's flight across the English Channel, 27th March

09's flight across the English Channel, 27th March

09's roost site on March 26th

09 is getting ready to cross the Channel!

We have been waiting all day for 09’s latest batch of data and wondering which side of the channel he would be on. Yesterday afternoon he had reached Brittany and was within flying distance of the French north coast but it seems that he is still taking it slow and steady. After covering another 50 miles he decided to stop for the evening, on the border between Brittany and Lower Normandy. At 1 pm this afternoon he was still in France but only 16 miles away from the coast after making many stops along the way. The crossing at this point is 90 miles wide so the big question is whether he will make it this evening or rest and wait until the morning. Hopefully when the next batch of data comes in he will be back in Blighty! Keep an eye on the website for a full report and Google Earth update tomorrow.

09's roost site on March 26th

5R dives into the water in Manton Bay

Catch of the day

If you have visited Waderscrape or Shallow Water hides in recent days, there’s every chance you’ll have been treated to great views of 5R fishing in Manton Bay. As John Wright’s fantastic photos show, it’s a brilliant place to watch the birds in action.

5R dives into the water in Manton Bay

5R dives into the water in Manton Bay...

...but misses this time

...but misses this time

After several unsuccessful dives yesterday morning, he lifted out of the water with…a crayfish! This is the first time we have seen a Rutland Osprey catch anything other than a fish at Rutland Water. It obviously took 5R by surprise because he dropped the crayfish as he flew back to the nest. So sadly we will never know how he would have tackled this potentially painful meal!