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A lunchtime choice for the Manton chicks

We’ve had the first bit of rain for a while in Rutland today, but its not deterred 5R. He’s delivered a Bream and two large Pike to the nest, meaning the chicks have been well-fed once again. In fact at one point this morning the female had a choice of two different fish. Should she go for the tail end of a Bream, or the Pike 5R had just brought in? As the video shows, she opted for the Bream first and saved the Pike for later.

As we keep saying, the chicks are getting noticeably bigger each day and are also becoming more and more mobile. Whereas a few days ago they were confined to the middle of the nest, they’re not starting to move around more freely, albeit a bit clumsily. In this video the smaller of the two chicks manages to wriggle out from underneath a stick that it’s mother had accidentally dropped on its back! To see the latest from the Manton Bay nest, check out our live stream.

Elsewhere, there’s very mixed news from the Dyfi Osprey Project. We were delighted to hear that the third chick hatched earlier this afternoon, but then extremely saddened to learn a few minutes ago that, after a day of very wet weather, the eldest of the three chicks died this afternoon. We have been following the progress of the Dyfi nest especially closely because the breeding female, Nora, fledged from the Site B nest in Rutland in 2008 and bred for the first time last year; becoming a star of BBC Springwatch at the same time. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the remining two chicks survive the very wet weather. To see the latest from the nest follow this link to see their fantastic live stream .

Another Roach

Today has been another beautiful sunny day in Rutland and a lack of wind has meant the reservoir has resembled a mill pond. This has made fishing easy for 5R who, once again, has kept his family very well-provided for. Here’s a video of him delivering a Roach to the nest this evening. Notice how the older and bigger of the two chicks is first to be fed. Fortunately, with an almost constant supply of fish, there is always plenty for its younger sibling too.

The fishing machine

Since the eggs hatched a few days ago, we have all watched in amazement as the chicks are noticeably getting bigger everyday. But why are we not surprised? After catching one early this morning 5R has continued to bring an endless supply of fish to the nest and even caught three just this afternoon. After closing the Visitor Centre I sat down in front of the screen to write this post, looked up, and there was 5R with ANOTHER fish! The female took it and fed the chicks for a few minutes but it was obvious that they were still full from the last one. After seeing the abandoned roach in the nest, 5R soon took it to the nearby perch and enjoyed a well deserved meal.

The Happy Family

It’s amazing how quickly the Manton Bay chicks are growing. Earlier this evening, with the nest bathed in lovely dappled sunlight, 5R flew to the nest, giving us this great view of the whole family. Like yesterday 5R has displayed his fishing prowess, bringing in several catches, including a huge Pike. It’s no wonder the chicks are growing at such a fast rate!

Osprey fishing in The Gambia

The Three Peaks challenge and wildlife education in The Gambia

It is amazing to think that in just three months time the two newly-hatched chicks in the Manton Bay nest will set off on an incredible 3000 mile journey. Satellite tracking and ringing studies, including our own, have shown that most European Ospreys migrate to the West coast of Africa – from Mauritania south to the Ivory Coast – for the winter. For this reason, it is vitally important that these areas are protected, not least because the lives of Ospreys are so intrinsically linked with humans; many of the communities in countries such as Gambia and Senegal rely on the sea for a living and, therefore, compete with Ospreys for fish. On our recent trips to West Africa myself and the team have often seen Ospreys diving for fish in amongst Gambian fishing boats.

Osprey fishing in The Gambia

For conservation to be successful in places such as West Africa it is clearly vital that children grow up respecting wildlife and understanding the economic benefits protecting it can bring; tourism is estimated to contribute around 18% of The Gambia’s GDP. With this in mind we recently set-up an education project in The Gambia aiming to show school children the wide and diverse bird life that their country supports. And it’s not just Ospreys that this work should benefit – millions of other migratory birds from Europe winter in the same areas as the Ospreys and we hope that the project will raise awareness of the incredible journeys many species from Europe udertake each year.

The education project is being co-ordinated in The Gambia by our friend and colleague Junkung Jadama. With help from Laibo and Colin Cross, Junkung recently took children from Tanji and Kartong schools out on birdwatching field trips. He’s just sent us a series of photos from the trips and it’s especially pleasing to see the children using the optics funded with money we raised last year. JJ tells us that they all had a great fun and learnt alot.

At present we’re running the project in three schools, but in time, we hope to extend it to cover as many schools as possible in The Gambia, and hopefully, further a field. In order to do this we need to raise money to cover the cost of fieldtrips, more optics and other education resources. And that’s where you can help! In June myself, Michelle Househam, Paul Stammers, Gavin Young and Chris Ditchburn will be attempting the Three Peaks challenge – climbing the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in just 24 hours. In addition to the climbing we’ll also be giving talks on Osprey migration and our education work in West Africa at the Lake District Osprey Project at 12:30pm on 18th June, the Loch of the Lowes at 7:30pm the same day and at the Dyfi Osprey Project at 7:30pm once we’ve finished the challenge on 20th June. If you would like to sponsor us, you can do so by visiting our online fund-raising page. Any money you can give would be greatly appreciated.

It would also be great to see you at one of the talks if you happen to live near any of the three sites we’ll be visiting on the tour. We’ll be posting more details in the next few weeks leading up to the challenge.

Finally, a special thanks to Tim Norton Motors in Oakham who have kindly donated a minibus for us to use for the challenge.