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Three chicks a week old (From L-R oldest to youngest)

Fisty Cuffs

As Osprey chicks grow they tend to go through several stages. First is the wobbly head stage where chicks have just enough strength to hold their heads up for the female to feed them. By the middle of the next week, they are likely to begin the reptilian stage, where they look like feathered dinosaurs. The oldest chick is now nearly a week old so it is somewhere in the middle – the squabbling stage. If you’ve been watching the webcam today you may have seen this…

Perhaps the aggressive chick was just hungry? In an environment where food is scarce, it would be more likely for the smallest chick to bear the brunt of this aggression but this is certainly not the case in Manton Bay. 5R has proved that he is a fantastic fisherman over the years so this year’s chicks have been getting a constant supply of good-sized fish. The behaviour we have seen today may just be a typical ‘play fight’ between the oldest two chicks. The youngest chick, still in the wobbly head stage, wasn’t involved. Instead it enjoyed the sunny weather and spent most of the day sleeping, perfect for a Bank Holiday weekend!

5R(04) and Maya

The Perfect Storm!

Who would believe that there is only one week to go until June!

It has been a truly dire day in Rutland today with temperatures resembling those of mid-winter, howling North Easterly winds causing waves reminiscent of the North Sea and torrential rain driving into the hides. But, as usual, the Manton Bay ospreys have taken it all in their stride. As too, I must say, have our hardy volunteers who have remained at their watch points throughout the day, so thank you to all of them for their dedication.

In the brief respites between downpours the Manton Bay female has been feeding the three chicks on a trout which 5R brought in this morning.

She has only been feeding them for small periods at a time as she tried to balance the need for them to eat and that of keeping them warm and dry. With the remains of the trout stuck in her talons the Manton Bay female covers her brood, protecting them from the elements. At times she was hunkered so low in the nest the volunteers in Waderscrape hide could only just see her.

Over the last few years that we’ve been watching the Manton Bay nest we’ve noticed that 5R likes to turn his hand to domestic duties. He’s proved this was still the case throughout incubation as he sat on the eggs for long periods of time. Well this afternoon, as the weather broke and the sun did it’s very best to shine, the Manton Bay female briefly left the nest, 5R found himself in the nest with half a fish and three hungry mouths, and not one to miss an opportunity, he attempted to offer his offspring some of the fish.

Fortunately, with our first cruise of the season tomorrow, the forecast for the Bank Holiday is set to improve – well lets face it, it couldn’t get much worse could it! There are still spaces on tomorrows cruise, if you would like to join us for a balmy evening aboard the Rutland Belle click here to book your place.

Drake Garganey, a summer visitor that spends its winters alongside Ospreys in West Africa

A morning in Manton Bay

The hides over-looking the Manton Bay nest not only provide superb views of the Ospreys, but a wealth of other wildlife. A few hours in either Waderscape or Shallow Water is most definitely time well-spent. And that’s exactly what John has done the past two mornings. Here’s what he has seen…

Garganey are a scarce summer visitor to Rutland Water with small numbers passing through each spring. Yesterday a stunning drake spent time a few metres in front of Shallow Water hide. This diminutive duck winters in West Africa, with a favoured site being Djoudj National Park in northern Senegal. And guess what, Djoudj is an important wintering site for Ospreys too. When Tim, John and Paul visited Djoudj in January 2011 they saw numerous Ospreys along with a flock of over 50,000 Garganey.

Drake Garganey, a summer visitor that spends its winters alongside Ospreys in West Africa

Unlike Garganey, Cormorants are a regular feature of Manton Bay; and if you have visited the hides over-looking the bay you may well have seen the Ospreys chasing them. This is almost certainly due to competition for fish – the two species catch similarly-sized fish and a few years ago we even saw a Cormorant attempt to steal one from 03(97) while he was fishing at the reservoir.

Ospreys spend most of the year growing new feathers and shedding old ones. The Manton Bay female currently has many gaps in her wings but come migration time most feathers will be fresh so she’ll be in good condition for the long flight south.

Three year-old male, 28(10), hasn’t settled at a nest site yet but he can often be seen on the Lagoon 4 nest on the Egleton reserve. For a map of the reserve click here. He is recognisable because of his damaged right wing. He returned in 2012 for the first time with this injury and we think it may have been caused by a fishing accident. As he has made it back to Rutland again this year it appears that it doesn’t affect his flying – or fishing. 28 intruded in Manton Bay this morning, buzzing the nest several times before eventually landing on the far T-perch. At the time, 5R was away fishing giving 28 ample time to pester the female who stayed on the nest guarding the chicks. It wasn’t long before he’d had his fill of mischief and left Manton Bay just before 5R came back with a fish.

If you want to enjoy this for yourself, then why not come and visit us at Lyndon over the bank holiday weekend? For directions to the centre, click here.

Three well-fed chicks

Three well-fed chicks

If you’ve been watching the webcam today, you’ll know that the three chicks – including this morning’s new arrival – have enjoyed regular feeds throughout the day. After this morning’s Perch, 5R brought a very large Pike to the nest which kept his new family satisfied for much of the afternoon. Although very weak at first, the youngest chick – which only hatched this morning – has grown visibly stronger during the day and is now a match for its siblings at feeding time. Here’s the moment it received its first piece of fish from Mum earlier today; its the furthest left of the three chicks.

At this stage of the season it is usually only the female who feeds the chicks, but this afternoon 5R offered some of the Pike to them too. As this video shows, however, they were so full of fish that none of them were interested! It was great to watch, though!

The 3 chicks waiting to be fed on a Perch

A Manton Bay hat-trick

Our prediction was correct; we switched the Manton Bay camera on at 6am this morning to find that the third chick had hatched overnight! It was still very weak, and our best guess is that it didn’t emerge out of the shell until around 5am. Here’s the moment we saw all three chicks together for the first time. There is a small Perch on the side of the nest, so the youngest memeber of the fmaily should get its first meal this morning.

It will have been a restless night for the chicks’ mother and she’s been snoozing on the nest on and off for the past hour or so. We’ll update you with more news later in the day, but in the meantime, you can watch it all on the webcam.