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By Michelle on June 30, 2013
Last week the Rutland Water Nature Reserve staff had the pleasure of meeting Penny Smith, a work experience student who spent five days working with several of our reserve teams. Here is Penny’s account of her week at Rutland Water.
On Monday I felt a bit nervous as I’m coming somewhere I had never been before and I was meeting new people. I got introduced to some people and I had nothing to worry about as they were very friendly. My supervisor for the day was Mark. We started off by going round the centre filling up all the bird feeders. I enjoyed this because I was able to look at the different varieties of wildlife around the centre. After we had completed that, we went into the woods and cut down all the nettles preparing for the school to come the next day. After lunch I laminated some posters and stuck them on the wall in the bird hide. I then helped Mark check the moth trap but we unfortunately didn’t catch any because the bulb had broken. Will then asked me to produce a spread sheet for the stock in the shop. When I had completed that I went home. I enjoyed today because everyone was very friendly and it’s a nice environment to work in. Also, I enjoyed working outside instead of being stuck inside.
I was looking forward to today as I was working with the outdoor conservation team. As usual, I felt a bit nervous because I was meeting new people and I didn’t know how they would take to me. Amelia was my supervisor and we spent all morning feeding the cows and sheep. I enjoyed doing this because I was able to see more of the reserve and learnt all about the lagoons; how new ones have been constructed etc. After lunch we went to the Lyndon visitor centre to feed some cows. Amelia took me to the bird watching hide where I was able to watch the Ospreys for a short time. I really enjoyed this because I saw the chicks on the nest. This made me very excitable for Friday. We then finished off the day by helping Martin build a bird watching hide. I enjoyed this as I actually got stuck in with some drilling and sawing instead of just standing around. I had great fun today because the people I met were very friendly and always tried to make conversation with me, I’m looking forward to tomorrow already.
Today’s my last day with the outdoor team. Yet again, I met loads more new people who were very friendly. We spent a short while in the morning herding up cows because they were being sent off to be sold. I liked doing this as it felt like I was at home and comfortable with what I was doing because I live on a farm and used to herding cows. For the rest of the day Sarah was my supervisor and, along with 4 others, we went down to the river side and pulled up Himalayan Balsam. There was never a dull moment as the people I was with were very chatty, friendly and funny.
I was back in the Anglian water bird watching centre and Mark was my supervisor. Unfortunately I was a bit late arriving due to an accident on the road but my mum rang Will and he was absolutely fine with it. I was looking forward to today because a primary school was visiting and, surprisingly, I like working with children. As soon as they arrived, Eileen, Jess and I took a group of children pond dipping. I quite enjoyed it as I was able to see a variety of bugs and insects that lived in the pond. After that, I joined Mark to do some bug hunting. I helped the kids lift logs and if they were unable to scoop a bug into their pot I helped them. After lunch we went to the Osprey hide and I helped the kids spot some birds. When they’d gone home, I helped tidy up and worked on the computer for a bit.
On Friday it was the Osprey Project’s turn and after a brief introduction to the project Penny settled down in the office with a huge pile of monitoring sheets that I’d picked up from Site B that morning. The sheer number of pages would be daunting for anyone put Penny quickly gathered all the information about 03’s fishing habits in no time at all. After lunch Penny spent most of the afternoon in Waderscrape hide watching 5R and his family. As you can see from the video below, this is a great time to watch the Ospreys because the chicks are now frantically flapping as they try to strengthen their wings. A little bit of wind always helps…
When Penny came back to the Lyndon centre, there was just enough time to finish 03’s fishing facts. Thanks to Penny’s hard work we can tell you that during the 75 days between 11th April and 25th June, 03 was away fishing for 10 days, 12 hours and 50 minutes. These fishing trips resulted in 172 fish being brought back to the nest and just like other Rutland male Ospreys, it’s not hard to guess which is 03’s favourite!
Thank you very much Penny for all your help during the week, it was great to meet you and we all hope to see you again soon!
By Lizzie on June 29, 2013
Next weekend Rutland Water Nature Reserve will be holding its annual bioblitz event. Why not combine a visit to see the Ospreys at Lyndon and come along and help us beat last year’s total of 905 species in 24 hours?
Here’s all you need to know about the bioblitz …
Rutland Water is famous for its birds, but the nature reserve supports an amazing diversity of other species too. On 6th and 7th July we’ll be trying to record them all at our annual bioblitz. The idea is simple – from midday on Saturday to midday on Sunday we’ll be attempting to record everything that creeps, crawls, flutters and flies. And what’s more you can come and give us a helping hand as we attempt to beat our target of 1000 species!
For the 24 hours of the bioblitz access to the nature reserve will be completely free. All you need to do is come and register at the Birdwatching Centre at Egleton. On arrival you’ll be given your very own Bioblitz Bible; which will be full of practical information about the event as well as lots of hints and tips. It will also contain a recording form, helping you to keep track of what you’ve seen and to submit your sightings at the end of the day. And don’t worry – you don’t need to be an expert to help out. Nature reserve staff and volunteers will be on hand all day to give you a helping hand.
In addition to free access to the reserve, we’ll also be offering a range of guided walks and events on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. On Saturday evening there’ll be a guided bat walk at the Birdwatching Centre and moth trapping at the Lyndon Visitor Centre. Then on Sunday morning from 9am until 12noon there’ll be a bird ringing demonstration, small mammal trapping, sweep netting for invertebrates and pond-dipping in search of underwater life. Local expert Phil Rudkin will also be leading a guided walk to help you learn about the reserve’s grasshoppers and crickets at 10:30am. We’ll also be running a mini-blitz to see how many species we can record from 11am until 12 noon. You don’t need to register for any of the Sunday activities, but click on the links if you would like to go bat watching or moth trapping.
By Michelle on June 28, 2013
Anyone looking at the weather outside will know straight away that Wimbledon is on! I’m sure the Ospreys in Manton Bay sometimes wish they had a retractable roof…
5R spent most of the day staying out of the rain but, after an afternoon of noisy hints from the female, he returned to the nest just after 4pm with a huge pike. As soon as it was delivered, the three chicks got in line and waited for their fair share.
It took the female and all three chicks 50 minutes to finish their substantial meal and it wasn’t long before the largest chick, female 3J, was putting all that energy to good use…
The countdown to fledging has begun!
By Michelle on June 27, 2013
Here’s an exciting update from volunteer Gavin Young about our next challenging adventure…
I know we’re only at the halfway point of the Osprey season – and I’m really sorry to have to do this – but at some point we have to think about the great event that will take place at the end of our Osprey year. In September a small group of individuals will prepare themselves to leave Rutland on a long and challenging journey. In the days and weeks before they leave some of them will have to learn new skills by making short journeys into the beautiful countryside around Rutland to practice for the main event. Then, when the big day comes they will stretch their limbs, put on their helmets and lycra (optional) and get on their bikes to begin their four day journey from Rutland to Dover.
Of course, I’m not talking about the Ospreys’ epic Autumn migration to West Africa. It’s far too early for that and we still have plenty of action and entertainment to come with first flights to look forward to, Osprey cruises and other events. And then there’s Birdfair with all the birders, binoculars and beards that it brings to Rutland. Besides that, Ospreys can’t ride bicycles.
As I mentioned in April a team of Osprey staff and volunteers are planning a couple of events which will take place over the next two seasons to raise money for the West Africa Project. In October 2014 we will row from Dover to Calais in a Cornish pilot gig in an attempt to match a small part of an Osprey’s much larger migration. This was originally planned for this October but has been rescheduled to take advantage of an extremely generous sponsorship offer from Swarovski Optik to cover the costs of the event.
In keeping with the theme of migration we have decided that this year we will take on the ‘first leg’ of the Autumn migration by cycling from Rutland to Dover. Starting on the 19th September we will have four days to complete the journey at an average of about 45 miles per day. The route is as yet unconfirmed but could possibly take us through Huntingdon, Cambridge, Saffron Walden, Gravesend, Canterbury and finally to Dover.
It will be a challenging journey as most of us are not used to long distance cycling. For motivation I keep telling myself that once we’ve dragged ourselves up the hill from the start at the Lyndon centre it can only get easier. In reality we will suffer from blisters, fatigue and saddle-sores all along the way. But it will, of course, be well worth it as we are hoping to raise another useful chunk of money to go towards the Osprey Flyways Project.
We set-up the Osprey Flyways Project in 2011 and since then it has supplied educational resources to schools in the Gambia and forged links between these schools and others along the migration routes. As well as increasing knowledge of Ospreys and other birds across their migratory range, the project has enabled links between people from different cultures and backgrounds.
The team will be made up of Tim Mackrill, Michelle Househam, Lizzie Lemon, Lloyd Park, Chris Ditchburn and Gavin Young. You may see us pounding the roads of Rutland in an effort to get in shape for the challenge but if you don’t, ask us why not!
If you would like to sponsor our event please go to our fundraising page.
Posted in Osprey Team Latest
By Michelle on June 26, 2013
The Manton Bay chicks are now between five and six weeks old, and therefore, the perfect age to be ringed. At this stage they are almost fully-grown, but more-importantly, still about two weeks away from making their first flights. Ringing chicks at Manton Bay is made more difficult than usual, though, by the fact that the nest is situated in eight feet of water; meaning that in order to access it we need a boat and a triple extending ladder. Its also important that there isn’t much wind – otherwise keeping the boat steady is virtually impossible.
Thankfully at 5:30am this morning conditions were perfect; it was suprisingly warm, and more-importantly, there was no wind. Having tied the boat to the bottom of the telegraph pole and man-handled the ladder up to the nest Tim climbed out of the boat and collected the three chicks. The immediate impression was that they all looked to be in fantastic condition.
At this age it’s a relatively easy task to sex the birds – males generally have a slimmer, whiter head and less-heavy bill than females. Their legs are usually thinner too. The first bird we ringed was definitely a female. She was in excellent condition and a really good weight – 1870g: testament to the fishing prowess of her father. We gave her a blue colour-ring with the inscription 3J. The second bird was a male and he was ringed with a blue colour ring, 2J. The third chick, 1J, was a slightly smaller male and he weighed a respectable 1525g.
Having put the chicks back into the nest, Tim and the others made a hasty retreat and the adult female returned to her favourite perch above the nest almost straight away. It was as if nothing had happened…