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Summer of love

Summer of love

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s quite sad at this time of year with no Ospreys. However, what we can do is look back at the season and remember it fondly! After the unfortunate events in Manton Bay last year, we are thrilled that chicks were raised successfully on the Lyndon Nature Reserve once again – 33 did an absolutely superb job of raising chicks for the first time, alongside Manton Bay’s experienced female, Maya, who was again able to do what comes naturally – and she does it very well! Maya has now raised 14 chicks in total over her five years of breeding. The antics of her most recent brood have been immensely entertaining, and S1, S2 and S3 gripped the hearts of many.

With this in mind, and as I promised yesterday, we have created a video of the Manton Bay 2015 highlights! We picked out some of the best bits of footage that we’ve recorded throughout the season, from the return of Maya and 33 on 6th April, to the antics of the juveniles after they fledged! The video is accompanied by subtitles, to narrate the story of the season. If you visited the Osprey Stand at Birdfair, or have visited the Lyndon Centre in the past few days, you may have already seen this film. If so, we hope you enjoy watching it again, and if not, here it is!

Don’t forget, the Lyndon Visitor Centre will remain open until Sunday 13th September, so there is still time to visit us to chat about Ospreys and see the other delights that the reserve has to offer.

You can join us to celebrate the success of the 2015 season at our Osprey Fundraising Dinner and Dance. Click here for more details! 

 

30's journey, 5th and 6th September

Racing through the desert

Our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05), has been making superb progress on her autumn migration this season. She left Rutland on 31st August, and just five days later she was roosting near Agadir in Morocco, at the western tip of the Haut Atlas Mountains. You can see from the picture below how she deliberately skirted the edge of the mountains and went around them, then came back eastwards and picked up the same bearing again the next day.

Atlas mountains3

30 jinked around the Atlas mountains

 

30 set off on 5th September at 6am, and headed onwards through the desert. This is the hardest part of an Osprey’s migration. There is little to no chance of finding anywhere to stop and fish during the crossing of the desert, which, along with the heat and heat haze, makes life difficult for Ospreys. Sahara translates in Arabic as “the Greatest Desert”, and it is indeed the largest hot desert in the world. 30, and other Ospreys, must fly over roughly 1,000 miles of it (1,600km).

On that day, 30 travelled 418 km (260 miles), over the Guelmim-Es Semara region and into the Western Sahara. After flying for 14 hours, she roosted in the middle of a very impressive landscape of dried up, probably ancient river beds, with fossilised remnants of what lay before, many years ago.

The amazing rock formations in the desert, where 30 roosted

The amazing rock formations in the desert, where 30 roosted

 

The next day, at 7am, 30 was off again, and she covered a total distance of 305 km (189 miles), flying at an average altitude of 784m. She stopped to roost at 7pm, smack in the middle of the Western Sahara.

30's journey, 5th and 6th September

30’s journey, 5th and 6th September

 

30 certainly is a very experienced migrator, and knows exactly what she’s doing and where she’s going. She’s almost there, too – there is only 1,100km (700 miles) left to go! We should have more data in the next couple of days – it will be very interesting to find out how much further she has gone!

Click here to follow 30’s journey on our special map (2015’s autumn migration is the blue line).

Alternatively, click here to follow 30 using Google Earth.

 

The Egyptian Geese wasted no time!

Since you’ve been gone

It’s been a lovely day at Lyndon today, with a little bit of late summer sunshine – just what we need! This weather is perfect for migrating Ospreys, and we hope the elements are being kind to our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05), as she flies solidly southwards through northwest Africa. We are still waiting for the latest batch of data from 30’s transmitter, but we know she is making brilliant progress. Keep your eyes on the news as we follow 30’s remarkable journey to Senegal!

As Tim commented, it is strange to be at Lyndon with no Ospreys. They are the identity of this reserve, and a huge part of our lives for over five months, and it feels oddly empty without them. We go through these feelings every year – it never gets any easier! However, soon, the autumn and winter take on their typical regularity, and it becomes normal not to have Ospreys. Then we eagerly await the excitement of March and April 2016, when the adults are set to return!

The end of the season comes with the satisfaction of knowing it has been magnificent. Everything just went perfectly in Manton Bay – we are so immensely happy that Maya and 33 both returned this year and bred successfully. Last year emphasised the fact that we cannot take anything for granted. We hope you will fondly remember the great memories this season has provided. We will be uploading a highlights video in the near future, but until then you can always look back through the archive updates to re-read the blogs and re-watch the videos!

Whilst we might miss the Ospreys, others relish the fact that they have gone. This photo shows that it doesn’t take long for other lodgers to assume possession of the Osprey nest!

The Egyptian Geese wasted no time!

The Egyptian Geese wasted no time!

 

Despite the lack of Ospreys, the Lyndon Nature Reserve has a lot more to offer! At this time of year, Shallow Water hide is brilliant place to watch waders, particularly with the water levels being so low. The exposed mud and silt is a rich feeding ground for wading birds, and recent sightings include Wood Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Ruff and even a Great White Egret or two. Lyndon will remain open until Sunday 13th September. Come and enjoy what we have to offer while you can!

The season may be over, but this season deserves to be seen out in style. Therefore, on 18th September we are hosting a fundraising dinner to celebrate this year, and the 100th chick! By then, we will also be able to celebrate the safe arrival of the 100th chick’s Mum, 30(05), to her wintering grounds! There are still a few tickets available – click here for more details!

 

Look how similar this year's path is to last year - red line = 2014, green = 2015

Travelling on

The first batch of data from 30(05)’s transmitter, revealed by Tim yesterday, demonstrates just how far an Osprey can travel when she sets her mind to it! 30’s autumn migration this season looks set to be a record. She is currently ahead of where she was last year by a day.

The last data we had was 30’s roost site of 2nd September, in northern Andalucia. On 3rd September, she began her day’s flight at 6am, and headed towards the southern coast of Spain. She crossed the Mediterranean to the east of the straits of Gibraltar in the afternoon, just as she did last year, and she made landfall at 3pm. She then travelled another 179km (111 miles) over the next five hours, to her roost site 48km (29 miles) north-east of Kenitra. That day, she migrated a total of 411km (255 miles).

The next morning (4th September) 30 set off at around 6am again, and travelled 572km (355miles) south-west through Morocco, on an almost straight trajectory, as you can see from the map below.

30's journey 3rd and 4th September 2015

30’s journey 3rd and 4th September 2015

 

Tim mentioned yesterday how similar 30’s current migration is to last year’s, and you can see from the map below how this continues to be the case. The red line is last year’s route, and the green one is this year’s. On 4th September, her roost site was in a spot very close to where she roosted on 5th September last year!

Look how similar this year's path is to last year - red line = 2014, green = 2015

Look how similar this year’s path is to last year – red line = 2014, green line = 2015

 

Migration is truly mind-blowing, and it’s amazing how Ospreys can remember the way they went and stick to the same route. They clearly have incredible memories, and aim to follow a similar path each year, using the same landmarks to guide them. Factors such as the weather, particularly strong winds, can of course push the birds off-course, but it’s incredible the way they re-adjust and alter their flight path accordingly, as 30 did on the first leg of her journey.

30 is now over halfway to her destination, and she only set off six days ago! So far, she has travelled a total of 2,711km, (1,684 miles) and she only has about another 1,810km (1,125 miles) to go. I wonder where she will be when the next batch of data comes through… Keep an eye on the website to find out!

Don’t forget that you can follow 30’s migration on your own copy of Google Earth by following these simple instructions.

Even though the Ospreys have left Manton Bay, the Lyndon Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve will still be open from 9am-5pm until Sunday 13th September.

 

30's first day of migration was very similar to her flight on the same day in 2014

Creatures of habit

It’s been a strange day at Lyndon today. As you’ll probably have guessed if you have been watching the webcam, Manton Bay is now devoid of Ospreys. As Kayleigh reported earlier in the week, S3 headed south on Wednesday morning and was quickly followed by 33 that lunchtime. With all of her family heading south, Maya followed suit yesterday morning. She headed east from Manton Bay shortly after 10am and hasn’t been seen since. It all means that there is a rather empty feel to Rutland Water; Manton Bay is full of life with waders such as Ruff and Greenshank patrolling the shoreline and flocks of Gadwall and Teal building-up, but it just isn’t the same without the Osprey family. Having watched their every move for the past five months, it seems strange that we don’t know where they are now. There is every chance, though, that all of the family will have now crossed the English Channel into France. We wish them well on their incredible journey. We should also say a huge thank you to Kayleigh for her wonderful blogs this summer.

We may not know where the Manton Bay family are, but there is one Rutland Osprey that we can follow throughout the autumn and winter. The latest data from her satellite transmitter shows that by 5pm on Wednesday evening, 30(05) had reached Andalucia in southern Spain.

With the first full batch of migration data now in, we know that 30 left her nest shortly after 9am on Monday morning (31st August). Remarkably this was exactly the same as autumn 2014; almost to the minute. The weather on Monday was poor for migration (rain and low cloud) but it did not stop this experienced navigator setting out on her tenth autumn migration. During the course of the morning 30 made steady progress south, and by 1pm she was already south of Bath. An easterly wind resulted in her drifting further to the west than autumn 2014, but by the time she set-off across the English Channel from Portland Bill she had begun to compensate for this westerly drift. At 3pm she was half way across the channel, 85 kilomteres west of the corresponding position (at exactly the same time) on her 2014 journey. She skirted to the east of the Channel Islands and reached the Normandy coast at 5pm; three hours after passing Portland Bill. She continued flying until 8pm when she was perched close to a lake in the town of Craon in Pays de la Loire. She had flown just under 600km from Rutland Water and, although we do not know exactly where she roosted, she was now just 25km west of her 2014 flight path.

30's first day of migration was very similar to her flight on the same day in 2014

30’s first day of migration was very similar to her flight on the same day in 2014

30 must have flown further south on the night of 31st August because by 7am next morning she was 170km further south-west, just to the north of La Rochelle. The weather must have been good for migration because she maintained the same south-westerly heading over Ile de Re and then out across the Bay of Biscay. Ospreys are powerful flyers and a flight across the open sea is not the barrier it is to other species – such as Honey Buzzards – which are far more reliant on thermals to aid their journey. By 2pm 30 had completed a 350km flight across the bay of Biscay at altitudes ranging between 200 and 500 metres. Excitingly, she made landfall over the Urdaibai Estuary, where Roy Dennis has translocated Scottish Ospreys for the past three summers. Our friends at the Urdaibai Bird Center have also been closely involved in the Osprey Flyways Project and World Osprey Week, so it was exciting that 30 paid them a (brief) visit!

30 flew 350km across the Bay of Biscay before arriving at the Urdaibai estuary

30 flew 350km across the Bay of Biscay before arriving at the Urdaibai estuary

Unai Egia, the music teacher at Urretxindorra school, situated a few kilomoetres from Urdaibai, wrote a wonderful song about Osprey migration two years ago. Click here to watch the music video (and read the lyrics) of the song, performed by students at Montorre and Urretxindorra schools. The song seems very apt given 30’s flight this year.

Urdaibai would have been an excellent place for 30 to rest for a few hours, but she was clearly determined to continue her migration. During the course of the afternoon and early evening she flew another 311km before eventually settling to roost in a forested area 45km south of Valladolid. During the course of her day’s flight she had covered a staggering 831km.

By first light next morning 30 had moved into open field just over 1km from her roost site, and may even have caught a fish in nearby Lavajo Rabiosa. By 9am, though, she was already 20km south and, like the previous day, clearly determined to press on. By 2pm she had covered 148 kilometres at altitudes of up to 2700 metres. Conditions must have been good for migration because she flew another 149 kilomteres in the next three hours; reaching northern Andalucia at 5pm, with the Sierra Morena mountains prominent on the horizon. This meant that, less than 60 hours after leaving her nest site, 30 had flown an amazing 1728km.

30 flew over 1700km on her first three days of migration. Red line is her 2014 flight for comparison.

30 flew over 1700km on her first three days of migration. The red line is her 2014 flight for comparison.

30’s transmitter is on a three day cycle, so we should receive the next batch of data over the weekend. If the first three days of migration are anything to go by, she should be flying south through Morocco by now. Watch out for an update in the next few days.

Don’t forget that you can follow 30’s migration on your own copy of Google Earth by following these simple instructions.