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Another Sighting!

Another sighting!

We have some more wonderful news – another Rutland osprey chick from this season has been sighted! Osprey 2AB is a male chick who fledged this year from a nest in the Rutland area. He was spotted at the Somone Lagoon – an area in Senegal that the Rutland osprey team visited last season!

Unfortunately we don’t have a photograph of the bird himself, but here is his location on a map.

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So far that’s two Rutland osprey chicks from the 2016 season who have been spotted elsewhere, 2AB in Senegal and 2AA in Portugal. 2AA is still in the same area in Portugal, on the Rio Tajo, or River Tagus, near Lisbon, which is clearly a good place to be. Here is a recent photograph of him, taken by Armando Marques.

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Contrary to what the ring numbers may imply, these two juveniles were not from the same nest, but from two different nests in the Rutland Water area. For some reason the rings were not used in chronological order this year! 2AA is the son of 28(10), the lovable male osprey who attempted to breed with Maya in Manton Bay in 2014, and was chased away by 33(11). 28 has been breeding now for two years, and has raised a total of three chicks. 2AB is one of 5N(04)’s chicks, a well-known female osprey who first bred in Manton Bay in 2007. She is one of the legendary 03(97)’s many daughters, and has raised a total of 18 chicks in her ten years of breeding.

It’s brilliant to get reports of Rutland ospreys on their migration or wintering grounds, and we rely on sightings such as this to know where our birds are, as we cannot put GPS transmitters on all of them. Knowing that two juveniles from this year are safely settled for the winter is great news, and we hope these two will return in a couple of years!

Currently, Field Officer John Wright is out in Senegal doing surveys into the population of ospreys in the area. He has already seen some Rutland ospreys, such as 06(09) whose wintering location we were informed of last winter by Rafa Benjumea. Click here for more information.

John will be sending updates of his travels as and when he is able to do so, and we will be sure to keep the website updated with the information he sends!

Watch this space!

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06(09) last winter

 

 

Tree huggers

Tree huggers

Yesterday and last week the work party team at Lyndon were working hard on the reserve once again. Last Monday was a perfect day to be working outdoors on a beautiful nature reserve – this photograph by Sarah Box really shows how frosty, crisp and bright the day was!

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(Sarah Box)

 

The team have been busy recently working on an area of the reserve to the right of the Lyndon centre, coppicing sections and clearing either side of the track that leads to Swan hide. One of the tasks was to recoppice an area of small hazel. This is now complete, with all the coppice stools protected by chicken-wire, to protect the new shoots from being nibbled by squirrels, rabbits and muntjac deer! This area of hazel will now be able to regenerate slowly, and the extra light afforded to the woodland floor will allow plants to flower in the ground layer.

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Protective fences around coppice stools (Photo by Roy Edwards)

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(Photo by Sarah Box)

 

There were also a lot of tangled, overgrown trees and shrubs in this section of the reserve, and the team did a great job of getting in there and tidying it up a bit! We untangled intertwined brambles, and branches of trees that were growing too close together. The densely packed trees were thinned out to enable proper growth, and any unsafe or overhanging material was removed. The piles of brash and debris from this work was moved away from the sides of the track, and a dead hedge was constructed at the back of one of the coppice plots. Some of the smaller material was thrown onto the fire, and the bigger, straight(ish) bits were used to make the stakes to build the wire fences, and other bits will be used as stakes for hedgelaying and willow weaving.

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(RE)

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(SB)

 

Now, these work parties are not just about hard work, although that plays a big part, of course. Mondays at Lyndon are also about having fun! This Monday was the last work party before Christmas, so we made sure there were crackers, mince pies, a Christmas cake, Christmas jumpers and silly Christmas hats!

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(RE)

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What is Paul showing Barbara? (SB)

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Jan’s Christmas cake! (SB)

 

We love the work we do, and the environment we do it in. Often conservationists are referred to as tree huggers, which some find derogatory. Well we say why not?! We love trees so let’s hug ’em!

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Kayleigh & Maureen showing a bit of love to an ash tree (SB)

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No tree is too small to be hugged! (SB)

 

Whilst some were busy hugging trees, others preferred, erm, sitting in old troughs…!

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Paul Stammers in a trough (SB)

 

It can never be said that we don’t have a good time!

Thank you sincerely to every single one of you for the time and effort you’ve all put in at these work parties, we really enjoy them and your hard work is massively appreciated and makes a huge difference to the reserve. Thanks also to Sarah and Roy for the photos, Jan for the cakes and Paul for the soups!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas! We’ll see you again in the new year.

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“I really want to hug this…” (SB)

 

 

 

Ozzie’s Winter Diary Part 3

Ozzie’s Winter Diary Part 3

Part three of Ken Davies’ fictional Ozzie’s diary is here!

December 2016

On one of his excursions to Tanji Marsh, Ozzie decides to fly a little further into the mangrove-fringed creeks and lagoons, where he has previously been able to catch fish quite easily. He notices that the green 4 x 4 is there again, parked on the hard mud at the edge of the marsh. It has an Osprey ken1picture on the side. Ozzie of course does not know it, but this is the Gambian birdman Fansu, who has brought his good friend Chris to see the Ospreys. They are in luck today.  Not only do they see Ozzie as he flies over and into the mangrove creeks, but another old friend, the female 5F, a 2012 Rutland Osprey, is sitting on one of her tree stumps out in the shallow water. Chris and his friends take pictures, which will soon be delighting Osprey followers back in the United Kingdom. Ozzie has a look, but moves on. He is drifting over a new creek, which he has not explored before.

Soon he is flying over a vivid green landscape of mangroves, their lower branches a tangle of stems and branches, offering cover and protection to a varied throng of birds, mammals and reptiles. A few step out cautiously onto the muddy edges of the creek. Suddenly he is in the middle of a Cormorant metropolis, where hundreds of pairs of these white-breasted birds (sub-species lucidus) have recently set up home. The pungent scent of guano, the sounds of Cormorant domestic life, the sight of their gleaming white breasts, coal black backs, the deep green mangroves, the ripple of cool water – a truly multi-sensory experience. Ozzie flies on, ignoring the Cormorants’ caterwauling. He notices the azure and orange flicks as tiny Malachite and Blue-breasted Kingfishers dart about after tiny fish, while Rollers of three species (Broad-billed, Blue-bellied and Abyssinian) and a similar array of Bee-eaters (Swallow-tailed, Blue-cheeked and White-throated) fly out into the cloudless blue sky over the water in search of insect prey before returning with it to a convenient top branch of an emergent tree on the bank.

Ozzie’s superb eyesight means he misses nothing as he flies deeper into the limitless mangrove covered landscape. Even the rare and subtly camouflaged Night Herons (White-backed and Black-crowned) are seen by him as they creep secretively among the lower branches. A Marsh Mongoose freezes as the shadow of the raptor passes over. He need not have worried – Ozzie is not interested in him. Whimbrel call from the muddy edges. House Martins eagerly pursue insects above the lagoons. Maybe they too are from Rutland, and know this is one bird of prey that will not bother them.

And so he carries on, weaving his way through this maze of watery wilderness in the heat of the African day. Time for a fish. He comes down lower, studying the waters below him. These creeks teem with fish, and it does not take him long to find a shoal and select his prey. He is on the verge of a dive…..when something suddenly distracts him and he hurries on, rounding the next curve in the creek before slowing again to a more leisurely pace.

His keen eye had detected a shape on the topmost branch of a huge spectacular tree, emerging from the canopy of the mangroves. The tree is a ken2remarkable baobab, maybe a thousand years old, rising majestically from a single massive trunk, branches reaching out like arms on all sides. On its topmost tip sits a bird which for many is the most iconic symbol of Africa : the African Fish Eagle. Proud, erect, surveying his domain with unerring eye, he has watched Ozzie approach, waiting for him to dive and catch a fish. And then, if Ozzie had been successful, he would have left his perch and pursued the smaller bird, rapidly overtaking him on his more powerful wings, and forcing him to drop his catch. A free meal for an Eagle. But Ozzie is wise. He aborted his dive, and will wait until he is over another creek without an attendant Fish Eagle. The Eagle resumes his vigil. If no fish-carrying Osprey passes by, he will fish for himself later on.

Ozzie catches a fish at the next opportunity and is still carrying it, looking for a quiet perch on which to eat, when ken3a long log-like shape in the water attracts his attention. Could he land on it and have a rest? He flies down to inspect it, and then flaps up again in haste. Crocodiles! And there are more on the bank, immobile, jaws agape, glassy eyes all-seeing. Suddenly, the largest one sweeps its great tail, thrashes the water, and is gone. The others follow, accompanied by wild cries from the terns, egrets and Whimbrel all around. Ozzie finds a tree, rests, and then eats his fish.

It’s time to turn for home and the familiar roosting tree at the back of Tanji beach. As late afternoon turns to evening, many birds are coming into the mangroves for the night. A flock of Woolly-necked Storks cross the sky in formation, while a smaller group of African Spoonbills drop in from the north. The Fish Eagle is still in his baobab tree. A group of five Black-crowned Cranes fly in low, seeking refuge as dusk gathers, and a solitary Goliath Heron, as tall as a man, keeps still and quiet in the shallow water. Ozzie passes on. Nearly home now.

Ozzie and all the other birds and animals in the world live their lives unfettered by politics, race, educational opportunity, religion or geographical boundary, but their prosperity and future survival can be affected by decisions taken by men and women in positions of power.

Goodnight Ozzie, Fansu, JJ and everyone in Gambia. Stay safe. We’ll see you all in January 2017.

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Clearing the way

Clearing the way

The Lyndon work party team were out in force again on Monday! It was a beautiful cold, bright day, the end of autumn slowly leaking into winter. The leaves have almost all fallen, the last few clinging vainly onto frost-covered branches. It was a perfect day for carrying out a bit of woodland management work!

The volunteers kept warm chopping small hazel and dragging the smaller bits to the fire, which was also a great way of keeping warm! Many of the thicker stems were cut into lengths suitable for use as stakes, and some of these stakes were then used to build wire fences around the hazel stumps. This is a precaution intended to prevent rabbits and deer nibbling the new shoots, which is detrimental to the subsequent regrowth of the coppice stools. Other stakes will be used for hedgelaying and willow weaving on other projects around the reserve.

The cleared area looks fantastic now that there is more space and light, and the view is improved too!

Thank you very much to Sarah Box for the following photographs.

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The team are incredibly hard working and have accomplished a lot of tasks in recent weeks on the Lyndon reserve. Some other work that has been completed recently includes trimming the hedge and the entrance archway around the picnic area, clearing the willow regrowth in the front meadow, and creating a dead-hedge along the path to Teal hide, using material from the adjacent recently coppiced area.

Here are some photographs of the workers! Thanks to Sarah Box for these.

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Climate change and migration

Climate change and migration

We all know that climate change is happening – there is no denying it. We are already seeing the effects that it is having on the planet. An increase in the severity of storms, freak weather events, loss of sea ice, a rise in sea level, longer heat waves, increased rainfall and consequent flooding, are just a few examples of the impact of a warming climate. The changes will affect the behaviour of all species, as they attempt to acclimatise to them. If they cannot adapt fast enough, or there is not enough genetic diversity to enable adaptation, then extinctions will happen. Species are already going extinct at an alarming rate. Scientists have estimated that we’re losing species at 1-10,000 times the natural background rate of one-five species per year, with dozens going extinct each day. We are currently undergoing the sixth mass extinction the planet has experienced – the biggest since the elimination of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Unlike previous mass extinctions, this one is caused by us.

The question has been raised more than once about the potential impact of climate change on the migration of ospreys. Of course, we can’t really know for sure, but can speculate based on what we do know. Animals that migrate do so due to the abundance of food, and must therefore time their movements to match those of their prey. They use environmental cues for the timing of their migration, and also for navigation, therefore any changes in these cues will undoubtedly have an effect. In terms of ospreys, they have to migrate to places where their prey, fish, are most plentiful. Fish are ectotherms, i.e. they depend on external sources of heat, and cannot regulate their own temperature internally. As such, their physiology is linked to the temperature of their environment. As temperatures decrease towards the end of summer, fish tend to migrate towards deeper water, making them impossible to catch, hence the need for ospreys to migrate to warmer climates.

A rise in temperature will influence the metabolism of the fish, which is likely to affect their movements. This means that fish in the UK could potentially remain available to ospreys for a longer period, and the beginning of the ospreys’ migration could thus be delayed. In some species, migration patterns have already altered, or indeed halted altogether, as a result of changes to their environment and the movement of their prey. However, having the ospreys stay longer in the UK and even potentially all year round is not a good thing at all. Migration has a role in reducing the occurrence and spread of diseases and infections, as individuals are vacating potentially contaminated habitats, and are separated from one another during the migration process. Also, diseased individuals are less likely to survive any long-distance travel, i.e. only the strong survive, therefore leaving the population more or less healthy. Consequently, staying sedentary and not migrating can lead to increased incidences of disease, which can then be transmitted to others in the population, and infect offspring through the breeding of infected individuals. In closely knit populations, and particularly those that contain low genetic diversity, a disease outbreak could wipe out an entire local population.

Migration is an important, innate process that certain species have been undertaking for thousands of years. Almost 20% of all bird species migrate. It is a necessary part of their lives, and that of their prey species. If these normal patterns, and indeed other aspects of animal behaviour, become disrupted, the consequences could be far reaching and there may be more serious and complicated effects that we cannot yet predict.

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