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For the love of ospreys

Even in the winter when the ospreys are not with us, it’s impossible to forget about them! We are keeping tabs on 30(05) who, this year like all the others, sits on her favourite perch on the beach in Senegal all through the winter. She leaves her spot to hunt twice a day, then settles back down to relax her winter away. What a life!

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30 on her beach (Photo John Wright)

 

It’s only the end of October, but we are already looking forward to the return of Maya and 33(11) to Manton Bay! This nest is currently the only active nest that is actually on the nature reserve, and is consequently the only one in the area that is viewable by the public. As such, Manton Bay is special as we get very attached to the individuals, and are privy to a wealth of information about their lives. We are incredibly happy to have six other nests in the area that also have osprey pairs successfully raising chicks, some for years, others that are more recent. We hope that next year we have several more ospreys pairing up and breeding. There is a lot of potential for more nests in Rutland, and we are excited to see how many pairs can be sustained in this area.

We’re also excited about the prospect of ospreys spreading further afield, away from the epicentre of their recurrence. Nest platforms are being placed and monitored in several suitable locations, and we are monitoring them each season.

The Manton Bay ospreys are, of course, the stars of the show. 33 took over from 5R in 2014, and Maya has been breeding in the bay since 2010. There are a couple of ways in which the name Maya can be pronounced – some think Mi-ah, others May-ah. We pronounce ours as Mi-ah. More information about her can be found by clicking here. 

To date, Maya and 33 have produced six offspring – S1, S2 and S3 in 2015, and T6, T7 and T8 in 2016. We are hopeful that this pair will return and breed again in 2017, and many years thereafter!

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33, Maya and their 2016 brood

 

The 2017 season promises to be one of the best, what with the potential for more nesting ospreys, and the return of our favourites. Osprey cruises are a brilliant way of seeing Rutland’s ospreys out and about, and have been very successful over recent years. The dates for cruises in 2017 are already available! Click here for more information.

We have several other events planned for next season too, such as a bird ringing demonstration and a dawn chorus walk at the Lyndon Nature Reserve. Click here for more details!

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T7 (Photo John Wright 2016)

 

 

 

Back to Africa

Back to Africa

In January 2017, the Rutland Osprey Team are heading out to West Africa on an osprey-watching adventure! In anticipation of our trip, let’s have a brief look back at the last one…

In January 2016, the Osprey Project team visited The Gambia and Senegal as part of our Osprey Flyways Project. A group of ten fantastic volunteers were there with us for the first ten days, and together we explored bird-rich parts of the The Gambia and Senegal, and were treated to fabulous views of hundreds of exotic species.

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After the group departed, Paul, John and I remained in Africa for a further two weeks, and visited other places, some further afield and less accessible. One of the purposes of our trip was to record and document as many colour-ringed ospreys as we could, in order to find out more about their wintering habits and migrations.

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The whole trip was a huge success – we saw three Rutland ospreys, several other colour-ringed birds, a plethora of other species, and visited two schools involved in the Ospreys Flyways Project. Plus we had great fun!

The team at Tanji school

The team at Tanji school

 

One of the three Rutland ospreys we saw was our satellite-tagged female, 30(05), who was perched in her favourite spot on the Senegalese beach she calls her winter home. It was brilliant to see her there, her satellite-tracker aerial clearly visible. More details can be found by clicking here. 

30(05) (JW)

30(05) (JW)

 

One of the other Rutland birds we were privileged to see was 5F(12) at Tanji marsh. We knew she wintered there as she had been spotted there in years before, but of course we weren’t guaranteed to see her. Luckily, as we scanned through the stumps on the marsh, there she was, showing off her bright blue leg ring! More details can be found by clicking here.

5F (JW)

5F (JW)

 

The most amazing discovery was that of 32(11), an osprey born in Manton Bay to 5R(04) and Maya, the grandson of 03(97), the mate of 30(05) and the father of the 100th Rutland osprey chick! What a wonderful coincidence that it was him we found! We didn’t expect it at all. As we sailed towards the Iles de Oiseaux, an osprey with a blue ring on its right leg was spotted in the mangroves. This meant the bird was from England or Wales, and so could be from Rutland! Unfortunately we couldn’t get close enough to read the ring. We returned the next day to the same spot, and this time we got it – it was 32(11)! It was a wonderful discovery, and everyone was very excited. More details can be found by clicking here.

32(11) (JW)

32(11) (JW)

 

We had such an amazing time in Africa, and were privileged to get some incredible close-up views of ospreys flying and fishing. One of the best places was the Somone Lagoon, where a boat trip through the mangroves proved to be the best way of seeing ospreys at close quarters.

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We also had several trips to little islands, such as the Iles de Oiseaux and Bijoli island, where we had superb views of ospreys sitting eating fish on the sand, with turnstones trying to steal bits of fish as they were dropped!

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John Wright made an excellent video of the trip – click here to see it!

 

 

 

Where are you now

Where are you now

It’s always lovely to know where our ospreys go after they leave us. This privileged knowledge is aided greatly by the use of satellite tracking. However, we can’t and don’t put trackers on every bird, so this means we rely heavily on leg ring sightings for information about the whereabouts of the birds. Of course, sightings of ospreys close enough to read the ring isn’t always possible, and consequently we often don’t know where our birds have been. However, we do sometimes get lucky, and in the past we have occasionally had confirmed sightings of our ospreys elsewhere, such as 1K, 2K and 5F in Gambia, 1J in Spain and 32 in Senegal.

We always get very excited when we get a report of a Rutland osprey, and just recently we had another one! One of this year’s juveniles has been seen and photographed twice since he set off on migration in August! 2AA is a male osprey who fledged from a Rutland nest in 2016. He was first spotted at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire by Dr John Horsfall on 15th September 2016. Here are the photographs John took of 2AA.

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Amazingly, the same osprey was then seen and photographed on 22nd October 2016 by António Gonçalves in Portugal! Here is António’s photograph.

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Sightings like these are fantastic and we can’t emphasise enough the importance of reporting ring numbers. Every sighting of a ringed osprey is significant. Confirmed sightings of ring numbers are sporadic, and it’s highly uncommon to get two sightings of the same bird in two separate locations, particularly in such quick succession!

Here is a map of the two locations 2AA was sighted.

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We know that not all ospreys go to Africa, as has been proven by 1J who winters near Cadiz in Spain, and 06, a translocated female who wintered in Portugal. So it will be interesting to find out what 2AA does next…

 

 

Ozzie sells well in Oakham

Ozzie sells well in Oakham

On Saturday 22nd October, author and education officer Ken Davies was at Walker’s Bookshop in Oakham, to sign and sell his new book ‘Ozzie Leads the Way’, illustrated by Fiona Gomez, and his earlier Ozzie books, illustrated by John Wright, plus Jackie and Pete Murray’s activity book ‘Be an Osprey Expert’. A good number of books were sold, and Walker’s retained more for their stock. All books are now available from the shop in High St, Oakham (01572 723957). All proceeds go towards the work of the Rutland Osprey Project both in this country and in Africa. Many thanks to all the people who supported the team on the day, especially Tim Mackrill, Sarah Proud, Tom and Ann Price, and pupils and staff of local schools.

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Ken and Fiona at the book event

 

 

Memories of Africa

Memories of Africa

Here is a wonderful video of the Osprey Project’s trip to Africa in January 2016! This video was filmed and edited by John Wright, and highlights many of the wonderful things we did and saw on the trip. Enjoy!