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Sticky business

Sticky business

There hasn’t been much on the fish front today – 33 has been more interested in bringing sticks! He has been on a stick mission today, bringing in at least four that we’ve managed to capture!

33 flying in with tiny stick

Stick

Stick again

One of 33’s stick deliveries earned him another peck from 2AN! She’s a bold young lady and this time seemed to lunge straight for 33’s throat!

2AN goes for the throat!

The lack of fish isn’t a problem – the juveniles don’t have quite so much growing to do now, so don’t need to eat so much. They are just about seven weeks old and are almost fully-grown. Osprey chicks have an awful lot of growing to do in the first seven weeks of their lives, and the amount of fish 33 has been providing dictates how much they need to keep them strong, healthy and growing at a rapid rate. They will still be fed by both parents (Maya usually begins fishing again after they have fledged) until they migrate, which will be towards the end of August.

They still need energy though to be able to exercise their wings in preparation for their first flight! Both juveniles have been flapping a lot again today, seemingly becoming more confident and almost ready to take that leap. It shouldn’t be long, at least not for 2AN!

2AM

2AN flaps

There were a couple of intrusions today that broke the peace, at about 13:45 an osprey was seen flying low over the bay. Maya had been on the French perch and dropped straight onto the nest, mantling and calling. 33 must have been absent, probably collecting another stick, as he is usually the one to get upset first. In the video below you can just see a distant black blob moving across from right to left. The intruder wasn’t around long, and didn’t come any closer to the nest.

The next one was at 14:23, and this time it was 33 who appeared on the nest. Again you can see the intruder coming from the distance. 33 got very panicky, was shouting loudly and got very low down in the nest. Like the earlier intruder, this one moved away fairly quickly. The juveniles didn’t seem bothered, and didn’t even lie flat in the nest as is their instinct when danger is around!

And then there was a fish! At 16:40 33 caught a lovely large trout and delivered it to the nest still kicking. 2AN made a grab for it, but then both her and 2AM stepped back and allowed Maya to feed it to them!

Maya fed them!

What a couple of beauties!

Beauties

 

 

Looking for the summer

Looking for the summer

Today was still chilly with no sun to be seen at all, but there was slightly less rain. As such there was a lot more action on the nest, and we could actually see what was going on! This morning there was an early fish delivery at 05:57, this was a rainbow trout that was still breathing…

33 with fish

Maya flew in when she saw 33 arrive, and she fed the juveniles instead of letting them get on with it. Even though they can feed themselves, as we’ve seen, Maya still has the instinct to feed them, and they still have the instinct to be fed!

Feeding

At 08:30 there was an intruder over Manton Bay. Maya was away, collecting sticks from over on Lax Hill. 33 immediately came to the nest, though he unfortunately landed on 2AN’s back! Luckily for him, she didn’t attack him as she has done before, for instance when he dropped a stick onto her last month. You can see from the wide-angled video that a couple of black-headed gulls fly past very close to the nest (or the same gull flies past twice), but they are not the reason for 33’s panic. After the gulls disappear you can see an osprey flying into the bay and up out of the camera view.

33 lands on 2AN

33 standing on 2AN

 

The next fish was delivered at 10:08, and it was another large trout. This time, Maya wasn’t there and 2AN made a grab for the fish. In her haste she accidentally grabbed hold of 33’s toe instead!

33 with fish

2AN grabs 33's toe instead!

As expected, a good amount of flapping was witnessed today, from both the female and male juveniles. 2AN seems a lot more confident than her brother, but she is four days older. Both of them have a way to go before being ready to fledge, the next step is helicoptering, when we will see them rising higher and higher above the nest, getting braver and more excitable!

2AM jumping

2AN

2AN wings out

2AN wingspan

 

 

When the rain falls

When the rain falls

What a rainy day! As usual, the wonderful British weather is unpredictable and wild, and this summer is currently alternating between scorching hot sun and pouring rain. The past couple of days have been rather rainy ones! Due to this, there is not much recent osprey action to report, mostly because today the view on the screen has looked like this:

Rainy camera

The juveniles have looked a bit miserable today, but now that they are six weeks old they are able to regulate their own temperature and their lovely new feathers are fairly waterproof, therefore they are perfectly able to cope with the rain. They may not be happy about it though!

Wet chicks!

They have been fed well today, there was a fish this morning and 33 brought in another large one at 15:25.

Incoming fish

Yesterday saw a fish brought in at 06:48 which 2AM tucked into!

2AM eating fish

This drizzly weather doesn’t really inspire the juveniles to stretch their wings or flap very much, but 2AN did have a little go at flapping earlier.

2AN flapping

2AN is seven weeks old on Friday, and 2AM next Tuesday. Seven weeks old is the age ospreys generally fledge, therefore it won’t be long before this year’s brood take to the air!

Gorgeous 2AN

 

 

 

 

Urdaibai centre and wetlands

The bit in the middle

Last week two of our Osprey Education Officers, Jackie and Pete Murray, went on a special journey to northern Spain to further spread the word about ospreys at the Urdaibai Bird Centre – one of the main stopovers on the migration flyway! Over to them…

The Rutland Osprey migration story has England at one end and West Africa at the other. Many of you follow the story of the ospreys here in Rutland during the summer months, and will also have seen pictures and heard the tales of those who have visited the ospreys in their overwintering sites in West Africa.

Pete & Jackie Murray (two of the Osprey Education team) have just been on a visit to Urdaibai and here is their story about the ‘bit in the middle’ of this migration journey.

Situated in the Basque area of Northern Spain, the Urdaibai Reserve is an important part of the flyway for many migrating birds including ospreys. Its weather and geographical position tend to have a funnelling effect and for many birds it is the first place they will make landfall after the hazards of flying south across the Bay of Biscay. Our satellite tracked osprey 30 regularly passes through this area on her way to and from Senegal.

Panorama of Urdaibai

Panorama of Urdaibai

Urdaibai centre and wetlands

Urdaibai centre and wetlands

 

Just how important Urdaibai is to bird migration is brought home by the sign that greets visitors at the entrance, ‘Urdaibai Bird Centre – International Airport for Birds’. Inside the building the displays and films all take migration as their central theme. The flyways map display that greets the visitor stepping into the building is breath taking both in sheer size (two stories high), its design and the important message it conveys.

Bird centre

Bird centre

Flyways

Flyways

Entrance display

Entrance display

Flyways through Urdaibai

Flyways through Urdaibai

 

Like Rutland, Urdaibai had no ospreys, and also like Rutland migrating ospreys were regularly seen on passage. So, based on the success of the Rutland re-introduction, there has been a licenced programme of translocating a small number of chicks from Scotland to Urdaibai during the last five years. 2017 will be the last year for these re-introductions, and in July Roy Dennis and Tim Mackrill will be taking a small number of chicks to their new home in Urdaibai. When they learn to fly and migrate to Africa, they should subsequently return to Basque area to breed.

We were taken to see the “hacking pens” into which the new chicks will be homed when they arrive. All clean, tidy and waiting for their new arrivals. The chicks will have a stunning view over the wetland where they will learn to fly! There is a monitoring cabin nearby, with an outside kitchen consisting of a stainless steel sink under an awning, ready to prepare fresh locally caught fish to feed the young ospreys.

Observation cabin

Observation cabin

Hacking pens

Hacking pens

 

Some of the earlier translocated birds are already returning to Urdaibai and we were lucky enough to be greeted by a flyover from osprey 3N, as we left the nearby town of Gernika on our way to the Urdaibai reserve. Later we were able to view 3N on his favourite perch in the middle of the beautiful wetland that covers much of the Urdaibai Biosphere reserve. Sadly no breeding ospreys as yet as there are a lack of females, although a female Scottish bird did spend some time with 3N and accepting his fish before taking off once more and flying north.

Looking for N3

Looking for 3N

 

Everyone at Urdaibai is firmly committed to the idea of the future of conservation and the importance of the education of children, and they have strong links to local schools and to schools in Bilbao. Our schools in Rutland have been linked with these schools via skypes during World Osprey Week (WOW) each year, and pupils from Montorre and Urretxindorra schools area sent entries last year to our 20 years Rutland Osprey Festival. It was humbling to see pictures of these skypes, WOW work, and prize winning entries and certificates from the festival displayed in the bird centre. There was also a one of the pictures from Ken Davies’ book Ozzies’s Migration repainted on huge paper and the text translated into Basque.

Display one

Display one

Display two

Display two

Display three

Display three

 

While we were there we were delighted that some of the local pupils were able to be brought to the centre for what was rather grandly termed a ‘conference’ with us. In surroundings that would be appropriate in any conference facility and with the aid of a big interactive screen, we were able to describe Rutland Water, its surroundings and of course the whole osprey project from its beginnings. Although a very young audience, the pupil’s grasp of English was amazing, especially when it is considered that their first language is Basque and that they must also learn Spanish as well. They listened with interest and asked intelligent and well though out questions about us, the project, and conservation issues in Britain.

Conference with schools

Conference with schools

 

We cannot end without the story of the stork! When we arrived, after initial greetings were over, we were told we had to see their new chick. Puzzled as we had not thought there were any ospreys breeding, we clambered up to look out of a high window. Below on the edge of the roof was a large osprey type nest on a pole, and in the nest was a stork chick. Already the size of a goose it stood dozing in the sun. Several days earlier, it had been found having fallen from its nest in a tree in a nearby woodland. When found it was in a pitiful state, weak from lack of food, and covered in parasites. The locals brought the chick to the centre, where with the help of medication, a hastily built nest, and feeding on a kilo of food per day, the young bird was thriving. It is expected to fledge in a week or so and will be able to join the other storks on the reserve.

Stork chick

Stork chick

 

Huge thanks to Xarles and the staff at Urdaibai, the teachers and students from the local schools, and the friends we made during our visit- We look forward to our next contact with you all.

Birdwatching gallery

Birdwatching gallery

Spoonbills

Spoonbills

 

If you would like to know more about the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve and Bird Centre follow this link….

http://www.birdcenter.org/en/news/news/708-2017-06-23-11-10-45

 

Jackie Murray and Pete Murray

Sunset at Urdaibai

Sunset at Urdaibai

 

 

Jump!

Fish of the day

In the past few days it seems the fish of choice for 33 has changed from roach to trout. Just as we were closing the visitor centre yesterday he brought in a huge fish which kept the family going until breakfast.

33 brought another trout to the nest this morning just after 6am. It was another big fish and there have been leftovers on the nest for much of the day. These big fish have most likely come from the reservoir, which is stocked with around 80,000 trout per year!

After yesterday, where 2AN tucked into a fish independently straight after 33 brought it to the nest, she has continued to attempt to feed herself. These meals have also been supplemented with fish from Maya.

The chicks continue to build strength in their wings, and earlier today 2AN even managed to get airborne – to be fair it was only for a millisecond but long enough for us to get a screenshot!

Jump!

Jump!



2AN also made an attempt where she knocked Maya on the head a little – Maya didn’t seem to mind though!

2AM isn’t far behind with his attempts, and will soon be catching his sister up!

Yesterday evening 2AN moved a stick on the edge of the nest. She ended up moving it into a tricky position and spent the next hour, on and off, trying to lay it flat again.

When 2AN gave up Maya took over – again spending a lot of time on the stick!

Eventually, finally, Maya managed to unlodge the stick and lay it flat against the nest. The two of them were certainly kept busy for a while!

To end, here is a lovely clip of our chicks huddled next to each other, and 2AN having a sleepy stretch and flaunting that new leg jewelry…

…and the chicks a moment later, looking a little more alert!
The 2 chicks

The 2 chicks