The anticipation of the return of Ospreys to these shores is always an exciting time. And with the weather being more appropriate for Christmas, what better time for a game of charades. Is it TV, film, theatre? No, it’s a documentary …
The Rutland Osprey volunteers eagerly attended the pre-season meeting on the 19th knowing that 03(98) had returned on the 17th and the young four year old female, 00(09) on the very day of the meeting. It is always an exciting time as our birds start to arrive, we catch up with fellow volunteers after the winter and the Project Team give us our orders for the coming months. For the past two years we have been treated to tales from their African trips, and having travelled with them in 2011 and 2012, I was eager to learn what they had been up to. We were in for a surprise, as John Wright, Field Officer, showed us photos from the trip giving background details as he went along and with an occasional quip thrown in for our amusement. Tim and John signed copies of ‘the book’ for volunteers and the nightshift rotas were available for anyone dedicated (or mad) enough to guard our nests during incubation.
Next up in the game … it’s a book …
The ‘Rutland Water Ospreys’ went on sale on the day of our meeting. The book tells the wonderful success story of the reintroduction of Ospreys to England. It is beautifully written by Tim and illustrated throughout with John’s fantastic photos and drawings. I was delighted, as a contributor, together with several other volunteers, to be invited to a luncheon to celebrate the publication. It took place last Friday, and by now the Manton Bay female had returned. As I drove towards Lyndon, I glimpsed briefly towards the nest and saw her on the French Perch – my first sighting of an Osprey this year. It was so interesting to listen to Tim Appleton explaining how the Project first came about, when he watched two Ospreys spend the summer of 1994 at Rutland Water. He assumed them to be a pair and was hoping for their return next summer, but when he contacted Roy Dennis to see what could be done about encouraging Ospreys to breed at Rutland Water, he soon found out that he was wrong in that assumption. However, the contact was made, a translocation was undertaken, only made possible with funding from Anglian Water and the rest is history. The book tells the story from that initial contact, up to the present day. The trials and tribulations of the translocation were both poignant and amusing; travelling down from Scotland with young Ospreys caged behind you, and no separation between them and the cab, made for an ‘interesting’ journey, as Andy Brown from Anglian Water regaled – he certainly made sure that he had the translocation licence in his pocket when stopping for petrol, covered in Osprey guano. As we listened to Andy, Tim Appleton and Roy Dennis, it was obvious to everyone what friendship and trust must have existed at the beginning of their relationship, and more importantly, how it still exists. Helen Mcintyre was also involved at the beginning, and although Tim Mackrill was not involved professionally at the start, he was certainly there as a young teenage volunteer, later taking over from Helen. One of the most interesting statements made by Tim M. was that without the translocation, Ospreys would probably not have spread south, for about a century as they are so site faithful, a sobering thought. As we took lunch in the centre, we had the opportunity to see many of John Wright’s original sketches and paintings that appear in the book. They are beautiful and Roy generously admitted that John is an expert in identifying individual Ospreys from their plumage, better than Roy himself.
Yes, we’re still playing Charades and this one is theatre ….
Fast forward twenty four hours to Saturday evening and I was helping out at the Oakham School Theatre, where ‘A Musical Migration’ was being staged, narration by Tim Mackrill and songs sung by Global Harmony. This event came about when the choir invited a French choir, on an exchange visit, to take an Osprey cruise last summer. As the Rutland Belle approached Whitwell harbour, the choirs sang a Senegalese song. Paul Stammers and Michelle Househam, project officers on that cruise, came up with the idea of a story about an Osprey’s migration back to Rutland in Spring, interspersed with songs from countries along the route. Global Harmony is a cappella world music choir and they included songs from Ghana,Guinea,Senegal, Southern Spain,Asturias,France,Wales and the Highlands of Scotland. The choir kindly chose this event to be their charity performance of the year. Tim had written the script which told us about 09(98)’s epic trip last Spring and the backdrop was provided by John’s amazing photos. It was a truly wonderful performance and all proceeds will go to the Osprey Migration Foundation.
The game of charades is over, but watch out for the film ….
Today, Wednesday 27th March, the holiday was over and it was back to work. I joined Don, my co-volunteer, for the first shift to be undertaken at Waderscrape this year. The Manton Bay female is still alone, awaiting 5R. A few moments before we arrived at the hide we were informed by John that she had just caught a sizeable trout and was eating it on the nest. Soon after that she was flushed off the nest and carried her fish over to the nest post in Heron Bay where she proceeded to carry on eating although being seriously hassled by gulls, at times causing her to duck. Two of the visitors this morning included one of the choir members from Global Harmony, together with her husband. She too had been fascinated by 09(98)’s story and had come along to see her first Osprey. They observed her through the project’s brand new Swarovski telescope – Swarovski were very kind sponsors of ‘A Musical Migration’. As they left the hide, the female returned to the Manton Bay perch with her fish, so I called them back and they were delighted to get a closer view of her. It was exceptionally cold and the female Osprey cut a solitary figure in her wait for the return of her partner. The unseasonal weather must be affecting the migration of many of our birds, so we will continue our wait for him.