A Typical Site B Shift

A misty, but dry morning, in Rutland as I head up to Site B with Ken, hoping for the sun to shine and clear the mist that lingers over the surroundings.  After we have set up the hide ready for the day we look up to see that two of the juveniles are circling near the nest with their father, 03(97). After a few minutes, he heads eastwards.  It is great to see just how confident the young Ospreys are in the air compared to when I last visited, during their early flights, when two of them crash landed and needed to be rescued.  After circling for a while they soon disappear behind some trees which means that no Ospreys were in sight.

Not long after 03(97) returns with a Trout which he takes directly to the Small Oak which is one of his many favourite perches.  After watching him for a few minutes we realise that he hasn’t touched the fish and is very alert, and therefore must be waiting for the juveniles to return and demolish the fish themselves.  Usually when a fish is brought in the juveniles will be there within minutes, but this is another sign, other than being away from the nest for hours at a time, that they are becoming more independent.  Eventually, after sitting in the Small Oak for nearly an hour he decides to fly towards the right end side of the group of trees and then drops out of sight, still carrying the uneaten fish.

A few minutes after 03’s departure one of the juveniles returns to the nest along with 03 himself who soon follows, in spite of flying around still carries the uneaten Trout in his talons.  As soon as 03 lands on the nest the Trout is taken away from him instantly by the juvenile who takes it to the nearby perch.  After staring at the juveniles ring for a while trying our hardest to identify it Ken closes the choice down to 2F or 3F as there were curves on the ring, but is more likely 2F as the juvenile looks bigger than 03 and has a dark breast band.  After fully consuming the Trout 2F departs, flying east while 03 remains on the nest.

While we wait for the juveniles to return Ken and I notice and hear other species of birds and insects, which we hadn’t noticed before as we were giving all our attention to the Ospreys.  The dragonflies dart around undisturbed by our presence and the bird song is magical to listen to as it envelopes you with sweet music calming you, and allowing you to feel included in nature.  Other birds of prey were putting on shows, such as Red Kites with their V-shaped tail twitching to enable them to balance, Buzzards with their prominent call and Kestrels with their flighty character.  Other birds put on a show including Pheasants with their easily identifiable screech, and another bird which caused Ken and I to look through our binoculars as we thought they were Ospreys.  You would never guess what all these birds were … Pigeons?!

After remaining on the nest for over an hour 03 leaves the nest and heads eastwards, and there is still no sign of the three juveniles.  At the end of our shift a Buzzard circles and lands on the nest, and with no Ospreys to chase it, it sits there until an Osprey comes and chases it off, though Ken reckons that this Osprey is also an intruder as it headed straight over our heads.  Once all this is over our shift is over but as we were packing up a crow decides to land on the nest and hadn’t moved when we viewed the nest from the gate for the last time.

As Ken said to me, no two shifts are ever the same, and even the quiet shifts are amazing as you observe the Ospreys in a calm atmosphere, with no disturbances.  For the Ospreys, it’s the end of an adventure but the start of another as they will soon migrate to West Africa, which will require the juveniles to be strong, and courageous, which will force them to learn how to fish for themselves.