I don’t feel the need for a gimmicky title for this diary report, a very special report from Site B where history has been made.
First of all, I’ll take you back a week to last Monday when I had been at home working, but looking intermittently at the Manton Bay webcam. By early evening 1J was helicoptering well out of sight of the camera but his shadow could be seen over the nest and each time he landed back on the nest. I decided then and there to take a leaf out of Ken’s diary and take a trip to Manton Bay the following day, a day off from volunteering, a private day. I walked down to Shallow Water hide, having decided to avoid Waderscrape, as I would inevitably be drawn into conversation with volunteers and visitors alike. John Wright was sitting in the righthand corner and I took a seat in the middle. It was so lovely to just enjoy the scenery and although there was not much happening on the nest, there were plenty of other distractions; Oystercatchers, Lapwings, a Yellow Wagtail, two Egyptian Geese with two little ones in tow, little Egrets, Herons, yes lots to see. John had a brief word with me as he left the hide, he was pretty sure that 1J would not fledge that day as there was too little wind. I stayed on for a while longer and then made my way home.
The next day I was on duty at Site B and as I arrived at the hide to take over, there had already been news that 1J had fledged at Manton Bay and was perched on the fallen poplar. The Site B family had already breakfasted so things were looking quiet until that is, the female started calling loudly and flew up, circling in front of the nest. Another Osprey was up there too and she chased it off to the West. As she flew back a Red Kite appeared and she flew at it swiftly, tumbling through the air in her chase. The Kite stayed around for the whole morning with the female chasing it each time that it came too close to the nest. Meanwhile the farmer had begun turning the hay in front of the hide, so the juveniles were well hunkered down in the nest. He returned then to bale the hay so it was obvious that there would not be much action from the juveniles yet. The Kite was still around and I think out of a heightened sense of protection, the female did not give up her chase. By 11am the baling was over and the juveniles began wing flapping and hopping across the nest. 6J seemed to be the most adventurous, standing on the edge of the nest, his ring clearly visible. 03 returned to the nest with a spindly, gnarled twig in the shape of a wishbone and a parental ‘scrap’ ensued during which time 6J hopped over it, wing flapping furiously. As I left, 03, having taken himself off to the new perch leaving the female still battling with the ‘wishbone’, was now in the air chasing off an intruding Osprey.
And so to today, Monday July 15th, a day that will forever be etched in my memory. I had wanted to arrive well on time knowing that one of the juveniles could fledge. It was sunny and warm with a slight breeze, ideal conditions. There were two herds of bullocks to negotiate first. As I approached the hide I came across John Wright who also had it in his mind that there could be a fledging. I reached the hide and chatted with fellow volunteer, Linda Jones – we were actually chatting about the beautiful weather and how wonderful it was to just enjoy life at home in this climate. As I glanced towards the nest, I saw an Osprey leave and said ‘One’s flown!’. Linda replied that it was the female. What we had in fact witnessed was 4J fledging and the female shadowing her in that maiden flight. 4J circled a couple of times with her mother following – it was easy to spot which one was which, 4J’s legs dangling in flight and then the hesitation before landing back on the nest. Wow, two minutes into my shift and it had happened. I invited Linda to stay on but she had things to do and left wishing me ‘a good shift’. It had been pretty good so far!
I headed up the log sheet and the diary, one eye on the nest all the time, waiting for a second flight from 4J. One of the juveniles was on the edge of the nest and it was easy to read the ring, 5J. Suddenly, just after 8.30am, she just hopped off the nest and the female was immediately behind, shadowing her. This first flight only lasted a minute but something had taken my eye to the West of the nest. There were two Ospreys circling in the distance – surely 5J hadn’t travelled that far – but as I turned back to the telescope, I could see that all three juveniles were on the nest with the female. At this stage I will admit that I became a little confused; initially I had thought that the female was in the distance but she was back on the nest, however 03 meanwhile had disappeared. At 09.19 he landed back on the nest and both adults were calling loudly and mantling furiously. An Osprey was circling in front of the nest and flew very, very close several times. The juveniles were completely out of sight in the nest. There was also another Osprey in the area and 03 soon took to the air to chase them off. These two birds turned out to be 30(10) and 11(10), 30(10) missing his eighth primary. The juveniles stayed down and the female was very alert on the nest.
Soon after 10am the female made several twig collections – these juveniles could be accused of vandalism when hopping up and down and landing on the edge of the nest, maintenance work was needed. 03 then soared sky high and I saw that there were two Buzzards high above the wood. He saw them off and then disappeared into the distance.
Reading my notes now I can’t believe what I wrote – “11.20am I think 6J just fledged – but the heathaze is making it impossible to read the ring – just looks the smallest”. 11.24 03 returns to the new perch with a small trout and starts to eat. 11.30 6J takes off again but returns to the nest immediately as 03 delivers the fish. One of the females grabs the fish from 03 who returns to the new perch.11.35 6J takes another short flight and as he returns to the nest, he wrestles for the fish from his sibling and wins. 03 flies to the small Oak”.
What more can I say, it just was so incredibly rewarding to see all three fledge within the space of three hours twenty minutes, having watched over them for weeks and weeks in the cold and the wind and the wet. As my replacement arrived, I had tears of joy in my eyes and was shaking with excitement. I walked back to where John was parked and he offered me a lift to my car. We were both grinning like cats who got the cream – he had never seen three juveniles fledge on the same day. We talked about the ‘squeals of delight’ that had come from the nest and how, when one arrived back on the nest, we could see their delight and knew that they were keen to do it again. Little 6J was the most eager.
These Rutland Ospreys just keep surprising us and it’s truly wonderful to be involved.