An away day . . .

As the season draws on it’s the luck of the draw as to whether a shift will be exciting with plenty of action from the whole family or whether maybe only one or two will be around the nest area, sitting doing nothing.  We approached Site B early this Saturday morning with some trepidation, wondering who we would encounter; the sky was clear, there was a slight breeze, a heavy dew under foot and it was chilly. When Michelle had phoned the previous day to confirm our shift, she had told us that 33(11) had disappeared at 11am on Thursday and had not returned until 1pm on Friday. (See Tim’s report).   We closed the gate into the hide field and I instantly spotted an Osprey circling over the nest but with the sun behind the nest, it was merely a silhouette. In the distance I could see another Osprey flying South.  We cautiously made our way to the hide and still the bird circled over the nest and then disappeared, dropping down behind the wood.  We opened up the hide, set up the telescopes, headed up the report sheets and kept watching. We scanned all the regular perches – empty – and discussed the fact that the next two hours may be very quiet.  We had glimpsed one Osprey, but as to who it was, was anyone’s guess. 

It was decidedly chilly so an early start was made on the hot chocolate and jam doughnuts.  Feeling slightly warmer, I began to scan the wood more thoroughly this time and as I looked towards the far righthand end of the wood, discovered an Osprey sitting in the ash trees. This was a favourite perch of one of the juveniles in 2010, I should have remembered.  Initially I thought that it was 03(97) but then doubted this assumption – this bird had a slight colouring across the chest.  He then flew up and landed in the nest, food begging very loudly – it was of course 33(11) and he had seen his father flying in with a small trout.  He had probably been watching us with envy as we enjoyed our breakfast.

He instantly grabbed the fish from 03 and flew to the small oak with it.  A few moments later the female appeared from the wood with a large clump of dried grass and landed at 33’s side.  He started food begging very loudly and was definitely making the case that he was not going to swap.  She left the grass at his side and perched in a small dead tree close by and watched as her offspring hungrily devoured the trout, every last morsel.  It was very amusing to watch at one stage; he was holding the fish just below the head and once he had eaten the head, he tried to move his foot further back along the fish.  He could not release the fish however and was swinging it first in front of the branch and then behind, wobbling precariously as he did so – he was extremely lucky not to drop it.  We did wonder why, with no siblings to hassle him for the fish, he hadn’t remained at the nest to eat it.

Towards the end of the shift Tim phoned to see what had been happening; having spent a worrying Thursday night and Friday morning searching for 33(11), he was relieved that the whole family were all ‘present and correct’.  Apparently even 03(97) and the female had behaved in a manner that would suggest that they too were worried about 33, perching up some distance from the nest, the female hanging on to the fish that she had caught.  It must have been a long night for them too.

Having finished the fish, 33 flew to a nearby ash and was soon joined by 03, the female remaining in the dead tree close by.  33 had not left the site since his adventure and his parents were also staying close to him.  I wonder, with the absence of any siblings, if he had just got carried away playing with the buzzard and found himself miles away – one of the many questions that will forever remain unanswered.

Lindsay and I too found ourselves miles away on Wednesday and Thursday.  We joined the steady stream of Rutland Water ‘pilgrims’ visiting Cors Dyfi Osprey Project to take a look at their new family, the adult female of course being our very own Rutland 03(08).  For me it was fairly emotional to see her once again; it is always a joy when a bird returns for the first time when last you saw it as a juvenile.  We had both watched over the 2008 family and had seen them all at very close hand when they were ringed.  Sadly  01(08) had disappeared ten days after fledging (one of the reasons why everyone was so worried when 33(11) went AWOL on Wednesday).

It was extremely interesting to see another Wildlife Trust project and the enthusiasm and dedication at Cors Dyfi was amazing – Emyr Evans has a wonderful team supporting him.  I mentioned earlier ‘luck of the draw’ – we were so lucky to just catch the tail end of the first juvenile fledging. He is named Einion, (Dulas and Leri being his siblings, male and female respectively). They are named after rivers. It was an exceptionally hot day so we made our way to the hide where it was somewhat cooler, with a breeze blowing through. We watched him make several more flights, only once overshooting when he landed on Leri’s back in the nest. Volunteers in the hide and in the centre, Maria, Carol, Tim and John voiced their acknowledgement of Rutland Osprey Project’s contribution to this happy event.

We spent a very pleasant evening at The Black Lion in Derwenlas with Emyr, Janine, his partner and Officer at the Project, Alwyn, also a Project Officer and Gwen, a volunteer. They are having an extremely exciting season with the first breeding pair of Ospreys in the Dyfi valley for over 400 years.  And for the second time this season, I was fortunate enough to see the first juvenile fledge from a nest, an auspicious one at that; a first in the Dyfi Valley since the 17th century.

I’m sure there will be many ‘away days’ in future years between Rutland and Montgomeryshire – annual pilgrimages.