Another Sighting!

Another sighting!

We have some more wonderful news – another Rutland osprey chick from this season has been sighted! Osprey 2AB is a male chick who fledged this year from a nest in the Rutland area. He was spotted at the Somone Lagoon – an area in Senegal that the Rutland osprey team visited last season!

Unfortunately we don’t have a photograph of the bird himself, but here is his location on a map.


So far that’s two Rutland osprey chicks from the 2016 season who have been spotted elsewhere, 2AB in Senegal and 2AA in Portugal. 2AA is still in the same area in Portugal, on the Rio Tajo, or River Tagus, near Lisbon, which is clearly a good place to be. Here is a recent photograph of him, taken by Armando Marques.


Contrary to what the ring numbers may imply, these two juveniles were not from the same nest, but from two different nests in the Rutland Water area. For some reason the rings were not used in chronological order this year! 2AA is the son of 28(10), the lovable male osprey who attempted to breed with Maya in Manton Bay in 2014, and was chased away by 33(11). 28 has been breeding now for two years, and has raised a total of three chicks. 2AB is one of 5N(04)’s chicks, a well-known female osprey who first bred in Manton Bay in 2007. She is one of the legendary 03(97)’s many daughters, and has raised a total of 18 chicks in her ten years of breeding.

It’s brilliant to get reports of Rutland ospreys on their migration or wintering grounds, and we rely on sightings such as this to know where our birds are, as we cannot put GPS transmitters on all of them. Knowing that two juveniles from this year are safely settled for the winter is great news, and we hope these two will return in a couple of years!

Currently, Field Officer John Wright is out in Senegal doing surveys into the population of ospreys in the area. He has already seen some Rutland ospreys, such as 06(09) whose wintering location we were informed of last winter by Rafa Benjumea. Click here for more information.

John will be sending updates of his travels as and when he is able to do so, and we will be sure to keep the website updated with the information he sends!

Watch this space!


06(09) last winter



Cycling is just one of the ways you can help us reach our goal!

Rutland to Dover by pedal power

If you’ve been following the website recently you’ll know that at the end of last week a team of six of us – myself, Tim Mackrill, Michelle Househam, Lizzie Lemon, Lloyd Park and Chris Ditchburn – replicated the first leg of the Ospreys’ amazing migration by cycling from Rutland to Dover, to raise money for the Osprey Flyways Project. It wasn’t easy, but at lunchtime on Saturday we peddled into Dover. Here’s the full story of how we got there.

We began our challenge at the Lyndon Visitor Centre on the south shore of the reservoir and, as we arrived just after 8 ‘o’ clock on Thursday morning, the nerves and excitement were obvious all round. We organised our gear and prepared our bikes before Tim took us through the all-important warm up routine and I explained the intricacies of the route to our support driver for the day, Lloyd’s brother Philip.

After a few laps of the car park to loosen up, we set off up the hill to Manton Rd. Having never ridden together as a team, we took it easy and tried to find a suitable pace and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I found that I lacked the confidence of the others on the downhill slopes and as I hung on for dear life, Lloyd would fly past with his tongue out and tail wagging while ex-RAF man Chris would zoom by in an attempt to create a sonic boom. Other peoples’ weaknesses resulted in frequent toilet stops.

With fresh legs and a trial ride under our belts, we had been looking forward to day one as the easiest day. Unfortunately, the usual prevailing winds from the west were replaced with a fairly strong southerly wind which, as the day progressed, brought with it light showers and then heavy rain. This made for fairly miserable cycling and by the time we reached the busy roads of Huntingdon we were soaked through and hunched over our bikes grimly counting down the miles until it was over.

Our waterproofs were tested to the limit on the first day!

Our waterproofs were tested to the limit on the first day!

Our scheduled lunch stop in St Ives was short-lived as we didn’t want to get cold and we quickly set off on the 12 mile guided bus way to Cambridge, which on training rides I found to be uphill in both directions. The weather didn’t improve as we negotiated the shopping streets of Cambridge, passed Addenbrookes hospital and made our final climb of the day close to the Wandlebury ring. Finally we rolled into the Abington service area and, with much relief, completed the first day’s ride. We were stopped from diving into the showers by the return of Corporal Mackrill and his warm down drill. Then it was time to get clean, change our clothes and head for a nice cuppa at the apparently world famous Comfort Café. The strict cycling diet was momentarily ditched as we devoured cheese and ham toasties. Well, we’d had a rough day!

We said farewell and thank you to Phil who was quickly replaced by our evening escort, In Focus’ Mike Willis, who earlier that day had ordered a pub chef in Sawston to cook us Lasagne. I hope Mike wasn’t looking for a lively night out as the day’s weather had taken its toll and we were back at the hotel by nine, most of us snoozing soon after.

Day two arrived with unknown territory for most of the team, consecutive days of long distance cycling – with wet shoes! Liam Tate was the driver of the day and Mike was back to wave us off. We were pleased with the weather forecast, cloudy and warm with no rain, and after a few miles to stretch the aches out of our legs there was a silent confidence in the team. We knew we had to get on with it with 75 miles to cover and that’s exactly what we did. South Cambridgeshire soon turned into Essex and we progressed steadily together in a single line, wheel to wheel through Chelmsford, Billericay and into Tilbury. After we had stocked up on provisions, Liam headed towards the Dartford crossing and we boarded the ferry for a well-earned but disappointingly short ferry ride across the Thames and into Kent.
On the other side of the river we hit a problem. Our route to this point had been checked for suitability prior to setting off, but not from here on to Dover. And so, inevitably, tarmac turned to gravel and we were forced to retrace our steps a quarter of a mile and take to the A2. The SatNav desperately wanted us to continue on the gravel and took our rejection badly, refusing to provide us with a new route quickly enough. The final few miles through Rochester, Chatham and onto our destination were difficult and punctuated with frequent stops to study the map.

We eventually rolled into Medway services after 8 hours and six minutes of almost continuous cycling and the re-routing had added an unwanted 5 miles to the day’s total of 80, an amazing effort from the whole team. Liam had been there for some time and had been joined by Tim’s girlfriend, Louise, our day three support driver. We were now very tired and some of us were nursing muscle pains and other injuries. Chris, however, was miraculously healed by the sight of a Costa Coffee and ran off muttering that this round was on him.
Our trustworthy receptionist recommended a small, quiet pub nearby for our evening meal. We arrived at the large, noisy and bustling Bell Pub and fought our way to the bar. There was some confusion as to the whereabouts of the table we had booked but we were soon shuffled into a dimly lit section of the pub where our presence amused the locals. By the time our food arrived later that evening we were about to start gnawing at the table but it was worth the wait. Only Michelle stuck to the pasta diet while the rest of us tucked into pies, curries and chilli, something we were to regret the next day.

Lloyd being put through his stretching paces by Tim's girlfriend Louise - who is a Pilates teacher!

Lloyd being put through his stretching paces by Tim’s girlfriend Louise – who is a Pilates teacher!

As we set off on our final day we had only 45 miles to go but the hilly countryside and the previous day’s exertions combined to make it a really tough slog. We had to stop briefly for our only maintenance issue of the trip when one of my brake levers became loose (a result of too tight a grip on the slopes?) but we were soon on our way again. A little while later Lizzie was stranded by a level crossing. In Faversham we found the townspeople to be extremely protective of their pedestrian area and we were forced to proceed on foot for a short while.

After Canterbury there was little flat road to be had and we made slow progress but an hour or two later we realised that Dover was in sight and the pace picked up for the final two miles. We peddled into the town and onto the seafront where we were met by Louise, who had gone ahead, and Chris’ wife Leah. The sun was shining as we made our way on to the beach and dipped our wheels into the sea. We had completed our challenge and ridden a total of 192.6 miles.

The team on Dover beach having completed the ride. Left-right: Gavin Young, MIchelle Househam, Tim Mackrill, Lloyd Park, Lizzie Lemon, Chris Ditchburn

The team on Dover beach having completed the ride. Left-right: Gavin Young, MIchelle Househam, Tim Mackrill, Lloyd Park, Lizzie Lemon, Chris Ditchburn

A huge thank you to all our sponsors who made our journey worth it by raising just under £2500 (including Gift Aid) for the Osprey Flyways Project. This money will help us to provide wildlife education in West Africa and to link schools and communities along the migration flyway. Here is a video showing the latest Osprey Flyways Project field trip run by Junkung Jadama in The Gambia. Thanks to your kind donations, we’ll be able to continue this vitally important work and help more young people in West Africa to learn about the importance of protecting Ospreys and other wildlife.

Now for quite a long list of thank yous to people without whom the challenge would not have happened. A massive thank you to Kerry Rough and Graham Adkins of Rutland Cycling who generously provided four of the bikes (and excellent bikes they were too), spare parts and some of the clothing for our challenge. Our support drivers Philip, Liam and Louise were instrumental in providing refreshment and encouragement throughout our journey and for transporting all our gear for us. A huge thank you to them and also Leah who helped ferry us all home again. We are also indebted to Mike Willis for organising our first day’s evening meal after a particularly trying first day. Thanks too to Rob Persani at Rutland Radio for giving us some airtime each day to report on the ride.

Personally, I would like to thank the team and all our support for a truly memorable and enjoyable three days. I am extremely proud of the way that our team of novice cyclists dug deep and pulled together all the way to the end.

And now, for those of you who during Birdfair or at the Lyndon Visitor Centre entered our competition to guess how long the challenge would take, the moment has come. We are extremely proud and a little surprised with our overall time of 19 hours and 1 minute which includes the ferry journey, food breaks (these were never more than a few minutes) and messing about with the route. Incidentally, our overall pedalling time was a mere 16 hours and fifty minutes giving us an average speed of 11.5 mph.

Well done to Dennis Trevor whose guess was one minute over our time and who will receive two Osprey cruise tickets and a signed copy of the Rutland Osprey Project’s book.

Gavin (right) and Chris after completing a trial run of the first leg of the journey

The Great Osprey Bike Ride – The Details

Tomorrow morning a team of six of us set off on our journey from Rutland to Dover by bike. Over the last couple of weeks, members of the team have been asked details of the trip. How many miles will we be doing each day? What is the route and where will we be stopping? Are we aware how hilly Kent is?

While we have tried to put questions of the latter kind to the back of our minds, we do have a fair idea of what lies before us, and here it is.

Thanks again must go to Rutland Cycling who have provided us with bikes, clothing and essential advice to get us from start to finish in good shape.

Day one – Lyndon to Abington – 66 miles

Chris and I have ridden this day’s route and (hopefully) have already taken all the wrong turns available. We will start our trip at the Lyndon Visitors Centre at about 9am with our first nasty climb up to Manton Road. From here the route takes us on quiet roads through Edith Weston, Ketton, and after a short section on the A47, down to King’s Cliffe. We then wiggle towards Warmington where we cross the A605 and head across beautiful, but hilly, countryside east of Oundle. When we reach Alconbury, we will have our first longish stint on busy roads to Huntingdon before a lovely tarmac track takes us past the National Trust’s Houghton Mill and onto our lunch stop at picturesque St Ives at about noon.

After a well-earned rest, we will say farewell to our support driver for about 12 miles as we take to the cycle track which accompanies the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway through the middle of Fen Drayton Lakes nature reserve and onto Cambridge. We leave the busway to take the B1049 over the A14 and straight through the centre of Cambridge, past Addenbrookes Hospital, between Wandlebury and the Gog Magog hills and on to our first stop at the Abington Travelodge for around 3pm.

Day two – Abington to nr Rainham, Kent – 75 miles

By far the longest day of our trip, but with a welcome rest for a ferry ride acrosss the Thames at Tilbury. Another 9am start and after two or three miles on the A1307, we turn right at Linton towards Ashton and remain on country lanes through Great Bardfield and Felsted. We join the B1008 at Little Waltham, through Broomfield and into Chelmsford where we will probably take a break for lunch at midday.

We then switch to the B1007, over the A12 and through Billericay before winding our way to Tilbury, crossing the A127 and A13 en route. Again, we will have to part with the support vehicle for our ferry trip to Gravesend (around 3pm?) and then it is on to Rochester, Chatham, past Gillingham Golf Club and eventually to our second stop at the M2 Medway services near Rainham for about 4.30pm.

Day 3 – Rainham to Dover – 45 miles

I’m hoping that 45 miles will seem a doddle after day two, but I think we’ll be loath to get on the bikes for the up and down final stint to Dover. Heading north-east at first, we turn east at Upchurch River Valley Golf course and then on to Sittingbourne from where we cycle alongside the railway to Faversham. From there we skirt the A2 to Canterbury – a nice spot for lunch. Then the final slog passing Bekesbourne, Shepherdswell, Whitfield and then, finally, Dover.

Assuming a 9am start again, I would suspect we will be finishing at around 2pm near to the docks and the start of next year’s rowing challenge across the channel.

Of course, it’s going to be tough, but hopefully our team spirit will get us through and then there is our cause to spur us on. We’ve already raised over £1000 for the Osprey Flyways Project and if you would like to add to that, please visit our fundraising page. If you would like to have a closer look at the route, check out the Google Map below.

View Lyndon to Dover in a larger map

Gavin (right) and Chris after completing a trial run of the first leg of the journey

The Great Osprey Bike Ride

Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve quite enjoyed this Summer. For a start it has warranted the name – a welcome change – but with enough rain to keep the vegetable plot happy. I have been donning shorts for weeks now, my jeans working their way to the bottom of the drawer. Our first holiday abroad with the kids went well and a couple of weeks ago I had a nice time plodding the marquees and car parks of a successful 25th anniversary Birdfair.

My main challenge this Summer has been keeping my two boys entertained over the school holidays and with a few days to go I was only just beginning to lose the battle. Not a bad result. But while I am looking forward to the re-opening of local educational institutions, that does mean that there are less than 2 weeks until the next challenge, The Great Osprey Bike Ride.

As our Ospreys begin to leave Rutland on their long, dangerous and impressive migration to West Africa, Tim, Michelle, Lizzie, Lloyd, Chris Ditchburn and I are making the final preparations for our own journey from Rutland to Dover by bike. We aim to tackle the 193 mile journey over three days from the 19th to 21st September and match the first stage of an Osprey’s migration.

If I had summarised our capabilities a few months ago I would have said that with his cycling experience Tim could be likened to a two or three year old Osprey. He’s done the journey before, perhaps even returned and has a fair idea of what to expect. The rest of us had taken brief, local exploratory trips and hadn’t even learned how to fish. We were the juveniles of the cycling world.

Since then the team have been putting in the miles by making use of the cycling track around the reservoir or burning up the country roads. Tim’s even had a go at some of this year’s Tour de France mountain stages while I’ve been happy to practice closer to home – Cambridge is lovely and flat. As the event has drawn closer the number of miles per trip has increased and the legs have felt better the next day. It has been painful but we have good motivation.

Last week’s sad news of 9J’s death is a reminder of the vulnerability of these magnificent birds. Even in the UK, where Ospreys are protected and actively promoted, the human environment poses a significant threat. In autumn 2011 the story of 09’s final journey illustrated that even experienced adults face huge natural dangers during migration. Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do about that, but we can increase their survival chances in their destination countries in West Africa where there is little protection of Ospreys.

In 2011 the Rutland Osprey Project founded the Osprey Flyways Project after a winter visit to West Africa. The key aims of the project are to provide education opportunities for schools in over-wintering areas and to link schools along the migration route. In 2013 the project has widened to cover five schools in The Gambia where optics and computer equipment have been provided to enable students to discover their local wildlife and make contact with students in schools in the UK and elsewhere along the migration route.

Gambian students on a fieldtrip organised by the project.

Gambian students on a fieldtrip organised by the project.

The project has been funded by fund-raising events organised by the Rutland Osprey Project. The Great Osprey Bike Ride is the latest of these. If you would like to sponsor the team, please visit our fund-raising page.

Most of my training has been done on my hybrid mountain bike. It’s a little on the heavy side and I’m quite happy to get off after 30 miles or so. But on Saturday Chris and I tried out the road bikes that Rutland Cycling have very generously agreed to provide free of charge for the challenge. We rode the first leg from Rutland Water to Abington (a few miles south of Cambridge) with only a couple of wrong turns and a lack of sunblock to complain about. Confidence is building.

Gavin (right) and Chris after completing a trial run of the first leg of the journey

Gavin (right) and Chris after completing a trial run of the first leg of the journey


Welcome to Lynda’s Diary

Lynda Berry is a regular contributor to our blog, now in her fourth year volunteering on the project, she has many a story to tell during her shifts, monitoring the nests.  Lynda also joined us on the West Africa project this year!  Read about her amazing experience on the West Africa Project blog.