With the Thorndown Eco-team (and a wooden Ozzie!)

Ken’s Education Update

A Hide full of Beavers, a Visit from ‘Ladies in Red’, a Letter from Rhiannon, Assemblies in St Ives, a Saturday Afternoon in Oundle, Osprey Ambassadors on a Sunday Afternoon in Wader Scrape hide………and on tour in the Basque Country! By Ken Davies.

The Osprey Education visits diary is full to overflowing here at the Lyndon Reserve just now, as local schools and youth organisations flock in to see the growing Osprey family in Manton Bay! The next four weeks are jam-packed with bookings from schools all over the area, and our young Osprey Ambassadors are working hard to keep their fellow students up to date with the very latest Osprey news! Our colleagues Jackie and Pete Murray are currently taking the Osprey Roadshow to new audiences in the Basque area of Northern Spain, and they have already given presentations to two schools which visited the Urdaibai Bird Centre over there! We’re looking forward very much to reading their reports on here when they return next week.
Meanwhile back here at Lyndon, we’ve entertained many groups from local schools, and been out to several more with our presentations and updates. Here are some highlights and a few photos from recent days :

A Hide full of Beavers : The visit of the 1st Stamford Beavers was one of the highlights of early June! After a brief introduction in front of the screen in the Visitor Centre, we were off to Wader Scrape, where the Osprey pair put on a terrific show, enabling everyone to see both Maya and 33(11) very clearly, and their chicks too. The Beavers worked hard to complete the Osprey-related tasks in their books, and by the end of the visit we agreed that they were all real ‘Osprey Experts’!

Beavering away in the hide!

Beavering away in the hide!


The Ladies in Red : A Year 8 group from Stamford High School arrived looking resplendent in red track-suit tops, and they made a colourful sight as we took them and their teachers down to the hide. Many of these students were really knowledgeable regarding the Ospreys and other wildlife, and some of their questions were searching and challenging! For example…..Why don’t any Ospreys breed in Africa? Why don’t males and females stay together over the winter? Why do adult females often leave their chicks and start to migrate in August? Enquiring minds promising for the future! And several were happy by the end of the visit to refer to Pandion Haliaetus rather than the usual ‘Osprey’!
A study in concentration! Five new Osprey Experts! (Pete Murray)

A study in concentration! Five new Osprey Experts! (Pete Murray)


I think they had a good time!

I think they had a good time!


A Letter from Rhiannon: I remember one Sunday afternoon in August last year a young man and his daughter came in to Wader Scrape hide to study the Ospreys at the nest. They were both enthusiastic and very keen to learn as much as they could. My story ‘Ozzie Leads the Way’ had just been published in time for Birdfair 2016, so I thought it might be nice to give a copy to this girl. ‘On one condition’, I added as she started to read it immediately, ‘that you write to me and tell me what you think of it.’ She said she would. I completely forgot about it over the winter, but you can imagine how pleased and surprised I was to find an envelope addressed to me pinned up on the office notice-board, and inside a letter from Rhiannon, with a review of the book! And here it is!
Rhiannon's letter

Rhiannon’s letter


Thank you Rhiannon……and I’m glad you liked the book!
Assemblies in St Ives: No, not the St Ives in Cornwall – there’s another one (just as nice!) near Huntingdon, and I was invited to give two Osprey assemblies at a fantastic primary school there called Thorndown. Over two days last week, with the help of Miss Gray and her eco-team, we spoke to over 500 children and gave them the full ‘Osprey Experience’ ! Miss Gray’s class is called (appropriately) ‘Osprey Class’, and they are now practising one of the Osprey songs we always end our assemblies with! Go-ahead schools like this, with an eco-team which meets weekly, and an annual ‘Eco-week’, are a pleasure to visit! Happy children, smiling teachers, good vibes everywhere! Thank you for letting us come and see you!
With the Thorndown Eco-team (and a wooden Ozzie!)

With the Thorndown Eco-team (and a wooden Ozzie!)


A Saturday Afternoon in Oundle: Osprey Team members often receive requests to talk to adult groups as well, and we are pleased to do so. Last Saturday I was in Oundle, speaking to a group called ‘Friends of Oundle Library’. It’s a nice opportunity to use a more advanced presentation, and to talk in detail about Osprey biology, breeding, migration, wintering behaviour, satellite tracking, conservation and so on. It’s also a good fund-raiser for us, and I would like to thank the ‘Friends’ for their generosity! Over £100 in book sales and donations towards the Osprey Project. One thing in common with school presentations – we finished with an Osprey song!
Osprey Ambassadors in Wader Scrape hide : The theme of this month’s ‘Ambassador Sunday’ was ‘Ringing’, and the ambassadors received updates on their memory sticks to take back and share with their classmates or in school assembly. It was extremely hot on Sunday, and the Osprey family was not very active, but our team of brilliant helpers had plenty for the ambassadors to do, including fitting them all with a blue wrist or ankle ring, similar to the ones fitted to the chicks this week, except that our young ambassadors could choose the letters and numbers on their rings! The Ambassador Scheme has really taken off this year, and nearly all our local primary schools are represented. Further ‘Ambassador Sundays’ are planned for July 9th, August 13th and September 3rd, and the themes for each one will relate to that particular stage of the juvenile Ospreys’ development – the last one, sadly, being ‘Departure on Migration’ !
Future Events, new schemes, our rationale: As I hope this quick snapshot of our work over the past fortnight shows, there are many facets to the educational work undertaken by team members. At the centre of it, of course, the Ospreys themselves : the re-establishment of a formerly lost breeding species, its gradual recovery and increasing range, is surely a testament to the pioneering vision of the early founders of the Project and the tireless volunteers. Education has always been an integral part of the Project’s work, and this has borne fruit in the fact that many of the young people involved in those early years are now in the forefront of conservation themselves, including a certain Dr Tim Mackrill! And people we first met in their schools are now reading for first degrees and research degrees in Ecology, Wild Animal Conservation and many other subjects in universities all over the UK. We like to think that some of our current crop of Osprey Ambassadors will one day lead wildlife-related projects of their own. So why not bring your family to our Osprey Family Fun Day (August 1st), or visit us on the Osprey Stand during Birdfair (August 18th – 20th)? For someone in your life, it could be the start of something big!
Finally, a reply to my young friend Rhiannon and her Dad, using the words of the great Rachel Carson, who first alerted us back in the 60’s to the fragile and delicate nature of the planet of which we are the current custodians :
‘If a child is to keep her inborn sense of wonder, she needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with her the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.’
(The Sense of Wonder, 1965)

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View from the boat - Maya and 33 were overhead the whole time

Ringing day!

Any early risers watching our webcam this morning will have noticed it went quiet at around 5.20 this morning – finally it was time for our chicks to get their leg rings! The conditions in Manton Bay were perfect, the water was wonderfully calm and it wasn’t too warm. Reserve Officer and trained bird ringer Lloyd Park quickly and safely retrieved the chicks from the nest and brought them down to the boat for ringing. We are happy to report that both chicks are very healthy and in great condition – as Kayleigh predicted we have a female, 2AN, and a male, 2AM.

Male 2AM and female 2AN

Male 2AM at the back and female 2AN in the foreground

As soon as we approached the nest Maya began circling overhead, and soon after we got to the nest 33 appeared too, carrying a freshly caught roach! He joined Maya in circling the nest, managing to keep hold of his roach the entire time.

View from the boat - Maya and 33 were overhead the whole time

View from the boat – Maya and 33 were overhead the entire time

The whole process was over with very quickly and it wasn’t long before Maya and 33 returned to the nest to rejoin their chicks. Along with our Manton Bay chicks, chicks from 2 other Rutland nests have received their leg rings today – the remaining 5 nests will be visited in the coming weeks.

These brilliant juvenile feathers help keep the chicks camouflaged in the nest

These brilliant juvenile feathers help keep the chicks camouflaged in the nest

2AN's incredible talons!

2AN’s incredible talons!


A brilliant morning with some truly unbelievable birds!

A beautiful sunrise reflected in the water

Eye spy

The recent heatwave has meant our ospreys have been having a relatively quiet time during the day, with most of the action happening in the early morning and the evening. The water has been so still, almost like a mirror, and the glare of the sun on the water has made fishing more challenging for 33. Nevertheless he has managed to keep our chicks well fed – once the midday heat subsides he is out and about fishing for his family.

A beautiful sunrise reflected in the water

A beautiful sunrise reflected in the water

Here are the fish from the evening on the 18th June


And here are the fish from yesterday morning


Our chicks are continuing to develop quickly – flapping, stretching, and pecking is all in a days work! In this video you can see one of our chicks swaying their head from side to side, focusing their developing eyesight on something outside of the nest – this skill of focusing will come in handy when they are fishing for themselves!



On the evening of the 18th a stick fell from the nest. Maya didn’t seem to pay much attention to it at the time, but 15 minutes later when she noticed it floating out of the bay she swooped to pick it up and return it to the nest!


Once again we’ve had some rogue male ospreys visiting the Bay and causing trouble. Even the usually calm Maya got a little riled by this visitor yesterday morning, who, according to reports from the hide, brazenly washed his feet right underneath the nest!

The weather has cooled down a little today so hopefully our chicks will be more comfortable and Maya will get a break from shading them from the sun. It won’t be long now before our chicks get their leg rings (and consequently, their names!) – hopefully we will be able to confirm if they are male or female too. An exciting week ahead!

S1 at Arne (John Wright)

A south coast summer?

If you read yesterdays blog post you will know that S1, one of Maya and 33’s 2015 chicks, has been spending his time in Dorset. Completely coincidentally, Field Officer John Wright was down in Dorset at the start of June and managed to capture this photo of S1 on a nest at RSPB Arne! It wasn’t possible for John to get closer to S1 at the time and he didn’t see the bird in flight, so S1 remained unidentified until yesterday, when Olly Slessor was able to read his leg ring. What is especially lovely is that John last saw S1 in Rutland on May 24th, and he was first seen in Dorset on May 25th – with 2 year olds often roaming far and wide, it is great to know there is not likely to be a gap in our knowledge of S1’s whereabouts.

S1 at Arne (John Wright)

S1 at Arne (John Wright)

This is not the first time a Rutland osprey has spent time near the south coast during the summer. As 2 year olds, both 1J(13) (a young S1 gets a mention in this blog post!) and 06(09) spent time in Hampshire at Fishlake Meadows, before eventually returning to Rutland after a few weeks. It will be interesting to see if S1 sticks around in Dorset, or if he too eventually returns to Rutland. The area around Poole Harbour would be perfect for breeding ospreys – will S1 stay in the area for the rest of the summer? Will he be able to attract a passing female? Will he return to the area next spring? It is all down to chance, but we know it is possible from Nora (a Rutland-fledged female) and Monty’s story at Dyfi! So we will wait and see. Exciting stuff!

There are just over 30 miles between Fishlake Meadows and RSPB Arne

There are just over 30 miles between Fishlake Meadows and RSPB Arne, as the osprey flies!

Meanwhile at Manton Bay it has been a quiet day for our birds, apart from a brief osprey intrusion over the nest this morning. 33 got a bit upset but Maya seemed to remain relaxed.

33 has so far caught 2 fish, a tiny one first thing followed by a good-sized roach later in the morning which lasted our family a good while.


Once again today our chicks have been unlucky victims of their parents clumsiness – this time 33 came in to land with a stick and stood on one chicks head! Happily the chick didn’t seem too phased by the episode and continued sleeping off its last meal.

That’s all for today!

Family portrait

Peregrine Passing

Our osprey family have had a great couple of days, full of fish, and the chicks are looking almost grown up! 33 has continued to set off fishing early in the day, usually bringing in a tiny fish at first light followed by one or two bigger fish slightly later, and another in the afternoon or evening.



On Sunday at lunchtime, our volunteers in Waderscrape reported an intruding osprey over the nest. We looked back over the video, and it was clear 33 was upset – whilst we didn’t see the intruding osprey on film, we did catch a fleeting glimpse of a peregrine in the back of the shot! The peregrine has been spotted regularly in the bay recently, hunting common tern and sand martins, and it was a real treat to see it in the back of shot. It is unlikely our ospreys would consider a peregrine a threat, as peregrines catch their prey in flight, so we are sure 33 was only mantling at the osprey overhead!

We’ve had some good comedy moments with the birds bringing sticks to the nest over the past two days, although our chicks haven’t always looked too impressed by them – particularly when Maya brought a huge stick to the nest this morning and dropped it on the chicks!


We witnessed a sweet moment of family teamwork when one of the chicks had a go at moving a stick with Maya and 33.

Additionally on Sunday 33 seemed to forget the chicks had hatched, settling down on the nest like he was incubating again! He has been spending quite a lot of time on the nest the past two days, particularly at night – last night he was on the nest with Maya and the chicks for around 4 hours!

Incoming!

Incoming!

Family portrait

Family portrait

Here are the fish from this morning – these kept the chicks going for most of the day, with 33 not bringing in another fish until around 4.30pm.


Finally we have some good news to end todays blog – S1, one of Maya and 33’s returnee chicks, has been spending his time on a nest in Dorset! John Wright last saw S1 at Rutland on May 24th – on May 25th an osprey turned up in Dorset. Until today, no one had been able to get an accurate ring reading from the bird, but now thanks to Olly Slessor we know it to be S1! Photos of S1 in Dorset and more information to follow soon.