Maya feeding the chicks roach for breakfast

Fish of the day

It’s been a grey, damp day at Lyndon today, but the Manton Bay chicks continue to thrive. When you look at the fish 33 has brought in recently then it’s easy to understand why his youngsters are in such good condition. Here is a video of 33 delivering a tench to his family on Thursday evening. He caught the fish on lagoon 1 and, if you watch carefully, you can see him arriving from some distance away on the wide-angle view. Once he landed on the nest, the fish almost got away…

Yesterday roach replaced tench as fish of the day and 33 delivered this fine fish to the nest shortly after 8am. Roach rarely get much larger in Rutland Water than this particular fish, so any angler would have been proud! You’ll see that one of the youngsters was initially more interested in wing-flapping then eating; but it did eventually join the other two for breakfast.

Maya feeding the chicks roach for breakfast

Maya feeding the chicks roach for breakfast

Today the youngsters have had to wait much longer. After one early morning fish, 33 didn’t bring another in until just before 5pm. In the intervening period Maya spent much of her time on the French perch above the nest, keeping a watchful eye on her chicks below. Here’s a nice video of the chicks watching her as she flies on to the nest.

The three youngsters watching Maya fly to the nest

The three youngsters watching Maya fly to the nest

While the chicks waited on the nest, 33 made several unsuccessful fishing forays. He also saw off 30(10) – one of the males who caused so much disturbance at Site B earlier in the year.

When 33 did eventually return to the nest with a fish, it was another different species: a pike.

You can see the distinctive head shape of the pike in this photo

You can see the distinctive head shape of the pike in this photo

Having finished the fish, the family settled down on the nest; a peaceful scene to end the day.

Stormy skies

The chicks are starting to stretch their wings

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

It’s been another bautiful summer day at Rutland Water; and a quiet day at the Manton Bay nest. I was at the centre early this morning to lead a guided walk in aid of the Martin Lawrence Memorial Trust. As the photo below shows, the view of the nest is always spectacular at this time of day.

Early morning at the Manton Bay nest

Early morning at the Manton Bay nest

By the time we reached Waderscrape hide, 33 had already delivered a trout to the nest and the chicks were tucking into breakfast. With so much food it is little wonder that they have grown so quickly. The three youngsters are looking more and more like ‘proper’ Ospreys every day; and are even starting to flap their wings, albeit rather weakly!

The chicks are starting to stretch their wings

The chicks are starting to stretch their wings

By lunchtime the nest was bathed in glorious summer sunshine, and the youngsters spent much of the afternoon lazing in the nest. 33 brought two more fish, ensuring that all three chicks had several more good feeds.

As is usually the case, there was no squabbling between the chicks while they were fed. How’s this for an orderly line-up…

Peace was temporarily broken when an intruding Osprey appeared overhead. 33 immediately flew to the nest and mantled over the chicks; but the intruding bird didn’t linger for long. The rest of the afternoon passed by very peacefully – just the way we like it!

33 and Maya mantling on the nest as the intruder passes overhead

33 and Maya mantling on the nest as the intruder passes overhead

The chicks enjoyed some glorious sunshine this afternoon

The chicks enjoyed some glorious sunshine this afternoon

Maya feeding the chicks on tench number 5

Tench-tastic!

He’s been at it again. Yesterday we were impressed that 33 caught three tench during the afternoon, but today he’s eclipsed that by bringing a total of FIVE tench back to the nest.

33 arrived with tench number one at 9am and Maya ensured that all of the chicks had a good feed.

The three chicks enjoying tench for breakfast

The three chicks enjoying tench for breakfast

Soon afterwards an intruding Osprey appeared over the nest and Maya mantled over the chicks to protect them.

In all likelihood the intruder was 1J – the two year-old Manton Bay chick who returned for the first time yesterday. Dave McCulley has sent us these superb photos that he took of 1J yesterday at the Egleton reserve. Thanks very much, Dave.

1J's blue ring is clearly visible in Dave McCulley's superb photos

1J’s blue ring is clearly visible in Dave McCulley’s superb photos

1J

1J

1J didn’t hang around for long, and 33 wasted no time in bringing tench number two and tench number three back to the nest in quick succession. He was catching them in lagoon 1 at the Egleton reserve; delighting visitors there in the process. Here’s a superb video of him arriving with the first of the two fish.

Once again the chicks enjoyed a good feed.

By the time 33 returned with yet another tench shortly after 1pm it was clear that the chicks were full and not interested in any more food. Mind you, they were given quite a shock when 33 landed with the fish which was still well-and-truly alive!

Knowing the chicks were full, Maya left the fish on the side of the nest. One of the youngsters went to have a closer look…

...and another!

Yet another tench!

By now the chicks were so full of fish that they spent much of the afternoon snoozing on the nest.

Zoomed in

Snoozing in the sun

Snoozing in the sun

33 had more than done his job for the day, but that wasn’t going to stop him. Just before 5pm he arrived with tench number five. Maya fed the chicks again; preferring this fresh fish over one that was still lying in the nest from earlier.

Once the youngsters had enjoyed a good feed, 33 took the fish off to the t perch for a well-earned evening meal. After days like today it is easy to see why his offspring are growing so quickly!

Maya feeding the chicks on tench number 5

Maya feeding the chicks on tench number 5

33 preparing to fly off with his evening meal

33 preparing to fly off with his evening meal

33 has caught two perch today

Wet and windy

Today has definitely not been the day to be an Osprey on an extremely exposed nest in the middle of Rutland Water. As you’ll know if you’ve been watching the webcam, the Manton Bay nest has been buffeted by very strong winds all day. On top of that we had torrential rain for most of the morning, which made life very uncomfortable for Maya as she brooded the chicks on the nest. At such a young age the chicks are vulnerable to cold, wet weather and so Maya did her best to keep them dry. At times you could really see how uncomfortable she must have been in the driving rain.

Maya did her best to keep the chicks dry in the torrential rain

Maya did her best to keep the chicks dry in the torrential rain

Even when 33 brought a perch to the nest, Maya was reluctant to feed the chicks. After a minute or so the rain became heavier and she chose to brood the chicks rather than feed them; keeping them warm was obviously the main priority. In this short clip you can tell that she is unsure what to do.  When the rain eventually cleared around lunchtime the chicks missed out again because, in the intervening period, 33 had returned to the nest, taken the fish and eaten it all himself!

33 has caught two perch today

33 has caught two perch today

Maya was reluctant to feed the chicks in such heavy rain

Maya was reluctant to feed the chicks in such heavy rain

Knowing that his family would be getting hungry by now, 33 spent much of the afternoon fishing. Strong winds are a hunting Osprey’s worst enemy and 33 really struggled to catch. Maya, meanwhile, was doing her best to shelter from the strong wind; lowering her head below the edge of the nest to try and shelter. Several people got in touch worried that she was unwell; but in fact it seems she was merely trying to get out of the wind – and was probably also very tired after such a demanding day.

Eventually 33 caught a good-sized perch in Heron Bay, close to the nest. He took it straight to the nest and Maya fed the hungry chicks. Like yesterday, the largest of the brood was very aggressive at first.

It wasn’t long though before all three youngsters were lined up together and getting more of an equal share of the fish.

Perch isn’t the only fish species that 33 has caught in the past few days. Yesterday evening John Wright was at the nest when 33 returned with a large trout. John got a great video of 33 struggling with the fish on the t perch close to the nest. This video demonstrates how superbly well-adapted Ospreys are to holding on to their fish – it is amazing that he didn’t drop it immediately!

The weather has improved this evening and there is a better forecast for tomorrow. Let’s hope Maya and her family have an easier day…

A sunny end to the day

A sunny end to the day

03 lifts the fish out of the water

Mr Rutland’s legacy

If you tuned in to BBC Springwatch this evening you’ll have been introduced to an Osprey with an ever-growing legacy. So what is it that makes 03(97) – or Mr Rutland – such an important bird?

To begin with, we need to go back to July 1997. It is mid-July and eight young Ospreys have just arrived at Rutland Water. Having been collected under special licence from nests in North-east Scotland by world-renowned Osprey-expert Roy Dennis, they had been driven 450 miles south to England’s smallest county. The birds were placed in specially-designed release pens and left to settle in to their new home. At six weeks of age they were still a fortnight away from taking to the air for the first time, and the pens would provide a good opportunity for them to become acclimatised to their new surrounds before they were released. Each bird was fitted with a colour ring to enable the team at Rutland Water to monitor their progress.

The birds were part of a pioneering project that aimed to restore Ospreys to England for the first time in over 150 years. A year earlier we – the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and Rutland Water’s owners, Anglian Water – had been granted a licence to translocate a small number of Ospreys from the annually-increasing Scottish population to the reservoir. Research in Scotland and elsewhere had shown that Ospreys are highly site-faithful and so it was hoped that the translocated birds would recognise Rutland as home and return in future years to breed. In all a total of 64 young Scottish Ospreys were relocated to the reservoir between 1996 and 2001.

03 was one of 64 Ospreys that were translocated to Rutland Water between 1996 and 2001 as part of a pioneering translocation project

03 was one of 64 Ospreys that were translocated to Rutland Water between 1996 and 2001 as part of a pioneering translocation project

 

We didn’t know it at the time, but of the eight birds who arrived at Rutland Water in July 1997 there was one who would go onto have a profound effect on the future of Ospreys in both England and Wales. 03(97) – 03 being the bird’s ring number and 1997 the year of release – made his first flight just after 8pm on 27th July. He made short, but surprisingly competent, two-minute flight before landing on a nearby dead tree. As the days progressed he grew in confidence on the wing and spent the next six weeks getting to know his adopted home. Then, 40 days after that all-important first flight, he set-off south on the perilous 3000 mile journey to West Africa. He would have to negotiate at least two crossings of the Sahara before we stood a chance of seeing him again.

03(97) - or Mr Rutland - has become the most important Osprey in the Rutland colony

03(97) – or Mr Rutland – has become the most important Osprey in the Rutland colony

 

Remarkably, eighteen years later, 03(97) is still going strong. Over the past 15 years ‘Mr Rutland’ has raised a total of 32 chicks at a nest that he built in the top of an oak tree in the summer of 2000. He bred successfully for the first time in 2001 and hasn’t looked back since. He’s reared young with three different females – including 14 with his latest unringed mate – all at the same nest in the top of the oak tree. It is a suitably regal setting for the most important Osprey in the Rutland colony.

Mortality among young Ospreys is usually very high; as many as 70% of young birds failing to survive the first two years of their life. And yet 40% of 03(97)’s offspring who are old enough to have returned to the UK, have made it back. Prior to this summer those 12 birds had, in turn, reared a total of 43 chicks between them, and, to date, four of those 43 have gone on to breed successfully. So aside from being a grandfather many times over, 03(97) is also a great grandfather to 15 young Ospreys.

03 has raised 32 chicks at his Site B nest since 2001. The nest is situated on private land

03 has raised 32 chicks at his Site B nest since 2001. The nest is situated on private land

Although 03’s own nest has sadly failed this year after repeated intrusions by two young males, his various offspring who are breeding, should help to make up for that. The three Manton Bay chicks which hatched over the bank holiday weekend have made 03 a grandfather for the 46th time; and with his offspring breeding at four other sites this year, that tally should exceed 50 quite easily within the next fortnight.

33 looking at his chicks

33 (11) (far right) – whose 3 chicks hatched on the Manton Bay nest over the bank holiday weekend – is 03’s son

The Site B dynasty has ensured that there have been plenty of Ospreys to populate the growing Rutland colony. With eight pairs breeding this year, it is very likely that by the end of the summer over 100 young Ospreys will have fledged from nests in the area since 03(97) reared the first chick in 2001.  In many ways, however, the Mr Rutland nickname is a bit of a misnomer. It suggests that his legacy is confined to England’s smallest county, but that is most definitely not the case. In 2011 Ospreys returned to breed on the Dyfi Estuary in mid-Wales for the first time in four centuries. The nest, situated on the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust’s Cors Dyfi Reserve, attracted the attention of the world through the BBC Springwatch cameras. Although the male was unringed, a white ring on the female’s right leg showed that she had fledged from 03(97)’s Site B nest three years previously, in 2008. 03(08) – or Nora – as she became known – raised four chicks over the course of two successful summers on the Dyfi. When she failed to return in 2013 her place was taken by 03(97)’s granddaughter, 12(10) aka Glesni. The nest on the Dyfi has become highly sought-after and 12(10) had to fight off the aggressive advances of her cousin, 24(10) – another of 03(97)’s granddaughters – to keep hold of the nest.

Events on the Dyfi not only show how the Rutland translocation has completely changed the distribution map of Ospreys in the UK, but how one Osprey in particular, has been integral to the spread of Ospreys through southern Britain. Who would have thought that eighteen years ago on a balmy evening in Rutland, that an Osprey making its maiden flight, would go on to have such a profound and lasting legacy on the Osprey populations of England and Wales.

Although 03’s nets is on private land with no public access, you can see a family of Ospreys at the Lyndon Visitor Centre where 03’s son, 33(11), has three newly-hatched chicks with his mate, Maya. For visiting information, click here.

03 lifts the fish out of the water

03 regularly fishes at Horn Mill Trout Farm