IEPUK Director George Peach (left) presents Tim Mackrill with a donation of £808 towards the project's work in The Gambia

The Inaugural Osprey Ball

It has been another great season for the project and this year we celebrated in style at our inaugural Osprey Ball. The ball, which was held at the superb Barnsdale Lodge Hotel, was an opportunity for project supporters, volunteers and staff  to reflect on an excellent summer and to raise valuable funds for the project.

We were particularly delighted to welcome IEPUK to the ball. IEPUK – who are based in Uppingham –  are a not-for-profit education and training organisation who have been working around the world for over 20 years. Their core business is to create opportunities for young people to gain skills and experience within the land-based sector. This fits in very well with the Rutland Osprey Project’s work in West Africa and we were delighted to receive a donation of £808 at the ball from IEPUK Director, George Peach. This valuable donation will help us to develop our work with schools in The Gambia and enable students to participate in a survey of wintering Ospreys that we’re organising in conjunction with the Gambian Department for Parks and Wildlife Management this winter. This is the first time that such a survey has ever been undertaken in The Gambia and it will provide valuable experience for the students in the company of professional bird guides and ornithologists, including author of the Birds of the Gambia, Clive Barlow and Osprey Flyways Project Co-ordinator, Junkung Jadama. Click on the video below to find out more about our work in The Gambia.

Junkung Jadama with Gambian students on a fieldtrip organised by the project

Junkung Jadama with Gambian students on a fieldtrip organised by the project

IEPUK Director George Peach (left) presents Tim Mackrill with a donation of £808 towards the project's work in The Gambia

IEPUK Director George Peach (left) presents Tim Mackrill with a donation of £808 towards the project’s work in The Gambia

In addition to the generous donation from IEPUK, ticket sales and a raffle on the night generated a further £750. It was a wonderful evening and one that we will definitely repeat next year. Watch this space!

We are extremely grateful to everyone who donated prizes for the raffle, namely Oakham Wines, In Focus, the Horse & Jockey, Paul Stammers, Trish Ruddle, Dr Rob Lambert, Barnsdale Lodge, Eyebrook Wild Bird Foods and Mike Simmons. Thanks also to Corporate Architecture for sponsoring a table.

Osprey Ball

Osprey Ball 2

30 flew just over 350 km through Western Sahara and Mauritania on Monday

30 reaches her winter home

She’s done it! The latest satellite data from 30(05)’s transmitter shows that she reached her winter home on the Senegal coast at 11am yesterday morning after an amazing 11-day migration from Rutland.

The previous batch of data had shown that 30 roosted in the remote desert of Western Sahara on Sunday evening. Next morning she must have left her overnight roost site at around 9:30am because by 10am she was 18km further south, heading south-west at 41kph at an altitude of 660 metres. She continued to make fairly steady progress over the next four hours and by 2pm she had flown 158 kilometres on a south-south-westerly heading at altitudes of between 500 and 1300 metres. During the heat of the afternoon she took advantage of thermals created by the searing desert, crossing into Mauritania just after 4pm and continuing south-south-east at high altitude. By 6pm, she had covered another 133km and was migrating at an altitude of 2300 metres. An hour later she was a further 31km south-east and now even higher: 2440 metres above the remote and desolate desert. She continued flying for another hour before settling to roost on the desert floor in northern Mauritania after a day’s flight of 350 km.

30 flew just over 350 km through Western Sahara and Mauritania on Monday

30 flew just over 350 km through Western Sahara and Mauritania on Monday

A Google Earth view of 30's GPS fixes between 7am and 9am show just how remote and desolate the Sahara is in this part of Mauritania

A Google Earth view of 30′s GPS fixes between 7am and 9am show just how remote and desolate the Sahara is in this part of Mauritania

By first light on Tuesday morning 30 had moved 2km south from her position the previous evening and, like on Monday she resumed her migration at around 9:30am. For the first time in ten days of migration, though, it seemed that conditions were not in her favour. During the course of the day she only flew another 164 kilometres before settling to roost in the desert of central Mauritania.

For a third morning in succession, 30 resumed her migration at around 9:30am on Wednesday. By 11am she had flown 47 kilometres and was flying south at 34kph at an altitude of 350 metres. Conditions for migration must have been much better than on Tuesday because over the course of the next four hours she covered a further 146km at altitudes of over 1000 metres. 30 must have now sensed that she was getting closer to her winter home; she had made a distinct turn to the south-west and was nearing the Senegal border. At 17:30 she passed over Richard Toll and into Senegal, crossing the Senegal River; almost certainly the first water she had seen for at least four days. After flying over the huge Lac de Guiers she pressed on towards the coast. She passed to the east of St Louis as dusk was falling at 7pm and continued flying for almost an hour after dark before reaching the coast and settling to roost for the night. She was now just 40km north of Lompoul beach after a day’s flight of 450km.

30 flew almost three times as far on Wednesday as she had done the previous day

30 flew almost three times as far on Wednesday as she had done the previous day

By 9am next morning 30 was perched 23km south of her overnight roost site, probably eating her first fish for five days. She didn’t linger there for long, though. Two hours later she was perched in one of her favourite trees just inland from Lompoul beach. Just over 11 days after leaving Rutland, she was back at the site where she has spent every winter since her first autumn migration in September 2005. She had arrived two days later than last year, but having departed from Rutland 48 hours later than the previous year, her migration has taken exactly the same length of time. And when I say exactly, I mean exactly. If you give or take a few minutes, her journey last autumn took a total of 267 hours.This year it was…yes, you guessed it, 267 hours. Remarkable!

Each winter 30 spends much of her time in a clearing a few metres inland from the coast. She was back there yesterday morning.

Each winter 30 spends much of her time in a clearing a few metres inland from the coast. She was back there yesterday morning.

Having arrived at her winter home 30 will spend the next six months in leisurely fashion; catching one or two fish each day and then spending the rest of her time on her favourite perches on the beach or just inland. We know exactly what the beach looks like because last year project team members Paul Stammers and John Wright visited it. To read about their trip, click here.

30 on one of her favourite perches last winter

30 on one of her favourite perches last winter

We’ll be sure to keep you updated with 30′s movements over the coming months and watch out for a summary of her migration early next week. In the meantime, take a minute to marvel at this most incredible of migrations. Over the course of her 11-day journey 30 flew 4681km (2908 miles). She certainly deserves a rest!

Don’t forget that you can also view 30′s migration on your own version of Google Earth. To find out how, click here.

30 skirted around the western end of the Atlas Mountains

30 races across the Sahara

Our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05) continues to make staggering progress on her autumn migration. The latest data shows that at 9pm last night she was roosting in the remote desert of Western Sahara just eight days after leaving Rutland.

The previous data from the 30′s satellite transmitter had shown that on the night of 4th September she had roosted north-east of Rabat in northern Morocco. Next morning she resumed her migration at first light, passing Rabat at 8am local time (7am GMT) and then maintaining a perfect south-westerly course for the next seven hours at altitudes of between 250 metres and 1000 metres. By 3pm she had already flown 320km and at that point she made a distinct turn to the south. Two hours later the vast Atlas Mountains would have been prominent on the horizon and, like her autumn migration in 2013, she turned to the south-west in order to skirt across the western foothills of the mountains; thereby avoiding the high peaks further east.

30 skirted around the western end of the Atlas Mountains

30 skirted around the western end of the Atlas Mountains

An Osprey's eye view of the Atlas. This Google Earth image shows why 30 flew around the mountains, rather than over them

An Osprey’s eye view of the Atlas. This Google Earth image shows why 30 flew around the mountains, rather than over them

She may have missed the high mountains, but nevertheless at 7pm 30 was migrating at an altitude of more than 3000 metres and an hour later – with darkness falling – she was still going: heading due south at 33kph at an altitude of 1820 metres. Finally, at around 8:30pm she settled to roost for the night in a cultivated area just south of the mountains having flown a total of 536 kilometres during the day; her longest day’s flight thus far.

30 flew 536km on 5th September

30 flew 536km on 5th September

Next morning 30 resumed her migration later than the previous day; by 10am she was only 18km south-west of her overnight roost suggesting that she may have found somewhere to fish before resuming her migration. At midday she was just 11km from the coast, but at that point she turned to a more southerly heading, passing to the east of Tiznit and then past Guelmin. As she headed south the terrain would have become increasingly arid with spectacular rock formations and ridges. By 5pm she was passing just a few kilometres to the east of the area where another of our satellite-tagged birds, 09(98) sadly came to grief in 2012. The film below, made by Moroccan wildlife film-maker Lahoucine Faouzi, gives you an idea of just how inhospitable this area is.

At 6pm 30 passed over a spectacular ridge that you can see in Lahoucine’s film. Satellite-tracking studies have shown that many Osprey use this ridge to aid their navigation, and sure enough, 30 made a distinct turn to the south-west as she passed over this ridge; exactly as she had done on her autumn migration last year.

As in 2013 (red line), 30 made a distinct turn to the south-west when she flew over a spectacular ridge in the Sahara

As in 2013 (red line), 30 made a distinct turn to the south-west when she flew over a spectacular ridge in the Sahara

30 continued migrating for another two hours, before settling to roost in an area of sparse vegetation at 8pm having flown 352 kilometres during the course of the day. It is fascinating to see how her route almost exactly mirrored that of her flight on 4th September 2013. Both her morning and evening roosts were within 15km of her previous journey.

30's flight on 6th September was almost exactly the same as her journey on 4th September in 2013

30′s flight on 6th September was almost exactly the same as her journey on 4th September in 2013

Yesterday morning 30 was migrating again at first light. Conditions must have been good for migration because during the course of the day she maintained an almost-perfect south-westerly heading at altitudes ranging from 360 metres to 1210 metres. In just over 10 hours of migrating 30 flew 561 kilomtres; an average speed of more than 50kph. She eventually settled to roost on the desert floor just after 5pm in an extremely remote part of Western Sahara.

30's roost site last night could hardly have been more remote

30′s roost site last night could hardly have been more remote

30 flew 561km across the Sahara on 7th September

30 flew 561km across the Sahara on 7th September

This all means that just eight days after leaving Rutland Water 30 has flown a remarkable 3665km. If she maintains similar speeds, she could arrive at her wintering site on the Senegal coast as early as Wednesday…watch this space! Last year she did the migration in 11 days; and she’s certainly on course to at least match that again this year.

Don’t forget that you can also view 30′s migration on your own version of Google Earth. To find out how, click here.

They’re still here!

They’re still here! If you’re planning a visit to Rutland Water this weekend, then there is every chance that you will see an Osprey. Both Maya and 33(11) were at the nest all day, and they were still there this evening. We shouldn’t really be surprised; Maya has been one of the last Ospreys to depart from Rutland Water over the past few years and it would seem that 33(11) is following her lead. He probably wants to make sure that rival male 51(11) – who is still also present – doesn’t get a look-in with his new mate. He’s certainly continuing to do everything as he should; here’s a video of 33 delivering a fine trout to the nest yesterday afternoon.

33 and Maya

33 and Maya

The Lyndon Visitor Centre is open all weekend – so we hope to see you then!

Unlike most birds of prey, 30 crossed the Mediterranean well to the east of Gibraltar

30 reaches Africa

Migration never ceases to amaze me. The latest batch of data from 30′s satellite transmitter shows that just five days after leaving Rutland, she roosted close to Rabat in northern Morocco last night.

The last batch of data had shown that at 7am on Tuesday morning, 30 was flying south through northern Spain. By 10am she had flown another 120 kilometres and was powering her way through the mountains of La Rioja. At midday she passed just to the west of Soria at an altitude of 1780 metres. Ospreys often reach very high altitudes as they migrate across Spain and over the course of the next six hours, 30 did the same. By 6pm she had flown another 256km at altitudes of up to 3260 metres – that’s well over 10,000 feet. She was now some 115km south-west of Madrid, but showing no signs of letting-up. She made a distinct turn to the south-east and then flew another 35 kilometres before settling for the night in an agricultural area five kilometres west of Villarrobledo in Catile-LaMancha province. She had flown 517km; meaning that she had flown a staggering 1500km in just three days of migration.

We have not yet received the full batch of GPS fixes for the next morning, but she clearly made a slower start than previous days because at 1pm local time (12:00GMT) she was just 87km south-east of her overnight position. Over the course of the afternoon she made her way through the eastern part of the Sierra Morena mountains before settling for the night among olive groves in Andalucia.Her day’s flight of 256km was half that of previous days, but significantly, she was now within striking distance of Africa.

30 flew almost the length of Spain in just two days

30 flew almost the length of Spain in just two days

30 probably caught a fish in Embalse de Malpasillo yesterday morning before flying to Morocco

30 probably caught a fish in Embalse de Malpasillo yesterday morning before flying to Morocco

30 left her roost site soon after first light and flew 25km south-west to Embalse de Malpasillo. She almost certainly caught a fish there because for the next two hours she was perched four kilometres south-west of the reservoir, presumably eating her breakfast. By 10am she was migrating again and two-and-a-half hours later she reached the Spanish coast at Marbella. Unlike most raptors who head further south-west to make the short 14km flight across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco, 30 simply headed straight out to sea. By 2pm she had flown 67 kilometres across the Mediterranean and was now flying just 10 metres above the waves at 19kph. An hour later she reached Morocco, making landfall near Tetouan after flying over 100km across the open sea.

Having reached Africa, 30 showed no signs of letting up. Over the course of the next five hours she flew another 187 kilometres south-west and then south-south-west through northern Morocco at altitudes of between 200 and 1000 metres. She eventually settled for the night in a cultivated area 50km north-east of Rabat, after a day’s flight of 413km.

After just five days, she has covered a remarkable 2216km and has already left Europe behind. The imposing Atlas Mountains and the vast wilds of the Sahara are next. Don’t forget that you can also view 30′s migration on your own version of Google Earth. To find out how, click here.

Unlike most birds of prey, 30 crossed the Mediterranean well to the east of Gibraltar

Unlike most birds of prey, 30 crossed the Mediterranean well to the east of Gibraltar

30 followed a very similar course to her 2013 autumn migration (red line) as she headed south through France.

She’s off – 1000km in two days!

As Kayleigh reported earlier today, things have been turning distinctly autumnal at Rutland Water in the past few days. One by one the Ospreys have been heading south, and we now know that our satellite-tagged bird, 30(05) is one of them.  The latest data from her satellite transmitter shows that at 6am this morning, 30 was in northern Spain, 20 kilometres to the east of San Sebastiàn having set-off from Rutland on Sunday morning.

30(05)

30(05)

We don’t know exactly what time 30 left the Rutland Water area on Sunday, but it must have been fairly early because at 10am her transmitter showed that she was in northern Buckinghamshire, midway between Banbury and Milton Keynes, flying purposefully south at an altitude of 550 metres. She made excellent progress over the next four hours, continuing south through Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire at altitudes of between 500 and 1000 metres. By 2pm she had flown 151 km in four hours and was 1230 metres above the Isle of Wight with the English Channel in her sights. She made light work of the crossing to France and by 6pm GMT she was flying south through Lower Normandy. She eventually settled to roost for the night on the edge of a small wood, 55km west of Le Mans after a day’s flight of at least 520 kilometres.

30 flew over 500km on her first day of migration. She followed a more westerly route than 2013 (red line)

30 flew over 500km on her first day of migration. She followed a more westerly route than 2013 (red line)

Next morning 30 was on the move at first light because at 7am local time (6am GMT) she was already 46km south of her overnight roost site, and was flying due south at 31kph. She paused briefly on the edge of a small copse at 8am, but by 9am she was on the wing again, passing over the River Loire soon afterwards. Four hours later she was passing just to the west of La Rochelle at an altitude of 1500 metres. She had already covered 210 kilometres but was showing no signs of letting-up. Using the west coast of France to guide her, 30 flew another 290 kilometres during the afternoon and by 7pm she was just north of the town of Capbreton in the south of France. On Google Earth the area around Capbreton looks good for fishing and by 9pm 30 had settled for the evening in a forested area just north of Ondres having almost certainly caught a fish in one of the nearby lakes.  Over the course of the day she had flown another 510 kilometres; another excellent day’s migration.

This morning 30 was on the move early again. Like the previous day, she had already flown another 40km by 7am local time, passing Biarritz and then across the Spanish border.  By this evening she may well be close to Madrid. It will be fascinating to see how far she has flown when the next batch of data comes in.

Don’t forget that you can also view 30′s migration on your own version of Google Earth. To find out how, click here.

30 followed a very similar course to her 2013 autumn migration (red line) as she headed south through France.

30 followed a very similar course to her 2013 autumn migration (red line) as she headed south through France.

Red Kite with a fish, photographed by Geoff Harries at Ryhall

‘Fishing’ Red Kites

In central England you can safely say that if you see a large bird of prey diving into the water to take a fish, it will be an Osprey. Or can you? Over the past few weeks several photographers have been getting some great images of Red Kites taking fish at River Gwash Trout Farm at Ryhall in Rutland. Over the course of the summer we have worked with Lawrence Ball and Jamie Weston to build photography hides at Ryhall and at Lawrence’s second site at Horn Mill. Although Osprey fishing activity has dropped off at both sites in recent weeks, Red Kites have been diving into the ponds at Ryhall to take dead fish. As these superb photos by Geoff Harries show, it is making for a quite a spectacle.

The kites are likely to continue to take fish in this way for the next few weeks, so it is well worth booking a spot in the hide at Ryhall. To do so, email rivergwashtroutfarm.ospreys@yahoo.com. For more information about the hide and also the one at Horn Mill Trout Farm, click here

GH Red Kites 3GH Red Kite 2
GH Red Kite 1

03(97) set-off on his seventeenth autumn migration on 27th August

The Site B family head south

It has felt very autumnal at Rutland Water in the past few days. The days are getting shorter, hirundines – Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins are gathering in flocks as they prepare to head south, and passage waders – many of whom will have bred in the Arctic circle – are pausing to feed in Manton Bay and other parts of the reservoir before they continue south. They’re not the only ones who are on the move: all of this year’s Site B family have now set-out on their autumn migration.

Having fledged in early July – earlier than most other Ospreys in the UK – the Site B juveniles are at a distinct advantage. They have had plenty of time to hone their flying skills before embarking on that all-important first migration to Africa. By mid-August they had been on the wing for over six weeks, and the juvenile male, 6K(14), clearly decided that the time was right to make his move. He set-off sometime between midday on 18th August and 10am the following morning.  More than a week-and-a-half later, it is remarkable to think that he could already be in Southern Spain or North Africa.

Adult females are usually the first members of an Osprey family to depart in the autumn, but this year has been a little different for the Site B female. The injury suffered by 03(97) in early July meant that she has had to do far more fishing than usual, and that perhaps explains why she remained at the nest for much longer than normal. She was last seen dropping a fish at the nest on 20th August; more than two weeks later than she lingered last summer.

The juvenile female, 7K, seemed more reluctant to leave than her brother and, more than a week after 6K had set-off the young female was still at the nest. Having raised over 30 chicks at Site B, 03 is well-used to having to wait for the last of his off-spring to depart and, as you would expect of this most-successful of Ospreys, he continued to provide fish for 7K on a daily basis. Eventually though, she too decided to go. She was still at the nest at 2:30pm on 26th August, but by next morning 03 was alone once more. Although we didn’t see her go, the chances are that 7K had set-off the previous afternoon.

That just left 03. With his family heading south, he took the opportunity to depart. Shortly after 9am on 27th August he left the nest and headed purposefully south. He hadn’t returned by dark and was again absent the next morning. It seemed that he had set-off on his seventeenth autumn migration. We wish him and his family well.

03(97) set-off on his seventeenth autumn migration on 27th August

03(97) set-off on his seventeenth autumn migration on 27th August

As usual 03 waited for all of his family to depart before he set-off. John Wright took this photo moments before he headed south.

As usual 03 waited for all of his family to depart before he set-off. John Wright took this photo moments before he headed south.

03 departing on migration...

03 departing on migration…

John Wright's final view of 03 as he headed south

John Wright’s final view of 03 as he headed south

Although 03 and his family have left Rutland Water, the good news if you’re planning to visit this weekend, is that Maya and 33(11) are still present in Manton Bay. We expect them and the other non-breeding birds to linger into early next week, so there is still time for one final Osprey-fix of the year! There are a few places left on tomorrow’s final Osprey cruise of the summer, and if recent cruises are anything to go by, it should be a great way to end the season. You can book your place here. 

Maya waiting for 33(11) to bring a fish to the nest this morning.

Harmony in the bay

After Maya’s misdemeanors on Wednesday, today was a much more typical day at the Manton Bay nest. 33(11) caught a trout at 8am and eventually took the remains to Maya on the nest.

Maya waiting for 33(11) to bring a fish to the nest this morning.

Maya waiting for 33(11) to bring a fish to the nest this morning.

For 33(11) this summer has been a practice run for next year. Although some male Ospreys breed when they are three years’ old, most raise a family for the first time when they are four years of age. And that is exactly what we hope will happen in Manton Bay next year. This summer has given 33 time to hone the skills he will need if he returns next spring. One of the first jobs in late March or early April for any male Osprey is to scrape out a nest cup; and this morning 33 gave his scraping skills a bit of a dry run…

As has been the pattern recently, 33 went fishing again this evening; he was one of two birds we saw from the Rutland Belle on our latest Osprey cruise. Despite experiencing what felt like four season’s weather during the hour-and-a-half boat trip, we saw 33 catch a fish distantly in torrential rain and then had much closer views of 28(10) as he searched for a meal close to the dam once the sun had come out again. There are now just two cruises left this summer – on Wednesday and next Saturday. To book your place, click here.

A mixture of sunshine and heavy rain made for some dramatic skies during this evening's Osprey cruise

A mixture of sunshine and heavy rain made for some dramatic skies during this evening’s Osprey cruise

It wasn’t just Ospreys that created interest at Lyndon today. Receding water levels in Manton Bay have created perfect foraging conditions for numerous waders. This morning a single Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, several Green and Common Sandpipers and a few Dunlin could all be seen from Shallow Water hide. Then, mid-way through the afternoon a juvenile Spotted Crake – a rare visitor to the reserve – appeared at Waderscrape hide and provided great views for excited visitors for much of the afternoon. So if you have any spare time this bank holiday weekend, be sure to pop down to see us at Lyndon!

33(11) could well remain at the Manton Bay nest until early September

A morning of misdemeanors

If you have visited Manton Bay in recent days then the chances are that you will have seen both Maya and 33(11). Aside from occasional fishing trips, both birds have spent nearly all their time close to the nest .

Unlike earlier in the season when 33 was doing all of the fishing, the female is now making daily trips to catch her own food. Today though a gusty wind has made fishing more difficult than usual. So, after several aborted attempts, Maya decided on a new tact.  First she flew north to Lagoon 4, where 51(11) has spent an increasing amount of time in recent weeks. She landed on the nest, evidently in the hope of a free meal. When none was forthcoming she headed off to another off-site nest. This time she was in luck. She stole half a trout from the nest and then then immediately flew back to Manton Bay where she tucked into her late breakfast!

33 appeared none the wiser. He decided on a more orthodox approach and, after a little perseverance, caught a trout shortly after lunchtime. As the video below shows, he was very reluctant to hand his catch over to Maya this afternoon. Perhaps he knew about her morning of misdemeanors?!

Lots of people have been asking how long the two birds will remain in Rutland. It is likely that both 33 and his mate will stay at the nest into early September. 33 knows that there are at least four different non-breeding males – 28(10), 30(10), 51(11) and 8F(12) – who would all take up residence at the nest given half a chance. The only way he can ensure that they don’t have a chance of dong this, is to remain in the bay and defend it.  So, with a bit of luck, both 33 and Maya should be here into September.

33(11) could well remain at the Manton Bay nest until early September

33(11) could well remain at the Manton Bay nest until early September