03 in Action

03 in Action

Over the last few days the new photographic hide at Horn Mill Trout Farm has enabled several lucky photographers to get some fantastic photos of 03(97) catching trout. The latest is Geoff Harries who has kindly sent this sequence of 03 catching a fish yesterday evening. Thanks Geoff!

a 03 GH5 b 03 GH3 c 03 GH2 d03 GH e 03 GH6

For more information about the hide and details of how to book, click here.

Jason Wood took this great photo of 03(97) from the hide

Horn Mill Photography Hide – Special August Offer!

The newly-opened photography hide at Horn Mill Trout Farm near Empingham is starting to provide some brilliant views of fishing Ospreys. On Sunday Jason Wood took this great shot of 03(97) catching a trout. The hide is available to book during August for the special price of just £60 for a full day (5am-9pm). It is well worth it!

Jason Wood took this great photo from the Horn Mill hide on Saturday

Jason Wood took this great photo from the Horn Mill hide on Saturday

To find out more about the hide, including booking details, click here.

03(97) being chased by a Grey Heron by Geoff Harries

Osprey photographic hide

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, the Osprey photographic hide is now open at nearby Horn Mill Trout Farm. Yesterday evening Geoff Harries took some great photos of 03(97) diving into the water before being chased by a Grey Heron.

Osprey coming out of water

Osprey leaving water

Osprey chased by heron

Osprey

Many thanks to Geoff for sending the great photos.

To find out more about the hide, and how to book click here.

Osprey photography hide update

Fishing Ospreys can be seen on a daily basis at Rutland Water, but the birds are often too distant for high-quality photos of them diving for fish. However, a new photography hide at Horn Mill Trout Farm now provides an opportunity to enjoy incredible views of hunting Ospreys.

In recent years Horn Mill, situated just north of Empingham and a few miles from Rutland Water, has become a favoured fishing site for many of the Ospreys in Rutland. The Trout at Horn Mill make for easy pickings for a hunting Osprey and over the past few summers the birds have started to have a significant impact on fish stocks at the site. After discussing the problem with us at Rutland Water, owner Lawrence Ball has decided to take a proactive approach. Rather than trying to discourage the birds, we have worked with Lawrence to build a photographic hide at Horn Mill that gives you the opportunity to view fishing Ospreys at very close quarters for the first time. We hope that any income this generates will help to off-set the losses of fish and, at the same time, demonstrate to the industry that taking this kind of sensible, proactive approach can be mutually beneficial to both fish farms and wildlife.

John Wright took this photo of 06(09) from the  hide at Horn Mill

John Wright took this photo of 06(09) from the hide at Horn Mill. He hit the water just 5 metres from the hide!

IMG_4808

The hide is sunken into the ground beside a 36m x 17m pond that is stocked with in excess of 2000 Rainbow Trout. Over the past few weeks Ospreys have visited the pond on a daily basis and taken fish just a few metres in front of the hide. At present there are as many as eight different Ospreys who may visit the site, but it is important to emphasise that sightings can not be guaranteed in the same way as they can at various photographic sites in Scotland. Not only are there fewer birds in Rutland, but there are also a number of other potential fishing sites – including Rutland Water – in the local area. However, at present this is the only place in England where you have the opportunity of photographing fishing Ospreys at such close quarters.

The hide is sunken into the ground, providing superb views for up to 4 people

The hide is sunken into the ground, providing superb views for up to 4 people

Horn Mill hide 4

The view from the hide

The view from the hide

The hide, which can seat a maximum of four people, is open for private bookings at the following times:

Morning Session – 5am (dawn) – 11am
Afternoon/Evening Session – 1pm – 9pm (dusk)

Places in the hide have now been reduced to £60 per person per session (following initial feedback). Alternatively you can reserve the whole hide for a single session for £210. It is also possible to arrange for you to be joined by a member of the Osprey project team, on request. Please also bear in mind that Horn Mill is a working fish farm and session times may be subject to change. We advise use of a tripod in the hide, although bean bags (not provided) can also be used.

To book your place please email rivergwashtroutfarm.ospreys@yahoo.com with your preferred date and time.

In addition to Horn Mill, work is due to commence on a second hide at owner Lawrence Ball’s second site at Ryhall this week. Watch this space for more news on that!

Osprey photographic hide now open!

Fishing Ospreys can be seen on a daily basis at Rutland Water, but the birds are often too distant for high-quality photos of them diving for fish. However, a new photography hide at Horn Mill trout farm now provides an opportunity to enjoy incredible views of hunting Ospreys.

In recent years Horn Mill, situated just north of Empingham and a few miles from Rutland Water, has become a favoured fishing site for many of the Ospreys in Rutland. Birds visit most days and the specially-designed hide gives you the opportunity to view them at very close quarters for the first time.

John Wright took this photo of 06(09) from the  hide at Horn Mill

John Wright took this photo of 06(09) from the hide at Horn Mill. He hit the water just 5 metres from the hide!

IMG_4808

The hide is sunken into the ground beside a 36m x 17m pond that is regularly visited by fishing Ospreys. Although sightings can not be guaranteed, the hide provides the only opportunity for such close views anywhere in England.

The hide is sunken into the ground, providing superb views for up to 4 people

The hide is sunken into the ground, providing superb views for up to 4 people

Horn Mill hide 4

The view from the hide

The view from the hide

The hide, which can seat a maximum of four people, is open for private bookings at the following times:

Afternoon Session – 12:30-16:30
Evening Sesssion – 17:30-dusk

Places in the hide cost £75 per person per session. Alternatively you can reserve the whole hide for a single session for £240. Those booking an afternoon session will be joined by a member of the Rutland Osprey Project team.

To book your place please email rivergwashtroutfarm.ospreys@yahoo.com with your preferred date and time.

In addition to Horn Mill, work is due to commence on a second hide at owner Lawrence Ball’s second site at Ryhall in early July. Watch this space for more news on that!

Dave Cole and Lloyd Park working on the hide last week. The base of the hide is set below ground level to give you the best-possible view

Photographing fishing Ospreys

There is no doubt that one of the most exciting sights in the natural world is that of an Osprey catching a fish. The power and grace of the bird as it plucks an unsuspecting trout or roach out of the water is one of nature’s great spectacles. It is also one that every wildlife photographer who visits Rutland Water would love to capture!

Whilst the hides at Lyndon and our ever-popular Osprey cruises give you a chance of seeing a diving Ospreys, the birds are often too distant for really top-notch fishing photos. However, over the past few weeks we have been working hard on an exciting new venture which will give you the chance of photographing fishing Ospreys at amazingly close quarters. In recent years Horn Mill trout farm has become a favoured fishing site of many of the Ospreys in Rutland. Two or three birds visit most days and after discussing the idea with myself and the team at Rutland Water, owner Lawrence Ball has decided to open a photographic hide at the fish farm.

Last week we began work on a specially-designed hide that is sunken into the ground beside a 36m x 17m pond that is regularly visited by fishing Ospreys. The hide should provide spectacular close-up views of diving Ospreys for up to four people at any one time. The hide will be open on a daily basis, but it will be necessary to book your place in advance. Lawrence hopes to open the hide during June and we’ll have full details of how you can reserve your place in the next week weeks. In the meantime here are a few photos of construction work so far…

Dave Cole and Lloyd Park working on the hide last week. The base of the hide is set below ground level to give you the best-possible view

Dave Cole and Lloyd Park working on the hide last week. The base of the hide is set below ground level to give you the best-possible view

Horn Mill hide 2

Horn Mill hide 3

We finished the hide's roof earlier today

We finished the hide’s roof earlier today

The view from the hide

The view from the hide

Hekki flew 10,420 km in 50 days from Mozambique to northern Finland

WOW update – Heikki makes it home at last

Two months ago our satellite-tagged Osprey from Rutland Water, 30(05), completed her spring migration. She had flown just under 5000km from the Senegal coast in less than two weeks. Aptly, she arrived home on the first day of World Osprey Week:  24th March. A few days later, the last of the nine Ospreys that we followed for WOW, began his spring journey. Heikki is a male Osprey who breeds in Lapland in northern Finland; making him one of the most northerly breeding Ospreys anywhere in the world. Having wintered on the coast of Mozambique he set-off north again on 28th March. 50 days and 10,420 km later, it is great to report that he has now made it home!

Our last WOW update showed that Heikki was stopping over in northern Egypt, beside the Suez Canal. After a five-day stop-over he set off again on 27th April, and crossed the Mediterranean to Cyprus. Like Malta, many millions of migratory birds are illegally killed in Cyrus each year  but fortunately, Heikki avoided the hunters and continued north into Turkey. He flew north through western Turkey, skirting around the northern edge of Istanbul and then west along the Black Sea coast to Bulgaria; crossing into Bulgaria airspace early on 30th April.

Heikki's crossed the Mediterranean from Egypt to Turkey via Cyprus and then continued north

Heikki’s crossed the Mediterranean from Egypt to Turkey via Cyprus and then continued north

Over the course of the next week he continued north, passing through Romania, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania and on the evening of 7th May he roosted by the River Daugava in Latvia.  Two days later he crossed the Gulf of Finland between Estonia and Finland. Although back in his native country, he still had almost 1000km of flying ahead of him and it wasn’t until 16th May that he finally arrived back in his breeding area.

Heikki flew through eastern Europe, before arriving home in Lapland on 16th May

Heikki flew through eastern Europe, before arriving home in Lapland on 16th May

Hekki flew 10,420 km in 50 days from Mozambique to northern Finland

Hekki flew 10,420 km in 50 days from Mozambique to northern Finland

Professor Pertti Saurola has summarised Heikki’s remarkable journey for us:

In spring 2014, the migration of Heikki the Osprey from the coast of Mozambique to his nesting range at the border between Muonio and Kittilä took a total of 50 days, i.e. 9 more days than his migration to his winter range in autumn 2013. According to the satellite, he travelled 10,420 km this spring, and 10,392 km last autumn, so very nearly the same distance. The distance from the nesting range to the wintering range along the great circle of the Earth, i.e. the shortest way, is 9,524 kilometres, so about 8.5% of Heikki’s migrations are ‘extra’ flying.

In total, Heikki’s spring 2014 migration progressed an average of 208 kilometres per day. If we leave out the tent days of rest – three at the Blue Nile, five at Suez, one in Ukraine, and one in Tervo – his average speed during actual travelling days was 261 kilometres per day. Last autumn, his average speed during travelling days was 416 km per day, i.e. considerably faster.

Usually, Ospreys are much faster during their spring migration than their autumn migration. For the moment, at least, it will remain a mystery why Heikki was so much slower during his spring migration. It seems especially strange that Heikki should ‘drag his feet’ once he was in Finland.

We are very grateful to Professor Pertti Saurola, the Osprey Foundation and and the Finnish Museum of Natural History for allowing us to include Heikki in World Osprey Week. To read more about Heikki’s spring migration, click here.

To see the migrations of all the WOW Ospreys, check out the interactive map.

Having been such a resounding success, World Osprey Week is now  an integral part of the Osprey Flyways Project – an exciting initiative that we set-up in 2011 in order to link schools along the Osprey migratory flyways and to provide wildlife education in key wintering areas. You can read more about the Osprey Flyways Project here.  Last month I was invited to give a talk on the project at the Donana Bird Fair. While I was there is was really great to meet up with teachers from two of the schools who particpated in WOW: Juan Baquero Perez from Colegio Publico Rural Campiña de Tarifa and Iker Sobrevilla from Montorre and Urretxindorra Schools. Special thanks to Iker who drove the length of Spain, from the Basque Country to come to the talk!

Signing up to WOW and the Osprey Flyways Project gives your school free access to teaching resources for primary and secondary schools and links with schools in nine different countries. Registration is very simple and completely free. You can sign-up here

Tim Appleton (left) and myself with Iker Sobrevilla (far right) and Juan Baquero Perez - two of the teachers involved in WOW

Tim Appleton (left) and myself with Iker Sobrevilla (far right) and Juan Baquero Perez – two of the teachers involved in WOW

The Manton Bay pair on the nest this afternoon

If at first you don’t succeed…

It has been another fine and sunny day at Rutland Water and Maya and 33(11) have spent all day around the Manton Bay nest. Since 33(11) kicked the eggs out of the nest three weeks ago, we have been wondering whether Maya will lay another clutch this spring. This is looking increasingly unlikely, but there was at least one successful mating today, as this video shows.

Shortly afterwards, 33 spent at least 20 minutes sitting low in the nest, as if he was incubating. Did he know something we didn’t?

Of course there wasn’t an egg in the nest; instead he was simply practicing for the real thing. This is all a new experience for 33 and he needs time to build up his experience. After all, many male Ospreys do not breed until they are at least four years of age (33 is just three years old). As this video of another mating attempt this afternoon shows, he is by no means the finished article…!

In all likelihood we will have to wait until next spring for Maya to lay eggs, but there is just a chance that it could happen this spring. Whatever the case, it is all making for fascinating viewing. To find out how you can visit the Manton Bay nest and see it all for real, click here.

The Manton Bay pair on the nest this afternoon

The Manton Bay pair on the nest this afternoon

Heikki has reached northern Egypt on his long flight home to Lapland.

World Osprey Week – Heikki is still going!

It is now a month since World Osprey Week, but one of the WOW Ospreys is still heading north. Heikki breeds in Lapland in northern Finland, making him one of the most northerly breeding Ospreys on the planet. After spending the winter in Mozambique, he set-off on the 10,000km flight north on 28th March. The latest data shows that he has almost reached Europe. On Wednesday this week he was stopping-over beside the Suez Canal in Egypt. Pertti Saurola has sent us the latest update. You can also check out Heikki’s latest location on the interactive WOW map. To read more about Ospreys in Finland, check out the website of the Finnish Museum of Natural History.

Heikki’s Migration 

15–17 April
Heikki continued his migration over the Nubian Desert between the Red Sea and the Nile, travelling 432 km, 236 km, and 223 km on each respective day.

18 April
Heikki continued his flight through the merciless desert on the Egyptian side of the border. Today, after flying 321 km, he found a place to settle down for the night 44 km south-southeast of the famed Aswan dam.

19 April
Heikki still did not visit the Nile, though his route took him as near as 20 kilometres from this massive river that must be full of fish. After flying 394 km during this day, Heikki settled down for the night north of Hurghada, right by the Red Sea.

20 April
During the morning, Heikki flew exactly parallel to the western coast of the Gulf of Suez, but inland, some 40 km from the shoreline.

21 April 2014
We never received the GPS fixes of the previous afternoon and evening, so we do not know where Heikki spent the night. The fix this morning at 06:00, local Egyptian time (04:00 GMT) came from 21 km to the northwest of the city of Suez. At that time, Heikki was on the ground, and probably still at his stopover place. By noon, Heikki had only flown 90 km, after which he stopped by the Suez Canal.

22–23 April 2014
Heikki has been fishing and resting by the Suez Canal, 40 km south of the city of Port Said, located at the entrance to the canal by the Mediterranean coast.

Heikki has reached northern Egypt on his long flight home to Lapland.

Heikki has reached northern Egypt on his long flight home to Lapland.

The culmination of World Osprey Week at Rutland Water was a four-way Skype video call between students in Rutland, Italy, the Basque Country and the United States; and a recording of the video call was later shown to students in The Gambia too. We’re very grateful to Xarles Cepeda from the Urdaibai Bird Center in the Basque Country who has now edited together a short film of the event. You can read more about it on the Urdaibai Bird Center website, by clicking here. Well done to everyone involved – including the children from Brooke Priory School in Oakham!

To read more about World Osprey Week and the Osprey Flyways Project, click here.

33(11) appears to have driven 28(10) away from the Manton Bay nest

Where’s 28?

We were hoping that things would get back to normal in Manton Bay today, but sadly it hasn’t happened. Apart from one possible sighting early this morning, 28(10) has been absent all day. It would seem that 33(11)’s unrelenting aggression on both Thursday and yesterday means 28 is extremely reluctant to return.

We have now had a chance to look back through the monitoring notes kept by project volunteers in Waderscrape hide and it makes for worrying reading. The eggs were uncovered for more than 90 minutes on Thursday and for over two-and-a-half hours yesterday. When you consider that under normal circumstances incubating Ospreys rarely leave their eggs exposed to the elements for more than a few minutes each day, this is a significant period of time. Sadly it will almost certainly result in the eggs failing to hatch.

33(11) appears to have driven 28(10) away from the Manton Bay nest

33(11) appears to have driven 28(10) away from the Manton Bay nest

Ironically, today has been much quieter than Thursday and Friday. Maya has left the eggs uncovered for a total of 45 minutes in order to see-off 33, but otherwise she has sat resolutely on the nest. However, having not fed since Thursday morning, she must be getting very hungry. If 28 fails to return then she will have no choice but to leave the eggs in order to go fishing. A few people have asked whether we could intervene by putting a fish close to the nest, but this is unlikely to help. Without a male to share incubation duties with, Maya would still have to leave the eggs uncovered in order to eat the fish. As hard as it is to watch, there is very little we can do to help.

With 28 clearly no match for 33, the most likely scenario now is that 33 will usurp the older male at the nest. How quickly this will happen is difficult to say. Incubating females have a very strong bond to both their mate and eggs, but if 28 continues to remain absent, then 33 may eventually be accepted by Maya. That said, 33 won’t incubate the existing eggs, and although females do occasionally lay further eggs if their first clutch is lost early in the season, we don’t think that this will happen in this case. It is far more likely that 33 and Maya will form a pair-bond and then return to breed together next spring. They should, however, remain in Manton Bay for the remainder of the summer.

Although 33 has been incredibly aggressive, we have been surprised at how easily 28 has been kept away from the bay. As Dave Cole’s latest film shows, prior to the arrival of 33, the two birds were very settled at the nest.

It is likely that 28′s damaged right wing hasn’t helped him. 33 seems much more powerful in the air, and that may be due to the injury that 28 sustained sometime between leaving Rutland Water as a juvenile in 2010 and returning as a sub-adult two years later.

We have no previous experience of seeing a breeding male driven away from his own nest; and so there is no way of knowing exactly what will happen. It could be that 28 will mount a fight-back, but at the moment that doesn’t seem likely. All we can say is that we’ll keep you up to date over the coming days.