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By Tim on May 1, 2015
If you’re planning to visit Rutland Water this weekend then make sure you leave plenty of time to visit the revamped Waderscrape hide overlooking the Manton Bay nest. Although the hide has been open since mid-March, it was officially opened today by Mark Dorsett, UK Country Director for Caterpillar. Caterpillar have generously funded the hide as part of a three year project at Rutland Water.
Mark was joined at the opening by representatives from Anglian Water, Western Power, BED Electrical and the Martin Lawrence Memorial Trust who, along with the Horse and Jockey at Manton, have all supported the new hide in various ways. We are extremely grateful to all of them for their support.
Of course it isn’t just Ospreys that you will see on a visit to Lyndon. Spring is a great time to visit the reserve and Dave Cole has filmed a superb video to give you a sneak preview of what you might expect to see if you visit over the Bank Holiday weekend. We hope to see you soon!
As we would hope during incubation it has been another quiet day at the Manton Bay nest. Maya and 33 have been sharing incubation with little disturbance from other Ospreys. After what we’ve witnessed at Site B over the past few weeks, that is very much a good thing at this sensitive time of the year.
By Tim on April 30, 2015
As we reported yesterday, 03(97) has reclaimed the Site B nest and he and his mate are now incubating a second clutch of eggs. Ken Davies was at the nest on Monday to enjoy a peaceful few hours. He recounts the afternoon in his latest diary…
Site B : Monday 27th April.
It’s my first time here since the troubles – that attempted coup which threatened to overturn the old order and topple the crowned head of the Rutland Osprey hierarchy. I am nervous on the walk down. Memories of that dreadful day just under two weeks ago when the air was continually rent all afternoon with chipping intruder cries and alarm calls, when the nest was constantly assailed by the two young pretenders, the lining pulled apart and the precious contents scattered, the sight of 03(97) desperately attempting to stave off the assaults – I try hard to erase the memories as I begin the walk.
The weather today is fine : a totally cloudless blue sky, bright sunshine, a light breeze blowing across the green fields. Small groups of Swallows flitter past me, even pausing to rest on the bars of the gates. I have to disturb them to pass through, but they’re back on there before I’m even ten metres further on. A dazzling male Yellow Wagtail is on a fence post just ahead of me, his tail gently rising and falling as he shares his understated, subtle song with me and any other creature who may care to listen. He does not move as I approach. I realise that behind him in the distance I can already see the Osprey nest. I re-focus. The Wagtail becomes a sulphurous blur in the front of my lens, to be replaced by the unmistakable pure white breast of 03 in a distant tree, bending regularly to break off pieces of the fish clutched in his claw. He is there. Yes, at least he is there. Relaxed, feeding, unharried, back in his domain. I move my binoculars to look at the nest. A small head clearly visible over the rim. Is she incubating again? It surely looks like it. I hurry on – the watchers in the hut will be wondering where their relief is. The Yellow Wagtail skips off with a characteristic ‘tsip’, clearing the crop-field in huge undulating leaps. I feel like joining him. Prospects are looking up!
I arrive at the watch-point and find my surmise was indeed correct. 03 brought a nice roach in twenty minutes ago, and is attacking it with gusto on a favourite perch. And my relief is complete when I hear that the considered opinion is that the female is indeed incubating a new egg in the nest. After the destruction of her first clutch, she has found the will, the strength and the determination to try again. I study the pair of them for a long time. I can scarcely believe it. After the mayhem I witnessed just thirteen days ago, the scene is one of order, calm and dignity. I listen intently for intruder calls, but thankfully there are none. I watch for signs of stress, agitation, disturbance – again, none. Early days of course, and no room for complacency, but at the moment at least, the peace of this Osprey Valhalla is pervasive and hypnotic. As the Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Wren and Chaffinch orchestrate a superb soundscape around me, and as the sun produces a shimmering heat haze between me and the nest……at last I relax. 03 stands regal, proud, defiant. I sense he is about to fly to the nest with the remains of the fish, and as he does so, I feel elated and re-energised. Dare I say that the old order is restored, that he has brought stability back to the territory? For now, anyway, he has – ‘pax et imperium’ as the Romans used to call it – ‘order and power.’
At 1.00pm the female is still eating the fish on the perch, and 03 is sitting low in the nest, surely incubating an egg, or even two. Encouraged by the female’s appetite, I too decide it’s time for lunch, and remember with pleasure that I have brought salmon and salad sandwiches today! We both eat our fishy meals – she on the roach, I on the salmon. Are we so very different? At this precise moment I don’t think so…..
I record change-overs at the nest at 1.49 and 2.46. After the second change, I hear a tapping behind the hut and go in search of the suspected Woodpecker, but fail to find it. The bluebells are beginning to appear – not the full swathes of May and early June, but the first patches amidst the greenery, breaking through in delicate fronds. At 2.59 a wily Crow hops around the base of the tree, and the female descends to harry it, chasing it this way and that until it dives for cover. Well done. Good to see she’s lost none of her spirit.
At 3.06 a majestic Red Kite flies slowly past me along the ride as I sit under the old oak tree. Slow, deep wing beats, glide, then more beats……He watches me, turning his head back to check on me even when he has gone a long way past. He was rare once too. I know that, and watch him through binoculars until he is out of sight. Beautiful : and no-one to see him but me. At 3.09 I return to my coffee cup, but find that a fly with a shiny green body is swimming about in it. His exertions become weaker as I watch, so I insert a pencil into the cup and he feebly grasps it. I place him on a fence post to dry, and within a few minutes he is flexing his wings and preparing to launch off, hopefully re-invigorated by his caffeine experience. I decide not to drink the coffee after rescuing the swimmer.
And so the afternoon proceeds. I record more change-overs. I witness no intrusions. At 3.15 I note with pleasure the ‘kronk’ of a passing Raven – another species on the increase in these parts. The Ospreys do not react to him. By 3.30 the weather has changed : it’s cloudy now, much cooler, and the sunshine has gone for the day I fear. My relief team appears earlier than expected. I brief them on the afternoon events and prepare to leave them to their evening vigil.
I take my time on the walk back. Frequent stops to turn around and check that everything is still as I left it. Yes, there he is, still on the topmost branch of his favourite perching tree, white breast still shining despite the lack of sun now, sitting upright, preening but ever watchful, master of all he surveys. His mate sits low, safe and secure. Two weeks ago I left here in the depth of despair, already preparing for the worst and mentally composing his obituary. His astounding powers of recovery, his strength in repulsing invading young Ospreys a quarter his age, his all-round charisma, beauty and iconic grace : no wonder he is admired around the world. Long may his rule continue!
Watch out for more on the Site B saga – this time from Lynda Berry – tomorrow.
By Tim on April 29, 2015
As Paul reported yesterday, things remain very settled at the Manton Bay nest and it is a relief to be able to report the same for Site B.
After 03(97) reclaimed his nest from 51(11) and 30(10) last week, we were hopeful that his mate would lay a replacement clutch. Having lost her eggs so early in the season there was every chance that this would happen, assuming that the intruding birds stayed away. Fortunately 51 has made only occasional visits to the nest; and has shown none of the aggression of a couple of weeks ago.
After several days of mating, it was exciting to see the female sitting low in the nest cup for the first time on Sunday evening; a sure sign that she was close to laying another egg. Next morning 03 flew to the nest and when the female took off, he settled down to incubate; confirming that the was an egg in the nest. Since then the two birds have been sharing incubation duties and there is every chance that, by now, the female will have laid a second egg. It is unlikely that she will produce a full clutch of three for a second time, but we won’t know for sure until early June, when, with a bit of luck, the chicks will appear over the edge of the nest. For now it is just great to see the birds incubating again.
Having been ousted from the Site B nest 51(11) has returned to his favoured haunts of last summer. Let’s hope a female joins him later this year. 30(10) has visited even less frequently suggesting that he too, has set his sights elsewhere.
By Tim on April 29, 2015
Last week we reported that four of the satellite-tagged Ospreys that we followed as part of World Osprey Week were still heading north. The great news is that two of them have now made it back to their nests.
Pertti Saurola reports that Ilpo finally returned to his nest in southern Finland on 24th April, some ten days later than his mate, Helena. The first exact GPS fix from the nest was recorded at 21:16. Next morning Ilpo went fishing at Haapajärvi around 07:20, and again at 09:40 when he caught another fish at Kernaalanjärvi. He eventually returned to the nest at around 11:00. Juhani Koivu from the Osprey Foundation and raptor ringer Harri Koskinen were at the nest at 10am and saw Helena waiting for Ilpo to return with breakfast. The remaining two Finnish birds, Seija and Tero are still in Poland and Russia respectively.
Over the other side of the Atlantic, North Fork Bob has finally made it back to Long Island. He arrived during the afternoon of 21st April and is now doing his best to attract a mate and breed for the first time. Let’s hope he is successful!
With Ospreys back at their nests in Europe and America webcams provide a really exciting way to follow them. That’s exactly what students from one Zespół Szkół nr 1 w Radawnicy in Poland have been doing. English teacher Joanna Zamczyk takes up the story…
In Poland there are only 30 pairs of ospreys. We are really happy that near our village there is also an osprey’s nest. In Lipka the nest had been located on an artificial platform. Several years ago our ospreys moved to another place – a pylon, but unfortunately their nest was destroyed during the winter season, because of unfavouable weather conditions. Currently, after the rebuilding of the nest, power engineers were able to install a webcam in the ospreys’ house. It is the first live transmission from ospreys’ nest in Poland. We can observe these amazing birds online here. Recently when we have been observing the nest via the webcam, we have noticed that there were not two but three adult ospreys ! That was really surprising.
Another WOW school who have been following Ospreys at their nest is Provo Primary School in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Principal Sian Jones has been in touch to say that a pair of Ospreys are nesting on a platform that students at the school helped to erect during WOW last year. Here are a couple of photos taken by one of the families – notice how white the Caribbean Ospreys are compared to their American and European counterparts!
Meanwhile Montorre and Urretxindorra Schools from the Basque Country have also been busy with their Osprey studies. They have made these three superb videos as part of their work for World Osprey Week – well done to them all!
Montorre School were one of four schools who participated in an international Skype link on the final day of WOW. Here’s pupils from Edith Weston Primary School talking to them during the link-up.
Another school who got involved in WOW this year was Chirbury School in Montgomeryshire. Teaching Assistant Kate Puplett has sent us some of the excellent work that children in the Osprey club did during WOW. She says ‘The Osprey Club children really enjoyed WOW, it was just brilliant to follow the tracked ospreys’ progress in such detail (shame 30(05) got stuck in Spain!!). We loved reading the blogs and feeling part of a world wide community of osprey lovers.
Many thanks to you and your team for all your hard work organising such a fantastic osprey-filled week. We hope to be part of it again next year.’ Huge thanks to Kate and everyone at Chirbury!
To find out how your school can get involved in the Osprey Flyways Project and World Osprey Week, click here.
If you’re a teacher you might also like to book on to the teacher training day that we’re organising in July. Click here for more information and booking details.
By Tim on April 24, 2015
The Manton Bay Ospreys may have been incubating eggs for more than a week, but elsewhere around the world Ospreys are still heading north on their spring migration.
Of the four Finnish Ospreys that we followed as part of World Osprey Week, only Helena has made it back to her nest site. Pertti Saurola reports that, having been there for more than a week, she seems to be growing tired of waiting for her mate, Ilpo, who is still some way from home, in northern Poland. In recent days she has been on another nest, some 10 kilometres away. So there are sure to be fireworks when Ilpo finally returns! The latest data shows that the other Finnish birds, Tero and Seija are flying north through Russia and Poland respectively. To read more about the Finnish Ospreys, check out the website of the Finnish Museum of Natural History.
Across the other side of the Atlantic, North Fork Bob is making slow progress as he heads back to Long Island – the latest data shows that he was in Pennsylvania earlier this week. His slow spring migration suggests that he is not interested in breeding this year. In contrast, Iain MacLeod from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center reports that Donovan and his mate have eggs. She was sitting tight yesterday afternoon (in pouring rain) indicating that she has at least one egg. All of Donovan’s recent data shows that he is staying very close to home and finding plenty of fish along the Winnipesaukee River in Tilton. With a bit of luck he will have chicks at the end of May.
You can check out the latest locations of all of the World Osprey Week birds on our interactive map. Although WOW has now passed you can still register your school for the Osprey Flyways Project in order to make links with other schools who are studying Ospreys and to gain access to a huge range of free teaching resources. To sign-up click here.