Manton Bay

When will 30 head home?

It is felt a little more Spring-like at Rutland Water in recent days and it won’t be long before the first Sand Martins will be zipping back and forth over the reservoir. We know from satellite tracking studies that the earliest-arriving Ospreys will be beginning their northward migration in the next few days and so checking 30(05)’s latest satellite data is always more exciting at this time of year. The latest data shows that she is still at her wintering site on the Senegalese coast and, in reality, she probably won’t begin the long journey back to Rutland Water until the second week in March. Rest-assured we will let you know as soon as she sets-off!

The data for the last 10 days shows that 30 is still settled at her wintering site

The data for the last 10 days shows that 30 is still settled at her wintering site

The Senegalese coastline between Dakar and St Louis supports a large wintering population of Ospreys and, as we know from last winter’s visit to Senegal by members of the project team, 30 spends her winter in the company of many other Ospreys. In recent weeks one of the birds she is likely to have come into contact with is UV: a first winter juvenile male from Northumberland. Joanna Dailey has kindly sent UV’s data from 23 February and it shows that he skirted around 30′s winter territory. Having watched the interactions between adult and juvenile Ospreys in Africa this is to be expected; most juveniles learn that they can not mess with established wintering birds, such as 30! For more on UV’s travels in Senegal, check out the Kielder Ospreys excellent blog.

The data from UV's transmitter showed how he avoided 30's winter territory

The data from UV’s transmitter showed how he avoided 30′s winter territory on Monday this week (image courtesy of Forestry Commission England)

30 is one of the Ospreys that we’ll be following during World Osprey Week from 23-29 March this year. You can see the latest locations of the WOW Ospreys on our new interactive map.

Children at Provo Primary School in the Turks and Caicos ISlands learning about Ospreys during WOW in 2014

Children at Provo Primary School in the Turks and Caicos Islands learning about Ospreys during WOW in 2014

Closer to home preparations are nearing completion for the new Osprey season at Rutland Water. We’ll have a brand new Osprey viewing hide thanks to generous funding from Caterpillar and a new and improved webcam thanks to the Martin Lawrence Memorial Trust. More details soon!

The new Osprey hide opens on 14th March

The new Osprey hide opens on 14th March

A new Osprey viewing hide

It may be three months before we expect the first Ospreys to return to Rutland Water, but work is well-underway in preparation for their arrival. By far the biggest Osprey project job of the winter is the replacement of Waderscape hide at Lyndon. Waderscrape provides superb views of the Manton Bay Osprey nest and the new hide will be a great place to sit and enjoy the comings and going in the bay. It is larger than the old hide and much brighter and airier thanks to large glass viewing slots and windows. The hide, which has been funded thanks to our partnership with Caterpillar, has been erected by a team of volunteers, led by Ron Follows and Dave Cole over the past couple of weeks. Now that the hide is watertight we’ll be installing interpretation and a large screen TV – which will show live images from the nest camera – in the new year.

We are honoured that the Martin Lawrence Memorial Trust will be funding children’s learning resources for the new hide. Martin was a daily visitor to Waderscrape hide and made many friends among the project team. He very sadly died in October this year but we are delighted that his memory will live on through the kind donation and also a permanent memorial in the hide.

A team of six volunteers erected the hide

A team of six volunteers erected the hide

Putting the roof on

Putting the roof on

The new hide is bright and airy

The new hide is bright and airy

Looking back at the hide

Looking back at the hide

Part of the new interpretative material will be funded by a generous donation from the Horse and Jockey pub in nearby Manton. Over the course of the year the Horse and Jockey have included the ‘Osprey’s Nest’ (which is a bowl of nachos and chili) on their menu and each time someone has ordered one, they have donated 50p to the project: which amounted to £292 this year. A huge thank you to owner Jason Allen and all of the Horse and Jockey team. This is the third year that Jason and his team have made a donation to the project and we’re very grateful for their continuing support.

Horse and Jockey owner, Jason Allen (left) and myself with the Osprey's Nest

Horse and Jockey owner, Jason Allen (left) and myself with the Osprey’s Nest

As the work at the hide demonstrates, volunteers are vital to the running of Rutland Water Nature Reserve. We have a hugely dedicated team of over 350 people who help with all aspects of the reserve – from habitat management to welcoming visitors. Work is now underway on a new Volunteer Training Centre at the reserve which will provide much-needed new facilities to support the amazing work of volunteers. We’re currently running an appeal to raise the final funds for this exciting and innovative new building. To find out more, click here.

The never ending story

You will all be aware of the drama that occurred in Manton Bay this spring. At the time, it certainly felt like it was never ending!

It all began when Maya’s partner of the past four years, 5R(04), did not return. She was alone for a while without a mate, then she paired up with 28(10). She laid eggs, which was brilliant, he got the hang of incubation fairly quickly, he was fishing regularly, and everything was going well. Then 33(11) turned up and caused chaos. He spent days harassing the nest and chasing 28, until he eventually chased 28 off altogether. Then Maya was left alone to defend the nest and incubate the eggs. She couldn’t do both, so the eggs were left uncovered for prolonged periods. A few days later, 28 returned, there was an aerial battle between the two males, and they both disappeared. The next day it was 28 who was in the Bay, and for the next five days there was no sign of 33, and normal activities resumed. But then 33 came back again, and was relentless in his advances. 28 was chased away again, and eventually Maya stopped fighting 33 and allowed him onto the nest, where he scraped the eggs from the cup. The rest is history, as they say.

We wrote updates every day describing what was happening as it happened. We have now created a video (see below) that tells the whole story - a few weeks of action condensed into five minutes of footage. Some of you may have already seen this movie, as it was shown on a loop at our Birdfair stand. It is a great way of watching the story play out and remembering what happened.

As we have said previously, whilst it wasn’t good news for Manton Bay this year, it has probably worked out for the best in the long run. 33 is a strong, capable male Osprey, and he has had a good practice run this season. Therefore, should he and Maya safely return next year, we will (hopefully) have a successful nest here in 2015. The 2014 season may have ended, but the story of Manton Bay is far from over.

 

Farewell is a lonely sound

This morning dawned bright and fresh – a typical autumn day. I could see my breath in the cool morning air as I walked to my car, which was covered in condensation. The vision that greeted me as I drove over the top of Lyndon Hill was a sight to be savoured. The water was perfectly still, and the trees on Lax Hill, which are just beginning to turn various shades of brown and gold, were reflected in the mirror-like surface of the reservoir. The weak morning sun set off the scene by illuminating the striking colours of the trees, and making the surface of the water sparkle.

The sun’s strength increased throughout the morning, and it turned into a lovely warm day. Another perfect day for setting off on migration. Apparently 33(11) thought so too. He was seen this morning at 08:20, but he has not been seen since. It would therefore appear that he has left us too!

Yesterday, after 51(11) intruded briefly at Manton Bay, he flew off over the hide. The direction of his departure was due south. Therefore, it would seem likely that that was him leaving. This means that 33 was the only Osprey left in Rutland yesterday, and today he has made the decision to leave, as there is no longer a threat to his nest.

Maya has definitely gone, as we thought. We know then, that she left us sometime between 08:30 and 09:00 yesterday morning. We know that Ospreys’ migratory abilities are phenomenal, and based on the data we have received from 30(05)’s satellite transmitter, showing the speed of her progress, it is entirely possible that Maya could already be in France!

So here we are, Osprey-less, at the end of another season. It is weird to think that all the Ospreys have gone, it feels rather desolate. Looking at that live camera, expecting an Osprey to land on it any minute, then remembering that they won’t. Not until next year, that is! The Lyndon Visitor Centre will remain open until Sunday 14th September, and then it will close its doors for the final time this year. The Centre will re-open next spring, on Monday 16th March 2015.

So, will we look back fondly on 33’s time here in Manton Bay this year? To begin with, he didn’t do much to win our affections, what with chasing off 28(10) and erasing any hopes of his eggs hatching, and indeed any eggs hatching in Manton Bay at all. The fallout that followed 33’s arrival was both inevitable and heart-breaking. Suffice to say, he hasn’t been everyone’s favourite Osprey. However, he has won most of us over with his devotion to Maya and the nest over the last few months. His practice run this year should make him an excellent partner for Maya next season.

Next year, 33 must ensure he gets back in time to stop any other Ospreys moving in on his territory in the early spring. This year he arrived back on 13th April, so he will have to do better than that! He had no real pressing reason to arrive back early this year, but now he has a mate and a nest, and a duty to fulfil. So let’s hope he gets here in time!

Maya and 33(11) looking about for intruders

Here’s to next season, when, hopefully, there will be chicks in this nest once again

 

And then there was one

Yesterday, both Ospreys were in the Bay all day, and they were both there this morning at 08:25. However, when volunteer Anna arrived at Waderscrape Hide at 09:00, there were no Ospreys present. Our first thought was, of course, have they gone? Twenty minutes later though, 33(11) flew into the Bay with an enormous trout, and landed on the leaning perch with it. He hasn’t left yet then! There was still no sign of Maya, however.

At 09:40, 33(11) brought the fish to the nest, and sat with it on the edge. We hovered around the record button in case Maya was on her way, but she wasn’t. After a few minutes, 33 continued to eat the fish himself.

33 with his fish

33 with his fish

Fish guts

Fish guts

Fish guts

Yummy

 

At about 10:20, 33’s behaviour indicated that an intruding Osprey was bothering him, and another Osprey was sighted above the nest. It wasn’t Maya, as he would not have reacted like that to her. We think this Osprey was probably 51(11), as we know he is still in the area. The intruder flew off over the hide, and 33 resumed the very important business of eating.

Intruder about

Intruder about

 

So we know she was here earlier this morning, but it is looking likely that Maya has left, and 33 is now alone in Manton Bay. Will he be the last Osprey in Rutland? Probably. He won’t leave while there is still a chance another Osprey could nab his nest (namely 51).

Today has been a beautiful day, dry and bright with a north-westerly breeze. A good day to begin a 3,000 mile journey, I would say. Maya has stayed around slightly longer this year than last – in 2013 she migrated on 2nd September. However, the latest she has ever left was the 12th September, so it is not unprecedented for her to still be here this late.

There is a very slight possibility that Maya has not actually gone, and has just been elsewhere all day. As unlikely as that is, we cannot categorically confirm her departure. We will wait and see what the morning brings, whether it be two Ospreys in the Bay, just one, or none at all.

 

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!

In your own time

Well, Maya and 33(11) are still here… I wouldn’t like to guess when they will leave! I had a walk down to the hides this morning, and both Maya and 33 were sitting in the Bay when I arrived. Earlier, we’d had a report from Lyn, our volunteer monitoring the Ospreys, that 33 had caught a massive fish, brought it to the T-perch, and was just about to tuck in when he dropped it into the water! He tried but failed to retrieve it. He did manage to get it back later, but he gave up on it for a while and took off to go on a fishing trip over Heron Bay, apparently thinking that might be easier than getting his previous fish back. At the same time, I also saw another Osprey fishing in the distance, so we know that there are at least three Ospreys still with us.

33(11)’s fishing foray was unsuccessful, and he returned to his perch. However, later on Lyn phoned to say 33 had another go at getting his earlier fish back, and this time succeeded! He subsequently spent at least an hour eating part of it, whilst Maya waited impatiently on the nest for her share. Several times her behaviour indicated 33 was on his way, and I raced to the record button… but she must have been over-eager, because each time he didn’t arrive, and she settled back down. Eventually, 33 did arrive at the nest with the rest of the fish, but he did it so fast I nearly didn’t have time to record it! Nevertheless, there is a short video below of Maya taking the fish from 33.

Maya shouting for the fish today

Maya shouting for the fish today

Maya with the fish

Maya got the fish eventually

 

I didn’t see Water Voles while I was there (typically) but Lyn reported seeing four this morning – two adults and two youngsters. The Spotted Crake has not been seen since last Friday. Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Lapwings, Common Terns and a Red Kite were also seen from Waderscrape today, and a number of ducks were dabbling in front of Shallow Water hide.

Here are a few screen-shots of the Ospreys taken over the last couple of days:

33(11) mantling at an intruder

33(11) mantling at an intruder

33 guarding the nest

33 guarding the nest

Maya waiting more patiently for a fish

Maya waiting more patiently for a fish

33(11) surveying his kingdom

33(11) surveying his kingdom

 

 

Never say goodbye

Time always goes by faster than we realise, and recently autumn has been creeping up on us. I love autumn –bright, cold days, a fresh nip in the air, and particularly the beauty of the changing colours of the trees. The only thing I dislike about autumn is that the Ospreys leave! It is always a shame to see them go, they fill up such a large part of our lives during the season, and there is an empty feeling at the end of it when they depart for their wintering grounds in West Africa.

It is good though, to know that we have had another successful season, and to see the fit, healthy birds beginning their migrations south, especially the youngsters, who have not made this journey before. Due to this, there is inevitably a little apprehension on our part, hoping that all the juveniles make it! We worry about the adults, too. It can often be taken for granted that the adult birds will return year upon year, and this is commonly the case. However, the failure of 5R(04) to return this year came as a heavy reality-check for us all. 03(97) has reliably returned to Rutland every year since 1999. However, this year we will also worry about him, as his injury this season has made us realise that even he is not invincible.

It is with a heavy heart, then, that we wave goodbye to the birds that have been a hugely important aspect of our lives for six months. The Ospreys don’t care, though. They do not lament leaving. Migration is a necessary element of an Osprey’s life, they do it every year. Even juveniles know that they must go; their instinct dictates it and they follow that feeling. It is only us humans who make it sad! There is no denying, though, that the absence of Ospreys leaves a void that cannot be filled until next March, when they (hopefully!) all return.

However, we must not dwell on the prospects of an empty winter, but look back at what a successful season 2014 has been! Even though the Manton Bay nest failed to produce chicks this year, we still had five pairs who successfully fledged eleven chicks between them. We also had seven non-breeding birds in the area (not including Maya and 33), so we hope that at least some of these birds find a nest site and attract mates next season.

One of these non-breeders is female Osprey 30(05). Because she is satellite-tracked, she is a well-known Osprey and has attracted many enthusiastic followers. She raised eight chicks in the four years she bred (2009-2012), one of which is 51(11), another non-breeding bird. Unfortunately for 30(05), she has not bred for the past two years, ever since her partner, 08(01), failed to return in 2013. She was seen with male Osprey 06(09) earlier this season, a male who has not bred before, and they did lay eggs together. However, this male was also seen at another nest with another female, 00(09), and also had eggs with her. This was a completely new situation that we had never witnessed before – one male with two females. How could he possibly sustain two nests and two broods of chicks?

The answer was he couldn’t. He had to make a decision regarding which nest he was going to be faithful to, and he favoured the nest with 00(09). This meant that 30(05)’s clutch failed, and she began to wander away from her nest. It also meant that we had a new nest with a new pairing, neither of whom had bred before (more information below).

30(05)

30(05)

 

Despite 30(05)’s failure to breed successfully, and the troubles in Manton Bay, we still have many reasons to celebrate. Eleven chicks is a brilliant number, and to have five nests again was a pleasant surprise. You will all know about Site B, with good old 03(97) and his super female raising two healthy chicks.

The two gorgeous Site B chicks at ringing (photo by John Wright)

The two gorgeous Site B chicks at ringing

 

The two four-year-olds, 25(10) and 11(10), at Site C raised two lovely chicks, 8K and 9K, one male and one female.

8K and 9K at Site C

8K and 9K at Site C

 

At Site N, 5N(04) raised three chicks for the first time – since she first bred in 2007 she has only ever raised two. We thought this was something to do with her biology – she would always lay three eggs, but only two would ever hatch. However this year, all three did! All of her brood were females, and their ring numbers were CJ0, CJ1 and CJ2.

The three chicks at Site N

The three chicks at Site N

 

03(09) and the metal-ringed female at Site O raised three chicks again this year, a male and two females – CJ3, CJ4 and CJ5. Sadly, the male chick, CJ3, disappeared shortly after fledging, and we do not know what happened to him.

CJ3, the male chick who disappeared

CJ3, the male chick who disappeared

 

The fifth nest is somewhere new, which we’ll call Site L. This is a new pairing between two birds who have not bred before. 00(09) is a female from Site B, who has returned to Rutland before but never settled. The male, 06(09), fledged from Site O in the same year. He is the son of the metal-ringed female and 06(00), who was a translocated bird from 2000. 06(00) was one of the two birds who disappeared suspiciously in 2010, after having only bred once. 06(09) spent part of this spring incubating two clutches of eggs and feeding two females, until he chose 00(09) over 30(05). 00(09) and 06(09) raised one chick, a female – CJ6.

CJ6

CJ6

 

To have a new nest is fantastic, and demonstrates the on-going success of the Osprey Project. So yes, it has been a great year, and next year could be even better!

 

Sailing to the end of the season

Yesterday evening, the Osprey team and the Rutland Belle crew hosted the last Osprey Cruise of 2014. It was another very successful cruise, with three Ospreys being seen attempting to fish, and several very close views of them flying by the boat! We did not witness a fish being caught, but numerous dives were made before the Ospreys moved on, out of our view. One of the Ospreys was seen as we were heading back into the harbour at the end of the cruise, and he was still intently focused on fishing as we disembarked. A great way to end a successful season of cruises! All of these cruises have been incredibly popular, and justifiably so. We hope there is the same level of interest next season! Keep an eye on our website for more details about next year’s Osprey and Wildlife Cruises.

It may have been the final cruise, but the season is not quite over yet. There is still a big event to come in September – our first Osprey Ball! This exciting event is a chance for Osprey lovers and supporters of the Project to get together and have a grand old time in a sophisticated setting. Tickets are still available, click here to book yours!

The Manton Bay Osprey pair are still with us today. This morning, Maya was seen on the nest food begging at around 08:30, and 33(11) flew in at 09:00 not with a fish, but with a bit of nest material. Suffice to say, Maya was not impressed. A little while later, both Ospreys took off after an intruder. They still need to defend that nest, then! They have put on a good show in the Bay today, with 33(11) impressing visitors by catching a fish right in front of the hide! The jury is still out on when these Ospreys will leave us this year. Only time will tell. But it may not be long, so if you haven’t seen our Osprey pair this season, you’d better hurry to the Lyndon Visitor Centre and visit Manton Bay, before it’s too late!

There was also some great action in front of the Centre today, as a Stoat chased and killed a Rat, whilst another Rat watched in fear from a precarious position atop the feeder tree. Then a Sparrowhawk flew through and grabbed a young Greenfinch, which may or may not have been the one whose life we saved after it crashed into the window earlier… Also, we had a close encounter with an Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar which just happened to be on the path outside the Centre – quite an amazing creature!

The Lyndon Visitor Centre is scheduled to remain open until 14th September, and then we close for the winter months, re-opening in March 2015. The Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre at Egleton will remain open throughout the winter.

Maya is not happy that 33(11) came back fishless

Maya was not happy that 33(11) came back fishless

Maya this afternoon

Maya this afternoon

 

 

If I tell you tomorrow I’m leaving…

Maya and 33(11) were both present in the Bay this morning at about 08:00, then they disappeared for a couple of hours. Maya returned first, at about 10:00, and landed on the camera perch. 33 rejoined her at 12:15, and they came to the nest and did a bit of redecorating.

There was a report of an intruding Osprey in the Bay this morning – a female sporting a blue leg-ring. Unfortunately the number on the ring couldn’t be made out, but it is likely to be 2F(12), who was seen in the Bay earlier this month.

This afternoon, at about 13:00, visitors in the Lyndon Centre were treated to a great view of 33(11) flying past the windows on a fishing trip. We hoped he might fish in front of the Centre, but he flew off to the east and out of sight.

Maya and 33(11)

Maya and 33(11)

 

Recently, the question that everyone asks as they enter the Centre is “Are the Ospreys still here?” and then, at our affirmative answer, “When will they leave?” Well, as I have said previously, the answer we usually give is late August or early September, but given that this pair have not bred, that could differ for them. Ultimately, we just don’t know. Animal behaviour is always problematic to predict, which is not surprising, really, given that the behaviour of individuals rarely follows a set pattern.

According to records, Maya tends to buck the trend when it comes to migrating. Females are said to go first, before their juveniles, however this female always waits until all or most of her youngsters have left. In three of the four years she has raised young, Maya has migrated leaving one chick behind, and one year she left after they had all gone. Her partner, 5R(04), did not stick to the traditional beliefs about migration either. In two of his four years of breeding he did in fact leave last. However, in the other two, he left the nest before the female and one remaining chick.

It would seem that over the years she has bred, the dates that Maya has migrated have become steadily earlier, but always in September. In 2010 she left on 12th September, in 2011 on 9th, in 2012 on 3rd, and last year she migrated on 2nd. Prior to that, however, in the first year she spent at Rutland Water – 2009, when she did not breed – she migrated on 5th September.

In conclusion, it would seem that these dates tell us next to nothing, and no more light has been shed on the situation from collecting this information. Consequently, the answer to the question of when she will leave is still an “I don’t know”. We can speculate, of course, and it is entirely possible that this pair will stay later than usual, due to their bond with the nest, and the risk that once they have left it, another Osprey may try to stake a claim to it. Therefore, they may be the last two Ospreys in Rutland at the end of the season!

33 and Maya

33 and Maya