Manton Bay

How Ospreys Fish

One of the things that set osprey apart from other birds of prey is the simple fact they hunt and eat almost exclusively fish. Here at the reserve we are gearing up for our first osprey cruise of the season:  these trips provide a rare chance to actually see ospreys fishing, so we thought it would be a good idea to look into how ospreys actually manage to achieve this feat.  

Ospreys will fold these deadly talons in when near the eggs or chicks.

Ospreys have evolved extraordinary adaptations helping them become expert fish eaters. Starting with the feet, osprey talons are extremely long and sharp and combined with specialised scales on the toes, the osprey can easily grab and hold on to prey. One of these talon-clad toes is also reversible, this means that instead of having three forward pointing toes and one back, ospreys can point two forward and two back, this creates a powerful grip helping to prevent prey getting away.

Osprey catching a fish, photo by John Wright

The talons are the first thing that will hit the water when an osprey takes a dive; fishing trips often start with ospreys using a perch or simply circling a fishing ground. Ospreys have fantastic eyesight which is around 3-5 times better than humans, allowing them to see fish under the water. Once a fish has been spotted, the osprey may hover above the prey before diving. Once in the dive, the wings fold in, allowing the bird to reach spectacular speed. At the last moment the osprey whips its feet out in front of its body and uses those amazing talons to capture the fish.

Sometimes it can take a fishing Osprey up to a minute to lift its catch out of the water, photo by John Wright 

I find it truly amazing that ospreys are able to fish even in the most terrible conditions including mist, wind and rain. It just shows how amazingly adapted these birds are to catching and eating fish.  Every time I see ospreys  fishing  it amazes me.  It is truly one of the great spectacles of nature so let’s hope we are treated to lots of fishing this year!

If you would like to book a cruise and see the ospreys fish for yourself, please click here, or call 01572 770651

A photo from a previous cruise taken by Tim Merrison of an osprey with a fish at Normanton church

Ospreys Around the Reserve

 Last week we were excited to discover that 6K(14) had arrived at Rutland Water! 6K hatched in 2014 and fledged from a nest on private land.  This year it appears he is raising the stakes (or sticks) and has found himself a nest! Over the past couple of days he has started to build up the nest on lagoon 4, which is situated on the Egleton side of the reserve. He has even given visitors great views as he built up his nest and enjoyed a fish on the perch.

6K
By Lloyd Park

6K
By Lloyd Park

6K on nest
By Lloyd Park

6K
By Lloyd Park

 

This is the same nest that 51(11) and 3J(13) attempted to breed on in 2016. After laying the pair were harassed by geese and eventually the egg was destroyed, this led to the pair leaving the nest and going their separate ways. Only yesterday news broke that 3J has laid an egg in Wales with the resident male. It’s great news to hear that a Rutland bird, which has failed here is having success somewhere else.

1J (left) on the nest with his two sisters – 3J and 2J. 

As for 33 and Maya they don’t seem at all concerned about their new neighbour, hopefully 6K can establish himself on the nest, find a mate and maybe in the future successfully breed.

 

Manton Bay in the Sun

The past few days have been absolutely glorious, it feels as though spring has been knocked up a gear. The flowers have blossomed into an explosion of colour, from snakeshead fritillary on the meadows to the hawthorn along the tracks. Bees and butterflies frolic between each flower creating a kaleidoscope of colour. The playlist to this flower extravaganza is a cacophony of bird song, as the breeding birds establish their territories and get ready to mate.

But of course the ospreys have had a head start, as they are already sat on their three eggs! This has allowed the pair to enjoy the long, sunny days together, often panting to keep cool.

However, the heat could be taking it’s toll on the pair as they both seem to be winding each other up, this first occurred when Maya decided to undertake some D.I.Y, an activity that can cause strain in the strongest of couples. 33 did try and lend Maya a hand; however she was determined to move the stick across the nest even if it meant going across 33!

 

The second case was when Maya denied 33’s offer of fish, the look on his face was very telling.

Maya does not even want to look at 33’s catch

 
Now it has cooled down the pair also seem to have relaxed, they are still taking turns to incubate and Maya did eventually eat 33’s fish!    

Happy Couple! 

Sunny Spring and Panting Ospreys

It’s finally here! The sky is clear, the temperature hot and sun is out. Hopefully, the ospreys are starting to dry out and enjoy the British weather.  This is the first time this year I have seen the ospreys panting, so it must be hot! As they can’t sweat like we do ospreys pant to keep cool in a similar way to dogs.

 

The past few days have been quiet in Manton Bay with the pair sharing the incubation, some of the time! The best moment so far has been when 33 decided the best way to get Maya off the nest was to push her off the eggs. This ensured that he got his turn at incubation. 

 

Over the past few days we have also had a few intrusions in the bay, this has mainly been from other ospreys. unfortunately, they are not sticking around long enough for us to get a good identification on them, but at least we know there are plenty of osprey in the area.

 

The pair are also giving us some lovely images of the eggs and themselves on the nest. 

 
We also have some beautiful pictures from George Lambert who joined us last week as a work experience student. Here’s a short blog from his time with us:  

I am George, I study Marine and Natural History Photography at Falmouth University in Cornwall. I have been doing work experience at Rutland water for the week having 2 days at the Lyndon centre and 3 at the Volunteer training Centre.

The weather today still a little flat and misty, though it is decent Osprey viewing weather. I this morning watched the Ospreys from both the Waderscrape and Shallow water hides, with the better photographic opportunities being from the Shallow water hide. Whilst I was sat watching them, the Osprey nest was very active with the birds flying off to go and collect nesting materials like fairly big sticks, this happened quite a few times just whilst I was watching.

Also whilst sat watching the Ospreys I saw a few other bird species such as Egyptian geese, Crested Grebes, Tufted ducks, Swans, Cormorants and a Great Northern Diver. This was my first ever sighting of a Great Northern Diver which I saw from straight in front of the Waderscrape hide.

 

Out of the Mist

The past couple of days have not been enjoyable for the ospreys, the weather from the weekend seems to have swept through the week bringing the cloud down onto the reserve. 

However, despite the weather the pair in the bay have been busy incubating and making the nest ready for the new arrivals. Lets hope next weeks promise of better weather is true. 

33 and Maya have been bringing in plenty of sticks, although sometimes it looks as though Maya might be getting a little annoyed with 33’s help!  

 


 

 

However, 33 is still a great provider and is bring plenty of fish. This morning he bucked his trend and brought Maya breakfast instead of dinner. 

 

 

 

Sadly the views from the cameras have not great with the rain, lets hope it clears up soon!