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By Kayleigh Brookes on September 2, 2014
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).
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 four-year-olds, 25(10) and 11(10), at Site C raised two lovely chicks, 8K and 9K, one male and one female.
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.
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.
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.
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!
By Kayleigh Brookes on August 31, 2014
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.
By Kayleigh Brookes on August 27, 2014
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.
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!
By Kayleigh Brookes on August 26, 2014
Less rain and more wind were apparently the order of the day! Unfortunately, the wind has blown the feather back down onto the camera lens, which obstructs the view slightly. The Spotted Crake was still drawing people in, though it was only seen once this morning, and not since. The Ospreys of course are the main attraction here, for most people. Both 33(11) and Maya are still here, and have spent some time bringing sticks to the nest. There is no doubt that both of these birds have a strong tie to this nest, and they are ensuring that it remains theirs!
At one point in the video below, 33 lifts off from the nest, then attempts to land on Maya’s back! She was not impressed – this is no time for mating! 33’s instincts are working alright, just not always at the right time. Unfortunately, due to the feather at the top of the screen, it is hard to see what 33 is doing, but you can just see a flash of his legs at the top of the screen, and judging by Maya’s behaviour, it is apparent he is attempting to mate. He also tried this yesterday, though I was unable to video it.
There was an intruding Osprey in the Bay this morning, whom one visitor believed to have been 28(10), due to a perceived kink in the wing. However, our volunteer didn’t notice any wing damage. Therefore, perhaps it wasn’t 28… Whoever this intruder was, Maya and 33(11) did not appear to show any animosity towards it, and although all three Ospreys were flying around above the nest together, there did not seem to be any malice in their actions. According to watchers, it looked as though they were all just having a fly around together. All three Ospreys left the Bay after a while, then Maya and 33 returned a little later, with sticks for the nest.
A few weeks ago, we all thought it was a bit strange that the two-year-old male, 8F(12), was seen sitting next to 33 on the leaning perch, and all three Ospreys seemed quite settled. We have seen how attached to the nest this pair are, and they have aggressively chased away intruders from the area quite often. So why were they happy to let 8F sit with them in the Bay, and why did they not show more hostility to today’s intruder? We do not know. Perhaps this pair have a soft spot for 8F, and it was he, and not 28(10), who was intruding today.
By Kayleigh Brookes on August 25, 2014
It was a very rainy Monday today! Not the sort of weather one hopes for on a bank holiday! But we shouldn’t complain, it could always be worse. The Ospreys don’t let the rain bother them too much, and 33(11) caught an enormous trout this morning! Rain can make fishing difficult, as it creates ripples on the water that hinder visibility. This means that it may take longer than usual for Ospreys to fish successfully in the rain. However, 33(11) wasn’t gone that long this morning before he arrived back with his catch! Again Maya waited on the nest for her share, and again it took him a while to bring it to her. However, when he did there was still a large portion left!
After looking at the weather forecast yesterday, I expected today to be fairly quiet visitor-wise. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the fairly substantial number of people who braved the rain to join us at Lyndon today. A lot of them came due to the continued presence of the Spotted Crake, which was again showing well from Waderscrape Hide. Those who did visit the reserve today were treated with excellent views of said Crake, and also brilliant displays from our Ospreys, who were in the Bay all day. Shallow Water hide also holds its share of treats for the eager birdwatcher, with views of Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher and Yellow Wagtail, and Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and other waders taking advantage of the low water level.
Later this afternoon, the nest was visited by a Yellow Wagtail! This attractive little bird will soon be making its way south towards its wintering grounds, in the same place as the Ospreys! There is also a Pied Wagtail in the picture. In the past, Pied Wagtails have occasionally nested underneath the Osprey nest. They didn’t this year, but have still popped onto the nest from time to time.
By Kayleigh Brookes on August 24, 2014
It has been a lovely day today, and a busy one, too! The late summer sun has been shining, providing wonderful vistas across the reservoir. Although we are still clinging to the last vestiges of summer, the sun was accompanied today by a cool breeze, reminding us that autumn is on its way. The departure of some of our Ospreys is also testament to the changing seasons! The Manton Bay Osprey pair are still with us, though, and they have reverted to normal behaviour again today. 33(11) flew into the Bay with a fish at about 08:30. He sat on the T-perch eating it for an hour and a half, then finally delivered the remains of it to Maya, who was waiting impatiently on the nest!
Maya can’t complain though, really, as she could easily go and catch her own fish, and she has been doing this more often recently. However, last week she demonstrated a cross between laziness and deviousness, and employed a new tactic for getting food, as you will recall from Tim’s report on Thursday, when she stole a fish from another nest! Earlier in the season we had another occurrence of fish burglary, when a male Osprey came to Manton Bay and stole a fish from the T-perch!
Halfway through the day, Maya was still eating the second half of this morning’s fish. 33(11) sat next to her on the T-perch, creating a peaceful, domestic scene. We have all witnessed the strong bond that these two Ospreys have formed, and it is apparent to all who view them from the hide. Both Maya and 33(11) look in excellent condition, as you can see clearly on the live camera each time they land on the nest. They have not had the usual trials of parenthood this year, and have thus had a nice relaxing summer of no responsibilities, where they can concentrate on their own needs. Consequently, they have both remained in fine condition, which bodes well for their successful migrations to and from West Africa this winter.
Later this afternoon, 33(11) appeared on the nest and was mantling furiously. An intruder was obviously making a nuisance of itself! Fortunately, the threat to the nest was short-lived, and 33 was able to relax again after a while.
In other news, the juvenile Spotted Crake has been showing well all day today from Waderscrape Hide, creating much excitement for visitors, volunteers and staff alike! The last time one of these birds was seen at Rutland Water was August 1996, and before that was September 1987. The most recent record for this area (as far as I am aware) was at Eyebrook reservoir in September/October 2002. So they are not a common bird around here! Pop to Lyndon to see this relative rarity from Waderscrape Hide.
By Tim on August 23, 2014
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.
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.
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!
By Tim on August 21, 2014
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.
By Kayleigh Brookes on August 16, 2014
We are approaching the time of year when, one by one, our Ospreys will start to leave us. Generally, Ospreys begin their autumn migration in late August or early September. Being more specific is difficult, due to the changeable nature of such things, as is always the case when it comes to the behaviour of wild animals! The birds don’t stick to the same dates each year, and we have had migration dates ranging from mid-August to mid-September.
It will be interesting to see when our Ospreys leave this year, especially the Manton Bay pair. It will also be quite sad, as it always is, to see the Ospreys go. Females normally leave first, followed by their juveniles, and the males usually remain at the nest until the rest of their family has left, and they have no chicks to provide fish for. However, it has occasionally been known, unsurprisingly, for Ospreys to stray from this widely-held belief! For example, in 2009 the two Site B juveniles migrated before both of the adults, in 2012 03(97) left before one of his chicks, and last year two of the Manton Bay juveniles left before the female.
Last year, the Site B female had already left us by now – she began her migration on 8th August! According to records, it is normal for her to leave that early. This year she is still with us today, as I write. We believe she may stay longer this year, as her role has differed slightly this season due to 03(97)’s injury, and the resulting necessity for her to provide the juveniles with fish. Therefore it is possible she may be the one to wait to leave until the young have migrated. We will see.
In contrast to the early departure of the Site B female last year, we have had Ospreys that have remained in Rutland until well into September. The latest migration date I can find is 16th September. This means that, in all likelihood, all or at least most of our Ospreys will have departed by the time we celebrate the success of the season at the Osprey Ball on 19th September, where we shall drink to their safe journeys!
Currently, all of our Ospreys are still with us. 33(11) and Maya remain in Manton Bay, steadfastly defending their nest. As you can see in the photographs below, 33(11) looks very settled on his nest, and will probably be unwilling to leave it at all!
By Kayleigh Brookes on August 14, 2014
The Ospreys have been fairly active again in the Bay today, and one or both of them have been present all day. A fish was brought in early this morning before the camera was turned on, and Maya was sitting eating it for quite a long time, until she dropped it! Later this afternoon, 33(11) came to the nest when an intruder flew through. He can be seen mantling in the videos below. We do not know the identity of the intruder, and 33(11) wasn’t interested – whoever it was he didn’t want them there!
The Ospreys have been very tied to the nest for the past few weeks. There was a period of time a while ago when the birds would often spend time away from the Bay, and were sometimes seen leaving the area together. They could be gone for hours at a time, but would always return at some point during each day, and there was never a day when they were not seen in the Bay at all. Their recent reluctance to leave the nest area could be due to the influx of intruders we have seen lately. 8F(12) and 2F(12) have both been spotted around the nest a few times in the past week or so. Recently, there has been at least one intruder seen in the Bay every day. Therefore the Manton Bay pair will need to stay at the nest site, to defend it against these other Ospreys. Even though it is too late in the season for any breeding to take place, they still do not want their territory threatened.
It is fantastic that they have been on the nest so much recently, in more ways than one. Firstly, it means that they are undeniably bonded with this nest and will undoubtedly return to it next season, should both birds return safely, which of course we are hoping fiercely they will! Secondly, now that we have our live camera working reliably again, we have been able to capture countless videos and screen-shots of the Ospreys on the nest, and share them with you on the website!
Fish swap-overs are still carried out on the nest, unless Maya catches her own fish, in which case she’ll just take it to a perch and eat it. The birds are also continuing to bring in sticks and re-arrange the nest. This behaviour is indicative of the bond that the Ospreys have to their nest. Even though there is no need now to make the nest habitable – it will get neglected and weather-beaten over the winter anyway – they still feel the need to make it theirs, by bringing in new material and arranging the sticks just so. They are very particular about the placement of their sticks!