Osprey Team Latest

Spot the Osprey

Having the live camera back online is great! Unfortunately today, that feather has been blowing right across the screen, obscuring the view. However, yesterday we managed to capture a video of something we have never had before… look at the top left corner, in the water – it’s 33(11) having a bath!


Less than a minute previously, he had been sitting on the nest, moving a stick around (see next video), then he took off, and all of a sudden there he was in the reservoir! At first, I did think he might have been fishing, or attempting to fish, but it soon became apparent he was simply having a good time. It was very considerate of him to do it within camera shot!

We have seen the Ospreys do this before in the Bay, sometimes they will just drag their feet through the water to wash them, and sometimes they will completely immerse themselves in the water and have a good dunking. It was very hot yesterday, so it is likely 33(11) just wanted to cool down.





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


Many thanks to Geoff for sending the great photos.

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

Making history part 4

On this day fifteen years ago, two more Osprey chicks were brought to Rutland!

Part 4 - 22 July

Part 4 - 22 Jul


All I need is a miracle

Yesterday, in some miraculous way, we managed to get the live camera to work again! How long it will last this time, we can only guess, but we are thankful for what we have while we have it! Even though not much happens on the nest these days, it is still nice to see a live feed and the Ospreys do come to it occasionally, as the video below (recorded yesterday) proves.


As you can see, the Ospreys are still using the nest to do their fish swaps. Also, it is still 33(11) who is staying true to form and doing all of the fishing for a very patient Maya. If there were any chicks at this nest, they would just be fledging about now. Maya would soon begin to fish again, and both her and 33(11) would bring in fish for their fledglings. However, in their current situation, their instincts are still dictating that it is the male who will continue to fish, eat half and bring the rest to the female, just as it would be at the beginning of the season or during the incubation period.

Maya waiting for the fish

Maya waiting for the fish


It is a shame for Maya that she has been unable to breed this year. She has been a very successful breeding female for the past four years, and has raised eleven chicks with a very dependable male. This year it all changed for her when 5R(04) did not return. Although she found a new partner and laid eggs and all looked well, the chaos that ensued when 33(11) came along has meant that she has not been able to raise any chicks this season – a very different situation for her. She has not had to be permanently present on the nest with her chicks, to feed them, protect them, shelter them from the rain, shield them from the cold and shade them from the sun. As it is, she has spent most of this season perched near the nest, not doing an awful lot.

Now, I know it is highly unlikely that she sits there mourning the loss of 5R(04), ruing the fact that she has no chicks, thinking about what she would be doing if she did have chicks, or comparing 28(10) and 33(11), wondering which one she would have preferred to end up with. It is far more likely that she thinks of nothing at all, and just reacts to the changes in her immediate environment. Even so, there is almost certainly an element of confusion for her, and I still feel for her that she travelled all the way back from Africa with one purpose in mind – to breed – and has been unable to fulfil that objective.

It is different for 33(11), as he has never bred before and so doesn’t know any differently. At least this season has provided him with a good practice run, showing he can nest build, incubate (nothing), catch big fish (and share them) and defend his nest. We shall forgive him his intrusion into the domestic harmony between Maya and 28(10), just as long as he returns next year, and puts all of his practise into action!

Maya on the nest yesterday

Maya on the nest yesterday



Making history part 3

Each of the young Ospreys that were translocated received a general health check from vet Sue Thornton, a raptor specialist from London Zoo. Weights, state of plumage and general development were recorded and a blood sample taken for analysis. DNA testing of the blood samples determined the sex of each bird.

Part 3 - 20 July 1999

10 Reasons to come to Osprey Family Fun Day

Just in case you were undecided, we thought we’d give you a helping hand with our ten reasons to come to Osprey Family Fun Day…

1. Ospreys are amazing. Duh?

But seriously, even with all the ups and downs from the Manton Bay Nest this year, Rutland Water Nature Reserve is still the best place to see Ospreys in central England, less than an hour away from some major urban areas: Leicester, Nottingham and Peterborough. They’re on view from our Waderscrape Hide at the Lyndon Nature Reserve on the South Shore of the reservoir and there will be helpful ‘Guides in Hides’ throughout the day to chat to you about Ospreys, migration and the individuals around the county. You may be lucky enough to see one fishing, but even when they’re simply perched they’re still majestic and charismatic.


2. Great for Kids

With our Osprey Passport, your children can become certified Rutland Osprey Rangers: on entry, all children will be given a small goody bag containing their very own Osprey Ring wristband, mask and interactive passport for them to fill in on the way round the Reserve. The wristbands will be personalised with real life Ospreys in the area, so when you get home you’ll be able to log on to our website and read all about your Osprey. The interactive passport will challenge you to complete certain tasks and games whilst you migrate through the reserve to Africa (Waderscrape Hide), and you’ll get a stamp for each activity that you complete. When you’re done, show a member of staff in the Visitor Centre and you’ll be presented with an Osprey certificate, showing you to be a real Osprey expert. Activities include making bug boxes and bird feeders to take home, playing our new game ‘Race to Gambia’, catching fish in our mini reservoir and identifying a real wild Osprey. If you’re a bit shy, we’re happy to let you wander around on your own, but if you want to get more involved, there’ll be great opportunities to make new friends. We’re also hoping for a Ringing Demonstration, so you may get to see birds close up, too.

Bird ringing demonstration

3. Great for Parents

With the holidays looming ahead, this is a cheap and fun day out for all the family. Priced at £10 per family or only £5 for families with a single child, this is your chance to explore the reserve at a discounted cost; your children will be educated and entertained, and they’ll be lots of fresh air, exercise and play. There’s our beautiful picnic area (where Little Owls have been hanging out for the past week!), so you can set up base camp there or simply meander through the meadows and woodlands. Our informative and helpful staff will be able to give you more details about the reservoir and the wider work of the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, too!

4. The Healthy Alternative

Other than the ice creams, spending the day at the Rutland Water Nature Reserve is much healthier than going to the cinema. There are lots of studies from different organisations (the Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, the National Trust, etc.) and others (Project Wild Thing, the University of Essex, etc.) that suggest that getting children outside and ‘connected’ with nature is vitally important for their health; they’ll concentrate more, they’ll be happier, more relaxed, less stressed, not to mention exhausted after walking the length of the reserve so your guaranteed a good nights’ sleep, too! Bringing kids along to Osprey Family Fun Day is a gentle introduction to wildlife, even for those who don’t see nature as being ‘cool’ – no matter what their age.

family fun day photo 2013

5. Meet the staff

We have so many supporters and it really would be lovely to meet you in person. You’ve read the blogs, seen the photos and maybe spoke to us on the phone, but this is a chance to have  chat with us face to face; we’re always looking for new ideas that can make Lyndon Visitor Centre bigger and better, so share your thoughts with us.

WOW skype

6. We’ll go ahead whatever the weather

If you’re travelling more than a few miles, it’s good to know that when you get to us we’re going to be going ahead: we are! Come rain or shine Osprey Family Fun Day will still be great – the Visitor Centre is comfortable with all the usual facilities, including tea and coffee, cold drinks, ice creams, snacks and a gift shop, toilets, a seating area and even an electronic buggy to hire for the less able. If it’s raining, activities will be placed under marquees or in the Hides, so there’s no worries there and honestly a bit of rain never hurt anyone. I’ve just checked the forecast though, and fingers crossed it’s looking like a sunny day.

7. Other Wildlife

No matter what your preference, Rutland Water has something for everyone. Butterflies, moths, dragonflies and plants sit alongside our gorgeous feathered, furred and scaly nature: birds include Ospreys (of course), warblers, ducks, geese, grebes, egrets, tits, finches, sparrows (including the more scarce Tree Sparrow), buntings, terns, gulls, waders, owls, kites, buzzards, falcons, swifts, hirundines and so much more. Regularly seen on the reserve are Stoats, Bank Voles and the like, and the team will put out some small mammal traps to see what we can show you close up. Water Voles are a star attraction from Waderscrape Hide, too, being seen hourly.


8. More than Wildlife

At the Rutland Osprey Project, we’re not content to just talk about Ospreys – culture and community is just as important and by following the Ospreys’ migration, we’ve been able to learn all about different people and places from Senegal and the Gambia all the way to Spain, France and Northern Africa. By undertaking their own mini migration, children will learn all about these human elements of conservation, too.

001 (2)

9. Get inspired

No matter what your age, we want you to be involved with the Rutland Osprey Project; if you’re a young’un you can talk to us about visiting with your school – or us visiting you! We’re passionate about inspiring the next generation of conservationists, having interacted with over 3,000 children this season alone, and we can chat to you about work experience, future careers or other wildlife activities for you to get involved with. If you’re a bit older but wanting to support us, we can tell you about volunteering opportunities, future events and courses  or membership, too, as well as the wider work of the Wildlife Trusts.


10. Ice Cream – any excuse.

‘Nuff said!


Ciao – hope to see you there! x

Should I stay or should I go

Due to the fact that the Ospreys in Manton Bay have failed to breed this year, we have all been wondering whether they will leave on their migration earlier than usual, as they do not have to wait for their chicks to be independent of them before they do. However, it has also been known for Ospreys who have not bred to stay later than usual, so we must just wait and see. In 2007 and 2008, a different pair of Ospreys occupied the Manton Bay nest. This pair unfortunately failed to breed in 2008. That year, the female migrated on 23rd August, which was six days earlier than she did the year before. The male, however, remained until 13th September, which was ten days later than the year before. This goes to show that these things cannot be predicted!

Ospreys do not migrate together. Even the chicks make their way to Africa without the company of their siblings or parents. The male and female may not see each other again until they return the next spring to breed. They are drawn back to the same nest, and bond together for one purpose – to bring more Ospreys into the world.

The female Osprey is usually the first to leave. After the chicks have fledged she spends more time fishing and feeding, getting herself in a suitable condition to travel the necessary 3,000 miles to her wintering grounds. Unlike the male Ospreys, who spend most of their time fishing during the breeding season (and are therefore lean, mean, fishing machines) females spend all of their time on the nest with the chicks. This means that her fitness level will drop throughout the season, so she needs to regain it. Once she has gained the necessary fitness to migrate, she doesn’t hang around. Up she’ll soar, circling higher and higher, gaining swiftly in altitude until suddenly she points her compass south, and off she goes.

Males, on the other hand, are usually the last to go, as they still feel the need to feed their youngsters, and the youngsters will still call for food. Thus, male Ospreys will stick around a while longer, and continue to provide fish for the juveniles. There will come a point though, when the juvenile Ospreys suddenly feel a pull, an unseen force that they do not understand but cannot ignore. This pull draws them south, away from the familiar ground where they were born, and towards an unknown place, a foreign land. They do not know that it is called Africa, but there they will go, and there they will remain until they are two years old, and another pull, more familiar this time, will draw them back to Rutland Water.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - "33"


The feather on the lens

The mystery of the dysfunctional live camera was partly solved today when we noticed a fault and fixed it. The camera came on and we all got excited, but the sight we were greeted with was this:

The feather on the lens!

The view from the live camera today


Even if the Ospreys had been on the nest, we wouldn’t have seen much of them! As it was, the fault we fixed wasn’t the fault that mattered, and the camera ceased to work after about an hour. We have a new part currently on its way to us, which will hopefully sort matters out permanently.

You may recall that recently we have seen a lot of unidentified intruding Ospreys in the area. We thought it was highly possible that one or more of these could be 2012-fledged birds back for the first time. We can now confirm that we definitely do have at least one other youngster back with us! Unfortunately we have not been able to determine her identity, at least not yet. However, we know that she is a female, and based on her underwing patterns she is not one of our current breeding females. She does sport a blue leg-ring. She could be one of four individuals, as there were four female fledglings in 2012.

We know that 8F(12), who was spotted in Manton Bay on 15th May, is currently in the area, as he was seen last week at Eyebrook Reservoir, a few miles south of Rutland Water. We are hopeful that we will be able to get a positive ID on the new female soon, and also possibly acquire evidence of more youngsters in the area!



Osprey Ball

Calling all those with a love of good food, good fun and Ospreys! Everyone is invited to join us as we celebrate the 2014 Osprey season with a new event – our first ever Osprey Ball!

This rather fancy do is to be held at Barnsdale Lodge Hotel, and requires you to don your Sunday best. The ticket price is £45, this includes a three course dinner, a glass of Prosecco on arrival and a glass of wine with your meal.

It promises to be an enjoyable evening, complete with food, wine, music and dancing! You will also be treated to a short talk by the Osprey Project’s Tim Mackrill to open the event. The celebrations will commence at 7pm, on Friday 19th September 2014.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Barnsdale Lodge

Barnsdale Lodge

The Event Room

The Event Room


A week with the Osprey Project

By Abigail Mustard


I have just spent a great week volunteering with the Osprey Project, doing various tasks and below is my account of the week.



I arrive at the Lyndon Centre at 09.00 and meet Kayleigh, who gives me a brief overview of what I will be doing over the course of the week – it sounds exciting!

This morning I had an option and chose to walk down to the Waderscrape Hide and complete a shift, which entails monitoring the Ospreys. The best way to start the week (in my opinion)!

On my arrival I am greeted by an empty hide so I set up the telescope and see where the Ospreys are. As I look I see both Maya and 33(11) sitting beside each other on the perch above the nest.

10 minutes later I look down into the middle channel in front of the hide and see a Water Vole creeping out into the water and soon disappearing amongst the reeds! Although I have observed Water Voles a couple of times before when I have visited the reserve, it still manages to excite me!

Four hours having passed, my shift is over, and I am relieved by another volunteer to whom I explain that both Maya and 33 have predominantly remained on the perch, although 33 was absent for just over an hour.

Back at the centre, and after lunch, my first task of the week was to learn how to use the till. Luckily for me all I needed to know was explained to me by the volunteer on duty in the centre.

All too soon it was time to go home and I couldn’t wait for the next day where I was accompanying Ken on his shift to Site B!



After having been picked up by Ken at 07.20 I was really looking forward to the next four hours which I would spend watching 03(97)’s family at Site B.

Just over two hours into the shift Ken and I witnessed the fledging of the male chick 6K which made the shift one that we would both remember for a while to come! 6K completed a short circuit around the nest and after a minute he landed ungracefully on the back of 7K who became sprawled!

12.00 came around and it was time to leave the next volunteers to enjoy their shift, and to go back to Lyndon to tell the rest of the Osprey team about the fledging of 6K.

For the rest of the day I was in the centre talking to visitors about the project and staffing the desk.



I walked into Lyndon Visitor Centre this morning and Paul briefed me on the plan for the day. Between 09.30 and 12.30 I would be attending a guided walk around the reserve talking to guests about the Ospreys and the Project and about the nature reserve in general. Paul invited me to do the introductory talk at the beginning of the walk and it was a really good experience for me to talk about the season to members of the public.

On the guided walk we went down to the Waderscrape Hide where we were welcomed by a volunteer who pointed out Maya and 33 who were sitting on a perch. We then moved on to the Shallow Water hide and to the other hides around the reserve.

In the afternoon I was asked to write a blog about the shift up at Site B with Ken on Tuesday.



Today I was given the morning off as I would be attending a cruise in the evening, which would be raising money for a charity, where the Osprey Project had been invited to join, in order to talk about Ospreys and hopefully point one or more out to the guests.

This afternoon I arrived and went straight down to the Waderscrape Hide to do another shift. Both Ospreys were sitting on the perch above the nest and after a while 33 flew to the fallen tree by the side of the water where he was well camouflaged. Maya then flew around and dropping into the water to clean herself for ten minutes. During the shift a couple came in, having never seen an Osprey before, and left happy and excited having now seen two Ospreys!

At 18.00 Paul and I headed over to Whitwell to give out binoculars to those who wanted them and talked to a few people about the Osprey Project. We had a lovely evening for the cruise although it was slightly windy but wind is by far better than rain!

There was around 50 guests including the current Lord Lieutenant of Rutland and the present High Sheriff of Rutland and also some of the previous High Sheriffs.

Throughout the cruise Tim kept spotting distant Ospreys but finally there were four Ospreys flying in close proximity to each other, which everyone on the cruise could easily see. These Ospreys would be non-breeding birds.

Heading back to Whitwell Harbour the sunset was a beautiful, orange and yellowy colour which marked the end of an exciting cruise and day.

Abi's picture

A beautiful sunset (Photo by Abigail Mustard)



My last day here with the Osprey Project and Paul set me the task of summing up the total number of hours volunteers have completed at the monitoring sites including Manton Bay.

On having completed that task it was time to go with Lucy to do a school visit at Catmose College. We would be doing two different talks one for year 8 students and another for year 9 students.

Lucy had everyone’s attention and told the story of the Ospreys at Rutland Water including facts about their migration and the Project’s work in Africa. At the end of the talk Lucy asked me whether I would like to choose a section of the presentation to present. I was up for it, realising that I would be talking to nearly 200 students about Ospreys. Just before the talk started one of the students came in and started speaking to Lucy, from whom I gather he is a very keen young birdwatcher and it is great to see someone of his age already so interested in conservation.

My last hour was spent at Lyndon with Amy, who is also on work experience, talking to her about her week with the Outdoor Team and about Ospreys in general.

This week went so quickly and I have thoroughly enjoyed all of it!


The Rutland Osprey Team would like to say a huge thank you to Abi for all the hard work and enthusiasm she put in last week, and for this lovely write-up! It was great to have you with us Abi, and we hope to see you again soon!