Osprey Team Latest

Fair play

As you will no doubt be aware, this weekend was the annual British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water Nature Reserve! Being the flagship project of the nature reserve, the Osprey Project was of course a strong presence for the full three days, giving information on the increasing population of ospreys in the area, showing videos of our wonderful breeding ospreys on the nature reserve, and selling our excellent osprey books. The team also gave an inspiring and very well-attended presentation in the Events Marquee to celebrate the project’s 20 year anniversary! Lots of interested people also visited our stand to speak to our dedicated team of staff and volunteers, and gather as much osprey information as they could!

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A busy osprey stand at the birdfair!

JJ chatting on our birdfair stand

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Tim talks to Rutland Radio

We were also very happy to once again have our Gambian correspondent, JJ, with us for the weekend! He spoke passionately about the work he does with schools in Gambia on behalf of the project.

Tim and JJ at Birdfair

The new osprey book, “Ozzie Leads the Way”, sold very well at our Birdfair stand over the weekend! Author Ken Davies and illustrator Fiona Gomez were both on hand to sign copies!

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Thanks to Pete Murray for the above photos!

In osprey news…

Last week, we reported that T6 had set off on her migration, as she had not been seen since the morning of Monday 15th August. It’s been almost a week now and she hasn’t reappeared, so we’re sure she’s not coming back this time! T7 has also set off, and was last seen at 09:50 on Thursday 18th.

You would think this weather might have an effect on when our ospreys leave, but they are quite used to wind and rain – they are hardy creatures and can’t mind adverse weather too much, or they wouldn’t breed in the UK! They don’t migrate primarily due to climate or weather conditions, their migration is fundamentally based on food abundance. However, the abundance of food is affected by the climate, so in a way the two are linked.

At present we still have the two adult ospreys in Manton Bay, and T8. T8 seems ready to go, though, and has been away from the nest for several long periods today, enough to make us think he might have migrated at one point, until he came back! The adults won’t stay for long once T8 has left and they no longer have hungry young to feed, so hurry to the Lyndon Nature Reserve to see them while you still can!

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T7 (Photo by John Wright)

 

 

Ozzie leads the way

Another new osprey book is out now!

“Ozzie Leads the Way” is a superb story that encompasses osprey life both in the UK and Africa, and details how the ospreys touch the lives of others, the names of some you may recognise!

Written by Ken Davies, author of “Ozzie’s Migration” and “Ozzie’s Return”, and illustrated by Fiona Gomez.

This excellent new book will be on sale in the Lyndon Centre and also at the Osprey Project stand at the Birdfair! At £8 per copy they are a bargain!

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Don’t forget that at 10am tomorrow in the Events Marquee at Birdfair the Osprey Team are presenting a special talk looking back on 20 years of the Osprey Project! Don’t miss it!

20 years

 

 

Silent to the dark

This season we have been lucky enough to have a pair of barn owls breeding in a nest box on the Lyndon Nature Reserve! The box is situated to the left of Waderscrape hide, surrounded by meadows which are perfect for hunting. The box is easily viewable from the hide, and the adult owls have been providing volunteers and visitors with delightful flight displays, hunting over the fields and returning with food for their chicks. The pair from this box had five young this year, who have now all fledged. The following fantastic photographs were taken by osprey volunteer Lyn Howells last week, down a scope would you believe! Thank you Lyn for these photos!

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Barn owls are beautiful birds, with that heart-shaped face and almost white plumage. They are widely distributed throughout the UK, however their population underwent a decline in the 20th century, mainly due to agricultural intensification. They were also adversely affected by pesticides such as DDT in the 50s and 60s.

Adverse weather also doesn’t help barn owls, as it makes it difficult for them to hunt, particularly in heavy rain. Strictly barn owls are nocturnal animals, hunting in the dark on silent wings, but when the weather thwarts their twilight attempts they are forced to hunt during the day aswell.

Happily, in recent years barn owls have been making a comeback, and their population is on the increase! We hope to see them breeding in this box again next year!

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Leaving so soon

This season in Manton Bay, everything has occurred a little bit earlier than last year. Maya arrived back two weeks earlier, and 33 one week earlier; the eggs were laid ten days earlier; hatching occurred eight days earlier; and the juveniles fledged eleven days earlier. This has of course made us wonder whether the ospreys would migrate a week or so earlier this year too? In 2015, the first Manton Bay osprey set off on his migration on 29th August, and the last one to leave, Maya, did so on 3rd September. Is their instinct to migrate instigated by their age, which is usually 14 weeks at the time of migration, or by the time of year, which tends to be the end of August or early September?

Well, it would appear that the first option is the correct one, as T6 seems to have gone! I say “seems to have”, because I know what you’re all thinking – T6 disappeared for four days at the end of July and then returned. This time, however, the signs all point to her having left for good. The volunteers in the hide on Monday morning reported that one of the juveniles soared in circles higher and higher above the nest, then flew off purposefully southwards. This behaviour is usually a sure sign that a migration has begun. T7 and T8 were subsequently identified in the bay, therefore the juvenile who left must have been T6.

T6 (JW)

T6 (JW)

 

The day before she left, John saw that there was some discord between the youngsters, as tends to happen at this age. They begin to get more aggressive and impatient, and often fall out with each other. On Sunday, T7 was very hostile towards T6, and chased her around the bay several times, forcing her to retreat to the furthest perch. This is possibly what led to T6’s decision to leave.

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T7 chasing T6, photo by John Wright

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At this age, the youngsters also become more aggressive towards the adult birds, particularly when fish is brought in. Here are some photos John took of Maya bringing a pike to the nest, and T8 grabbing hold of Maya’s toe instead of the fish! He held on tight and didn’t let go – even when she dropped the fish!

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Poor Maya! It can become quite dangerous for the adults at this time of year, when the juveniles are fully grown, fit and headstrong. Surely it would be a better idea for the adults to leave and let the juveniles get on with learning to catch fish for themselves! Ospreys are very attentive parents though, and their instincts to care for their chicks are incredibly strong. It is written that adult females usually leave first, and in some cases I’m sure this is true, but it’s not a rule that is steadfastly adhered to, and Maya has never left first in all six of the previous years in which she has raised chicks!

Here are some more excellent photographs by John Wright of the action in Manton Bay over the past few days.

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T7

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T8

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T8 fending off T7

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33 bringing a perch to T7 and T8

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33 bringing a roach to T7

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T7 getting the roach before T8 lands

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T7, T8 and Maya

 

Recently there have been several intrusions at the nest site by other ospreys, most of whom are likely to be from Rutland, whether breeding adults, non-breeding adults or adventurous juveniles. However, it would seem that some Scottish ospreys have also begun their migrations, as John took some photographs of an intruding osprey at the weekend who turned out to be a female from Scotland. This is known due to the fact she had a blue ring on her left leg. Ospreys in Scotland always have their colour rings on their left legs, and birds from England and Wales have their colour rings on their right legs.

This intruding female sailed through the bay steadily, having a quick look, and Maya flew up after her to see her off. The intruder then gained in height and continued on her southwards journey.

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Scottish female migrating through the bay

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Scottish female gaining height…

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…before continuing on her southwards journey

 

 

Talking of 20 years

The infamous Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water Nature Reserve begins on Friday! We hope many of you will be joining us for this enjoyable weekend. There is an exciting talk occurring in the Events Marquee at 10am on Friday morning – the Osprey Team are giving a fabulous and inspiring presentation on the past 20 years of the Rutland Osprey Project, to mark the 20th anniversary!

We will be taking a trip down memory lane, looking back at the early stages of the project, and reviewing the successes and how much has been accomplished over that time. The presentation contains several excellent photographs and also some brilliant and amusing video footage!

Don’t miss it! We’ll see you in the Events Marquee at 10am on Friday!

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