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Osprey Team Latest
By Lizzie on June 19, 2013
5R(04) has been on form again today and so far has brought in two large fish, the first a trout which he brought back just before 7am and which lasted them until mid afternoon when he delivered the second, this time a roach. And typically just as i was about to post this, 5R has delivered another fish to Manton Bay!
It’s been such a lovely day that the Manton Bay chicks have been panting for most of the day in a bid to keep themselves cool.
By Lizzie on June 19, 2013
Here is the latest update from Ken Davies’ dairy written during his shift at Site B on Tuesday June 18th…
One of the many good things about being on an early shift at Site B is that I am up and about early enough to catch BBC Radio 4’s long-running daily series ‘Tweet of the Day’ at 5.58am, when David Attenborough (or recently the exquisitely named Miranda Krestovnikoff!) narrates a one minute spot devoted to the sound of a particular species of bird. This morning it is the fluty magical call of the Golden Oriole which fills my kitchen as I prepare my breakfast and provisions for a four hour stint at Site B. I’ve never heard a Golden Oriole there, but I recall that night watchman George Batchelor told me he had definitely heard one there a year or two ago. So you never know…..
Later at the watch point, I am listening to Blackcaps and Cuckoos as I settle in, and a row of juvenile Swallows are on the top bar of the rusty metal gate a few metres across the meadow in front of me. Every few minutes their elegant parents sweep down and fill one of the gaping yellow beaks with a rich mixture of winged insects amid a flurry of wing beats and excited calls. 03(97) leaves his perch at 8.29am and just 31 minutes later he returns with a good-sized trout, dropping down from a cloudy sky with verve and style. He starts to eat his prey on the perch, but is interrupted by a familiar call ~ the abrupt chipping sound of an intruding Osprey! He is alert, taut, on tenterhooks, as the interloper sweeps across the face of the wood. The female and the three juveniles lie still until the danger is past. A few minutes later the atmosphere relaxes again, as 03 resumes his meal. The tension has eased. He flies over to the nest with a good portion of the fish still in his talons, and is about to release it from his awesome grip when multiple chipping intruder calls start again, this time behind me. So more than one intruder, but where are they? I cannot see them, but 03 obviously can ~ still with the fish securely held he is off like a rocket, directly towards me and over the trees, as the chipping calls continue to resonate around the wood. The female and the juveniles, who thought their meal had arrived, recede into the nest again, staring south and over my head, waiting patiently for 03’s return.
At that moment Tim phones. He is not far away, and has been watching FIVE different Ospreys, one of whom is carrying a fish. So that is where he went! Just before 10.00am 03 returns again, still clutching his much-travelled fish, which is now, at long last, delivered to the nest, where the female sets about it with gusto and relish, while three heads vie for her attention and a taste of the air-dried trout! The breakfast lasts over half an hour, and I join in with a well-earned sandwich and a coffee.
During the lull I examine more closely the shifting flowers and grasses of the meadow in front of me. Today it is a riot of yellow and blue, as the buttercups and germander speedwell combine to create a shimmering image of intoxicating beauty. The barley field beyond is gently swishing in the breeze, and beyond that again, the Osprey family relax in their tree-top fortress ~ both adults side by side, the membrane flicking over their eyes as their heads droop in a sleepy interlude. I’ve said it before, but confidently re-affirm my belief that this is a naturalist’s paradise.
Suddenly it’s 11.20am and I am within 40 minutes of the end of my shift. I notice that 03 is staring intently upwards into the blue sky. I follow his trajectory and come eventually to two distant dots, which prove, with the help of binoculars, to be two Buzzards circling at a huge height. I wonder what 03 sees. Is it different to what I see? In any case, neither of us react. He stays on the edge of his nest, I in my green canvas chair. Down on earth again, three necks and heads are moving through the barley field towards me ~ the first Fallow Deer of the day. One is a handsome pricket, another a nervous doe, and the third is very dark, almost black. They stop abruptly, having caught my scent as the light south-westerly takes it toward them, and then they’re away, pronking high like impala in the veldt. I check for ripples in the barley behind them ~ no, the legendary Rutland panther is not following them this time.
And now the sky is full of Swifts ~ hundreds of them criss-crossing in a twisting mass of crescent-shaped wings. I check as many of them as I can just in case one should display a hint of a white rump and reveal itself as an exotic overshoot from distant lands ~ a Pacific Swift, perhaps, or an Alpine. No luck today ~ but I still religiously go on checking every Swift I see!
I spend the last few minutes composing my own ‘Tweet of the Day’. My Osprey friends will know the sounds well.
‘Ospreys employ a variety of calls and notes throughout the season. If you’re lucky enough to be present at the end of March when a male greets a female in display after a winter spent apart, you will be treated to a variety of excited, high-pitched squeals which carry a very long way. Later on, breeders will use guard calls, alarm calls, intruder ‘chips’, and food-begging vocalisations which can be very loud and downright annoying if you’re sitting near an occupied nest for four hours.’
Catch up with all previous ‘Tweets of the Day’ on the BBC I-Player. I’m looking forward to tomorrow ~ it’s the Lesser Whitethroat, that smart little warbler which currently has a nest just off the track on the walk to Manton Bay.
But will I be around at 5.58am? I’ll have to be, if only to hear that name again ~ Miranda Krestovnikoff !
By Tim on June 17, 2013
If you’ve been watching the Manton Bay webcam over the past few weeks, you’ll know that up until now the chicks have been moving around the nest by shuffling on the back of their legs; making them look decidedly ungainly. This isn’t helped by the fact their very large feet look out of proportion with their rest of their body! Slowly but surely, though, they are getting stronger. As today’s video shows they now have the strength to stand upright, and have started to walk around the nest on their feet. Its another sure sign that they are getting closer to their first flights – probably in around three weeks’ time.
They may be steadier on their feet, but the chicks’ flight feathers still have a lot of growing to do. If you watch the wing flaps in this video closely, you’ll see that the youngsters primary feathers are still ‘in-pin’ meaning they have a good deal of growing to do. It will probably be another two weeks before the feathers are fully-grown; and then it will be a case of building up the strength and necessary courage in order to make their maiden flights.
A few of you have also noticed today that there is a piece of barbed wire on the edge of the nest. This is nothing to worry about – 5R picked it up earlier mistaking it for a stick and it is now out of harms way on the edge of the nest. We’ll remove it when we go to ring the chicks in about a weeks’ time, but it shouldn’t cause any problems in the intervening period. You can just about make out the wire below right of the female in the photo below.
By Tim on June 16, 2013
As the summer progresses intruding Ospreys are likely to become a familiar sight at the Manton Bay nest. Now is the time that we expect two-year-old birds to return for the first time, and so over the next few weeks we’ll be looking out for the ten young Ospreys who fledged from nests in the Rutland area in 2011. One of them, 33(11) has already made it home; having been identified for the first time when he intruded at the Manton Bay nest on 11th May, the young male has made several more appearance at Manton Bay and also at his natal nest, Site B. This morning he made several attempts to land on the Manton nest before being chased off by 5R. There’s no chance of 33 ousting an established male like 5R, but the young birds can’t help but make a nuisance of themselves! This summer is an opportunity for them to build up their knowledge of potential future nest sites ready for next spring when they will return earlier in the hope of breeding for the first time. Here’s a video of 5R and his mate mantling on the nest while 33(11) was circling over-head. His warning ‘chip’ call not only warns the intruder off, but also prompts the chicks to lie very still in the nest.
We know from satellite tracking studies that young birds wander over a really wide area and this explains the sporadic nature of our sightings of two and three year-old birds. One of the other young birds who has intruded at the Manton Bay nest this week is 24(10) – a three-year-old female who has been moving between Rutland and North Wales since she returned in April (for a Who’s who of the Rutland Ospreys, click here). Like 33(11) she’s exploring in the hope of finding a vacant nest. It’s for this reason that building artificial nests is a great way of encouraging Ospreys to spread to new areas. Its worked superbly well in Scotland and we expect the same thing to happen in southern parts of the UK. With this in mind we’ve been working with landowners and conservation bodies in neighbouring countries to encourage as many people as possible to build Osprey nests. As a result nests have now gone up in Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire in the past year. We’re particular excited about a project run by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trusts that aims to erect nests in the Trent Valley. Have a look at their website to find out more. This is all part of the legacy of the Rutland Osprey Project – our long term aim as always been to restore Ospreys to the whole of southern Britain; not just to nests at Rutland Water.
Talking of nest-building, you may have noticed that in recent days the Manton Bay female has been adding numerous clumps of turf and sticks to the nest. By building up the centre of the nest cup with clumps of turf, she’s providing a solid launch-pad for the youngsters’ all-important first flights; which will probably be in just over three weeks’ time. The sticks, meanwhile, should stop them leaving the nest prematurely! Here’s a video of the female doing some nest-maintenance earlier today.
By Tim on June 15, 2013
As I sat shivering in Shallow Water hide this morning, I though is it really June? Today’s chilly wind certainly hasn’t made it feel like it. That said there were juvenile Sand Martins perched on the wire fence in front of the hide, a family of Shelducks and of course the ever-growing Osprey chicks to remind us all that summer is here…honest!
The wind and occasional heavy rain showers have made fishing difficult for 5R, but he’s overcome the elements to catch two fish for his family so far today. The weather has made life awkward for his mate too; she’s been trying to protect her offspring from the worst of the rain, but, as this video shows, that’s not very easy now they’re as big as they are!
In recent days some of you have asked about the annoying black blobs on the camera. Well, we now have footage of the culprit: a spider. The black blobs are flies that have been caught in its web. Fortunately the spider now appears to have polished them all off!
By Lizzie on June 13, 2013
Both adults and the chicks have been keeping us entertained in the Lyndon Visitor Centre today.
Earlier this afternoon there were a couple of intruders in Manton Bay. John was in Shallow Water and identified one of them as the female 24(10) and the second was a male who didn’t come into the bay, and so he remained anonymous. The two birds briefly landed on the nest in Heron Bay before being seen off by 5R(04)
As the parents both took off from the nest to see of the intruders you can see the chicks following their movements with their eyes; it’s as if they are watching a game of tennis.
During this afternoon’s downpour the Manton Bay female spread out her wings to cover all three of the chicks, protecting them from the wind and rain. It’s quite impressive that she can still almost cover all three of them entirely given the size of them now!
Here is a little clip from yesterday when one of the chicks stood up briefly before falling back down head first, it entertained us and we thought you might like to see it.
By Tim on June 12, 2013
There are few birds with such a broad geographic range as the Osprey. They occur on every continent except Antarctica at some point during the year and their amazing migratory journeys mean they cross many cultural, political and religious divides. We think they have the potential to link people all over the world; and its that concept that forms the basis of our Osprey Flyways Project. Two of the schools involved in the project are Montorre and Urretxindorra from the Basque Country in Northern Spain. They see Ospreys passing through every year – many of which will have come from the UK, and perhaps even Rutland!
The music teacher at Urretxindorra school is Unai Egia. He has composed a great song celebrating Osprey migration and, what’s more, got the pupils at the two schools to sing it. Here’s their video which we think is fantastic! Eskerrik asko, Unai!
The students at the schools have translated the lyrics into English. Here they are ( thank you to Iker Sobrevilla from Montorre school for sending this):
Arrano Arrantzalea (Osprey)
From England to the Basque Country
From The Basque Country to Senegal
From the top everything seems better
Have a good journey, my friend
There is in Urdaibai´s water fishing,
to its destination, doing the way
from the clouds to under the water
This is the osprey
Three eggs dancing in the nest
Mum and Dad are nervous
Waiting for the chicks to be born
Willing to give them love
There is in Urdaibai´s water fishing,
to its destination, doing the way
from the clouds to under the water
this is the osprey
By Lizzie on June 11, 2013
After a very early meal this morning, 5R had already delivered a fish before Doug, our volunteer, arrived at 6am, the chicks and the Manton Bay female settled down on a windy Manton Bay nest.
It wasn’t until about 3pm this afternoon that 5R brought in their next meal. It wasn’t particularly big by his standards so we imagine he’ll be off again this evening.
Having said that there hasn’t been much food begging from the chicks or the Manton Bay female throughout the day, perhaps they’re still full from the five he delivered to them yesterday!
Here is a shot of both parents and the chicks on the nest earlier today.
By Michelle on June 10, 2013
The adults in Manton Bay had a slow start this morning so when 5R brought in the first fish at 11am all three chicks were eagerly waiting to be fed…
After having their late breakfast the youngsters had their usual post-meal rest and stretch but it wasn’t long before 5R decided that it was time for them to eat again. This time though, the chicks didn’t seem to be very hungry…
Our experience at Rutland Water suggests that male Ospreys usually reduce the number of fish they catch at this stage. 5R seems to be doing the exact opposite this year because he brought a large trout to the nest just a couple of hours later. After being fed for a short time the chicks just couldn’t take it any more…
By Michelle on June 9, 2013
How time flies! The oldest two chicks in Manton Bay are now three weeks old and they’re really starting to find their feet. Over the last couple of days the chicks have been trying to stand up and stretch their wings so we’ve been able to get a really good look at their growing feathers.
The chicks were very obliging earlier this afternoon and looked straight at the camera. At this angle the white tips at the end of their beaks were clearly visible.
This is likely to be what remains of the egg tooth – a small, sharp, cranial protuberance used by chicks to break through the egg’s surface during hatching. In some bird species the egg tooth may just fall off a few days after hatching and in others it is worn down until it disappears. How long will it take for the youngsters to lose theirs I wonder?