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Osprey Team Latest
By Anya Wicikowski on September 9, 2018
Today is the final day of the Lyndon Visitor Centre 2018 osprey season; tomorrow we will close for the winter. It is very quiet here, with Maya leaving on the 31st at 10:20 and 33(11) at around 10:00 on the 3rd September, by now both ospreys should be well on their way to their wintering grounds. Hard to believe it has been almost a week with no ospreys in the bay!
For those of you that would like to look back fondly, we have a little video of the 2018 Manton Bay highlights. What a great season it has been! We can announce that this year there were 8 breeding pairs of osprey in the Rutland area, with 14 chicks successfully fledged. Unfortunately the number is much lower than expected, as many nests only had one or two chicks and not the usual three. This could be due to the extreme weather we experienced this season. However, this year we did have some very positive signs that next year could be the best season yet for the Rutland Osprey Project.
I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported and visited the project this year, whether online or in the centre. The biggest thank you of course is to the incredible volunteers who dedicate their spare time to making the Rutland Osprey Project so special; they do a fantastic job of sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge, in the hide and visitor centre. This year we are especially grateful as they managed to battle though the extreme temperatures we had this spring and summer, thank you so much!
I thought S1 might have reached his wintering grounds by now, having entered Senegal on the afternoon of the 7th, but instead he has carried on and looks like he could be heading towards The Gambia. After crossing the Senegalese border he roosted to the East of St Louis, he then headed further south and, as of 17:00 8th was just north-east of Kaolack. He is reasonably far inland at the moment, around 150 km in fact, and is only about 70 km away from the Gambian border, so could his wintering ground be somewhere along the central river? We should find out soon!
30 is a bird of habit and is still following her normal migration route though Western Sahara. Compared to S1 her route is much closer to the coast, but as her wintering ground is on the Senegalese coastline this is not surprising. 30 is still on what is most likely the hardest stretch of the migration, across hot desert, with not many safe perches along the way, but with only 1000 km left she is two-thirds of the way there!
4K is quickly catching up and is only around 300 km away from the Morocco-Western Sahara border, his chosen route seems very similar to that of 30, so maybe he will be over-wintering in a similar spot.
By Anya Wicikowski on September 7, 2018
After spending the night in the desert on the 5th of August, S1 was quickly up into the sky and off south, he has now made his way to the south of Mauritania. This morning at around 7:00 he was only about 100 km from the border with Senegal, which means he could be arriving at his wintering ground as we speak! It will be very interesting to see which part of Senegal or The Gambia he has chosen to spend his winter. We know that 30 has her preferred spot on the Senegalese coast, somewhere between Dakar and St Louis, so is S1 heading down to this area? Or could he be following his nest mate S2 who was photographed on the Sine-Saloum Delta, near the northern border between Senegal and The Gambia? At S1’s current rate it won’t be long until we have the answers to these questions, let’s hope he has a successful last few days of migration before his well-earned rest.
As always 30 is also making great progress in just one day she has travelled over 330 km and last night was in southern Morocco. It is more than likely that she is now in Western Sahara, following her familiar autumn migration route.
30 roost 6th
4K has rocketed along and early this morning made the crossing from Europe to North Africa. He spent last night on the Spanish coast near the town of El Palmer, then first thing in the morning he was off, heading out towards Morocco. 4K has followed a very similar route to S1, but why do the birds choose to cross the Strait of Gibraltar at this point? There is more chance of them been blown off course and much more open water to navigate. The answer could be elevation, if you look at the images below you can see the boys are perhaps choosing to miss the mountainous area around Gibraltar and choosing the much lower elevated area to the west. We are already learning so much about these amazing birds!
By Anya Wicikowski on September 6, 2018
This morning we had beautiful golden sunshine bathing Rutland Water in its bright glow, but there was also a slight nip in the air, autumn isn’t coming, it is here! Down in Manton Bay the sunshine is bouncing off the reservoir casting light all around, although it is full of wildfowl, waders and plenty of other birds it still feels empty…
The osprey nest sits proud in the water, but nothing is sat upon it, apart from the odd corvid or cormorant. There is no food begging osprey, which each year becomes the sound track of the summer. The T-perch is bare and 33(11)’s favourite spot in the poplar tree is empty, the Manton Bay osprey have gone. 33 was last seen on Monday, by now he will be off on another amazing migration, hopefully to return recharged next March.
S1 has made fantastic progress; he entered Western Sahara from Morocco on the 3rd September at 17:00. He has been skipping over the border into Mauritania a few times; a good reminder that these ospreys don’t see our man-made borders, highlighting the need for international cooperation to protect not just these, but all migrating birds.
S1 2nd – 3rd
If you saw the last blog you will know that 30 started her migration on the 31st of August. She has now made it all the way to Morocco! Amazingly she has flown 2622 km in just six days. She followed her fairly typical route of heading down the west coast of France, passing over the Gironde estuary, as S1 did just days before. She then swooped round the Pyrenees by taking a coastal route across to Spain; following a similar route to S1, on the 2nd she roosted just outside of Madrid. Over the next couple of days she quickly made her way through southern Spain, and crossed into Morocco on the 4th making landfall near the town of Tangier. She is now west of Marrakesh and will no doubt make her way into Western Sahara either today or tomorrow, she is on the home straight, and has managed an amazing feat already!
It was mentioned in the last blog that 4K was spotted over Manton Bay on Sunday by volunteer Chris Woods who managed to get a photo; I had said jokingly that he could be just saying goodbye before he headed off on his own migration, it seems I could have been right, as 4Ks’ next stop after Manton Bay was Normandy. Interestingly, he seems to be following a very similar route to that of female 30, their Northern France roosting areas are less than 100 km away from each other. However, instead of skirting the French coast as 30 does, 4K decided to take the slightly short but much more notorious Bay of Biscay, he made the crossing in seven hours and rested on the northern Spanish cost near Bibao. He then headed south-east, the last data point showed him roosting near the Valdecanas reservoir, hopefully catching a well-deserved meal.
By Anya Wicikowski on September 2, 2018
It’s been another beautiful day at Rutland Water, this morning 33 caught a fish which he then ate on the T-perch, not long after, he started to climb high into the sky, until he was just a tiny speck against a blue back drop, and it looked as though he might have left for his migration. A couple of hours later, an osprey swooped into the bay, it was identified as 33, so he’s not gone yet…
S1 is making great progress and as of last night he was about half way across Morocco, deciding to overnight west of Marrakesh.
30 the female osprey has finally made her move as well! Unfortunately, we are missing some of the data points, so can’t show her exact journey though France, but she has managed to make it all the way to the Pyrenees Mountains in just a couple of days!
4K is still in the Rutland area, in fact he was spotted passing over Manton Bay today. Maybe he just popped over to see the neighbours before he started his own migration.
By Anya Wicikowski on August 31, 2018
Down in Manton Bay things are exceedingly quiet, we still have the two adult birds but no sign of any of the chicks. Elsewhere it looks as though Rutland birds are starting to leave the UK on their own migrations back to their wintering grounds. We will soon be updating you on 30s’ progress as she starts her fifth migration with a satellite tag! What an incredible bird!
On the subject of migration and satellite tags we have some very exciting news, a couple of weeks ago two of the finest osprey experts in the country, Roy Dennis and Tim Mackrill, both from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation came down to Rutland to fit satellite trackers onto two birds. With the help of our own Lloyd Park, two male ospreys were selected: 4K(13) and S1(15), both of which have been holding territory but were unable to attract females this year.
The tags fitted are the same as the one fitted to female 30, they weigh about 30g and will give detailed information on location, altitude and speed. The units are fitted to the birds like a small rucksack, allowing them to continue their normal activities.
This is very exciting news as it will allow us to follow these birds on their migration and also discover where they are overwintering, we will be sharing the information from the tags in the same way we share 30’s, on our interactive map and also in this blog. Aside from the scientific and conservation value of the tagging, the data provides an incredible educational resource and helps us to continue to link young people along the Osprey migration flyway. These latest tagged birds will form a key part of that work.
The two birds selected for tags this year were S1(15) you should recognise him, as he is a Manton Bay chick, who first returned in 2017, and 4K(13) who is from a site on private land and first returned to Rutland in 2015.
In fact S1 the youngest bird has already set off on his migration! At 14:00 on the 25th of August he left the UK crossing the English Channel between Brighton and Newhaven. By 17:00 he was in France. After what must have been a tiring crossing he stopped off overnight in woodland just east of Le Havre, in just one day he managed to clock up an amazing 377.98 km.
On the 26th S1 continued his travels south, not stopping until he found another large piece of woodland east of Tours, and rested there overnight. The next morning he was back in skies, by now he must have been getting hungry, he only covered just less than 100 km before he found himself a nice lake north of Le Blanc to catch some dinner and rest up.
The break and food did its trick, as the next day he was off like a rocket, he made his way south-west towards the coastline and the Gironde estuary, a popular spot for migrating birds. S1 then continued on towards Arcachon Bay, stopping only when he found a large spot of woodland to the south-east of the bay.
The next day S1 headed back towards the coastline, it looks as though he could have then used the coastline as a guide, as he follows it straight down until he reached the Pyrenees. From here he headed south east, and on the 30th of August passed over Madrid. Our last update from S1 showed him just south Madrid, over the past 5 days he has covered an amazing 1535.78 km. It’s really intriguing to see where he will end up; at this point in time it doesn’t look as though he is heading for Portugal, where some Rutland birds have been spotted over wintering, so most likely he is heading down to West Africa, just like 30.