Osprey Team Latest

30 reaches her winter home

She’s done it! The latest satellite data from 30(05)’s transmitter shows that she reached her winter home on the Senegal coast at 11am yesterday morning after an amazing 11-day migration from Rutland.

The previous batch of data had shown that 30 roosted in the remote desert of Western Sahara on Sunday evening. Next morning she must have left her overnight roost site at around 9:30am because by 10am she was 18km further south, heading south-west at 41kph at an altitude of 660 metres. She continued to make fairly steady progress over the next four hours and by 2pm she had flown 158 kilometres on a south-south-westerly heading at altitudes of between 500 and 1300 metres. During the heat of the afternoon she took advantage of thermals created by the searing desert, crossing into Mauritania just after 4pm and continuing south-south-east at high altitude. By 6pm, she had covered another 133km and was migrating at an altitude of 2300 metres. An hour later she was a further 31km south-east and now even higher: 2440 metres above the remote and desolate desert. She continued flying for another hour before settling to roost on the desert floor in northern Mauritania after a day’s flight of 350 km.

30 flew just over 350 km through Western Sahara and Mauritania on Monday

30 flew just over 350 km through Western Sahara and Mauritania on Monday

A Google Earth view of 30's GPS fixes between 7am and 9am show just how remote and desolate the Sahara is in this part of Mauritania

A Google Earth view of 30′s GPS fixes between 7am and 9am show just how remote and desolate the Sahara is in this part of Mauritania

By first light on Tuesday morning 30 had moved 2km south from her position the previous evening and, like on Monday she resumed her migration at around 9:30am. For the first time in ten days of migration, though, it seemed that conditions were not in her favour. During the course of the day she only flew another 164 kilometres before settling to roost in the desert of central Mauritania.

For a third morning in succession, 30 resumed her migration at around 9:30am on Wednesday. By 11am she had flown 47 kilometres and was flying south at 34kph at an altitude of 350 metres. Conditions for migration must have been much better than on Tuesday because over the course of the next four hours she covered a further 146km at altitudes of over 1000 metres. 30 must have now sensed that she was getting closer to her winter home; she had made a distinct turn to the south-west and was nearing the Senegal border. At 17:30 she passed over Richard Toll and into Senegal, crossing the Senegal River; almost certainly the first water she had seen for at least four days. After flying over the huge Lac de Guiers she pressed on towards the coast. She passed to the east of St Louis as dusk was falling at 7pm and continued flying for almost an hour after dark before reaching the coast and settling to roost for the night. She was now just 40km north of Lompoul beach after a day’s flight of 450km.

30 flew almost three times as far on Wednesday as she had done the previous day

30 flew almost three times as far on Wednesday as she had done the previous day

By 9am next morning 30 was perched 23km south of her overnight roost site, probably eating her first fish for five days. She didn’t linger there for long, though. Two hours later she was perched in one of her favourite trees just inland from Lompoul beach. Just over 11 days after leaving Rutland, she was back at the site where she has spent every winter since her first autumn migration in September 2005. She had arrived two days later than last year, but having departed from Rutland 48 hours later than the previous year, her migration has taken exactly the same length of time. And when I say exactly, I mean exactly. If you give or take a few minutes, her journey last autumn took a total of 267 hours.This year it was…yes, you guessed it, 267 hours. Remarkable!

Each winter 30 spends much of her time in a clearing a few metres inland from the coast. She was back there yesterday morning.

Each winter 30 spends much of her time in a clearing a few metres inland from the coast. She was back there yesterday morning.

Having arrived at her winter home 30 will spend the next six months in leisurely fashion; catching one or two fish each day and then spending the rest of her time on her favourite perches on the beach or just inland. We know exactly what the beach looks like because last year project team members Paul Stammers and John Wright visited it. To read about their trip, click here.

30 on one of her favourite perches last winter

30 on one of her favourite perches last winter

We’ll be sure to keep you updated with 30′s movements over the coming months and watch out for a summary of her migration early next week. In the meantime, take a minute to marvel at this most incredible of migrations. Over the course of her 11-day journey 30 flew 4681km (2908 miles). She certainly deserves a rest!

Don’t forget that you can also view 30′s migration on your own version of Google Earth. To find out how, click here.

The never ending story

You will all be aware of the drama that occurred in Manton Bay this spring. At the time, it certainly felt like it was never ending!

It all began when Maya’s partner of the past four years, 5R(04), did not return. She was alone for a while without a mate, then she paired up with 28(10). She laid eggs, which was brilliant, he got the hang of incubation fairly quickly, he was fishing regularly, and everything was going well. Then 33(11) turned up and caused chaos. He spent days harassing the nest and chasing 28, until he eventually chased 28 off altogether. Then Maya was left alone to defend the nest and incubate the eggs. She couldn’t do both, so the eggs were left uncovered for prolonged periods. A few days later, 28 returned, there was an aerial battle between the two males, and they both disappeared. The next day it was 28 who was in the Bay, and for the next five days there was no sign of 33, and normal activities resumed. But then 33 came back again, and was relentless in his advances. 28 was chased away again, and eventually Maya stopped fighting 33 and allowed him onto the nest, where he scraped the eggs from the cup. The rest is history, as they say.

We wrote updates every day describing what was happening as it happened. We have now created a video (see below) that tells the whole story - a few weeks of action condensed into five minutes of footage. Some of you may have already seen this movie, as it was shown on a loop at our Birdfair stand. It is a great way of watching the story play out and remembering what happened.

As we have said previously, whilst it wasn’t good news for Manton Bay this year, it has probably worked out for the best in the long run. 33 is a strong, capable male Osprey, and he has had a good practice run this season. Therefore, should he and Maya safely return next year, we will (hopefully) have a successful nest here in 2015. The 2014 season may have ended, but the story of Manton Bay is far from over.

 

Farewell is a lonely sound

This morning dawned bright and fresh – a typical autumn day. I could see my breath in the cool morning air as I walked to my car, which was covered in condensation. The vision that greeted me as I drove over the top of Lyndon Hill was a sight to be savoured. The water was perfectly still, and the trees on Lax Hill, which are just beginning to turn various shades of brown and gold, were reflected in the mirror-like surface of the reservoir. The weak morning sun set off the scene by illuminating the striking colours of the trees, and making the surface of the water sparkle.

The sun’s strength increased throughout the morning, and it turned into a lovely warm day. Another perfect day for setting off on migration. Apparently 33(11) thought so too. He was seen this morning at 08:20, but he has not been seen since. It would therefore appear that he has left us too!

Yesterday, after 51(11) intruded briefly at Manton Bay, he flew off over the hide. The direction of his departure was due south. Therefore, it would seem likely that that was him leaving. This means that 33 was the only Osprey left in Rutland yesterday, and today he has made the decision to leave, as there is no longer a threat to his nest.

Maya has definitely gone, as we thought. We know then, that she left us sometime between 08:30 and 09:00 yesterday morning. We know that Ospreys’ migratory abilities are phenomenal, and based on the data we have received from 30(05)’s satellite transmitter, showing the speed of her progress, it is entirely possible that Maya could already be in France!

So here we are, Osprey-less, at the end of another season. It is weird to think that all the Ospreys have gone, it feels rather desolate. Looking at that live camera, expecting an Osprey to land on it any minute, then remembering that they won’t. Not until next year, that is! The Lyndon Visitor Centre will remain open until Sunday 14th September, and then it will close its doors for the final time this year. The Centre will re-open next spring, on Monday 16th March 2015.

So, will we look back fondly on 33’s time here in Manton Bay this year? To begin with, he didn’t do much to win our affections, what with chasing off 28(10) and erasing any hopes of his eggs hatching, and indeed any eggs hatching in Manton Bay at all. The fallout that followed 33’s arrival was both inevitable and heart-breaking. Suffice to say, he hasn’t been everyone’s favourite Osprey. However, he has won most of us over with his devotion to Maya and the nest over the last few months. His practice run this year should make him an excellent partner for Maya next season.

Next year, 33 must ensure he gets back in time to stop any other Ospreys moving in on his territory in the early spring. This year he arrived back on 13th April, so he will have to do better than that! He had no real pressing reason to arrive back early this year, but now he has a mate and a nest, and a duty to fulfil. So let’s hope he gets here in time!

Maya and 33(11) looking about for intruders

Here’s to next season, when, hopefully, there will be chicks in this nest once again

 

30 races across the Sahara

Our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05) continues to make staggering progress on her autumn migration. The latest data shows that at 9pm last night she was roosting in the remote desert of Western Sahara just eight days after leaving Rutland.

The previous data from the 30′s satellite transmitter had shown that on the night of 4th September she had roosted north-east of Rabat in northern Morocco. Next morning she resumed her migration at first light, passing Rabat at 8am local time (7am GMT) and then maintaining a perfect south-westerly course for the next seven hours at altitudes of between 250 metres and 1000 metres. By 3pm she had already flown 320km and at that point she made a distinct turn to the south. Two hours later the vast Atlas Mountains would have been prominent on the horizon and, like her autumn migration in 2013, she turned to the south-west in order to skirt across the western foothills of the mountains; thereby avoiding the high peaks further east.

30 skirted around the western end of the Atlas Mountains

30 skirted around the western end of the Atlas Mountains

An Osprey's eye view of the Atlas. This Google Earth image shows why 30 flew around the mountains, rather than over them

An Osprey’s eye view of the Atlas. This Google Earth image shows why 30 flew around the mountains, rather than over them

She may have missed the high mountains, but nevertheless at 7pm 30 was migrating at an altitude of more than 3000 metres and an hour later – with darkness falling – she was still going: heading due south at 33kph at an altitude of 1820 metres. Finally, at around 8:30pm she settled to roost for the night in a cultivated area just south of the mountains having flown a total of 536 kilometres during the day; her longest day’s flight thus far.

30 flew 536km on 5th September

30 flew 536km on 5th September

Next morning 30 resumed her migration later than the previous day; by 10am she was only 18km south-west of her overnight roost suggesting that she may have found somewhere to fish before resuming her migration. At midday she was just 11km from the coast, but at that point she turned to a more southerly heading, passing to the east of Tiznit and then past Guelmin. As she headed south the terrain would have become increasingly arid with spectacular rock formations and ridges. By 5pm she was passing just a few kilometres to the east of the area where another of our satellite-tagged birds, 09(98) sadly came to grief in 2012. The film below, made by Moroccan wildlife film-maker Lahoucine Faouzi, gives you an idea of just how inhospitable this area is.

At 6pm 30 passed over a spectacular ridge that you can see in Lahoucine’s film. Satellite-tracking studies have shown that many Osprey use this ridge to aid their navigation, and sure enough, 30 made a distinct turn to the south-west as she passed over this ridge; exactly as she had done on her autumn migration last year.

As in 2013 (red line), 30 made a distinct turn to the south-west when she flew over a spectacular ridge in the Sahara

As in 2013 (red line), 30 made a distinct turn to the south-west when she flew over a spectacular ridge in the Sahara

30 continued migrating for another two hours, before settling to roost in an area of sparse vegetation at 8pm having flown 352 kilometres during the course of the day. It is fascinating to see how her route almost exactly mirrored that of her flight on 4th September 2013. Both her morning and evening roosts were within 15km of her previous journey.

30's flight on 6th September was almost exactly the same as her journey on 4th September in 2013

30′s flight on 6th September was almost exactly the same as her journey on 4th September in 2013

Yesterday morning 30 was migrating again at first light. Conditions must have been good for migration because during the course of the day she maintained an almost-perfect south-westerly heading at altitudes ranging from 360 metres to 1210 metres. In just over 10 hours of migrating 30 flew 561 kilomtres; an average speed of more than 50kph. She eventually settled to roost on the desert floor just after 5pm in an extremely remote part of Western Sahara.

30's roost site last night could hardly have been more remote

30′s roost site last night could hardly have been more remote

30 flew 561km across the Sahara on 7th September

30 flew 561km across the Sahara on 7th September

This all means that just eight days after leaving Rutland Water 30 has flown a remarkable 3665km. If she maintains similar speeds, she could arrive at her wintering site on the Senegal coast as early as Wednesday…watch this space! Last year she did the migration in 11 days; and she’s certainly on course to at least match that again this year.

Don’t forget that you can also view 30′s migration on your own version of Google Earth. To find out how, click here.

And then there was one

Yesterday, both Ospreys were in the Bay all day, and they were both there this morning at 08:25. However, when volunteer Anna arrived at Waderscrape Hide at 09:00, there were no Ospreys present. Our first thought was, of course, have they gone? Twenty minutes later though, 33(11) flew into the Bay with an enormous trout, and landed on the leaning perch with it. He hasn’t left yet then! There was still no sign of Maya, however.

At 09:40, 33(11) brought the fish to the nest, and sat with it on the edge. We hovered around the record button in case Maya was on her way, but she wasn’t. After a few minutes, 33 continued to eat the fish himself.

33 with his fish

33 with his fish

Fish guts

Fish guts

Fish guts

Yummy

 

At about 10:20, 33’s behaviour indicated that an intruding Osprey was bothering him, and another Osprey was sighted above the nest. It wasn’t Maya, as he would not have reacted like that to her. We think this Osprey was probably 51(11), as we know he is still in the area. The intruder flew off over the hide, and 33 resumed the very important business of eating.

Intruder about

Intruder about

 

So we know she was here earlier this morning, but it is looking likely that Maya has left, and 33 is now alone in Manton Bay. Will he be the last Osprey in Rutland? Probably. He won’t leave while there is still a chance another Osprey could nab his nest (namely 51).

Today has been a beautiful day, dry and bright with a north-westerly breeze. A good day to begin a 3,000 mile journey, I would say. Maya has stayed around slightly longer this year than last – in 2013 she migrated on 2nd September. However, the latest she has ever left was the 12th September, so it is not unprecedented for her to still be here this late.

There is a very slight possibility that Maya has not actually gone, and has just been elsewhere all day. As unlikely as that is, we cannot categorically confirm her departure. We will wait and see what the morning brings, whether it be two Ospreys in the Bay, just one, or none at all.

 

They’re still here!

They’re still here! If you’re planning a visit to Rutland Water this weekend, then there is every chance that you will see an Osprey. Both Maya and 33(11) were at the nest all day, and they were still there this evening. We shouldn’t really be surprised; Maya has been one of the last Ospreys to depart from Rutland Water over the past few years and it would seem that 33(11) is following her lead. He probably wants to make sure that rival male 51(11) – who is still also present – doesn’t get a look-in with his new mate. He’s certainly continuing to do everything as he should; here’s a video of 33 delivering a fine trout to the nest yesterday afternoon.

33 and Maya

33 and Maya

The Lyndon Visitor Centre is open all weekend – so we hope to see you then!

30 reaches Africa

Migration never ceases to amaze me. The latest batch of data from 30′s satellite transmitter shows that just five days after leaving Rutland, she roosted close to Rabat in northern Morocco last night.

The last batch of data had shown that at 7am on Tuesday morning, 30 was flying south through northern Spain. By 10am she had flown another 120 kilometres and was powering her way through the mountains of La Rioja. At midday she passed just to the west of Soria at an altitude of 1780 metres. Ospreys often reach very high altitudes as they migrate across Spain and over the course of the next six hours, 30 did the same. By 6pm she had flown another 256km at altitudes of up to 3260 metres – that’s well over 10,000 feet. She was now some 115km south-west of Madrid, but showing no signs of letting-up. She made a distinct turn to the south-east and then flew another 35 kilometres before settling for the night in an agricultural area five kilometres west of Villarrobledo in Catile-LaMancha province. She had flown 517km; meaning that she had flown a staggering 1500km in just three days of migration.

We have not yet received the full batch of GPS fixes for the next morning, but she clearly made a slower start than previous days because at 1pm local time (12:00GMT) she was just 87km south-east of her overnight position. Over the course of the afternoon she made her way through the eastern part of the Sierra Morena mountains before settling for the night among olive groves in Andalucia.Her day’s flight of 256km was half that of previous days, but significantly, she was now within striking distance of Africa.

30 flew almost the length of Spain in just two days

30 flew almost the length of Spain in just two days

30 probably caught a fish in Embalse de Malpasillo yesterday morning before flying to Morocco

30 probably caught a fish in Embalse de Malpasillo yesterday morning before flying to Morocco

30 left her roost site soon after first light and flew 25km south-west to Embalse de Malpasillo. She almost certainly caught a fish there because for the next two hours she was perched four kilometres south-west of the reservoir, presumably eating her breakfast. By 10am she was migrating again and two-and-a-half hours later she reached the Spanish coast at Marbella. Unlike most raptors who head further south-west to make the short 14km flight across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco, 30 simply headed straight out to sea. By 2pm she had flown 67 kilometres across the Mediterranean and was now flying just 10 metres above the waves at 19kph. An hour later she reached Morocco, making landfall near Tetouan after flying over 100km across the open sea.

Having reached Africa, 30 showed no signs of letting up. Over the course of the next five hours she flew another 187 kilometres south-west and then south-south-west through northern Morocco at altitudes of between 200 and 1000 metres. She eventually settled for the night in a cultivated area 50km north-east of Rabat, after a day’s flight of 413km.

After just five days, she has covered a remarkable 2216km and has already left Europe behind. The imposing Atlas Mountains and the vast wilds of the Sahara are next. Don’t forget that you can also view 30′s migration on your own version of Google Earth. To find out how, click here.

Unlike most birds of prey, 30 crossed the Mediterranean well to the east of Gibraltar

Unlike most birds of prey, 30 crossed the Mediterranean well to the east of Gibraltar

In your own time

Well, Maya and 33(11) are still here… I wouldn’t like to guess when they will leave! I had a walk down to the hides this morning, and both Maya and 33 were sitting in the Bay when I arrived. Earlier, we’d had a report from Lyn, our volunteer monitoring the Ospreys, that 33 had caught a massive fish, brought it to the T-perch, and was just about to tuck in when he dropped it into the water! He tried but failed to retrieve it. He did manage to get it back later, but he gave up on it for a while and took off to go on a fishing trip over Heron Bay, apparently thinking that might be easier than getting his previous fish back. At the same time, I also saw another Osprey fishing in the distance, so we know that there are at least three Ospreys still with us.

33(11)’s fishing foray was unsuccessful, and he returned to his perch. However, later on Lyn phoned to say 33 had another go at getting his earlier fish back, and this time succeeded! He subsequently spent at least an hour eating part of it, whilst Maya waited impatiently on the nest for her share. Several times her behaviour indicated 33 was on his way, and I raced to the record button… but she must have been over-eager, because each time he didn’t arrive, and she settled back down. Eventually, 33 did arrive at the nest with the rest of the fish, but he did it so fast I nearly didn’t have time to record it! Nevertheless, there is a short video below of Maya taking the fish from 33.

Maya shouting for the fish today

Maya shouting for the fish today

Maya with the fish

Maya got the fish eventually

 

I didn’t see Water Voles while I was there (typically) but Lyn reported seeing four this morning – two adults and two youngsters. The Spotted Crake has not been seen since last Friday. Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Lapwings, Common Terns and a Red Kite were also seen from Waderscrape today, and a number of ducks were dabbling in front of Shallow Water hide.

Here are a few screen-shots of the Ospreys taken over the last couple of days:

33(11) mantling at an intruder

33(11) mantling at an intruder

33 guarding the nest

33 guarding the nest

Maya waiting more patiently for a fish

Maya waiting more patiently for a fish

33(11) surveying his kingdom

33(11) surveying his kingdom

 

 

Making history – the final cut

We are coming to the end of another successful season here at the Rutland Osprey Project, and also the conclusion of our historical series from 1999.

Fifteen years ago the project was still in its early stages. The twelve birds that were released in that year put the total of translocated birds up to forty. Five of the birds that year were satellite tracked, below is what we know about those five birds:

02 – unfortunately this bird was found dead on 31st August 1999, at Gunthorpe.

03 – this bird made it to Mali, but he is thought to have died as his transmitter sent data from exactly the same spot for a long period.

04 – this female made it to Senegal on 17th September. She settled in one area, and eventually her transmitter stopped transmitting.

05 – this male made it to Senegal on 7th October. The last data from his transmitter was on 18th April 2000, where he had settled in the Sine-Saloum Delta.

06 – this bird was the last to leave Rutland Water on his migration, on 21st September. His transmitter stopped sending signals on the 27th September, and it is unknown as to whether the bird died or the transmitter stopped working.

Juveniles in release pens

Juveniles on the day of release

 

Whilst several made it to their wintering grounds, no birds from 1999 were ever recorded back in Rutland. However, one of the 1999 translocated females, 01(99), was seen at Welbeck Lake in Nottinghamshire in June 2001. The year after she was seen on an artificial nest in Dundee, and she bred successfully there between 2002 and 2004, raising eight chicks. Unfortunately she did not return in 2005.

The success of the translocation project is indisputable. In total, thirteen translocated Ospreys returned to the UK! Ten of these returned to Rutland, one female (see above) went to Scotland, and two males went to Wales. Amazingly, all but two of these Ospreys bred!

Eight of the ten translocated birds that returned to Rutland Water bred, and they raised fifty-three chicks between them, up to 2014. Of those fifty-three, seventeen have so far returned to the UK (fifteen to Rutland, two to Wales). This is roughly a 32% return rate, which is amazing. Eleven of the seventeen (64%) are breeding or have bred (nine in Rutland, two in Wales). Between them, these eleven birds have thus far raised fifty-nine chicks. An amazing number!

The two translocated males that bred in Wales – 11(98) and 07(97) – raised twenty-eight chicks between 2004 and 2014. 11(98) at Glaslyn is father to twenty-seven of those, as 07(97) only bred for one year (2004), raising one chick, and then did not return again. Of the twenty-eight, four have returned. Two males from Glaslyn are currently breeding at Kielder Water, and one Glaslyn male is breeding at Threave.

In total then, England, Wales and Scotland combined, the eleven translocated birds who bred have raised eighty-nine chicks between them (up to 2014), of which twenty-one have returned that we know of (a return rate of 24%), and fourteen (66%) are breeding or have bred. That’s not bad!

 

Here is a breakdown of the translocation years:

 

1996

No birds returned.

 

1997

Two birds returned to Rutland – 08(97) and 03(97). Both of these Ospreys bred at Rutland Water – 08(97) raised seven chicks in his four years of breeding (2007-2010), but sadly, he disappeared in suspicious circumstances in 2011. To read more about 08(97) click here.

03(97) was the first Osprey to breed at Rutland Water in 2001. He is still breeding in 2014, and has raised thirty-two chicks. Of his chicks, twelve have returned to the UK, and seven have bred (one in Wales). These breeding offspring of 03’s have given him forty-three grandchildren, and his four breeding grandchildren have given him fifteen great-grandchildren. That is quite amazing!

Another amazing 03 fact is this – since 2001, eighty-seven Ospreys have fledged from Rutland. 03(97) has a hand (or a gene) in no less than eighty-two of them!

Another Osprey from 1997 turned up in Wales and bred in 2004 – male Osprey 07(97). He raised one chick with a ringed female, red 6J, from Scotland. Neither adult was seen the year after, however.

Male Osprey 08(97)

Male Osprey 08(97)

Male Osprey 03(97)

Male Osprey 03(97)

Male Osprey 07(97)

Male Osprey 07(97)

 

1998

Three birds returned from the 1998 group of translocated juveniles. 09(98) was a male who was fourteen when he bred for the first time in 2012. He raised two chicks with 5N(04), a Rutland-fledged female, then he was unfortunately killed by an Eagle Owl in Morocco, on his southward migration that same year. To read more about 09(98) and his story, click here.

Another male, 03(98), also returned, and he bred with a translocated female, 06(01), in 2003, raising two chicks. She did not return in 2004, and 03(98) spent the season alone. He did not return in 2005.

The other male bird to return from 1998 did not in fact return to Rutland – he went to Wales. 11(98) has been breeding at Glaslyn in North Wales since 2004 with the same unringed female, and has produced twenty-seven chicks.

Male Osprey 09(98)

Male Osprey 09(98)

Male Osprey 11(98)

Male Osprey 11(98)

Male Osprey 03(98)

Male Osprey 03(98)

 

1999

Female Osprey 01(99) was spotted in Nottinghamshire in June 2001, and was there for about a week. In 2002 she was seen on an artificial nest at Piperdam near Dundee. She bred successfully there between 2002 and 2004, with male Orange ZT, but failed to return in 2005. She raised eight chicks in that time. 01(99) is thought to be the sister of 08(97).

 

2000

Three birds returned from this year of translocations. 05(00) was a female who bred with 03(97) for six years (2003-2008) raising seventeen chicks. In 2009 she did not return, and another female took over at that nest.

06(00) was a male who bred in 2009 and raised three chicks. Unfortunately, he disappeared in suspicious circumstances in 2010. One of his chicks has returned and is breeding.

10(00) was a male who was first seen back in 2003, where he intruded at Site B and Manton Bay. He was seen at Burley fishponds in 2004, and began nest building late in that season. He did not breed, and he did not return in 2005.

Female Osprey 05(00)

Female Osprey 05(00)

Male Osprey 06(00)

Male Osprey 06(00)

Male Osprey 10(00)

Male Osprey 10(00)

 

2001

Three birds returned from 2001. 08(01) was a male who bred with 30(05) between 2009 and 2012, raising eight chicks. He did not return in 2013.

06(01) was a female who returned to the UK at one-year-old in 2002, which is unheard of, and she bred in 2003 at two-years-old! Ospreys do not usually breed at such a young age, but she successfully raised two chicks with 03(98), a translocated male from 1998. She did not return the year after, though.

02(01) was a male who was first seen back in 2004. In 2005 he was seen at Bassenthwaite Lake, where he brought fish for the female nesting there. He was forced to leave, however, when the resident male returned. A bird thought to be him was seen in the Bassenthwaite area in 2006, but he wasn’t seen elsewhere, nor was he seen in subsequent years.

Male Osprey 08(01)

Male Osprey 08(01)

Male Osprey 02(01)

Male Osprey 02(01)

06(01)

Female Osprey 06(01)

 

2005

Eleven more Ospreys were translocated in 2005 when it transpired that not enough female Ospreys were returning. Nine of these birds were female and two were male. Unfortunately, none of them ever returned.

 

It is brilliant to see the population of Ospreys naturally expanding, after many years of hard work, dedication, patient perseverance and proactive conservation efforts. Having thirteen of the translocated Ospreys return, and eleven of them breed, is testament to just how important the translocation project was. The results since then have been even more amazing, with a huge number of Rutland-fledged Ospreys returning to breed, their offspring returning to breed, Scottish females stopping here to breed, Rutland Ospreys breeding in Wales, Welsh-fledged Ospreys breeding in northern England, and the potential for more nests in Rutland and elsewhere. The results are widespread and evident for all to see. What remains for us to do now is continue to protect these wonderful birds, inspire the public with their magnificence and watch the Osprey population continue to thrive.

 

This incredible project was the first of its kind in Europe, and its success inspired other Osprey translocation projects in Italy and Spain.

You can read all about the Rutland Water Osprey Project in more detail, along with much more information about Ospreys, and amazing photographs and illustrations by John Wright, in Project Officer Tim Mackrill’s fantastic book, “The Rutland Water Ospreys”. Click the link to read more about it and to buy a copy!

Don’t forget to follow the progress of the Ospreys on our website, click here to view.

If you would like to see the archive website in its entirety, please click here.

 

Never say goodbye

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).

30(05)

30(05)

 

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 gorgeous Site B chicks at ringing (photo by John Wright)

The two gorgeous Site B chicks at ringing

 

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.

8K and 9K at Site C

8K and 9K at Site C

 

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.

The three chicks at Site N

The three chicks at Site N

 

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.

CJ3, the male chick who disappeared

CJ3, the male chick who disappeared

 

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.

CJ6

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!