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If I tell you tomorrow I’m leaving…

Maya and 33(11) were both present in the Bay this morning at about 08:00, then they disappeared for a couple of hours. Maya returned first, at about 10:00, and landed on the camera perch. 33 rejoined her at 12:15, and they came to the nest and did a bit of redecorating.

There was a report of an intruding Osprey in the Bay this morning – a female sporting a blue leg-ring. Unfortunately the number on the ring couldn’t be made out, but it is likely to be 2F(12), who was seen in the Bay earlier this month.

This afternoon, at about 13:00, visitors in the Lyndon Centre were treated to a great view of 33(11) flying past the windows on a fishing trip. We hoped he might fish in front of the Centre, but he flew off to the east and out of sight.

Maya and 33(11)

Maya and 33(11)


Recently, the question that everyone asks as they enter the Centre is “Are the Ospreys still here?” and then, at our affirmative answer, “When will they leave?” Well, as I have said previously, the answer we usually give is late August or early September, but given that this pair have not bred, that could differ for them. Ultimately, we just don’t know. Animal behaviour is always problematic to predict, which is not surprising, really, given that the behaviour of individuals rarely follows a set pattern.

According to records, Maya tends to buck the trend when it comes to migrating. Females are said to go first, before their juveniles, however this female always waits until all or most of her youngsters have left. In three of the four years she has raised young, Maya has migrated leaving one chick behind, and one year she left after they had all gone. Her partner, 5R(04), did not stick to the traditional beliefs about migration either. In two of his four years of breeding he did in fact leave last. However, in the other two, he left the nest before the female and one remaining chick.

It would seem that over the years she has bred, the dates that Maya has migrated have become steadily earlier, but always in September. In 2010 she left on 12th September, in 2011 on 9th, in 2012 on 3rd, and last year she migrated on 2nd. Prior to that, however, in the first year she spent at Rutland Water – 2009, when she did not breed – she migrated on 5th September.

In conclusion, it would seem that these dates tell us next to nothing, and no more light has been shed on the situation from collecting this information. Consequently, the answer to the question of when she will leave is still an “I don’t know”. We can speculate, of course, and it is entirely possible that this pair will stay later than usual, due to their bond with the nest, and the risk that once they have left it, another Osprey may try to stake a claim to it. Therefore, they may be the last two Ospreys in Rutland at the end of the season!

33 and Maya

33 and Maya



Come fly with me

Less rain and more wind were apparently the order of the day! Unfortunately, the wind has blown the feather back down onto the camera lens, which obstructs the view slightly. The Spotted Crake was still drawing people in, though it was only seen once this morning, and not since. The Ospreys of course are the main attraction here, for most people. Both 33(11) and Maya are still here, and have spent some time bringing sticks to the nest. There is no doubt that both of these birds have a strong tie to this nest, and they are ensuring that it remains theirs!

33 moving another stick

33 moving a stick

Synchronised nest building

Synchronised nest building


At one point in the video below, 33 lifts off from the nest, then attempts to land on Maya’s back! She was not impressed – this is no time for mating! 33’s instincts are working alright, just not always at the right time. Unfortunately, due to the feather at the top of the screen, it is hard to see what 33 is doing, but you can just see a flash of his legs at the top of the screen, and judging by Maya’s behaviour, it is apparent he is attempting to mate. He also tried this yesterday, though I was unable to video it.

There was an intruding Osprey in the Bay this morning, whom one visitor believed to have been 28(10), due to a perceived kink in the wing. However, our volunteer didn’t notice any wing damage. Therefore, perhaps it wasn’t 28… Whoever this intruder was, Maya and 33(11) did not appear to show any animosity towards it, and although all three Ospreys were flying around above the nest together, there did not seem to be any malice in their actions. According to watchers, it looked as though they were all just having a fly around together. All three Ospreys left the Bay after a while, then Maya and 33 returned a little later, with sticks for the nest.

A few weeks ago, we all thought it was a bit strange that the two-year-old male, 8F(12), was seen sitting next to 33 on the leaning perch, and all three Ospreys seemed quite settled. We have seen how attached to the nest this pair are, and they have aggressively chased away intruders from the area quite often. So why were they happy to let 8F sit with them in the Bay, and why did they not show more hostility to today’s intruder? We do not know. Perhaps this pair have a soft spot for 8F, and it was he, and not 28(10), who was intruding today.

33(11) moving a stick

33 grabbing an errant stick


Rainy days and Mondays

It was a very rainy Monday today! Not the sort of weather one hopes for on a bank holiday! But we shouldn’t complain, it could always be worse. The Ospreys don’t let the rain bother them too much, and 33(11) caught an enormous trout this morning! Rain can make fishing difficult, as it creates ripples on the water that hinder visibility. This means that it may take longer than usual for Ospreys to fish successfully in the rain. However, 33(11) wasn’t gone that long this morning before he arrived back with his catch! Again Maya waited on the nest for her share, and again it took him a while to bring it to her. However, when he did there was still a large portion left!

Waiting in the rain

The rain obscured the lens a bit as Maya waited for her fish


After looking at the weather forecast yesterday, I expected today to be fairly quiet visitor-wise. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the fairly substantial number of people who braved the rain to join us at Lyndon today. A lot of them came due to the continued presence of the Spotted Crake, which was again showing well from Waderscrape Hide. Those who did visit the reserve today were treated with excellent views of said Crake, and also brilliant displays from our Ospreys, who were in the Bay all day. Shallow Water hide also holds its share of treats for the eager birdwatcher, with views of Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher and Yellow Wagtail, and Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and other waders taking advantage of the low water level.

Later this afternoon, the nest was visited by a Yellow Wagtail! This attractive little bird will soon be making its way south towards its wintering grounds, in the same place as the Ospreys! There is also a Pied Wagtail in the picture. In the past, Pied Wagtails have occasionally nested underneath the Osprey nest. They didn’t this year, but have still popped onto the nest from time to time.

Yellow Wagtail and Pied Wagtail on the Osprey nest

Yellow Wagtail and Pied Wagtail on the Osprey nest



Making history part 13

25 Aug

26 Aug

Back to reality

It has been a lovely day today, and a busy one, too! The late summer sun has been shining, providing wonderful vistas across the reservoir. Although we are still clinging to the last vestiges of summer, the sun was accompanied today by a cool breeze, reminding us that autumn is on its way. The departure of some of our Ospreys is also testament to the changing seasons! The Manton Bay Osprey pair are still with us, though, and they have reverted to normal behaviour again today. 33(11) flew into the Bay with a fish at about 08:30. He sat on the T-perch eating it for an hour and a half, then finally delivered the remains of it to Maya, who was waiting impatiently on the nest!

33(11) delivers the fish

33(11) delivers the fish

Maya accepts the fish

Maya accepts the fish


Maya can’t complain though, really, as she could easily go and catch her own fish, and she has been doing this more often recently. However, last week she demonstrated a cross between laziness and deviousness, and employed a new tactic for getting food, as you will recall from Tim’s report on Thursday, when she stole a fish from another nest! Earlier in the season we had another occurrence of fish burglary, when a male Osprey came to Manton Bay and stole a fish from the T-perch!

Halfway through the day, Maya was still eating the second half of this morning’s fish. 33(11) sat next to her on the T-perch, creating a peaceful, domestic scene. We have all witnessed the strong bond that these two Ospreys have formed, and it is apparent to all who view them from the hide. Both Maya and 33(11) look in excellent condition, as you can see clearly on the live camera each time they land on the nest. They have not had the usual trials of parenthood this year, and have thus had a nice relaxing summer of no responsibilities, where they can concentrate on their own needs. Consequently, they have both remained in fine condition, which bodes well for their successful migrations to and from West Africa this winter.

Maya waiting on the nest for fish

Maya waiting on the nest for fish


Later this afternoon, 33(11) appeared on the nest and was mantling furiously. An intruder was obviously making a nuisance of itself! Fortunately, the threat to the nest was short-lived, and 33 was able to relax again after a while.

33(11) mantling at an intruder

33(11) mantling at an intruder

After the threat has gone

After the threat has gone


In other news, the juvenile Spotted Crake has been showing well all day today from Waderscrape Hide, creating much excitement for visitors, volunteers and staff alike! The last time one of these birds was seen at Rutland Water was August 1996, and before that was September 1987. The most recent record for this area (as far as I am aware) was at Eyebrook reservoir in September/October 2002. So they are not a common bird around here! Pop to Lyndon to see this relative rarity from Waderscrape Hide.



Making history part 12

24 Aug

Harmony in the bay

After Maya’s misdemeanors on Wednesday, today was a much more typical day at the Manton Bay nest. 33(11) caught a trout at 8am and eventually took the remains to Maya on the nest.

Maya waiting for 33(11) to bring a fish to the nest this morning.

Maya waiting for 33(11) to bring a fish to the nest this morning.

For 33(11) this summer has been a practice run for next year. Although some male Ospreys breed when they are three years’ old, most raise a family for the first time when they are four years of age. And that is exactly what we hope will happen in Manton Bay next year. This summer has given 33 time to hone the skills he will need if he returns next spring. One of the first jobs in late March or early April for any male Osprey is to scrape out a nest cup; and this morning 33 gave his scraping skills a bit of a dry run…

As has been the pattern recently, 33 went fishing again this evening; he was one of two birds we saw from the Rutland Belle on our latest Osprey cruise. Despite experiencing what felt like four season’s weather during the hour-and-a-half boat trip, we saw 33 catch a fish distantly in torrential rain and then had much closer views of 28(10) as he searched for a meal close to the dam once the sun had come out again. There are now just two cruises left this summer – on Wednesday and next Saturday. To book your place, click here.

A mixture of sunshine and heavy rain made for some dramatic skies during this evening's Osprey cruise

A mixture of sunshine and heavy rain made for some dramatic skies during this evening’s Osprey cruise

It wasn’t just Ospreys that created interest at Lyndon today. Receding water levels in Manton Bay have created perfect foraging conditions for numerous waders. This morning a single Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, several Green and Common Sandpipers and a few Dunlin could all be seen from Shallow Water hide. Then, mid-way through the afternoon a juvenile Spotted Crake – a rare visitor to the reserve – appeared at Waderscrape hide and provided great views for excited visitors for much of the afternoon. So if you have any spare time this bank holiday weekend, be sure to pop down to see us at Lyndon!

A morning of misdemeanors

If you have visited Manton Bay in recent days then the chances are that you will have seen both Maya and 33(11). Aside from occasional fishing trips, both birds have spent nearly all their time close to the nest .

Unlike earlier in the season when 33 was doing all of the fishing, the female is now making daily trips to catch her own food. Today though a gusty wind has made fishing more difficult than usual. So, after several aborted attempts, Maya decided on a new tact.  First she flew north to Lagoon 4, where 51(11) has spent an increasing amount of time in recent weeks. She landed on the nest, evidently in the hope of a free meal. When none was forthcoming she headed off to another off-site nest. This time she was in luck. She stole half a trout from the nest and then then immediately flew back to Manton Bay where she tucked into her late breakfast!

33 appeared none the wiser. He decided on a more orthodox approach and, after a little perseverance, caught a trout shortly after lunchtime. As the video below shows, he was very reluctant to hand his catch over to Maya this afternoon. Perhaps he knew about her morning of misdemeanors?!

Lots of people have been asking how long the two birds will remain in Rutland. It is likely that both 33 and his mate will stay at the nest into early September. 33 knows that there are at least four different non-breeding males – 28(10), 30(10), 51(11) and 8F(12) – who would all take up residence at the nest given half a chance. The only way he can ensure that they don’t have a chance of dong this, is to remain in the bay and defend it.  So, with a bit of luck, both 33 and Maya should be here into September.

33(11) could well remain at the Manton Bay nest until early September

33(11) could well remain at the Manton Bay nest until early September

Come cruising with us!

Phew! What a busy few days it has been for everyone involved in the project. The 26th Birdfair was another resounding success, with thousands of people descending on Rutland for the world’s biggest and best wildlife show. Very many thanks to those of you who came and chatted to us on the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust stand; it is wonderful to know how much support the project has from all over the UK – and further a field.

One of the real highlights of the past few days were the five Osprey cruises that we ran during the fair. We were treated to some truly spectacular views of fishing Ospreys, with successful dives seen on four of the five trips. On Thursday evening project volunteer Pete Murray managed to record this superb footage of one of the catches. Many thanks to Simon King who joined us for three of the trips, for his excellent commentary.

There are now just three Osprey cruises remaining this year, and we have a few spaces left on each of the trips. If the Birdfair cruises are anything to go by, then these trips are not to be missed. In the ten years of running Osprey cruises I don’t think we have seen such amazing fishing action as we have in the past few weeks. Tickets cost just £20 per person (£12 for  kids) and that includes an introductory talk before the one-and-a-half hour cruise. To book your place, click here. But make sure you’re quick, the remaining places will sell very fast!

Another very pleasing aspect of the last few days has been the incredible response to our appeal for football shirts. You’ll recall that we have teamed up with kits4causes to collect football shirts that will be distributed to children in the Gambian schools involved in the Osprey Flyways Project. In all we received 196 shirts of 40 different clubs as well as numerous footballs, shorts, socks and even a few pairs of boots! The shirts came from all overt the world, including an Athletic Bilbao shirt from our friends at the Urdaibai Bird Center and several South American and African shirts. Particular thanks must also go to Speyside Wildlife who donated enough Inverness Caledonian Thistle shirts to be worn by three full teams! Thanks to everyone who has donated shirts to the project and to Neil Glenn for organising it all.

Teresa Andrea  of Birding Euskadi presenting an Athletic Bilbao shirt and football to Paul Stammers

Teresa Andrea of Birding Euskadi presenting an Athletic Bilbao shirt and football to Paul Stammers

Meanwhile at Manton Bay both 33(11) and Maya are still present at the nest. Maya is now fishing for herself on a daily basis and this morning she and 33 both brought fish back to the nest within a few minutes of each other. The two birds have spent the rest of the day in the bay, providing great views for visitors to Waderscrape and Shallow Water hides at Lyndon. With a bit of luck the two birds will stay at the nest until early September, so there is still time to come and enjoy seeing them.

If you leave me now

We are approaching the time of year when, one by one, our Ospreys will start to leave us. Generally, Ospreys begin their autumn migration in late August or early September. Being more specific is difficult, due to the changeable nature of such things, as is always the case when it comes to the behaviour of wild animals! The birds don’t stick to the same dates each year, and we have had migration dates ranging from mid-August to mid-September.

It will be interesting to see when our Ospreys leave this year, especially the Manton Bay pair. It will also be quite sad, as it always is, to see the Ospreys go. Females normally leave first, followed by their juveniles, and the males usually remain at the nest until the rest of their family has left, and they have no chicks to provide fish for. However, it has occasionally been known, unsurprisingly, for Ospreys to stray from this widely-held belief! For example, in 2009 the two Site B juveniles migrated before both of the adults, in 2012 03(97) left before one of his chicks, and last year two of the Manton Bay juveniles left before the female.

Last year, the Site B female had already left us by now – she began her migration on 8th August! According to records, it is normal for her to leave that early. This year she is still with us today, as I write. We believe she may stay longer this year, as her role has differed slightly this season due to 03(97)’s injury, and the resulting necessity for her to provide the juveniles with fish. Therefore it is possible she may be the one to wait to leave until the young have migrated. We will see.

In contrast to the early departure of the Site B female last year, we have had Ospreys that have remained in Rutland until well into September. The latest migration date I can find is 16th September. This means that, in all likelihood, all or at least most of our Ospreys will have departed by the time we celebrate the success of the season at the Osprey Ball on 19th September, where we shall drink to their safe journeys!

Currently, all of our Ospreys are still with us. 33(11) and Maya remain in Manton Bay, steadfastly defending their nest. As you can see in the photographs below, 33(11) looks very settled on his nest, and will probably be unwilling to leave it at all!

33(11) defending his territory

33(11) defending his territory

33(11) sitting happily incubating nothing again

33(11) happily incubating nothing again

A little snooze

A little snooze