For those of you who regularly follow Rutland Water Ospreys, you will know that some of us were fortunate enough to accompany the team to The Gambia and Senegal in January. During that visit a series of ‘Video Diaries’ were made. At dinner the evening before we visited Kartong, I had jokingly remarked that watching Ospreys at home might be quite boring having seen so many over the first couple of days that we’d been in The Gambia. And so, as I stood on Kartong Beach being interviewed by Tim, he asked me if I had meant what I had said about being bored and I replied that I hadn’t, just in case he ‘sacked’ me. Ifyou watch the video you can actually see a couple of Ospreys flying over us. Let me tell you that the last couple of days here has been more than exciting enough to blow that flippant ‘boring’ remark right out of the sky. I was so very wrong!
It all started a couple of weekends ago; I had got rather over excited at the prospect that 03(97) might return on the same date as last year, March 19th and with that in mind Lindsay and I decided to make a trip to the dam at the eastern end of the reservoir – what a coup, I thought, if I could take a picture of him catching a fish. It was a beautiful sunny day and we got as far as the dam, but as my husband was limping with a knee problem, the visit was cut short. There were also three very important Rugby matches to be watched that afternoon. The next morning, Sunday, and the first day of Spring, it was a joy to be working in the garden at last and listening to all the many beautiful sights and sounds of Spring – birds, bees, children playing outside, ramblers going past, even lawnmowers, strimmers and hedgecutters! Shortly before 2pm I decided to go in and make a start on dinner and as I checked my phone, I discovered that 03(97) had returned to his nest at Site B for the eleventh year. Our season had begun.
As each sunny day last week came to an end, the euphoria ebbed away; we couldn’t see 03(97) as shifts hadn’t started at Site B and there were no other sightings. Last Sunday dawned and we were planning to work in the garden and greenhouse, then I received word that 5R(04) was back in Manton Bay; gardening ideas on hold. On arrival at Lyndon we were met by Ken, fellow diarist, several other volunteers – Julie, who had been on duty in Waderscrape doing the 6 – 9am shift when 5R flew by, what a first shift for her – and Paul and Michelle of the team. Michelle, the new member of the team, had earlier seen 5R catch an enormous trout, the first time that she’d seen an Osprey catch a fish! I was so pleased for her, moments like that are precious. We hurried down to Shallow Water Hide and found Tim and John watching 5R who was perched at the far end of the bay. The trout must have been huge as they said that he’d been eating it for a couple of hours and there was still a very large tail hanging over the perch. Shortly after that he was harried by a couple of crows. Just as he decided to shoo them away, the crow went for the fish and in the scuffle it fell into the water. Now we hoped he’d make a move to oust the Egyptian goose from the nest that it had staked claim to, even laying an egg that morning. But as we watched 5R with his back to the nest, it was quite obvious that he had no such plans – he’d had a long journey, breakfasted well and was quite content to sit regally on the perch, albeit covered in blood, and survey his territory. I heard that one visitor had returned to the centre with the news that we had a pink Osprey! 5R was probably thinking that he’d got a few days anyway before his mate returned.
I think I realised then, watching just one Osprey at Rutland Water, that it was so much more exciting and significant than having so many flying closely over us in Africa. That realisation was emphasised this morning when I switched on the webcam to find that 5R’s female had returned yesterday and they were already doing everything necessary, yes everything, to prepare for a new brood.
So I’m very happy to report that I was very wrong and boredom will definitely not be setting in this season for me at Rutland Water. I think 5R was wrong too; he should have set about those geese and tidying the nest – she came back early and judging from this morning’s performance, he certainly will not be bored, I think he’s going to have his hands full. My first shift is next week and I’ll keep you posted.