I’m a survivor

Male Osprey 03(97) is one whose reputation precedes him. Translocated in 1997, he was one of the first translocated birds to return in 1999. In 2001, he made history by putting Ospreys back on England’s breeding bird list! That year, he and an unringed female produced the first Osprey chick to hatch in Central England for 150 years!

Now approaching the conclusion of his fourteenth season of breeding at Rutland Water, 03(97) has raised a total of thirty-two chicks. Several of his offspring have returned to Rutland, and he currently has grand-children that are breeding! His legacy is immense. In the world of Ospreys, he is nothing short of a superstar.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a scare that his supremacy was beginning to fade. Worryingly, 03(97) underwent a period of apparent lethargy, where he hardly moved and did not go fishing. We thought perhaps it was an illness, or possibly old age, as he is seventeen years old now. However, it was noticed that his right wing was drooping slightly, indicating a potential injury. We kept a close eye on him and saw that he could fly when necessary, but not particularly strongly.

It is interesting that the adult female suddenly began to go fishing again. It is normal for females to do this after the chicks have fledged, but the youngest chick had not yet fledged, and the oldest only the day before. Generally females won’t fish again until the juveniles have been on the wing for at least a couple of weeks, and are flying strongly. I wonder what prompted her to deviate from her typical behaviour? Perhaps she decided she had waited long enough for 03(97) to go fishing and he clearly wasn’t, or maybe she sensed somehow that something was wrong.

However she knew, it was good news that she began fishing early, as it meant that the juveniles would not go hungry. What concerned us was that 03(97) was not getting a share of any of the fish that were brought in. When there was no sign of improvement in his condition after a couple of days, the decision was made to provide fish for him on a man-made platform atop his favourite perch.

For ten days we put out fish for 03(97), and waited anxiously for signs of recovery. Then, finally, amazingly, he began to improve. His flight began to look stronger, he spent more time away from the nest, hanging around the Horn Mill Trout Farm, and then one day he came back to the nest with a fish! This was a huge relief to us all.

We have continued to closely monitor 03(97)’s progress, and have ceased supplementary feeding. We have seen an enormous improvement in his condition, and he has been catching fish every day for the past week. It seems all he needed was some time in which to heal, and so by putting out fish for him we gave him the energy he needed to recover. We hope that he now has the necessary strength to complete his autumn migration. Six months relaxing in Africa should do him good, and fingers crossed for his safe return next season!

Here are some photographs of 03(97), showing his drooping wing. There are also some brilliant pictures of the two juveniles, and of 6K(14)’s first flight! All photographs taken by our Field Officer John Wright.

03(97) sitting with a drooping wing, next to a fish we provided

03(97) sitting with a drooping wing, next to a fish we provided

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The two juveniles having a tug-of-war with a fish

The two juveniles having a tug-of-war with a fish

The juvenile male, 6K(14), flapping

The juvenile male, 6K(14), flapping

6K's first flight!

6K’s first flight!

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P1170953---Juv-male-first-flight

6K's first landing

6K’s first landing

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6K(14) flying

6K(14) flying

6K landing

Juvenile landing

Adult female bringing in a fish

Adult female bringing in a fish

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More tug-of-war!

More tug-of-war!

Adult female and a juvenile on the nest, 03(97) on perch

Adult female and a juvenile on the nest, 03(97) on perch

03(97) still defending the nest

03(97) still defending the nest

03(97)'s wing looking a little better

03(97)’s wing looking a little better

Adult female bringing in a Crusian Carp

Adult female bringing in a Crusian Carp

You can see the platform we attached to the T-perch, and the ladders to access it

You can see the platform we attached to the T-perch, and the ladders to access it

The juveniles squabbling

The juveniles squabbling

The juveniles with the adult female

The juveniles with the adult female

 

12 responses to “I’m a survivor”

  1. Tiger Mozone

    Good to see that 3 (97) is back in his old jump again. He is a true superstar.

  2. Dolly

    Fantastic news that 03’s wing is healing – he is a legendary osprey. Gtreat decision to feed him. Hope he recovers for his migration.

    Lovely pictures as always 🙂 and thanks for sharing the news.

  3. Jan Hart

    Thank you for sharing this story about 03(97) – the grandfather of so many ospreys throughout the UK. It’s good to see he is now recovering and here’s hoping he has a successful migration to Africa – more importantly that he also returns to Rutland next year!

  4. Patricia Selman

    Oh what a massive worry So hope he has a successful migration to Africa

  5. Liz Livock

    Another lovely informative update Kayleigh; thank you. Personally I am glad you did not share the news of 03(97)’s damaged wing until things look better … yet more to worry about 🙁 I hope he continues to improve and strengthen ready for his migration and safe return next year.

    Thank you Rutland for all you do to protect these magnificent birds and engage the public.

  6. Deb

    What an amazing story! Thank you.

  7. Sheila FE

    Well done to the Rutland team for your proactive stance. It must have been extremely worrying for all who were aware of the problem. I sincerely hope that Mr Rutland recovers fully and makes yet another successful migration.

  8. BecOwl

    Pheww well done for acting and helping him out. He is a very special bird and to lose 5R and Mr Rutland in one year does not bear thinking about. Great news that he is returning to fitness and fishing again and that the juveniles were being so well looked after by the Mrs. Thank you for the update and lovely pics. 🙂

  9. Nick Gordon

    Excellent blog, extremely informative, and great news, which must surely augur well for his forthcoming southward migration!!
    This is another instance that serves as proof positive that a little intuitive intervention can pay dividends, so very well done for a well executed helping hand just at the right time!! Many thanks to you all. 🙂

  10. Lorraine Gittins

    Well done!
    It was certainly a good thing that you intervened and gave 03/97 the time he needed to recover sufficiently, to enable him to fish again.

    I really hope he makes a successful Autumn migration and wish him well as he feeds up for yet another year back in Rutland.

  11. Mike Simmonds

    What great news of his recovery. 1997 was my first year helping on the project so he was one of the first I ever watched over.

  12. Janet Wilson

    Poor old boy! Thank goodness he is back to his old self, well done for helping him. It shows how precarious these birds’ lives can be. If this injury had happened whilst he was wintering in Africa and he couldn’t fish, then maybe he wouldn’t make it back again. As it is he lives to breed another day!