Life in Manton Bay

As you will know if you keep an eye on the webcam, it is now quite rare to see an osprey on the nest. Thankfully John Wright has taken some great photographs from Manton Bay lately, so we can share with you what our osprey family have been up to. For the past few days John has seen an unringed male bird in the area and recently this bird visited Manton Bay. This bird is likely Scottish, and will be stopping off at Rutland on his way back to West Africa. In this photo you can see 33 mantling on the nest whilst the unringed male flies overhead.

33 chipping at an unringed male overhead

33 chipping at an unringed male overhead


We know that Rutland Water is a great place for migrating ospreys to fill up on fish on their journey south, and in fact ospreys have been stopping off here en route to fish for over 35 years! This unringed Scottish bird was no exception, and John captured some brilliant photos of him carrying a headless fish.
Unringed Scottish male carrying fish (JW)

Unringed Scottish male carrying fish (JW)


(JW)

(JW)


(JW)

(JW)


This bird has an interesting pattern of both light and dark primary and secondary feathers (JW)

This bird has an interesting pattern of both light and dark primary and secondary feathers (JW)


John also captured these brilliant photos of 2AM chasing coots across the bay.
2AM chasing coots (JW)

2AM chasing coots (JW)


(JW)

(JW)


Here is Maya having a wash. Sometimes ospreys just dip their feet in, but in these photos Maya has gone a little deeper, never stopping to fully submerge her body as she sometimes does, but instead flying constantly, half-in, half-out the water. What powerful wings these birds have!
Maya having a wash (JW)

Maya having a wash (JW)


(JW)

(JW)


When we aren’t watching an empty nest on the webcam, we can sometimes see 2AM food begging on camera. These next photographs illustrate what is often going on a few metres away!
2AM on the nest (JW)

2AM on the nest (JW)


Hungry 2AM (JW)

Hungry 2AM (JW)


33 in the background eating fish (JW)

33 in the background eating fish (JW)


In this photo 2AM and Maya are both on the T-perch intently focusing on fish below in the water.
(JW)

(JW)


Our breeding ospreys continue to bring material to the nest throughout the season.
33 with turf (JW)

33 with turf (JW)


33 with many sticks (JW)

33 with many sticks (JW)


Here Maya is pinching a fish from 2AM as he looks on.
(JW)

(JW)


Here is another glimpse into the life of an osprey that we never see on the webcam – 33 playing and somersaulting in the wind!
(JW)

(JW)


(JW)

(JW)


(JW)

(JW)


(JW)

(JW)


How brilliant would it be to be an osprey for a day?!
John hasn’t just been capturing photos of the Manton Bay ospreys – here are a few of the other birds he’s seen from the hide.
A very close whimbrel! (JW)

A very close whimbrel! (JW)


Juvenile Red Kite (JW)

Juvenile Red Kite (JW)


Juvenile Yellow Wagtail (JW)

Juvenile Yellow Wagtail (JW)


(JW)

(JW)


Having a bath (JW)

Having a bath (JW)


In addition to watching ospreys, John has also spent some time studying the black headed gulls that have recently been massing outside Shallow Water Hide.
Black headed gulls under threatening clouds (JW)

Black headed gulls under threatening clouds (JW)


Some of these gulls have had rings on their legs – some both colour-ringed and metal-ringed (like our ospreys), and some with just metal rings. With his scope and camera, John has been able to read both the colour rings and the tiny text on the metal rings, and the results have been fascinating. On tracing the birds from their leg rings, John has found that in just a small area of Manton Bay we have black headed gulls with rings from Lithuania, Finland, Germany, Denmark, Brussels, Stockholm and London!
Black headed gulls from all over Europe - this gives you an idea of how tiny the text is, too (JW)

Black headed gulls from all over Europe – this gives you an idea of how tiny the text is, too (JW)


Black headed gulls and 2 of our Dexter cattle - notice how far away the gulls are (JW)

Black headed gulls and 2 of our Dexter cattle – notice how far away the gulls are (JW)


Black headed gulls from all over have made their way to Manton Bay

Black headed gulls from all over have made their way to Manton Bay


It is very rare to recapture a gull that has been rung as a chick as it is extremely unusual for them to fly into ringing nets (although it has happened once here at Rutland this summer!). This means that often birds are rung as chicks, and then the next time the bird ringer hears of the birds whereabouts is when the body is recovered at the end of their life. Reading the leg rings through a scope is a great way to collect data on the birds whilst they are alive, although reading the metal rings requires a great deal of patience (and some excellent optics too!). John has painted some of the different black headed gulls he has seen in Manton Bay.
(JW)

(JW)


Here you can see how the colour rings are larger and easier to read than the metal rings (JW)

Here you can see how the colour rings are larger and easier to read than the metal rings (JW)


This bird got it's ring in 1998 and, when it was noted as at least 2 years old! (JW)

This bird got it’s ring in 1998, when it was noted as at least 2 years old! (JW)


A double page from John's notebook, a colour ringed BHG and Maya's current moult

A double page from John’s notebook, a colour ringed BHG and Maya’s current moult


Here John has sketched Maya, 33 and the unringed Scottish male. Ospreys need to be in good flying condition at all times in order to catch fish, so rather than shedding all their flight feathers at once (like waterfowl), they shed their feathers gradually, as they take a long time to grow back. By noting the stage of their moult, John is able to identify individual birds in flight when he sees them again.
33's moult as of 3 days ago. Primary feathers grow very slowly (JW)

33’s moult as of 3 days ago. Primary feathers grow very slowly (JW)


The unringed Scottish visitor (JW)

The unringed Scottish visitor (JW)


Thank you to John for the incredible paintings, drawings!

3 responses to “Life in Manton Bay”

  1. Sheila Elliott

    What amazing photos, and even more fantastic drawings. I am in awe of the detail and precision, and I am aware of how valuable it all is to the project. Thank you John.

  2. Sue Redfern

    Fabulous photos and drawings, thank you for the info

  3. Michael Tennant Grundy

    Fantastic info, artwork & observation John . Thanks a million !