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.
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:
No birds returned.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.