The Manton Bay chicks are now almost six weeks old, and therefore, the perfect age to be ringed. At this stage they are almost fully-grown, but more-importantly, still about two weeks away from making their first flights. Ringing chicks at Manton Bay is made more difficult than usual, though, by the fact that the nest is situated in eight feet of water; meaning that in order to access it we need a boat and a triple extending ladder. Its also important that there isn’t much wind – otherwise keeping the boat steady is virtually impossible.
Thankfully at 5:30am this morning conditions were perfect; it was suprisingly warm, and more-importantly, there was no wind. Having tied the boat to the bottom of the telegraph pole and man-handled the ladder up to the nest I climbed out of the boat and collected the two chicks. Our immediate impression was that they both looked in fantastic condition.
At six weeks of age its a relatively easy task to sex the birds – males generally have a slimmer, whiter head and less-heavy bill than females. Their legs are usually thinner too. The first bird we ringed was definitely a female. She was in excellent condition and a really good weight – 1775g: testament to the fishing prowess of her father. We gave her a blue colour-ring with the inscription 9F. The second bird was a male, and therefore smaller, but at 1590g, still a very good weight. He was also ringed with a blue colour ring, 8F.
Just as we were about to return the chicks to the nest a pair of Ravens flew over, calling. Ravens, like Ospreys, are now a familiar sight in Rutland – a really encouraging sign of the times.
Having put the chicks back into the nest, we made a hasty retreat and the adult female returned to her favourite perch above the nest almost straight away. A few minutes later 5R delivered the tail end a Bream to the nest. It was as if nothing had happened. As this video shows, the chicks eagerly tucked into their breakfast as they do every day. Mission successfully complete!
We have now ringed seven young Ospreys in the Rutland Water area so far this year – three at Site B, two at Site K (another nest on private land) and the two this morning. We’ll be reporting on our final ringing session at Site N, where 09(98) has two chicks, in the next few days.
Although we won’t be satellite-tagging any of our chicks this year, we are intending to catch and tag two adult male birds in the next few weeks. As you’ll know if you’re a regular visitor to the website, we have lost three adult birds in suspicious circumstances in recent years. For this reason, we feel it is vital that we try to learn more about this fishing habits of adult male birds in the Rutland area – and the best way of doing this is by satellite-tagging them. We have certainly learned a great deal from the movements of 09(98) for the past two summers and AW(06) last year. We’ll have more news on this later in the month.