Time always goes by faster than we realise, and recently autumn has been creeping up on us. I love autumn – bright, cold days, a fresh nip in the air, and particularly the beauty of the changing colours of the trees. The only thing I dislike about autumn is that the Ospreys leave! It is always a shame to see them go, they fill up such a large part of our lives during the season, and there is an empty feeling at the end of it when they depart for their wintering grounds in West Africa.
It is good though, to know that we have had another successful season, and to see the fit, healthy birds beginning their migrations south, especially the youngsters, who have not made this journey before. Due to this, there is inevitably a little apprehension on our part, hoping that all the juveniles make it! We worry about the adults, too. It can often be taken for granted that the adult birds will return year upon year, and this is commonly the case. However, the failure of 5R(04) to return this year came as a heavy reality-check for us all. 03(97) has reliably returned to Rutland every year since 1999. However, this year we will also worry about him, as his injury this season has made us realise that even he is not invincible.
It is with a heavy heart, then, that we wave goodbye to the birds that have been a hugely important aspect of our lives for six months. The Ospreys don’t care, though. They do not lament leaving. Migration is a necessary element of an Osprey’s life, they do it every year. Even juveniles know that they must go; their instinct dictates it and they follow that feeling. It is only us humans who make it sad! There is no denying, though, that the absence of Ospreys leaves a void that cannot be filled until next March, when they (hopefully!) all return.
However, we must not dwell on the prospects of an empty winter, but look back at what a successful season 2014 has been! Even though the Manton Bay nest failed to produce chicks this year, we still had five pairs who successfully raised eleven chicks between them. We also had seven non-breeding birds in the area (not including Maya and 33), so we hope that at least some of these birds find a nest site and attract mates next season.
One of these non-breeders is female Osprey 30(05). Because she is satellite-tracked, she is a well-known Osprey and has attracted many enthusiastic followers. She raised eight chicks in the four years she bred (2009-2012), one of which is 51(11), another non-breeding bird. Unfortunately for 30(05), she has not bred for the past two years, ever since her partner, 08(01), failed to return in 2013.
Despite 30(05)’s failure to breed successfully, and the troubles in Manton Bay, we still have many reasons to celebrate. Eleven chicks is a brilliant number, and to have five nests again was a pleasant surprise. I wonder what next year will bring!