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Fighting fit

If you have been watching the webcam today, you’ll know that 33 has continued to prove his fishing prowess. Quite a bit of last night’s roach was left over on the nest this morning and 33 then delivered another huge roach that lasted most of the day. This ensured that all three chicks have had a good feed.

The two largest chicks are always first to be fed

The two largest chicks are always first to be fed

The two larger youngsters are always first to be fed, but the size of fish provided by 33 ensures that, once they have had their fill, there is still plenty left over for the smallest chick – who we know some of you have been worried about.

The fact there is so much fish on the nest means that the smallest chick always get a feed

The fact there is so much fish on the nest means that the smallest chick always gets a feed

As they get older Osprey chicks often become aggressive towards each other, and we saw the first signs of that today from the eldest and largest of the youngsters.

This kind of aggression is quite common among Osprey chicks and shouldn’t be a problem as long as 33 continues to provide enough fish. At nests where there isn’t enough food to go around, these kind of bullying tactics ensure that the largest chicks get most of the food and that smaller, submissive chicks suffer. Fortunately 33 is such a good provider that even the smallest chick should gain weight and be able to stand up for itself!

The oldest chick is already showing signs of being a bully!

The oldest chick is already showing signs of being a bully!

It’s behind you!

We couldn’t believe how much the chicks had grown when we turned on the camera this morning! They looked huge, in comparison to yesterday. To prove the reason why they look so good, 33 brought in another great big roach at about 08:30! Maya took it from him and looked set to feed the chicks, however, they all seemed more interested in 33, and were looking at him instead! She looked slightly confused, wondering why there were no mouths to feed! Eventually, they realised which parent had the fish and was going to feed them, and they slowly shuffled round to face Maya, who happily filled their cute little faces with fish.

Chicks looking the wrong way

Chicks looking the wrong way

Chick feed

Chicks feeding

 

When Maya and the chicks had finished, 33 came back for the remains of the roach. He brought it back a little while later, though, and gave it back to Maya. They are very good at sharing!

33 brings the fish back

33 brings the fish back

Maya feeds the chicks

Maya feeds the chicks

 

As Maya happily fed the chicks, 33 flew off to catch another one!

Maya in high definition

Maya in high definition

 

It’s lovely watching the contented domestic life of the Ospreys. 33 is proving to be a superb partner to Maya and father to the chicks. He often sits on the nest with them, and keeps looking at the chicks, making sure they’re definitely there!

Happy families

Happy families

 

If you would like to learn more about the Ospreys and the Lyndon Nature Reserve, why not join Project Leader and Osprey Expert Tim Mackrill, on a evening guided walk on Wednesday 3rd June! The walk begins at 5:30pm and finishes at 8pm – a lovely time of day to be out. It’s sure to be a fabulous experience, but places are limited, so click here to book now and secure your place!

The Osprey Cruises are also selling out fast! The 6th and 13th June are completely sold out, so the next cruise with available places is on Saturday 20th June – click here to book your place! 

33, Maya and chicks

33, Maya and chicks

 

Mr Rutland’s legacy

If you tuned in to BBC Springwatch this evening you’ll have been introduced to an Osprey with an ever-growing legacy. So what is it that makes 03(97) – or Mr Rutland – such an important bird?

To begin with, we need to go back to July 1997. It is mid-July and eight young Ospreys have just arrived at Rutland Water. Having been collected under special licence from nests in North-east Scotland by world-renowned Osprey-expert Roy Dennis, they had been driven 450 miles south to England’s smallest county. The birds were placed in specially-designed release pens and left to settle in to their new home. At six weeks of age they were still a fortnight away from taking to the air for the first time, and the pens would provide a good opportunity for them to become acclimatised to their new surrounds before they were released. Each bird was fitted with a colour ring to enable the team at Rutland Water to monitor their progress.

The birds were part of a pioneering project that aimed to restore Ospreys to England for the first time in over 150 years. A year earlier we – the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and Rutland Water’s owners, Anglian Water – had been granted a licence to translocate a small number of Ospreys from the annually-increasing Scottish population to the reservoir. Research in Scotland and elsewhere had shown that Ospreys are highly site-faithful and so it was hoped that the translocated birds would recognise Rutland as home and return in future years to breed. In all a total of 64 young Scottish Ospreys were relocated to the reservoir between 1996 and 2001.

03 was one of 64 Ospreys that were translocated to Rutland Water between 1996 and 2001 as part of a pioneering translocation project

03 was one of 64 Ospreys that were translocated to Rutland Water between 1996 and 2001 as part of a pioneering translocation project

 

We didn’t know it at the time, but of the eight birds who arrived at Rutland Water in July 1997 there was one who would go onto have a profound effect on the future of Ospreys in both England and Wales. 03(97) – 03 being the bird’s ring number and 1997 the year of release – made his first flight just after 8pm on 27th July. He made short, but surprisingly competent, two-minute flight before landing on a nearby dead tree. As the days progressed he grew in confidence on the wing and spent the next six weeks getting to know his adopted home. Then, 40 days after that all-important first flight, he set-off south on the perilous 3000 mile journey to West Africa. He would have to negotiate at least two crossings of the Sahara before we stood a chance of seeing him again.

03(97) - or Mr Rutland - has become the most important Osprey in the Rutland colony

03(97) – or Mr Rutland – has become the most important Osprey in the Rutland colony

 

Remarkably, eighteen years later, 03(97) is still going strong. Over the past 15 years ‘Mr Rutland’ has raised a total of 32 chicks at a nest that he built in the top of an oak tree in the summer of 2000. He bred successfully for the first time in 2001 and hasn’t looked back since. He’s reared young with three different females – including 14 with his latest unringed mate – all at the same nest in the top of the oak tree. It is a suitably regal setting for the most important Osprey in the Rutland colony.

Mortality among young Ospreys is usually very high; as many as 70% of young birds failing to survive the first two years of their life. And yet 40% of 03(97)’s offspring who are old enough to have returned to the UK, have made it back. Prior to this summer those 12 birds had, in turn, reared a total of 43 chicks between them, and, to date, four of those 43 have gone on to breed successfully. So aside from being a grandfather many times over, 03(97) is also a great grandfather to 15 young Ospreys.

03 has raised 32 chicks at his Site B nest since 2001. The nest is situated on private land

03 has raised 32 chicks at his Site B nest since 2001. The nest is situated on private land

Although 03’s own nest has sadly failed this year after repeated intrusions by two young males, his various offspring who are breeding, should help to make up for that. The three Manton Bay chicks which hatched over the bank holiday weekend have made 03 a grandfather for the 46th time; and with his offspring breeding at four other sites this year, that tally should exceed 50 quite easily within the next fortnight.

33 looking at his chicks

33 (11) (far right) – whose 3 chicks hatched on the Manton Bay nest over the bank holiday weekend – is 03’s son

The Site B dynasty has ensured that there have been plenty of Ospreys to populate the growing Rutland colony. With eight pairs breeding this year, it is very likely that by the end of the summer over 100 young Ospreys will have fledged from nests in the area since 03(97) reared the first chick in 2001.  In many ways, however, the Mr Rutland nickname is a bit of a misnomer. It suggests that his legacy is confined to England’s smallest county, but that is most definitely not the case. In 2011 Ospreys returned to breed on the Dyfi Estuary in mid-Wales for the first time in four centuries. The nest, situated on the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust’s Cors Dyfi Reserve, attracted the attention of the world through the BBC Springwatch cameras. Although the male was unringed, a white ring on the female’s right leg showed that she had fledged from 03(97)’s Site B nest three years previously, in 2008. 03(08) – or Nora – as she became known – raised four chicks over the course of two successful summers on the Dyfi. When she failed to return in 2013 her place was taken by 03(97)’s granddaughter, 12(10) aka Glesni. The nest on the Dyfi has become highly sought-after and 12(10) had to fight off the aggressive advances of her cousin, 24(10) – another of 03(97)’s granddaughters – to keep hold of the nest.

Events on the Dyfi not only show how the Rutland translocation has completely changed the distribution map of Ospreys in the UK, but how one Osprey in particular, has been integral to the spread of Ospreys through southern Britain. Who would have thought that eighteen years ago on a balmy evening in Rutland, that an Osprey making its maiden flight, would go on to have such a profound and lasting legacy on the Osprey populations of England and Wales.

Although 03’s nets is on private land with no public access, you can see a family of Ospreys at the Lyndon Visitor Centre where 03’s son, 33(11), has three newly-hatched chicks with his mate, Maya. For visiting information, click here.

03 lifts the fish out of the water

03 regularly fishes at Horn Mill Trout Farm

Love every day

What an idyllic life Osprey chicks have. They have food, shelter, warmth and protection, and all they do all day is eat and sleep! They have eaten well again today, another huge roach that 33 caught lasted them almost all day! He landed on the T-perch with the roach at about 08:15, and stayed there with it for an hour. Maya started to get impatient, and actually flew off the nest and went to sit by him for a bit, as if to hurry him along! Whatever she said to him worked, as he then flew off the perch and landed on the nest with the fish, seconds after Maya did, as you can see from the video below.

Maya and 33 on T-perch

Maya and 33 on T-perch

Both adults and chicks

Both adults and chicks

 

All three of the chicks have been fed in turn today, Maya is very good sharing it out between them. To begin with it looked like the youngest chick was stuck behind its siblings and wasn’t getting any food, but later on Maya was seen to lean around the other two and feed the little one. There is no chance there’ll ever be a lack of food for these chicks, all three will be very well fed, without a doubt! 

Maya feeds chicks

Maya feeds chicks

Tiny one gets some

Tiny one gets some

More food

More food

 

Along with all the fish, 33 also brought in a stick today, which he very nearly dropped on top of the chicks! Maya moved it out of the way later, to a more suitable location.

33 with the chicks

33 with the chicks

Three chicks

Three chicks and a stick

These three chicks do not know how fortunate they are. They are very lucky to have been born in a place where food is abundant, to a father who catches fish with speed and ease, and to an experienced mother who is so very caring and efficient.

The chicks will grow large and strong, and it won’t take long. Every day they will look a little bit different. It will be fantastic to watch them growing up! However, before we know it, it will have happened… so we must treasure every single moment of this precious time!

Maya and her sleeping chicks

Maya and her sleeping chicks

 

Don’t forget to watch Springwatch tonight folks, to learn all about the super-Osprey 03(97), who is the father of 33, and the grandfather of 33’s first ever chicks. 8pm on BB2!

All five

All five

 

 

Lost in the moment

Well it has been another amazing day! This weekend has been full of them! It’s days like these we’ll never forget, days when everything is so unbelievably perfect that life couldn’t possibly be any better. Often, we are enjoying it so much we don’t even want to go home… speaking of which, here is a video of Maya feeding the chicks early this morning on the infra-red camera!

Maya feeding the chicks this morning

Maya feeding the chicks this morning

 

If you were watching the webcam around 16:30 this afternoon, you will know what the most exciting moment of the day was – the hatching of the third chick! This morning, at around 08:30, we noticed a hole in the third egg. Naturally, we assumed it wouldn’t be long until the chick popped out. However, we learned patience today as the chick did not emerge from its shell until just before we closed! Maya had been up and down throughout the day, feeding the chicks and turning the egg. We saw that the hole had grown, and even saw a bit of beak poking its way through at one point! 

That wasn’t the moment, though. Maya sat back down, and we waited a while longer. Then, eventually, it happened… Maya rose to her feet, and at them the third egg lay, almost completely in half. A moment later, the little chick broke out of the shell and into the air! It was a beautiful moment, and the centre was full of excited, happy people!

Egg showing a crack

Egg showing a crack

Third chick hatching!

Third chick hatching!

 

Soon after the chick hatched, Maya got up and went to the huge roach 33 had delivered to the nest earlier. The two older chicks immediately turned to her and begged for food, but the youngest was less interested and just lay quietly behind them. This newest chick is still too young to feed, it cannot hold its head up properly yet. Looking at the three of them together, you can see how much the other two have grown in just a couple of days. It won’t be long until their sibling catches up with them.

Three chicks!

Three chicks!

 

Not long after, 33 arrived at the nest, and sat watching Maya feed the chicks, looking down at them inquisitively.

33 looking at his chicks

33 looking at his chicks

 

33 is a great Osprey, and is fast getting the hang of this fatherhood lark. He has been providing fish frequently – so much so that, earlier in the day, Maya was sitting next to two half-eaten fish, as there was just too much to manage!

Two fish in the nest

Two fish in the nest

 

Needless to say, the chicks have been fed numerous times today on several different fish – roach, pike, you name it! Roach does appear to be 33’s fish of choice recently, and he has caught some monsters! This proves that 33 is going to have no trouble catching enough fish to feed his family. There will never be a shortage of food for the Manton Bay Ospreys!

Feeding the chicks

Feeding the chicks

Feeding the chicks

Feeding the chicks