Watching and waiting

There was still no sign of the Manton Bay Ospreys today, but we had a bit of excitement in the Centre when another Osprey landed on the nest! This time it was 25(10), another female who returned last week and is, like 5N(04), waiting for her mate to return. We managed to get a recording of her flying onto the nest (see below). Look out for her at the top of the screen just as the video begins!

At the moment we still only have five birds back in Rutland, the Site B pair and three other females. This time last season we had nine birds back on this date. This proves that the bad weather over the continent has slowed down more than just 30(05), and the Manton Bay pair are not the only birds yet to arrive.

Last season we were lucky as a lot of birds returned early, Maya being a case in point. This year the Ospreys are teaching us that patience is indeed a virtue, and we cannot expect our birds to always return on the same date each year. There are many factors that may affect the speed of an Osprey’s return, and the problems 30 has had demonstrate the effect of the weather on migrating birds.

Thus, we must wait patiently for the Manton Bay Ospreys to return to us, and, in the meantime, take delight from the fleeting visits of other Ospreys who have beaten the weather and already returned!

25(10) on the Manton Bay nest

25(10) on the Manton Bay nest



The winner revealed

It has finally happened – the first Osprey has landed on the Manton Bay nest! We all expected that the first Osprey on the nest this season would be Maya, the resident female. Last season this was indeed the case – she arrived on her nest on 17th March. This season has been different, however. It was not Maya who landed on the nest – she is still not back. There is no need to be concerned just yet, as we know the weather on the Ospreys’ migration pathway has been inclement to say the least.

So who was it who landed on the nest yesterday? Tim revealed the answer in his update - it was 5N(04). 5N is a breeding female who has been back in Rutland for about a week, and is still waiting for her partner to return and join her at her nest site. She also visited the Manton Bay nest last season, along with several other breeding females looking around at other nests.

5N was the first Rutland-fledged Osprey to breed, and it was the Manton Bay nest on which she bred for that first year – 2007. She moved to another site after the failure of her nest in 2008.

5N(04) on the Manton Bay nest

5N(04) on the Manton Bay nest


So there we have it – the first Osprey to arrive in Manton Bay in 2015 occurred at 12:51 on 27th March. This makes the winner of our competition Mr Terry Davies, who guessed the closest time at 14:25. Congratulations Terry! Terry is the winner of two vouchers for an Osprey cruise on the Rutland Belle.

We are all full of hope that Maya will soon return to the Bay, and be joined by 33(11). Keep your eyes on the camera, folks, mine will certainly not be leaving it any time soon!


30 gets closer to home

If you were watching the webcam earlier then, for the first time this season, you may have glimpsed an Osprey. The bird in question was 5N(04) who alighted on the nest briefly before being chased off by an Egyptian Goose. 5N has a nest of her own but, with her mate still not back, she was obviously having a look around. It did however cause a brief surge of excitement in the Lyndon Visitor Centre!

A look at the weather maps in Europe shows that we shouldn’t be too worried that Maya still isn’t back at the Manton Bay nest. France and Spain have been very wet over the past few days and it will certainly have held many Ospreys – and other summer migrants – up as they head north. One of the birds that we know has been delayed - she is now several days later than last year – is 30(05). The latest satellite data shows that at 14:00 this afternoon she was flying north through the western part of France, 100km north-east of La Rochelle.

Although we are still waiting for some data to come through, we now know that she crossed the border from Spain into France on Wednesday afternoon. That evening she roosted beside a small lake, 13km east of the town of Dax, after a day’s flight of 221km from the La Rioja region of Spain. As in previous migrations she passed well to the east of our friends at the Urdaibai Bird Center in the Basque Country.

Over the course of the past two days 30 has made slow but steady progress along the west coast of France; roosting to the north of Bordeaux on Thursday evening and then continuing north past La Rochelle today. Quite when she makes it back to the UK depends on the weather over the next few days. The forecast looks very unsettled and so it may be that she will not arrive back in Rutland until Monday or Tuesday next week. We should get another update from her transmitter over the weekend – so watch this space!

30 has made slow but steady progress through France in the past two days

30 has made slow but steady progress through France in the past two days

Much further south, another Osprey from the UK is also heading north. Roy Dennis has just received the latest data from Blue XD’s transmitter and it shows that the Scottish Osprey has made it across the Sahara. The track below is from 16:13 to 17:42 this afternoon when he covered 65 km north-north-east. The data for the last 5 days will be slowly downloaded through the system (Blue XD has a GSM transmitter) and this will show his route over the Sahara Desert. He now has the Atlas Mountains in his sights. Thanks to Roy for the update.

The latest data shows Blue XD is migrating north through Morocco

The latest data shows Blue XD is migrating north through Morocco

This year we’re following four Finnish Ospreys as part of World Osprey Week, but to date, only one has begun its spring migration. Pertti Saurola has sent an update on the latest locations of the four birds.

Our monitoring of Ilpo’s autumn migration ended on 13 October according to the entry written on the 15th, when Ilpo was “only 28 km from the tri-state boundary between Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea.” After that, Ilpo continued his migration outside the coverage of the mobile network, and left us totally in the dark until the 26 February, 2015. After a wait of four and a half months, we received news of Ilpo, including fixes from the last three days, but a huge information gap between 13 October and 24 February. However, the following data packets contained back-dated information for a few days at a time, besides the new information, so the information gap was gradually filled. It was not until 15 March, 2015, that we found out how Ilpo had continued his migration from the 14 October, 2014.

Ilpo flew straight southwest on the 14th and spent his night at the banks of the river Geba, that flows through Guinea-Bissau. During the next day, Ilpo made it into Guinea and spent the night at the maze-like delta of River Kogon, whence he continued some 130 kilometres along the coastline on the 16th, and stopped for the next night at the delta of another river running into the Atlantic. Ilpo ended his autumn migration at the delta of River Konkouré, some 75 km from the capital of Guinea, Conakry.

During the winter, Ilpo’s fishing expeditions have taken him some 25 km inland along the Konkouré, as well as a few kilometres out to sea. When this is being written (24 March), Ilpo is still at his winter range.

The data on Helena’s autumn migration ended on 9 October, 2014, in Ghana, near the border to Togo. It is obvious that Helena has moved out of range of the mobile network. After a long wait, we received an email about Helena on 24 March, 2015, telling us that Helena had spent the night between 23 and 24 March in southern Algiers, in the middle of Sahara! In other words, Helena had set out on her spring migration from her wintering range that was outside the mobile network, and had flown far into Sahara, keeping out of range all the time! Based on our experience with Ilpo’s transmitter, we may expect that the fixes on Helena’s autumn migration, winter range, and spring migration will arrive gradually. For Ilpo, this process took 17 days. The following email (25 March) specified that Helena had already entered Tunisia and was only a hundred kilometres from the Mediterranean coast.

On 24 March, Tero was still at his wintering range in Kenya. We have not received any fixes on Seija and Birgit since last autumn. Many thanks to Pertti for the update.

Over the other side of the Atlantic, Donovan – one of the American birds we’re following as part of World Osprey Week – has resumed his migration after a short break in Georgia. Iain MacLeod has sent the latest data which shows that yesterday morning he was flying purposefully north-east towards South Carolina.

You can view the latest positions of all of the World Osprey Week birds on our interactive map.


Washashore – Ospreys in Martha’s Vineyard

As part of World Osprey Week we’re pleased to have been sent a guest blog from American children’s author Suzanne Goldsmith. Suzanne was inspired to write a book about ospreys after seeing them at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. She takes up the story…

When I set out to write WASHASHORE, my first novel for kids, I put the ospreys right at the center of my story. I had seen their tall nesting platforms all over the island of Martha’s Vineyard, a beautiful spot off the coast of Massachusetts where I go in the summers to be near the ocean, and I knew that the ospreys had once been endangered in North America. Their survival story is why I chose to build a book around them.

The beach at Marth's Vineyard

The beach at Marth’s Vineyard

But as I researched and wrote, I discovered so many other reasons to be drawn to these majestic birds. Their epic annual migration journey; their incredible skill at fishing; their loyalty to mate and nest. As my story developed, I watched my characters discover their own concerns reflected in the lives and habits of the ospreys; my fictional people, I found, were taking comfort, gaining perspective and learning lessons about their own lives through watching and trying to protect these incredible birds.

I imagine that many of you participating in World Osprey Week are having similar experiences; it’s hard not to, when you are watching ospreys.

I set my story in 1976, just a few years after the U.S. banned DDT, the toxic pesticide that was threatening our ospreys along with many other raptors. Used for mosquito control, DDT grew quite concentrated in the flesh of insect-eating fish—and since fish are all the ospreys eat, the birds were extremely vulnerable to this poison. It destroyed their ability to reproduce. By the time we humans got our act together and banned the pesticide in the U.S., the ospreys of North America were an endangered species.

On Martha’s Vineyard, where they had once been abundant, there were only two nesting pairs left at that time. What’s more, development in this popular vacation spot had caused the removal of many natural nesting spots, such as tall, dead pines. Instead, the birds sometimes built nests in dangerous spots, such as the tops of electrical poles.

WASHASHORE, my fictional story, begins when 14-year-old Clem Harper, who has come to the island with her mother for a year while her father works a temporary job in another state, finds a dead osprey on the beach. The bird has ID tags on its legs. Perhaps it drowned while trying to bring in a too-big fish.

Clem is drawn to the beautiful bird and the tragedy of its loss. She takes the bands (or rings, as many of you call them).

The bands lead Clem to Bo, a naturalist who is helping the birds repopulate by building safe nesting platforms, and to Daniel, the boy who tagged the bird she found and named him Quitsa. Clem joins Daniel and Bo as they check and repair nest poles and raise a new one, and she learns learns about the birds.

The character of Bo is based on a real-life naturalist, Gus Ben David. The Martha’s Vineyard newspaper once called him “osprey daddy” because of the more than 130 nesting poles he has raised on the Vineyard and his dedication to rescuing, rehabilitating and nurturing ospreys for over four decades. You can read a newspaper article about how he rescued a family of osprey chicks in 2011 here.

In my fictional story, Clem and Daniel wait through the winter for the return of the migrant ospreys. They are desperately hoping that Noepe, the mate of the fallen osprey, Quitsa, will return, take a new mate, and begin a new family. When a builder announces plans to put a house right beneath Noepe’s nest, with loud, disruptive construction planned for the summer breeding months, Clem and Daniel try to thwart the developer’s plans.

But each also has a personal reason to care deeply about the survival and rebirth of this family of ospreys. Daniel is an orphan whose parents were lost in a long-ago fishing accident. Clem suspects that her father’s absence, supposedly for a year, might be the beginning of a longer separation—and a change in her family. She is waiting for her father to return, just as she is waiting for the ospreys to come back.

When you get on the ferry from Woods Hole to Martha's Vineyard, one of the first things you see is an osprey nest on top of a navigational tower.

When you get on the ferry from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard, one of the first things you see is an osprey nest on top of a navigational tower.

Rob Bierregaard holding Tucker, a Martha's Vineyard osprey

Rob Bierregaard holding Tucker, a Martha’s Vineyard osprey

What’s more, Clem is a “washashore.” At least, that’s what the kids at her new school are calling her. On Martha’s Vineyard, that means she comes from somewhere else. She’s an outsider. And she feels that status keenly. Which could be part of why she relates so strongly to the ospreys, birds with two homes, who are always either departing or returning.

Do you feel a kinship with the ospreys? Maybe you have a yen to travel and see the world as they do. Or perhaps you admire their ability to zero in on  a fish beneath the waves and dive straight for it, with brilliant success. Or maybe you’ve watched a nestcam and are amazed at their faithful devotion to incubating their eggs. Or maybe, like Clem, you feel like a newcomer, looking for a way to belong.

To find out what happens to Clem, Daniel, Bo and Noepe, you’ll have to read the book. But I will tell you that there has been a happy ending for the Martha’s Vineyard ospreys. Rob Bierregaard, a Research Associate of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, has been working with Gus and studying the Martha’s Vineyard ospreys since 1969. There are now over 60 successful osprey nests on Martha’s Vineyard, with over 100 chicks fledged each year. Rob tracks a few of them with satellite transmitters. In fact, one of his Martha’s Vineyard birds, Belle, is a WOW osprey!

At the time I am writing, just before WOW, Belle and the other tagged ospreys are on their way back to the island from their winter homes in Venezuela and Brazil. You can check out Belle’s current location on the interactive WOW map. Thanks for letting me contribute to the WOW blog. I’ll be watching the website all week for news of your activities! And if any WOW students choose to read WASHASHORE as part of their studies, please get in touch through my website and let me know how it goes.

Suzanne Goldsmith is a writer who lives in Columbus, Ohio, where ospreys also nest. Her novel, WASHASHORE, for readers aged 10-14, is the winner of the 2014 Green Earth Book Award for a young adult novel that promotes environmental stewardship. You can see the book trailer here. It is available through online retailers in both print and e-book editions, and free classroom discussion guides are available at the publisher’s website.  You can watch the book trailer here, and learn more at

Washashore book jacket


WOW update – Belle and Helena on the move

We’re still waiting for the next Osprey arrival at Rutland Water, but in the meantime it is exciting to see several of the World Osprey Week Ospreys getting closer to home.

Belle  - one of the American birds – has just made it to Florida. The latest satellite data shows that she completed a 270km sea crossing from Cuba in just over six hours yesterday afternoon.

Belle's flight from Cuba to Florida took just over six hours

Belle’s flight from Cuba to Florida took just over six hours

Meanwhile, over the other side of the Atlantic, another of the WOW Ospreys has just completed a crossing of a different kind. The latest satellite data downloaded by Pertti Saurola shows that Helena – one of the Finnish birds that we are following – is in Tunisia having successfully crossed the Sahara. Helena is fitted with a GSM satellite transmitter that sends data via the mobile phone network. Unfortunately Helena wintered in a mobile phone ‘black spot’ and so Pertti is still waiting for the data that was collected over the winter months to come through. It is exciting that she is on her way home though – she is the first of the Finnish birds to set-off.

We should have more news on the other WOW birds tomorrow. Will 30 have beaten the bad weather and reached France? Will Donovan still be in Georgia? Check back tomorrow for an update.

In the meantime, you can check the latest locations that we have for all the WOW birds on our interactive map. You’ll see that four of them still haven’t set-off on their spring migration. It will be interesting to see when they finally get going!

The latest data shows that Helena has crossed the Sahara and is now in Tunisia

The latest data shows that Helena has crossed the Sahara and is now in Tunisia

WOW around the world!

We’re now over half way through World Osprey Week and it is great to hear how schools all round the world are getting excited about Ospreys. One of the key objective of the week is to encourage schools in different parts of the Ospreys’ migratory flyways to contact each other. We think this is a great way for students to learn about other countries and cultures. An excellent example of this is a collaborative project between Zespół Szkół in Poland and Gvanim Middle School in Israel. The two schools have been working together since January. Regular Skype calls have enabled the students to develop friendships and to learn together. At the moment they are working on a joint project to learn more about Ospreys. They have divided into groups of four – a pair from Israel and a pair from Poland – in order to answer specific questions about Osprey migration. What a great way to learn! Thanks to teachers Ronit and Julita for keeping us posted with their progress.

Students at Gvanim school in Israel Skyping Zespolszkolw school in Poland

Students at Gvanim school in Israel Skyping Zespolszkolw school in Poland

Earlier this week Professor Yossi Leshem – one of the world’s leading experts on bird migration – organised a WOW lecture day for 100 Israeli schools. Yossi hopes that this will encourage many of them to sign up for WOW and to follow the example set by Gvanim and Zespół schools. Over the years Yossi has done a great deal to link people through bird migration. Of particular note was the Migrating Birds Know No Boundaries project which linked students at schools in Israel, Palestine and Jordan despite all the political problems in the region. It is great to have Yossi’s support for WOW!

Yossi Leshem (left) with students who attended the WOW day

Yossi Leshem (left) and Shlomit Lifshits (right) with students who attended the WOW day

There was a great turn-out at the WOW lecture day

There was a great turn-out at the WOW lecture day

Closer to home, we were also delighted to hear from Victoria Adams at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcester. Victoria got in touch to say that class 7B2 have been using resources from the website and have also been keeping a close eye on the webcam, hoping to see an Osprey return.

Class 7B2 have been enjoying WOW!

Class 7B2 have been enjoying WOW!

There are lots of teaching resources that can be downloaded for free from the website

There are lots of teaching resources that can be downloaded for free from the website

Click here to see a full list of teaching resources available for WOW schools to download for free. To sign your school up for WOW, click here.

We think that WOW – and Ospreys in general – provide an innovative and exciting teaching opportunity. If you’re a teacher and would like to find out more why not book onto the teacher training day that we’re running in July. Click here for more information.

Love scenes

As Tim mentioned in yesterday’s update, another Osprey has returned to Rutland! 03(97)’s mate has now joined him at Site B, four days later than last season. This female has been breeding with 03 since 2009, and they have raised 14 chicks together. It’s fantastic that she is back! Here are a couple of photographs John Wright took of her at her nest.

Site B female

Site B female

The Site B female with 03

The Site B female with 03


John also captured a video of 03(97) and his mate getting re-acquainted at their nest yesterday!



30(05) battles on

30(05) continues to make fairly slow progress through Spain. She has only travelled a total of about 223 km (140 miles) in two days (Monday and Tuesday). Her route can be seen on the map below.

30's route on 23rd and 24th March

30′s route on 23rd and 24th March


As you can see, 30 was making her way northwards, then suddenly doubled back and began heading south/south-east. She was forced to re-think her movements due to bad weather along the route she was on. Our friend Xarles Cepeda, from the Urdaibai Bird Centre, sent us the following update on the weather in that region:

“I have followed the path of the Osprey and the u-turn back that she did yesterday can be for the heavy rain that we had here. I think that today she will advance a lot of kilometres because the weather has got better at mid-morning. We have a sunny day at last! We will be hoping for her.”

At her northernmost point, 30 was only 40 miles from Urdaibai when she turned back.

Location of Urdaibai in relation to 30

Location of Urdaibai in relation to 30


30 spent yesterday afternoon at a reservoir called Embalse de Gonzalez Lacasa. Perhaps she had seen this as she flew north and decided to head there for respite from the weather. She went fishing in the reservoir, then roosted on its shore last night.

The reservoir where 30 spent yesterday afternoon and evening

The reservoir where 30 spent yesterday afternoon and evening


We hope that the weather improves soon and enables 30 to make more significant progress.

Click here to see the latest on the two American Ospreys we are following as part of World Osprey Week!



WOW latest

Today is the second day of World Osprey Week and although we’re still waiting for the first Osprey to arrive at the Manton Bay nest, we did have one new arrival today – 03(97)’s mate returned to the Site B nest. We’ll have more on that exciting news, including some photos, tomorrow.

Although we’re still waiting for new data to come in from 30(05), we have an update on two of the American WOW birds. Ian MacLeod from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center reports that Donovan is taking a little break in southern Georgia. He left the coast of Florida a little after 10am on the 21st and headed north and by 3pm had traveled 117km over the border into Georgia and had settled on a small pond just east of Spence Airport near Moultrie in Colquitt County. He has been there ever since. He did the same thing last year – found a little rural pond and rested for a couple days. He’s now about 1,700km (1,078 miles) for his nest. Iain stopped by his nest yesterday and it is in great shape after the winter . . . but it’s still very wintry there (as you can see in the photo below!). Belle, meanwhile is making her way through Cuba. You can see the latest position of both birds on our interactive WOW map. 

Donovan's nest in New Hampshire is still snow-covered. Good job he is taking a break from his migration in Georgia!

Donovan’s nest in New Hampshire is still snow-covered. Good job he is taking a break from his migration in Georgia!

Donovan 032415 small

Donovan's nest in New Hampshire is still snow-covered!

Donovan’s nest in New Hampshire is still snow-covered!

Back at Rutland Water we now have a second view of the Manton Bay nest on the webcam page. The second camera is not such good quality as the main nest camera (and also doesn’t have IR for night viewing) but we think it provides a lovely view of Manton Bay. Click here to see what you think…

Aside from the satellite tracking data and webcam, we have a series of teaching resources that are free for all participating WOW schools to download. There are now 43 different lesson plans – covering all subjects – for both primary and secondary schools. The latest lesson plans, written by Jackie and Pete Murray, include activities based around food chains and webs for Science; ‘Multicultural Ospreys’ which could be used for History, Social Science, General Studies or Religious Studies; and even a food science lesson. To see a full list of the teaching resources, click here.  Basically there is a lesson plan for just about any subject! To sign your school up for World Osprey Week – giving you free access to these fantastic resources - click here. You can click on the thumbnail images below for a small sample of the materials on offer.

Later this week four schools (from UK, Spain, Italy and Gambia) are getting together for a Skype conference call so that they can talk about the work they’ve been doing for WOW. Myself and Iain MacLeod will also be taking part and, thanks to the Urdaibai Bird Center, we’ll be broadcasting the Skype call live on the website. To watch it, simply visit this page.

A previous Skype call at the Urdaibai Bird Center. You can watch this week's Skype live on the website

A previous Skype call at the Urdaibai Bird Center. You can watch this week’s Skype live on the website


Patience is a virtue

We’ve had another good day at Lyndon today, but still no Osprey in Manton Bay! However, whilst we might be getting impatient looking at an empty nest all day, it’s worth remembering that it’s still early in the season, and a lot of Ospreys will still be on their way. Also, the weather has been quite bad recently over the continent, which is slowing down our satellite-tagged female, 30(05), and so is very likely to be slowing down other Ospreys aswell.

Due to the fact that the Manton Bay female, Maya, arrived back on 17th March last year, we’ve all been expecting her for a few days now. We are aware, though, that she does not always stick to a certain day, and in the past her arrival dates have ranged from 21st March to as late as 1st April. It doesn’t stop us hoping she’ll be back soon though!

We also hope that 33(11) will return earlier this year than 13th April, which was the date he returned last season. Last year, though, he did not have a territory of his own, so was in no rush. This year should be different, as he now has a territory and a mate, which should motivate him to come back sooner!

Although we still await the birds in Manton Bay, some of our other Ospreys have been steadily returning. Since 03(97) came home on 17th March, three other Ospreys have returned to Rutland. They are 5N(04), 25(10) and 00(09) – three females who all bred here last year on nests on private land.

Fingers crossed for more birds returning over the coming days!

03(97) at his nest site last week

03(97) at his nest site last week