Growing more alike

For the first few weeks of their life, we could easily tell our osprey chicks apart – with the chicks being a few days apart in age, there was a definite size difference. It’s become much harder to tell them apart this week, so it’s great that they have their new leg rings to help! As they grow they are also becoming more independent, and have made increasing attempts over the past couple of days to feed themselves – although they still definitely prefer Maya to feed them when she lands on the nest!

Yesterday 33 brought a large trout to the nest (as Maya chased off an intruding bird in the background!). This fish lasted our family a while, with the chicks still eating trout for breakfast this morning.

There was still a lot of trout skin left over after the chicks had finished their first feed today – it didn’t look very appealing but Maya took care of it, gulping back a huge bit in one go.

33 then brought in the first fish of the day at 6.26am – a roach this time.

We’ve had a few good sticks coming in to the nest, including an awkward one which both chicks helped to manouvre into place.

Other than stick moving and fish eating, our chicks are spending a lot of the day sleeping, and dedicating an increasing amount of time to wing beating – sometimes even practicing in the middle of the night! It won’t be long now wbefore they are ‘helicoptering’ – taking off vertically from the nest and landing back down again.

Ken’s Education Update

A Hide full of Beavers, a Visit from ‘Ladies in Red’, a Letter from Rhiannon, Assemblies in St Ives, a Saturday Afternoon in Oundle, Osprey Ambassadors on a Sunday Afternoon in Wader Scrape hide………and on tour in the Basque Country! By Ken Davies.

The Osprey Education visits diary is full to overflowing here at the Lyndon Reserve just now, as local schools and youth organisations flock in to see the growing Osprey family in Manton Bay! The next four weeks are jam-packed with bookings from schools all over the area, and our young Osprey Ambassadors are working hard to keep their fellow students up to date with the very latest Osprey news! Our colleagues Jackie and Pete Murray are currently taking the Osprey Roadshow to new audiences in the Basque area of Northern Spain, and they have already given presentations to two schools which visited the Urdaibai Bird Centre over there! We’re looking forward very much to reading their reports on here when they return next week.
Meanwhile back here at Lyndon, we’ve entertained many groups from local schools, and been out to several more with our presentations and updates. Here are some highlights and a few photos from recent days :

A Hide full of Beavers : The visit of the 1st Stamford Beavers was one of the highlights of early June! After a brief introduction in front of the screen in the Visitor Centre, we were off to Wader Scrape, where the Osprey pair put on a terrific show, enabling everyone to see both Maya and 33(11) very clearly, and their chicks too. The Beavers worked hard to complete the Osprey-related tasks in their books, and by the end of the visit we agreed that they were all real ‘Osprey Experts’!

Beavering away in the hide!

Beavering away in the hide!

The Ladies in Red : A Year 8 group from Stamford High School arrived looking resplendent in red track-suit tops, and they made a colourful sight as we took them and their teachers down to the hide. Many of these students were really knowledgeable regarding the Ospreys and other wildlife, and some of their questions were searching and challenging! For example…..Why don’t any Ospreys breed in Africa? Why don’t males and females stay together over the winter? Why do adult females often leave their chicks and start to migrate in August? Enquiring minds promising for the future! And several were happy by the end of the visit to refer to Pandion Haliaetus rather than the usual ‘Osprey’!
A study in concentration! Five new Osprey Experts! (Pete Murray)

A study in concentration! Five new Osprey Experts! (Pete Murray)

I think they had a good time!

I think they had a good time!

A Letter from Rhiannon: I remember one Sunday afternoon in August last year a young man and his daughter came in to Wader Scrape hide to study the Ospreys at the nest. They were both enthusiastic and very keen to learn as much as they could. My story ‘Ozzie Leads the Way’ had just been published in time for Birdfair 2016, so I thought it might be nice to give a copy to this girl. ‘On one condition’, I added as she started to read it immediately, ‘that you write to me and tell me what you think of it.’ She said she would. I completely forgot about it over the winter, but you can imagine how pleased and surprised I was to find an envelope addressed to me pinned up on the office notice-board, and inside a letter from Rhiannon, with a review of the book! And here it is!
Rhiannon's letter

Rhiannon’s letter

Thank you Rhiannon……and I’m glad you liked the book!
Assemblies in St Ives: No, not the St Ives in Cornwall – there’s another one (just as nice!) near Huntingdon, and I was invited to give two Osprey assemblies at a fantastic primary school there called Thorndown. Over two days last week, with the help of Miss Gray and her eco-team, we spoke to over 500 children and gave them the full ‘Osprey Experience’ ! Miss Gray’s class is called (appropriately) ‘Osprey Class’, and they are now practising one of the Osprey songs we always end our assemblies with! Go-ahead schools like this, with an eco-team which meets weekly, and an annual ‘Eco-week’, are a pleasure to visit! Happy children, smiling teachers, good vibes everywhere! Thank you for letting us come and see you!
With the Thorndown Eco-team (and a wooden Ozzie!)

With the Thorndown Eco-team (and a wooden Ozzie!)

A Saturday Afternoon in Oundle: Osprey Team members often receive requests to talk to adult groups as well, and we are pleased to do so. Last Saturday I was in Oundle, speaking to a group called ‘Friends of Oundle Library’. It’s a nice opportunity to use a more advanced presentation, and to talk in detail about Osprey biology, breeding, migration, wintering behaviour, satellite tracking, conservation and so on. It’s also a good fund-raiser for us, and I would like to thank the ‘Friends’ for their generosity! Over £100 in book sales and donations towards the Osprey Project. One thing in common with school presentations – we finished with an Osprey song!
Osprey Ambassadors in Wader Scrape hide : The theme of this month’s ‘Ambassador Sunday’ was ‘Ringing’, and the ambassadors received updates on their memory sticks to take back and share with their classmates or in school assembly. It was extremely hot on Sunday, and the Osprey family was not very active, but our team of brilliant helpers had plenty for the ambassadors to do, including fitting them all with a blue wrist or ankle ring, similar to the ones fitted to the chicks this week, except that our young ambassadors could choose the letters and numbers on their rings! The Ambassador Scheme has really taken off this year, and nearly all our local primary schools are represented. Further ‘Ambassador Sundays’ are planned for July 9th, August 13th and September 3rd, and the themes for each one will relate to that particular stage of the juvenile Ospreys’ development – the last one, sadly, being ‘Departure on Migration’ !
Future Events, new schemes, our rationale: As I hope this quick snapshot of our work over the past fortnight shows, there are many facets to the educational work undertaken by team members. At the centre of it, of course, the Ospreys themselves : the re-establishment of a formerly lost breeding species, its gradual recovery and increasing range, is surely a testament to the pioneering vision of the early founders of the Project and the tireless volunteers. Education has always been an integral part of the Project’s work, and this has borne fruit in the fact that many of the young people involved in those early years are now in the forefront of conservation themselves, including a certain Dr Tim Mackrill! And people we first met in their schools are now reading for first degrees and research degrees in Ecology, Wild Animal Conservation and many other subjects in universities all over the UK. We like to think that some of our current crop of Osprey Ambassadors will one day lead wildlife-related projects of their own. So why not bring your family to our Osprey Family Fun Day (August 1st), or visit us on the Osprey Stand during Birdfair (August 18th – 20th)? For someone in your life, it could be the start of something big!
Finally, a reply to my young friend Rhiannon and her Dad, using the words of the great Rachel Carson, who first alerted us back in the 60’s to the fragile and delicate nature of the planet of which we are the current custodians :
‘If a child is to keep her inborn sense of wonder, she needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with her the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.’
(The Sense of Wonder, 1965)


Ringing day!

Any early risers watching our webcam this morning will have noticed it went quiet at around 5.20 this morning – finally it was time for our chicks to get their leg rings! The conditions in Manton Bay were perfect, the water was wonderfully calm and it wasn’t too warm. Reserve Officer and trained bird ringer Lloyd Park quickly and safely retrieved the chicks from the nest and brought them down to the boat for ringing. We are happy to report that both chicks are very healthy and in great condition – as Kayleigh predicted we have a female, 2AN, and a male, 2AM.

Male 2AM and female 2AN

Male 2AM at the back and female 2AN in the foreground

As soon as we approached the nest Maya began circling overhead, and soon after we got to the nest 33 appeared too, carrying a freshly caught roach! He joined Maya in circling the nest, managing to keep hold of his roach the entire time.

View from the boat - Maya and 33 were overhead the whole time

View from the boat – Maya and 33 were overhead the entire time

The whole process was over with very quickly and it wasn’t long before Maya and 33 returned to the nest to rejoin their chicks. Along with our Manton Bay chicks, chicks from 2 other Rutland nests have received their leg rings today – the remaining 5 nests will be visited in the coming weeks.

These brilliant juvenile feathers help keep the chicks camouflaged in the nest

These brilliant juvenile feathers help keep the chicks camouflaged in the nest

2AN's incredible talons!

2AN’s incredible talons!

A brilliant morning with some truly unbelievable birds!

Eye spy

The recent heatwave has meant our ospreys have been having a relatively quiet time during the day, with most of the action happening in the early morning and the evening. The water has been so still, almost like a mirror, and the glare of the sun on the water has made fishing more challenging for 33. Nevertheless he has managed to keep our chicks well fed – once the midday heat subsides he is out and about fishing for his family.

A beautiful sunrise reflected in the water

A beautiful sunrise reflected in the water

Here are the fish from the evening on the 18th June

And here are the fish from yesterday morning

Our chicks are continuing to develop quickly – flapping, stretching, and pecking is all in a days work! In this video you can see one of our chicks swaying their head from side to side, focusing their developing eyesight on something outside of the nest – this skill of focusing will come in handy when they are fishing for themselves!

On the evening of the 18th a stick fell from the nest. Maya didn’t seem to pay much attention to it at the time, but 15 minutes later when she noticed it floating out of the bay she swooped to pick it up and return it to the nest!

Once again we’ve had some rogue male ospreys visiting the Bay and causing trouble. Even the usually calm Maya got a little riled by this visitor yesterday morning, who, according to reports from the hide, brazenly washed his feet right underneath the nest!

The weather has cooled down a little today so hopefully our chicks will be more comfortable and Maya will get a break from shading them from the sun. It won’t be long now before our chicks get their leg rings (and consequently, their names!) – hopefully we will be able to confirm if they are male or female too. An exciting week ahead!

Will you still feed me

Yesterday’s heat made fishing quite difficult for our male ospreys, but as we anticipated many of them waited until the temperature had cooled and went out later in the evening, and three were seen on last night’s osprey cruise!

The cruise left Whitwell at 19:00 and two ospreys were seen almost immediately, attempting to fish in the main basin. Later on, after a steady chug around the reservoir seeing the sights, another osprey flew past the boat, at very close quarters! The next five cruises are sold out, but there are several more in July and August. The next cruise with availability is on Wednesday 19th July at 18:00. Click here for more information.

Osprey viewed from a cruise

Osprey viewed from a cruise (JW)


Due to the heat, 33 went fishing quite late yesterday evening and brought in a nice big roach just before 9pm. This fish was eaten by all four ospreys, but there was still some left on the nest overnight!

This morning, we witnessed the chicks feeding themselves for the first time – another sign that they are maturing well. At five weeks old they should be ready and able to hold onto a fish whilst pulling morsels off to eat, without having to be fed by the female. Today both of the chicks were seen capably doing just that!

Chick eating fish

5. Chick eating

Of course, the chicks still allow themselves to be fed occasionally!

Fed by mum

It’s been so hot today there hasn’t been an awful lot of action. Having said that, though, 33 did bring in a big stick at 13:50! As is usual with 33 and sticks, he did struggle a bit with it! First of all he dropped it on the neck of one of the chicks, then he and Maya tried to position it together, eventually managing to put it somewhere suitable.

Stick trouble

Moving that stick must have made them rather hot, and that was the only real action that occurred on the nest today. Maya has spent most of the day sitting on the nest with her wings slightly away from her body, trying to keep cool, with the chicks attempting to huddle under her to find shade. 33 will probably leave fishing until later in the evening again.

Huddling in Maya's shade

Huddling in Maya’s shade

Hot chicks

Hot chicks


Last night was a hot one, too. We captured this image of one of the chicks sleeping with her wing splayed out – I wonder if this is akin to having one leg outside the covers!

One wing out