Fishing Ospreys can be seen on a daily basis at Rutland Water, but the birds are often too distant for high-quality photos of them diving for fish. However, new photography hides at Horn Mill Trout Farm near Empingham and River Gwash Trout Farm in Ryhall now provide an opportunity to enjoy incredible views of hunting Ospreys.
In recent years both Horn Mill and Ryhall – each situated just a few miles from Rutland Water – have become favoured fishing sites for many of the Ospreys in Rutland. The Trout at the two sites make for easy pickings for a hunting Osprey and over the past few summers the birds have started to have a significant impact on fish stocks. After discussing the problem with us at Rutland Water, owner Lawrence Ball has decided to take a proactive approach. Rather than trying to discourage the birds, we have worked with Lawrence and built photographic hides at Horn Mill and Ryhall that give you the opportunity to view fishing Ospreys at very close quarters for the first time. We hope that any income this generates will help to off-set the losses of fish and, at the same time, demonstrate to the industry that taking this kind of sensible, proactive approach can be mutually beneficial to both fish farms and wildlife.
The hide and Horn Mill is sunken into the ground beside a 36m x 17m pond that is stocked with in excess of 2000 Rainbow Trout. Over the course of the summer Ospreys visited the pond on a daily basis and some took fish just a few metres in front of the hide. Although sightings can not be guaranteed in the same way as they can at various photographic sites in Scotland, the hides at Horn Mill and Ryhall are the only places in England where you have the opportunity of photographing fishing Ospreys at such close quarters.
The hide at Ryhall is the same size as the Horn Mill hide, but is sited at ground level beside a series of ten ponds stocked with different-sized trout. In the early part of summer 2014 at least two Ospreys were visiting the site and taking fish on a daily basis. Then in August and September, Red Kites were photographed taking a small number of dead fish from the ponds.