Having just returned from two weeks in ‘magical’ Messenia, I was keen to get down to Manton Bay as fledging was imminent. After a wet and miserable start to the morning, the day improved one hundred per cent as each hour passed and I have decided that ‘riveting’ Rutland takes a lot of beating.
I wandered down to Waderscrape hide in the drizzly rain. Roger had been on shift since 6am and Kirsty had just arrived. Kirsty has been sharing shifts with me this season and I have so enjoyed her company; she originates from South Africa, now resides in Australia but is doing some travelling, she’s off to Ecuador in November for a couple of months.. Sadly she’s only here for this season, her knowledge and passion for all the wildlife at Rutland Water has certainly been welcomed by all the visitors to the hide. Roger decided to stay on for a while after his shift ended at 9am as it was on the cards that one of the juveniles could fledge.
We chatted away merrily, watching the nest on the screen in the hide, with our binoculars and through the telescopes. Shortly before 9.30 Roger said that he’d wait another ten minutes and as I wondered over to the screen I began to say ‘A watched pot never….’. At that precise moment S1 took off and fledged, there had been no helicoptering to suggest that she was about to go. (S1 was thought to be a female at the ringing but it now appears she could be a he). She flew around for about two minutes, Maya was chaperoning to begin with but then an intruding Osprey appeared and she was off to chase it away. S1 landed back on the nest, no leg dangling but more of a skid. These moments are so rare that the excitement when it happens never wanes. Roger was delighted that he had stayed on and Kirsty was very excited. At 10.10 S1 took another short flight, less than a minute this time and landed once again back on the nest. She became braver later on and took several flights from the nest to join 33 on the T perch.
Whilst all of this was happening, we lost the screen in the hide (there have been problems lately) so we had to be extra vigilant, it has become so easy to rely on looking at the screen, invaluable this morning to check which one had flown. The morning became a little manic with Water Voles putting in appearances, munching away for minutes at a time before disappearing back into the reeds. At one time there were two of them together. Roger had spotted a Kingfisher early morning, so we were on the lookout for a sighting. Kirsty had counted over thirty Little Egrets in the bay and then she spotted a Great White Egret on the shore in Heron Bay.
Visitors were arriving in a steady trickle, all of whom were excited to hear about the fledging and were obviously keen to see the Water Voles, Kingfisher and Egrets. At one stage there were hundreds of Lapwings landing on the bund wall; yesterday Rutland Water Reserve posted a lovely photograph of a Lapwing taken by a visitor with the caption ‘A lovely shot of a Lapwing from visitor Colin. Increasing numbers on the reserve do, we’re afraid, mean we’re nearing autumn, with non and failed breeders moving in.’ Someone will be telling us how many shopping days to Christmas soon, oh dear, what happened to Summer?
One of the visitors to the hide showed a photograph of a male American Crayfish which he had spotted on his walk to the hide, not a welcome sight. Paul escorted a large group of rangers (volunteers) from Stanwick Lakes in Northamptonshire through the reserve and to Waderscrape and the hide was buzzing. Always with a watchful eye on the Ospreys, there was so much to see and so many people to talk to – riveting Rutland.
Apart from the fledging of S1, there were two extra special moments for me during the shift. Maya was quickly up in the sky to chase off two intruding Ospreys who we learned were the female from Site B and 30(10). If you have read my diary over the years you may recall that my shift partner, Don, and I were present in Manton Bay when 30(10) fledged and landed in the dead tree, staying there for seven hours. Was he giving me a flypast? I’d like to think so. Soon after that a very special visitor arrived, someone whom I haven’t seen this season and have missed, Don. The ‘Dynamic Duo’ were back together again – I nicknamed us the Dynamic Duo in my diary when 30(10) fledged and what a day for us all to see each other again. Holidays may indeed be magical, but as I’ve said before, it’s oh so nice to come home.