A bitter east wind, blowing perishing cold air direct from Siberia. Two foot snow drifts and daytime temperatures barely creeping above freezing. It’s hardly what you’d expect of Rutland in late March and certainly not something you would associate with returning Ospreys.
Over the past week Rutland has been subjected to repeated heavy snowfalls, freezing temperatures and savage wind chill. And what’s more, it shows no sign of letting up. For the three Ospreys who have returned so far, it’s been anything but a warm welcome home.
This is 03(97)’s fourteenth spring in Rutland, and he’s never experienced one quite like this. Yesterday lunchtime, as he perched on his long-established nest, Site B felt more like northern Finland, than Rutland. The snow-covered nest was being buffeted by a strong easterly wind, whipping up snow from two-foot drifts lying below, like a sandstorm in the Sahara. 03, though, was unmoved. In fact, he was carrying on as normal; scraping out the nest cup as he does each March in preparation for the return of his mate. The routine is the same each time. After shuffling low into the nest he uses his powerful talons to flick the compacted nest-lining material behind him. The only difference on this occasion was that it was snow he was clearing out of the nest!
Since his return to Site B a week ago, 03 has spent most of his time at the nest; nest-building sporadically but mainly sheltering from the relentless wind. It must be such a contrast from his wintering grounds; maybe an island off the Guinea-Bissau coast, or one of the vast river deltas in Senegal. Fishing there would certainly be far easier than it has been in Rutland for the past week, but 03 seems to coping well: catching at least one trout each day since his return. We wonder how long he’ll have to wait for his mate to join him?
Here are a selection of John Wright’s recent photos and drawings from the nest.