If you have been following the progress of the project this summer, you will know that 5N (04) abandoned her clutch of three eggs after the disappearance of her mate, 08(97), in May. With the Rutland colony still small, every chick is vital to the long-term viability of the population and so we applied for a special licence from Natural England to remove the eggs and incubate them artificially. The licence was granted and, after a week of artificial incubation, we moved a viable egg to Site O; thereby ensuring that it hatched in natural surroundings. The Site O nest was chosen for two reasons – AW(06) and his Scottish mate raised three good chicks last year, and more importantly, the three eggs were due to hatch at exactly the same time as the Site N youngster-ensuring that there was no ‘bullying’. The chick hatched and looked in excellent condition when we check four days later.
Sadly one of the brood of four chicks did not survive, but when we ringed the remaining three youngsters, one looked noticeably whiter-headed than the others. 08’s chicks always had a very white head and so there seems every chance that the fostered chick has survived – we’ll know for sure once we get the results of DNA tests. At the very least we have shown that artificial incubation of Osprey eggs is possible and that the birds will accept foster eggs/chicks. This is valuable knowledge and shows that in these situations positive intervention can work. We are not sure why the fourth youngster did not survive – post-mortem checks were inconclusive – but we do not think that a lack of food is to blame. Ospreys have raised four chicks in Scotland and North America and we know that AW is a very good fisherman.
The three chicks are now on the wing and enjoying their new found freedom – venturing further from the nest as they grow in confidence. Like the Manton Bay and Site B chicks, we ringed the youngsters with blue colour rings on their right leg – AU and AZ are males and AY a female. Elsewhere another pair have raised three chicks at Site K, meaning ten young Ospreys are now on the wing in the Rutland Water area. Given that four of the nine chicks who fledged in 2009 have returned, this bodes very well for the future of the colony.
Talking of the 2009 birds, three have intruded at the breeding nests over the past few days – 00, 01 and 03 have all made fleeting visits. Like all two year-old Ospreys they are probably exploring far a field, building up valuable knowledge for future years. Lets hope they return to breed next spring.