As the summer progresses intruding Ospreys are likely to become a familiar sight at the Manton Bay nest. Now is the time that we expect two-year-old birds to return for the first time, and so over the next few weeks we’ll be looking out for the ten young Ospreys who fledged from nests in the Rutland area in 2011. One of them, 33(11) has already made it home; having been identified for the first time when he intruded at the Manton Bay nest on 11th May, the young male has made several more appearance at Manton Bay and also at his natal nest, Site B. This morning he made several attempts to land on the Manton nest before being chased off by 5R. There’s no chance of 33 ousting an established male like 5R, but the young birds can’t help but make a nuisance of themselves! This summer is an opportunity for them to build up their knowledge of potential future nest sites ready for next spring when they will return earlier in the hope of breeding for the first time. Here’s a video of 5R and his mate mantling on the nest while 33(11) was circling over-head. His warning ‘chip’ call not only warns the intruder off, but also prompts the chicks to lie very still in the nest.
We know from satellite tracking studies that young birds wander over a really wide area and this explains the sporadic nature of our sightings of two and three year-old birds. One of the other young birds who has intruded at the Manton Bay nest this week is 24(10) – a three-year-old female who has been moving between Rutland and North Wales since she returned in April (for a Who’s who of the Rutland Ospreys, click here). Like 33(11) she’s exploring in the hope of finding a vacant nest. It’s for this reason that building artificial nests is a great way of encouraging Ospreys to spread to new areas. Its worked superbly well in Scotland and we expect the same thing to happen in southern parts of the UK. With this in mind we’ve been working with landowners and conservation bodies in neighbouring countries to encourage as many people as possible to build Osprey nests. As a result nests have now gone up in Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire in the past year. We’re particular excited about a project run by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trusts that aims to erect nests in the Trent Valley. Have a look at their website to find out more. This is all part of the legacy of the Rutland Osprey Project – our long term aim as always been to restore Ospreys to the whole of southern Britain; not just to nests at Rutland Water.
Talking of nest-building, you may have noticed that in recent days the Manton Bay female has been adding numerous clumps of turf and sticks to the nest. By building up the centre of the nest cup with clumps of turf, she’s providing a solid launch-pad for the youngsters’ all-important first flights; which will probably be in just over three weeks’ time. The sticks, meanwhile, should stop them leaving the nest prematurely! Here’s a video of the female doing some nest-maintenance earlier today.