Having spent a wonderful few days in Seville last week and then watching four rather important rugby matches over the weekend, I had a long list of jobs on my ‘to do’ list this Monday morning. The dawn chorus was wonderful and inspite of an overnight frost, the brilliant sunshine made me realise that Spring is slowly beginning to take shape.
Imagine my surprise when checking ‘Twitter’ shortly after breakfast to read ‘First Osprey back in Rutland! 5R has just caught a pike and is eating it on the T perch next to the Manton Bay nest at Lyndon. Brilliant!’
I was so excited that my husband could hardly understand what I was saying, but once I’d taken a deep breath and explained, he asked if I was going to Manton Bay. Initially I replied ‘No, I have far too much to do’ but then my heart overruled my head and I was quickly on my way.
As I drove round the notoriously dangerous bend near Manton bridge, I very quickly glanced left and there he was, sitting on the perch, the recently straightened T perch. I drove slowly down the hill to the Lyndon Visitor Centre – Rutland Water had never looked so beautiful, brilliant sunshine, stunning blue sky, hedgerows bursting into life, wild garlic showing well. Once in the centre I saw Tim and Paul. Tim was hastily writing a report for ‘Latest News’ on the website and desperately trying to get the new HD camera streaming and Paul was preparing to meet and greet the visitors at the beginning of this season. 5R had really caught the team out – he is seven days earlier than last year.
As I began walking to Shallow Water hide a beautiful Kestrel was perched on the wires and I stopped to take a couple of photos. I was trying out my new camera; disaster had struck with my old one in January when I was in Senegal – please don’t any of you tell me that a bottle of water and a camera in the same bag is a recipe for disaster, I learned the hard way, although I did manage to save all my photos. As I edged nearer to the Kestrel, he swooped down on to the ploughed field and was just out of sight behind a hedge, but as I got level with him, he flew up with some small unsuspecting little creature in his talons and obligingly perched in a nearby tree – click, click. On any other day I would have lingered but I had a hot date with a male who I hadn’t seen for quite some time, so I quickened my pace.
Upon reaching Shallow Water Hide, I met Liz and Brian, fellow volunteers who had been doing their regular Monday morning count and were fortunate enough to witness 5R’s return with the pike. Volunteers’ shifts don’t commence until next weekend, so they were indeed lucky. Also in the hide was Monica, of whom I have written before – fantastic photographer and this time I was introduced to Tony, her husband, yes, another brilliant photographer. They had witnessed the return and had relayed the information to Tim. They amusingly told me of hearing Tim and Paul charging down the path to the hide to identify the Osprey who had just flown in from warmer climes. There was also another gentleman in the hide who explained that he had only just joined the trust and that this was his first visit to Shallow Water – another lucky person who was caught up in the excitement of our first Osprey’s return this season.
5R was on the perch, resting calmly and surveying his territory; he looked very well. I wonder where he had spent the last six months and what variety of fish he had been feeding upon – bet it wasn’t pike. A couple of buzzards circled around the bay and then mated in the poplars behind the Osprey nest; they are quite possibly the same pair who were around last season. 5R was not fazed by them at all – he had already ousted the Egyptian Geese upon his arrival. He was certainly not going to be caught napping this year as he was last, when his female returned the very next day after him and he had done nothing to get rid of the egglaying geese nor tidied the nest up. This morning he was fervently scraping the bottom of the nest and several times he ended up losing his balance, upside down on his back, such was his enthusiasm.
And so I spent a couple of hours chatting, taking photos, watching his antics and generally grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat. I feel today as though I’ve shaken off the shackles of Winter and Spring is breathing new life into our world. The skies of Rutland are alive again with Ospreys.
Welcome home 5R and Godspeed the rest of them.