03(97) returns earlier than ever – to snow and fog!

Picture the scene. It’s early March on a West African beach and 03(97) – Rutland’s most successful breeding Osprey – is tucking into a Needlefish which he has just caught. He glances up to watch a fishing boat drift past, a mixed flock of terns alights nearby and a Pied Kingfisher zips past, calling noisily. The early morning sun is warming the beach; by the middle of the day the temperature will have reached more than 30 degrees. Things couldn’t be more tranquil.

Fast forward a few weeks and the scene is very different. Yesterday 03 returned to his nest at Site B to be greeted by a blizzard and thick fog. Yes, you read that right, 03 IS BACK IN RUTLAND!

03 is two days earlier tan his earliest-ever return

03 nest-building soon after his arrival

The weather of the past week – not just in the UK, but in much of France – meant we were expecting many of our summer visitors, Ospreys included, to be delayed by a few days. 03, though, has confounded this by returning two days earlier than either he, or any of the other Rutland birds, has ever done.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Our recent satellite tracking studies have demonstrated the extraordinary migratory ability of Ospreys. For instance, unlike most other birds of prey, they don’t rely on thermals to aid their migration. In his urgency to get back to the nest where he has raised 27 chicks since 2001, 03 obviously just powered on through the worst that the European ‘spring’ could throw at him.

Once back at the nest yesterday morning – he may even have arrived on Saturday evening – 03 set about rebuilding his nest. It wasn’t long, though, before heavy snow forced him to take shelter on the nest tree. A couple of hours later the nest was shrouded in thick fog. The contrast with his wintering grounds could hardly have been more pronounced.

Soon after his return a heavy blizzard forced 03 to shelter on the nest tree

The snow got heavier and heavier

03’s early arrival will ensure that he has no competition for his long-established nest, but it is likely to make fishing difficult for a few days. The temperature is forecast to drop below freezing most nights this week, meaning fish in the reservoir, and 03’s other regular fishing spots, will retreat towards the bottom of the water column, making them more difficult to catch that usual. However, many Scandinavian Ospreys return to find snow at their nests each spring, so we know that 03 will be fine. If a little colder than usual.

With 03 back in Rutland, we wonder who will be next? Last year 5R(04) returned to the Manton Bay nest on 19th March. So keep a close eye on the webcam over the next few days! Even better, why not come and pay us a visit at Rutland Water. The Lyndon Visitor Centre is open 7 days a  week from 9am today.

8 responses to “03(97) returns earlier than ever – to snow and fog!”

  1. Linda Jones

    Wow, that’s wonderful news. I’m so excited. But poor 03, coming back to this weather. But he’s a toughie!

  2. Val Gall

    Awesome news Tim!! So pleased for you all at Rutland.
    Best wishes for a great season!
    Let the roller coaster begin….

  3. Monica & Tony

    Brilliant news!
    We are very much looking forward to another successful year for him and all the other Ospreys around Rutland and elsewhere. There are exciting times ahead now and we hope there is a good summer and all the best to the ongoing Project.

  4. scylla

    Stupendous blog, stupendous photos. Our long wait is suddenly over and seems short now.

  5. Cirrus

    Wonderful news. Just wonderful. May the snow melt fast and flies be plentiful and fishing be easy for 03. And I am SO enjoying my new book The Rutland Ospreys. Thank you SO much team for personalizing it for my birthday. (and now my joy would overflow if only Odin would take his cue from 03)

  6. Jennifer Mosley

    Welcome home 03, how exciting that the story starts again in Rutland. I can’t wait for the story to unfold on all the nests.

  7. Nick Gordon

    Great news, despite the weather!! Good luck to you all at Rutland for a successful season – bring it on!!

  8. Buster

    What a fab day, just started reading The Life of Ospreys, received my copy of The Rutland Water Ospreys today and 03 coming home an unidentified osprey landed briefly on the LOTL nest Hopefully the week will get even better