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Reserve Diary – 2010 Season

5R(04) fledged from the Site B nest in 2004 and is the brother of 5N. He held territory in Manton Bay during 2009, and this year raised three chicks with an unringed female at the nest on the Lyndon reserve. 5R was the last of the family to leave, heading south on 15th September.

32(05) fledged from the Site B nest in 2005. He first returned to Rutland in 2007 and then last year paired up with an unnringed female at a nest on Lagoon 4 on the Egleton reserve at Rutland Water. He was not seen after 4th April this year.

21st September

It is now almost a week since an osprey was last seen at the Manton Bay nest and so it seems that all of the family have now set out on migration.

Of the four birds who remained at the nest into September, 29(10) was the first to depart, heading south sometime during the morning of 7th. 30(10) though was more reluctant to head south. For the next five days he remained in the bay, food-begging incessantly to the adults, and rarely venturing far from the nest. In many ways, delaying his migration was a good survival tactic for the young male. With both parents still present he received plenty of fish, ensuring he was in excellent condition for when he finally decided to head south.

By Sunday 12th all three birds were still present. The one significant change was the weather. Volunteer, Mick Lewin was at the Lyndon reserve and he takes up the story of the day:

“After a period of dull weather, Sunday 12th September dawned dry and sunny. It was a largely uneventful morning in Manton Bay. Much to everyone’s surprise, three ospreys had remained there long after Rutland’s other ospreys had departed. 5R, the adult male, was on his usual perch in front of Shallow Water hide. His mate, the unringed female, had spent a short period alongside 5R during the morning, but by midday was on the perch by the nest site, close to the remaining juvenile [30]. His incessant food begging rang out across Manton Bay, but neither parent showed any inclination to fish. At 12.15pm, the unringed female left her perch and circled slowly, at low level, over the bay. For a while she held this position, then gradually she circled higher and higher still directly above the nest site. After several minutes, she was a very distant bird in the Rutland sky. Suddenly, as if locking on to the migration route, she burst into rapid flight and sped southwards, quickly disappearing from view. Her permanent presence in the bay since early April was over, her migration had begun.

The young osprey had watched his mother’s departure in silence, but now he turned his attention to 5R. He flew towards the adult male loudly food begging, but to no avail and soon he was back on his perch by the nest. There he sat silently, surveying the changed scene. How would he react to events? An hour passed and then the juvenile lifted off from his perch and like his mother before him slowly circled over the water. Gradually he flew higher, still circling, until he too was just a speck in the sky above Manton Bay. Then, it was the same fast, direct flight southwards. The young osprey, hatched just 14 weeks earlier, was on his way to Africa with only instinct to guide him.

Now, as in late March, 5R remained the only osprey in Manton Bay. The season was ending as it had begun. Soon, in the wake of his family, he would be on his way and sadly, another osprey summer at Rutland Water would be over. What a pleasure it has been to watch the Manton Bay ospreys this summer and what a privilege to witness the departure of these magnificent birds on their migration. We wish them well and look forward to their safe return.”

For 5R, the departure of his mate and offspring meant he was alone in the bay for the first time since early April. He remained for another three days – perhaps just to make sure that 30 did not reappear – before he too set out on the marathon journey south.

5th September

We can’t believe it but there are still four birds left in Manton Bay. After the last week of good weather we were all expecting to see at least a couple of the birds migrating south. Instead, both the male and female have been fishing in the bay, often diving off the perches into the water and bringing up (rather small) fish. Both juveniles continue to food beg incessantly at 5R, who frequently ignores them. The only difference is that all the birds seem a lot quieter, taking fewer flights around the nest. Perhaps this is a sign that they are starting to think about setting off. We will continue to post updates on our twitter page, so keep checking to see when the last osprey finally leaves. The Lyndon Visitor Centre will only be open at weekends from now on, so keep visiting as there is still plenty to see!

31st August

As we suspected, the first of the Manton Bay family has now set out on migration. After his battle with 29 on Friday morning, 31 evidently decided that the time was right to depart. He wasn’t seen after lunchtime on Friday and now, four days later, could easily have reached France or Spain. Somewhat surprisingly, the young male is the only member of the family to depart; this morning the remaining four birds were still at the nest. With a settled weather forecast for the next few days though, it is likely that the rest of the family will soon be following 31 south. When they do, they will all be leaving in fantastic condition thanks to a prolific supply of fish; 5R caught three fish before 9am this morning to go with the two caught by his mate yesterday evening after 6pm.

27th August

When it comes to survival, or at least getting into the best possible condition for your first 3000 mile migration, there is no room for sibling affection. This morning the Manton Bay youngsters were all present at the nest; 30 eating a fish, 29 looking on from the ‘French perch’ and 31 food begging furiously next to his brother. Despite the incessant din, 30 ate all of the fish, leaving 31 to go hungry.

Having missed out on a meal, 31 seemed determined not to let it happen a second time. 30 drifted down to the far end of Manton Bay to digest his meal, but when 29 attempted to drop on to the nest he was given a very hostile reception by 31. Although both adult birds were present without fish, it seemed that 31 wanted to ensure that he was going to receive the next catch, irrespective of how long a wait that would involve. Twice 29 attempted to land next to her brother, but each time 31 mantled over the nest and then chased his sister off towards Lax Hill. Eventually 29 appeared to get the message retreated to the t perch on the south side of Lax Hill. 31, meanwhile, returned to the nest and waited for that elusive fish.

As this demonstrates, all three youngsters are still very much dependent on their parents for food. This is a vital time for them as they prepare for their first journey south and instinctively they know that they need as much fish as possible before they set out on the long flight to West Africa. Once they leave, they are on their own. Many juvenile Ospreys do not catch a fish before they begin their migration, but the one exception so far this year, has been 30. The young male caught his first ever fish on Sunday evening; a small trout plucked from the water in front of Shallow Water hide – not a bad way for the assembled on-lookers to finish their day at the Birdfair!

The recent poor weather has meant that none of the Manton bay family have begun their migration, but with better conditions forecast for the next few days we suspect that their departure is imminent. The female is likely to migrate first, with 5R waiting until the last of his offspring has departed.

17th August

The Manton Bay juveniles have now been on the wing for almost three weeks and are growing in confidence daily. All three youngsters are now spending periods away from the nest. Favoured perching spots in recent days have included an Ash tree on the south side of Lax Hill wood and the t perch at the foot of Lax Hill; both of which are visible from the Lyndon Visitor Centre.

Most juvenile Ospreys do not catch a fish before embarking on their first migration, but there seems every chance that at least one of the Manton Bay youngsters will buck the trend before they begin the marathon journey. In the past week all three juveniles have made fishing attempts close to the nest. Most are half-hearted flops into the water, but on Saturday afternoon 31 spent more than 10 minutes hovering over ‘Heron Bay’ before making an unsuccessful dive. Of the three birds 31 certainly seems to be the most adventurous – often disappearing for several hours at a time as he explores the Rutland countryside.

It has also been really interesting to see how the behaviour of the adult female has changed over the past few weeks. She has taken advantage of the growing independence of her offspring, by spending time away from the nest for the first time since early April. Most days she is away for several hours at a time and these excursions have included at least eight successful fishing trips. Last Wednesday passengers on our Osprey cruise saw her catch a huge trout in the North Arm of the reservoir. When combined with the three or four fish caught by 5R each day, this is really helping to build up the youngsters as they prepare to head south for the first time. This morning was particularly noteworthy with 5R and the female bringing in a total of four fish between 7 and 9am. This though was just as well given the previous evening’s events. 5R returned to the nest with a huge tout at around 7:40pm. He took it to t perch closest to Manton Bridge and tucked in to his hard-earned meal. As the minutes passed, all three juveniles, food-begged with growing fervour on the nest. The only pause in the incessant din came when a heron flew too close to the nest and all three youngsters chased it off. Another 20 minutes passed before one of the juveniles grew tired of waiting. It flew across to 5R and attempted to snatch the fish from him. After a brief scuffle 5R lost grip of the fish and it dropped into the water below the perch! It was now too dark for 5R to go fishing again and so the juveniles went hungry for the evening. Fortunately 5R and his mate more than made up for the shortfall this morning.

3rd August

The Site N juveniles have now been on the wing for over three weeks and are venturing considerable distances from the nest. On Saturday morning while both Manton Bay adults were away from the nest, 11(10), the male juvenile from Site N, landed next to 29(10) on one of the t perches close to the nest (see right). After a couple of minutes he flew across to the nest and began food begging alongside 30. However, with neither adult in view he soon gave up and returned to the t perch.

Soon afterwards 5R returned to Manton Bay and, amazingly, sat landed next to 11 without giving the intruding youngster a second glance. Fifteen minutes later, the female also returned. Like her mate, she appeared not to notice the imposter and landed on the ‘French’ perch above the nest. For ten minutes six Ospreys could be seen from Waderscrape hide. Suddenly though, the penny finally dropped. The female looked down at the two chicks sitting beneath her in the nest, then over her shoulder at the two on the t perch. She had one too many! Within a flash she left the French perch, dive-bomed 11 and then gave chase. After several circuits of the bay, the two birds disappeared from view.

We suspect that having been chased around Manton Bay for more than five minutes, 11 won’t be venturing back any time soon!

28th July

If you’ve been watching the webcam recently you’ll know that the nest is often empty for prolonged periods. The juveniles are clearly enjoying their new found freedom; making frequent short flights around Manton Bay and only returning to the nest when hungry. The photo (right) shows two of the juveniles on the t perch close to the nest.

All three of the youngsters are more than capable of feeding themselves. With 5R providing a plentiful supply of fish there are rarely squabbles at feeding time – the youngsters simply wait patiently for their portion of fish. One day last week though, 29 actually fed one of her brothers as it waited for her to finish feeding – see photos below. Of course if the young female survives to breed then she will be doing plenty more of this in a few years’ time.

26th July

Yesterday afternoon, 29 took to the air for the first time. Volunteer, Ken Davies, was on duty, and takes up the story…

“I arrive just after 12.00 midday on a warm, cloudy afternoon. I am early : my shift in Wader Scrape hide does not start till 1.00pm, but I had a feeling this morning, an instinctive, premonitory feeling, that today might hold something special…….The Visitor Centre is busy. Staff members, volunteers and visitors are gathered around the big screen, which shows live pictures from the Manton Bay nest. As I join them, I ask ‘Has she flown yet?’, but I can already guess the answer. ‘Not even close’, says someone. ‘Won’t be today’, says another. On the screen I see the youngest of the Manton Bay brood, code-named Blue 29 (10), lying low in the nest, her flecked juvenile plumage catching the gentle breeze and giving her a slightly ruffled appearance. Her mother stands on the edge of the nest, looking away from her youngest. Apparently the two eldest chicks 30(10) and 31(10), both males, which have been flying for a few days now, are perched on a low branch at the edge of the water, just a few metres away, and the adult make 5R(04) is on another perch nearby. It’s as if the whole family is waiting for their young daughter and sister to join them in the wondrous adventure of flight……but she doesn’t want to, not just yet anyway.

I gather together everything I will need for my afternoon monitoring shift in the hide, and make my way down. Fifteen minutes later I cautiously slide open the door and find volunteer Lyn surrounded by visitors, telescopes, log-books, and even a small friendly dog. Everyone has their binoculars at the ready to witness the thrilling moment of that first flight by this young female osprey, but they’ve been waiting hours, some since before 9.00am, and it doesn’t look like happening. ‘There’s been plenty of other action, though’, Lyn tells me, ‘the other two have made a few flights, and we’ve had an intruding osprey over, which caused a lot of excitement.’ But 29 hasn’t flown…hasn’t hardly moved, apparently. I get set up and prepare for a long wait, and look back in my notes at the history of this young osprey. She hatched on Wednesday 2nd June, at 2.30pm in the afternoon, the last of the three to emerge. The other two had hatched in the previous two or three days, very early in the morning, before first light, but she had saved her appearance until the afternoon, when proud staff members and visitors witnessed her wobbly head popping out of the shell. That was almost eight weeks ago, and now…..

‘Look at her!’ cries someone in the hide, temporarily forgetting the ‘Please be Quiet’ rule. We all snap to attention and focus on the nest. She is alone in the nest now, but no longer sitting calmly, but standing, stretching and flapping her wings, and even lightly lifting up a little before dropping down again. It is 12.23pm. The collective will of everyone in the hide tells her ‘Fly! Fly! Fly’. She is still for a moment. Then the flapping begins again, increasing in speed and intensity, building to a crescendo of effort and determination… ’She’s flying! She’s flying!’ A cheer of excitement, elation, relief and genuine emotion ripples through the hide. It’s 12.24pm. She flies towards her brothers, lifts away from them, returns towards the nest, turns again, veering, banking, rising and falling. She sees the far perch, a pole in the water with a cross-bar, and lands quite lightly on it, wings held out for a moment to regain balance. And she sits and looks around. ‘How did I do?’ ‘Pretty good’, we all say, ‘pretty damn good’. Cameras have been whirring and two-way radios crackle into life as the Visitor Centre want to know where she is. ‘She’s fine’ we say. ‘just born to fly’.

In homes all over the UK and beyond, people are concerned when they flick on the website and find the nest empty for the first time since April. One volunteer rings up anxiously to ask for confirmation that 29 is safe. It is a great relief. By coincidence we hear that the third and final chick at Site B has fledged as well this afternoon. So all three pairs have now fledged their chicks successfully. I’m glad I put that bottle of sparkly stuff in the ‘fridge before I left the house today!

As Lyn hands over to me, more and more people arrive and we tell them the good news about 29. We expect it will be quite a time before she plucks up courage to fly again, and we are proved right. So we have time to concentrate on the rest of the family now. At 2.20pm the adult female leaves, returning an hour later with the ragged remains of a trout, which she eats for a while and then takes back to the nest, where her two eldest chicks have been waiting. The trout looks mainly like skin and bone, but there is some flesh around the tail end; perhaps it’s one she picked up dead from the shallows. It certainly doesn’t look like a 3.22pm, nearly three hours after her first flight, she launches off again and tries to land on the nest. She can’t find suitable footing and goes back to her distant perch. Meanwhile the adult male 5R has flown down the reservoir towards the Visitor Centre, circling and hovering every so often in search of a fish. Maybe he has been shamed into action by the fact that his mate has brought a fish in ~ it’s against the rule-book really for a female to have to resort to providing for the juveniles at this stage. Meanwhile 29 is still on the perch. At 4.10pm she tries again to get back to the nest, and this time she manages it, again to a hearty cheer from the watchers in the hide. We are pleased to see her start to eat ~ the least she deserves for the huge effort she put into her three flights today.

Tim Mackrill joins me in the hide. He’s been watching the afternoon’s events from Shallow Water hide, the next one down in the bay. We comment on the fact that the Nature Reserve’s herd of Dexter cattle are paddling in the water in Heron Bay, when Tim says ‘There’s an osprey over there too!’ It’s the male 5R, taking a rest on the platform in Heron Bay, before flying back to his family in front of us with a very nice whole trout, which he deposits in the nest. So now they’ve got a shiny new one to go with the scraggy one ~ no wonder this brood are in such fine condition! At 4.45pm there is a most tranquil and happy scene in the bay : all three chicks are feeding, and the two adults sit side by side on the nearby perch watching them. Proud parents, healthy family, contented human observers!

People are drifting home to tea, or preparing for a long drive home, when my relief Brian and his wife arrive. I try to recount the story of the afternoon, but I know I’m not doing it justice. To witness the first flight of such a majestic and iconic creature, which in a few short weeks will begin an epic and solitary migration of three thousand miles to the wintering grounds in West Africa, is indeed a massive, heart-warming privilege. There are many hazards still to face, but she has taken those first tentative and courageous flights towards the aerial mastery for which the ospreys are renowned. I admire every Osprey I ever see, but for me, from now on, blue 29(10) will be a special one. I was there at the moment she flew…”

22nd July

For the past few days the Manton Bay chicks have been helicoptering higher and higher above the nest. The two males, 30 and 31, were clearly very close to making their first flight. It was just a question of who would be first.

Monday and Tuesday had been hot and humid with very little wind, but yesterday was much fresher altogether. By 9am a gusty south westerly wind was blowing across the bay and the chicks were much more active than they had been the previous two days. 30, in particular, was showing signs that he was close to flying. After several short bouts of helicoptering the young male (right) suddenly launched himself into the air. First flights are usually brief affairs, but 30’s was much more impressive. For five minutes the young male completed circuits of Manton Bay, heading east towards the Lyndon Centre and then doubling back towards the nest. Then, after one unsuccessful attempt at landing, he displayed considerable skill by alighting on the dead tree in front of Waderscrape hide. Not bad for a first attempt!

In contrast to Site B, where 03 and his mate had shown obvious concern for their chicks during their maiden flights, 5R remained on the nest-side t perch as 30 headed out across the bay. The female was absent altogether, having earlier chased 5N (whose own chicks are now very independent) away from the nest site.

Having flown to the dead tree, 30 remained there for the next seven hours – apparently unsure of what to do next. Finally, at 4:30pm, he plucked up the courage to fly again. As he did so, 31 helicoptered to the ‘French perch’ immediately above the nest. Suddenly it was all happening. As 31 looked on, 30 was joined by his mother as he circumnavigated the nest and then landed on the t perch next to 5R.

He then headed across to the nest, landing with a bump next to his younger sister.

Having watched the exploits of his brother with interest, 31 eventually plucked up the courage to take to the air himself. His first flight though was much briefer; after a minute or so on the wing he landed on the nest side t perch where he was flanked by the two adult birds. He remained there for an hour, looking with interest at the nest that has been home for the past seven weeks. Then, after another short flight he returned to join his two siblings on the nest and the three youngsters remained there until dark.

Today 30 and 31 have made several more short flights between the nest and t perch. We’re sure 29 won’t be far behind them…

19th July

The three Manton Bay chicks are now very close to making their maiden flights. Yesterday afternoon one of the youngsters ‘helicoptered’ up and completely out of the camera view – perhaps four or five foot above the nest. After a few seconds of frantic hovering it crashed back down onto the nest; not quite brave enough to actually open its wings and fly for the first time. We’re sure though that by the end of the week at least one of the chicks will have plucked up the courage to leave the nest for the first time.

In the meantime 5R has continued to catch lots of roach. This video shows him delivering a catch to the nest. Notice in particular how he struggles to detach his talons from the fish, demonstrating how superbly well adapted Ospreys’ feet are to holding onto fish.

Although the female continues to offer fish to her offpsring, they are all more than capable of feeding themselves. Here one of the youngsters can be seen tucking into the remains of the roach.

Last week we visited the nest to ring the chicks. All of the chicks looked in fantastic condition and each was fitted with a blue ring on their right leg. Two of the chicks (30 and 31) were definitely males, and the third (29), probably a female. The photo on the left shows the three chicks together just after they had been ringed. The bird on the left is 29 – and appears to have a slightly bigger bill than the other two chicks (suggesting it is a female). We should know for sure in the next few weeks.

If you have visited the Lyndon reserve in recent weeks you’ll know that the Ospreys have been sharing the limelight with Kestrels and Water Rails. A pair of Kestrels have reared three chicks in a box directly in front of the Lyndon Centre. The video below right shows the male delivering a vole to the nest. All three chicks have now fledged, but are still returning to the box at regular intervals. Meanwhile at Waderscrape hide, the breeding Water Rails have been showing off their seven chicks. As in previous years they have been feeding the youngsters directly in front of the hide – providing wonderful views for the assembled onlookers. The video below left was filmed by volunteer Dave Cole in Waderscrape hide.

8th July

The Manton Bay chicks are now over five weeks old. All three look in fantastic condition and are beginning to flap their wings as they prepare to make their first flights. The fact that they look so healthy is testament to the fishing skills of 5R. A perfect example of 5R’s fishing prowess came on Monday evening when he returned to the nest with this huge roach. After eating the head, he took the rest of the catch to his waiting family. Suffice to say, there was plenty to go around.

As we reported last week, 5R has caught noticeably more roach in the past month. This prompted us to sift through the records taken by the 150 volunteers monitoring the Site B and Manton Bay nests. Of the identified fish caught so far this year, around 60{aebb832937d1885646bba593f8f1074bbe61a552c8a5f5d60514d6f049ed1f58} were trout and 30{aebb832937d1885646bba593f8f1074bbe61a552c8a5f5d60514d6f049ed1f58} roach. Interestingly, the ratio of trout-roach is very similar at each site – Manton Bay below left and Site B below right. This represents a 10{aebb832937d1885646bba593f8f1074bbe61a552c8a5f5d60514d6f049ed1f58} increase in roach catches compared to last year, so perhaps the roach population in the reservoir is on the increase?

2nd July

The Manton Bay chicks are growing at an incredible rate. Feathers are rapidly replacing down on all three youngsters, and the all important primary (flight) feathers are beginning to develop. It’s now just over three weeks before we expect the chicks to make their maiden flights and in the coming days they will make their first tentative wing flaps.

This video, from Tuesday evening (29 June), shows 5R returning to the nest with a roach. As reported in the Osprey Observer, we have recorded a significant down turn in the number of roach caught over the past few summers. However, for the first time in perhaps four or five years, fishermen are beginning to report shoals of roach at the eastern end of the reservoir. This has coincided with a sudden upturn in the number of roach delivered to Manton Bay by 5R and to Site B by 03(97). The shoals of roach make easy targets for fishing ospreys. Perfect if you have growing youngsters to feed. We have also enjoyed a corresponding increase in sightings of fishing Ospreys during our Osprey cruises. Passengers on the last three trips have enjoyed incredible views of birds fishing less than 100 metres from the boat. For more details of these exciting trips, click here.

24th June

Male Ospreys at nests throughout the UK will now be working very hard to feed their growing brood. 5R is no exception; regularly catching four to five good-sized fish each day. On Monday evening he was particularly prolific – arriving at the nest with two roach and then a huge trout between 5:30 and 8pm.

5R delivered the two roach straight to the nest, but spent half an hour tucking into the trout. It was certainly a well-earned meal.

This series of photos, taken by John Wright on Monday evening, shows a typical sequence of events at feeding time; the female and chicks waiting patiently for 5R to bring his latest catch to the nest; 5R delivering the fish; and the female feeding the youngsters. It’s a scene that you can enjoy from Waderscrape or Shallow Water hide on the Lyndon reserve – it is certainly well worth it!

If you’ve been watching the webcam recently you’ll probably have noticed that the female has been bringing in lots of dead grass to line the nest. Each day she has made numerous trips to the south side of Lax Hill, where a recently-topped field has provided plenty of ideal nest-lining material. She has used this to create a much flatter base for the nest; perfect for the chicks to propel themselves skywards in a few weeks’ time.

14th June

The Manton Bay chicks seem to be growing at an incredible rate; trebling in size in the past week. This however is hardly surprising given the quality and size of fish regularly delivered to the nest by 5R. This video shows 5R arriving at the nest with a large bream (same fish as reported on 9th June). This particular fish was so large that the female seemed unsure how to deal with it; to such an extent that she stumbled backwards over the chicks!

As reported last week, the female is careful to ensure that all three chicks receive their fair share of fish. The video on the left (from 9th June) shows the smallest of the three youngsters being fed. In nests where food is scarce this smallest youngster may not have survived, but with 5R providing at least four good-sized fish each day, there seems to be plenty to go around.

In the first few days after hatching, the chicks were only active at feeding time. Now though they often spent time squabbling and play fighting in the nest . Here the two larger chicks are doing just that.

Last weekend the birds were subjected to several heavy downpours. This video shows the female sheltering the youngsters from the worst of the rain.

9th June

The hot, sunny weather of last week has been replaced by much wetter, cooler conditions. Three times in the past few days the Manton Bay nest has been subjected to torrential rain and thunder. Then this morning the bay was shrouded in damp, cool fog until around 8am.

Despite this, the three chicks seem to be thriving. They are protected from the worst of the weather by their mother, and 5R is providing a constant supply of fish. This morning he flew past the Lyndon Visitor Centre grappling with a huge, freshly-caught bream. He must have caught it nearby because the fish put up a real fight as 5R struggled towards the nest.

After eating the head, 5R delivered the rest of his catch to the nest. The photo on the right was captured from the webcam and shows the female feeding the youngsters. There is still a noticeable size difference between the three chicks, but the female, despite her inexperience, is careful to ensure that each receives its fair share. The chicks are now just big enough to see from Waderscrape and Shallow Water hides on the Lyndon reserve.

There have been two visits by intruding ospreys in the past two days. Yesterday afternoon 09(98) spent half an hour in the bay while 5R was away fishing. After circling low over the nest he spent twenty minutes perched nearby. However as soon as 5R returned with a fish, 09 was off. Then this afternoon 05(08) spent 10 minutes perched in the dead tree in front of Waderscrape hide.

4th June

If you have been one of the many people glued to the live streaming then you will know that the three chicks in the Manton Bay nest are doing well. The fine, warm weather has meant the female has barely needed to brood the tiny youngsters at all. In fact it has been more important to shade them from the strong sun.

Although the chicks are spending much of their time lying quietly in the nest cup, they spring to life as soon as the female offers them food. The two older chicks appear more dominant at feeding time; muscling their way to the front of the queue. However once they have had their fill, it gives the third chick – still only two days old – a chance to be fed.

Yesterday afternoon, 05(08) made another visit to Manton Bay. Initially he perched on the dead tree less than 100 metres from Waderscrape hide, and then he flew to one of the t perches near the nest. 5R tolerated his presence for a while, but eventually chased him off to the south at around 5pm. The photos below show 05 perched in the dead tree (top right of tree in right hand photo).

With three hungry chicks to feed, 5R is catching at least four fish each day. Several times this week he has caught within sight of Waderscrape hide – making a visit to the reserve even more memorable!

2nd June

At 2pm this afternoon, the third egg in the Manton Bay nest began to rock gently back and forth. An excited crowd gathered round the television in the Lyndon centre – could this be the moment the third chick hatched?

Ten minutes later a tiny head broke through the shell – the chick was definitely hatching! Frustratingly the female then blocked our view for 20 minutes as she attempted to help the youngster out of the shell. Eventually though she inched to the side to reveal a third tiny youngster.

The video on the right shows the three chicks together in the nest. It is difficult to make them all out – but trust us, they are all there!

With three hungry chicks to feed, 5R really will have to work hard to keep pace with demand. He’s doing well so far though – yesterday he brought four good-sized fish to the nest, including this one which the female fed to the two chicks at around 5pm.

As reported on Monday, the first view of a chick in the Manton Bay nest was at around 4am on Monday morning. The video on the right shows the female backing away from the youngster soon after it had hatched. Like us, this was her first ever view of a newly-hatched osprey chick – we are sure that this year is the first time that she has bred.

By 4:15am it was starting to get light and it was just possible to see the chick moving about in the nest. Interestingly the second chick hatched almost exactly 24 hours later.

By early afternoon the female had become quite adept at feeding the chick. The video on the right shows a typical feeding session. Notice how delicately she offers food to the tiny youngster.

1st June

More great news – when we switched the television on at the Lyndon Centre this morning there was a second chick in the nest. The egg shell was still visible in the nest at 8a.m., suggesting that the chick had only recently hatched.

The by now more experienced female almost immediately started offering the new chick small pieces of fish and has since fed both chicks several times during the day. The male has also been doing his job; this morning catching a good sized trout in Manton Bay, right in front of one of the massive pieces of machinery currently working down in the bay to install a new pipeline for the reserve lagoons.

31st May

After 39 days (or 936 hours) of incubation, a chick has hatched in the Manton Bay nest. It must have hatched overnight because at 4:15am this morning it was just light enough to see the new arrival moving around in the nest.

Two hours later, 5R brought the remains of a trout to the nest. At first the female seemed very unsure of what to do. She slowly inched round the nest, obviously very wary of stepping on the chick. After several minutes of moving backwards and forwards around the edge of the nest, she began eating the fish. Suddenly the tiny youngster came to life, straining towards the female, open-mouthed, begging for food. The female made two half-hearted attempts to offer fish to the chick, but didn’t quite manage to get into the right position. It was clear that, having never reared a chick before, this was a steep learning curve for her. The image on the right shows the female stooping low towards the chick.

After ten minutes of feeding the female still hadn’t managed to pass any fish to the youngster. She gave up and settled back down to brood.

Two hours later the whole procedure was repeated. This time though, she was a little more successful – the chick taking at least two tiny morsels.

As the morning progressed, feeding became more frequent and both mother and chick became far more adept at the whole process. By 11am the chick was feeding very well and the female seemed far more confident in what she was doing; delicately offering tiny morsels of fish to the chick.

The whole process has made for absolutely compelling viewing in the Lyndon Centre, the nest camera offering staff, volunteers and visitors alike an extremely intimate insight into the first hours of an ospreys life. Although it seems unlikely that the first egg will hatch (it should have done so on Saturday), there seems every chance that a second youngster may appear on Wednesday morning. In the meantime the arrival of the chick should prompt 5R to up his fishing effort. Watch this space!

13th May

On Tuesday this week 05(08) made yet another visit to Manton Bay. This time he was more daring than ever – actually landing on the nest with 5R and the female. This video shows the action as it happened. It’s interesting that 5R (left hand bird in the video) really doesn’t seem sure how to react. But then maybe we shouldn’t be surprised; this is the first year he has bred. Up until this spring he has always been the intruder. Now, with the boot on the other foot, it is a very different story.

It seems highly unlikely that 03(97) would allow an intruding male to sit on the nest for so long – and perhaps that is why 05 is intruding much more at Manton Bay than Site B. He seems to know that he can get away with more at 5R’s nest!

11th May

As we reported in the diary a week or so ago, we don’t expect 05(08) to establish a territory this year. It is much more likely that the young male will spend the summer exploring Rutland and further a field. On Thursday, exactly a week after his first visit to Manton Bay, 05 appeared once again. This time though he was altogether more adventurous.

Having landed on the dead tree in front on Waderscrape hide, 05 was quickly joined by the off-duty female who knocked him off his perch on one of the uppermost branches on the tree.

Taking this as his cue the young male circled and then tried to copulate with the female; with predictable results!

Unperturbed 05 headed towards the nest and landed on one of the t perches. The female, meanwhile, returned to the nest.

After five minutes, with the female now incubating, 5R left the nest and joined 05 on the t perch. It seemed that he just didn’t consider the young impostor to be any kind of threat.

The photo on the right shows 5R sitting with his younger brother.

This though merely served to encourage 05. After several short flights around the bay, he landed on the t perch immediately next to the nest. This time 5R did react; forcing 05 to take off. Rather than heading off though, 05 now tried to land on the nest with the female. He didn’t quite manage it first time, but after returning to the t perch and being chased off by 5R again, he did briefly alight on the nest next to the female. Fortunately the eggs were unharmed as the female stood up to mantle, but you can well imagine how eggs can be smashed during intrusions like this.

Eventually 05 retreated, first to a fallen poplar (right) on the shoreline, and then to the dead tree in front of Waderscrape. On both occasions he was chased off by 5R (left in photo) and eventually both birds disappeared to the south. Ten minutes later 5R returned to the nest, but there was no sign of the young pretender. We wondered how long it would be before we saw him again?

Well, we didn’t have to wait long. Yesterday evening 05 (left) again landed on the dead tree in front of Waderscrape. Moments later 09(98) also appeared in Manton Bay and for ten minutes the two birds made a nuisance of themsleves.

When they eventually headed off, 09 and 05 flew straight to Site B where they were given a rather hostile recpetion by 03(97). Site B of course is 05’s natal site – he fledged from there in 2008. The photo on the right shows him in flight an hour before he migrated in early September 2008. It is likely that he will become a regular visitor to both Manton Bay and Site B as the summer progresses.

5th May

In recent days the warm and sunny weather we enjoyed last week has given way to altogether more grey, cold and windy conditions. Ospreys usually nest in very exposed positions and the Manton Bay nest is no exception. Cold north easterly winds buffeted the nest throughout the Bank Holiday weekend, forcing 5R to join his mate on the nest in an effort to shelter from the worst of the weather. The webcam image on the right appears to show two birds incubating, but in fact the bird on the left is 5R simply trying to get out of the wind!

Following the excitement of 05(08)’s return on Thursday last week, things have been rather more settled at the nest. The birds are now on day 14 of incubation and 5R and his mate having been sharing sitting duties in text book fashion. The strong winds have made fishing difficult but yesterday morning 5R caught a fish very close to Waderscrape hide – providing great views for volunteer Doug Henderson who was on duty in the hide.

Interestingly there has been no further sign of 05 since Thursday. This though is not particularly surprising. As a two year-old, 05 is very unlikely to try and establish a territory; he is much more likely to spend the summer wandering around the Rutland area – and further a field. He should then return earlier next year and try and find a nest site of his own. To read Brian Nicholls’ account of 05’s brief visit to Manton Bay, click here.

Live images from the nest are shown in the Lyndon Visitor Centre and they are providing fascinating viewing for staff, volunteers and visitors alike. Over the Bank Holiday weekend more than 1200 people passed through the centre. Osprey project staff and volunteers are on duty each day – so please come and say hello. The photo on the left shows volunteer Andrew Harwood on duty in the centre on Monday morning.

30th April

The female has now laid her third egg in the Manton Bay nest. As with the previous eggs, this one was first seen when the camera was switched on in the morning, which means it was either laid overnight or early in the morning of the 28th.

The most exciting event in Manton Bay this week happened yesterday when a male bird was seen flying over the nest and then landing in the dead tree near Waderscrape Hide. Volunteers Brian and Liz Nicholls saw that the bird had a white ring on its right leg, meaning that it had to be an English or Welsh bird. As none of our current birds have white rings this meant the bird was either a new arrival or a bird from another site.

Luckily Brian and Liz were able to take the photograph on the right which clearly shows that this bird is 05(08), a chick that fledged from the Site B nest in 2008. The picture below shows the bird during the 2008 ringing.

We normally do not expect to see two year old birds returning for the first time until much later in the summer so the early return of this bird is a surprise. It is possible that he may have only wintered in Spain or Portugal this year instead of in Africa, and has had a consequently shorter migration. It will be interesting now to see what he does for the rest of the summer. Young, unpaired birds frequently spend their time intruding at other nests, or he may try to find a territory of his own.

With no sign of 32(05) the Lagoon 4 nest remains empty (apart from the occasional Mallard or Egyptian Goose) and may be a pefect territory for a young male osprey.

The Lagoon 4 nest can be seen from Dunlin Hide on the Egleton Reserve, and the live camera from that nest can be seen in both Egleton and Lyndon Visitor Centres. The breeding pair are as always giving excellent views from the Lyndon Reserve.

25th April

The Manton Bay pair have now laid their second egg. The egg was seen on the nest camera this morning so as before it was laid either overnight or in the early hours of the morning. Ospreys normally lay their eggs a few days apart, and we are now waiting to see if they will produce a third egg or if, as is often the case with first time breeders, they will only lay two.

Both birds have been incubating, with the female as usual sitting for the majority of the time. It has been interesting to see how active the birds are during incubation duty- constantly rearranging the nest lining and moving sticks. 5R has even tried to copulate while the female is sitting on the eggs. We will have to see if this behaviour continues throughout incubation or if the birds will become more settled once the female has laid a full clutch.

The webcam should be up and running in the next few days, we are also working on bringing live streaming video to replace the static pictures. In the meantime the camera is shown live in the Lyndon Centre and as always there are superb views of the incubating birds from the reserve.

22nd April

When we switched the television on at the Lyndon Centre this morning there was some great news – an egg in the nest! Worryingly though, there was no Osprey. Fortunately, before we had a chance to get concerned, 5R dropped onto the nest. He carefully inched his way around the egg and then gently nestled down on top of it. The camera then changed views to the t perch – where the female was preening. Our best guess was that she had laid the egg a few hours previously and this was probably the first change-over of incubation duties.

Since then the two bird have swapped over several more times. At 11:20 5R brought a fish to the nest and this prompted another change-over.

Neither bird has bred before, but the only sign of inexperience came when 5R attempted to mate with the female while she was still incubating. Fortunately the egg appeared not to be damaged, but this sort of behaviour must be common in first time breeders. It is sure to be a nervous few weeks for all involved!

Sorry for the continuing lack of webcam pictures – hope to have it resolved very soon.

21st April

The female has now been present in Manton Bay for two weeks. Her battle with 5N aside, she has seemed remarkably settled during this period, and must now be close to laying the first egg. Over the past couple of days she has spent nearly all her time in the nest; and more significantly, yesterday afternoon, and then again this morning, she spent 20 minutes sitting low in the nest cup. Hope to have some good news in the next few days.

Meanwhile, with 32(05) still absent, 09(98) has been visiting the Lagoon 4 nest on a regular basis. He has spent time there the past three afternoons. Perhaps he will take over the territory if 32 fails to reappear?

14th April

Following the incredible battle between 5N and the unringed female on Friday afternoon, normal service has been resumed in Manton Bay. 5N made one brief return on Saturday afternoon, but was immediately chased off by both 5R and his mate. They were obviously determined that there was going to be no repeat of Friday and, since then, things have become more settled. 5R has caught at least two fish each day for the past three days, and the pair have been copulating regularly.

Now the female has become settled we have been able to make a brief visit to Manton Bay to reinstall the repaired camera transmitter. Luckily the repairs seem to have worked and we now have superb live pictures of the pair on our large screen TV in the Lyndon Centre. Given the lack of activity on Lagoon 4, we will also be switching the webcam back to the Manton Bay image in the next few days.

10th April

Having arrived at the Manton Bay nest on Tuesday morning, the unringed female had appeared very settled. 5R had provided her with a regular supply of fish and the birds were copulating regularly. All seemed very promising. But then 5N turned up.

Just before 2pm yesterday afternoon 5N – who bred at the nest in 2007 and 2008 before moving to Site N last year – appeared over the nest and dive bombed 5R and the female, forcing them both to take to the air. For the next half hour 5N continued to bombard her brother and his mate. Each time either bird landed on the nest they were dive-bombed by 5N. Following 08’s return on 31st March, she has appeared very settled at Site N, but the sight of a female on her old nest was obviously too much for her to take.Eventually 5R did manage to return to the nest. However the battle between his mate and 5N showed no sign of relenting. By now the unringed female had turned the tables, and was attempting to drive 5N away from the nest and displaying above her. It is unusual to see a female displaying, so this demonstrated that the female now considers Manton Bay to be her own territory.

5N was not giving up without a fight though. Both birds were now gaining height, the unringed female attempting to shepherd 5N away from the bay. At one point the two birds must have been more than 3000 feet up; just tiny dots in a bright blue sky.

Eventually they dropped down again and the chasing and ‘chipping’ began once again. 5N was not giving up.

By 4:30pm the two females had gained height again and now they drifted south, leaving 5R alone in the bay. Another hour and a half passed before they returned, by which time 5R had headed off east from the nest in search of fish. The two females completed several circuits of the bay and then disappeared again. Ten minutes later 5R was back with a trout, oblivious to the fact that the two females had made a brief return. By 8:15pm it was dark and there was still no sign of the female. 5R though had only eaten half of the fish – keeping the remainder for the female for when she returned. But the question was, would she return?

We checked the nest at 7am this morning and sure enough, the female was back! She had just finished the fish that 5R must have given her when she returned, and was cleaning her bill in the nest. Buoyed by her return 5R was making frequent trips to collect nesting material. Several successful copulations followed, and more significantly, there was no sign of 5N. Hopefully there will be no repeat of yesterday’s amazing scenes.

7th April

With a female to feed, 5R has often made fishing forays around Manton Bay, providing great views from Shallow Water and Waderscrape hides. While 5R is away fishing, the female usually waits patiently on the nest. Nearby, work is continuing on the exciting habitat creation work at the reserve. The Ospreys appear totally unconcerned by the presence of machinery working nearby, as this photo shows.

Occasionally 5R still shows his inexperience as a breeding bird, in this case bringing in a huge piece of wood which, instead of placing carefully in the nest, he unceremoniously dropped straight on the female’s head.

6th April

The unringed female who spent much of last summer with 32(05) at the Lagoon 4 nest, returned on Monday 5th. With 32 still absent from Lagoon 4, the female has spent most of her time with 5R in Manton Bay. Yesterday evening, after several unsuccessful fishing trips, 5R returned to the nest with a hefty trout just before 7pm. He wasted little time in presenting it to the female who took it to the nearby t perch to tuck into her meal. The fish was so large that the female still had some remaining at 8am this morning. Since then 5R has brought numerous clumps of turf to line the nest, and we’ve observed several successful copulations.

The really interesting thing now will be to see what happens when 32 realises that the female is back. Will he return to Lagoon 4? If he does, will the female follow? We’ll be updating the blog on a daily basis until the website is back online, so watch this space. Even better, why not visit Lyndon for yourself. You can get great views of the nest from Waderscrape and Shallow Water hides on the Lyndon reserve which can be accessed from the minor road between Manton and Edith Weston on the south shore of Rutland Water.

2nd April

With 08 back at Site N, 5N has, unsurprisingly, also returned to the nest where she raised two chicks last year. 5R though continues to hold territory on the Manton Bay nest, providing great views from Waderscrape and Shallow Water hides on the Lyndon reserve. There are now lots of Ospreys moving north through England, and 5R will be doing his best to woo a passing migrant female in the coming weeks.

Aside from seeing 5R at his nest, visitors to the Lyndon reserve have also been able to watch him fishing in Manton Bay. He completes circuits of Manton Bay as he searches for a meal and yesterday afternoon he caught a hefty trout off the Lyndon centre.

Meanwhile at Egleton, 32 is only making fleeting visits to the Lagoon 4 nest, preferring instead to spend time at the various vacant territories away from the reserve. We suspect though that it won’t be long until he returns to his own nest; once the territory holding males are back he won’t have much choice!

30th March

5N has again spent most of the day in Manton Bay, her repetitive food-begging call becoming almost hypnotic!

This series of photos shows 5R coming in to land next to the female.

By 5pm, 5R still hadn’t caught a fish, despite several fishing trips. Perhaps unsurprisingly 5N decided to take matters into her own hands. She left the nest, circled to gain height and then drifted east towards the Lyndon centre. After a brief hover she opened her wings, crashed into the water and pulled out a hefty trout. Simple, really. She took the fish back to the nest and ate it on one of the t perches.

5R, meanwhile, was still no where to be seen. When he finally returned – about half an hour later – it was again, with nothing!

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few days, particularly if and when 08 returns. Watch this space!

29th March

Early on Saturday morning, the volunteers in Waderscrape hide saw an osprey land on the nest. It clearly had a green ring, but was very unwilling to turn round and show if it was male or female, or to give a good enough view for us to read the ring number. After about half an hour the bird finally moved from the nest onto the perch and a clear view of the green ring told us it was 5R(04), the bird who was resident in Manton Bay for most of last summer.

He left the nest for a few hours but was then seen fishing directly in front of the Lyndon Centre. He returned to the Manton Bay nest with a fish and stayed there all day. He showed much the same behaviour on Sunday- long periods on the nest with some spectacular dives in front of the Lyndon Centre and Waderscrape Hide.

Although 5R spent Saturday and Sunday alone, the arrival of a new male was definitely noted by 5N, who has been waiting patiently at the Site N nest for the return of 08(97). At lunchtime on Monday she finally decided she was too hungry to wait any longer and moved down to Manton Bay to sit on nest with her brother. She has been food-begging consistently throughout the day but due to the persistent rain and a reluctance to leave a female on his nest, 5R has yet to go on a fishing trip.

It will be interesting to see if 5N takes any fish back to Site N, suggesting she is simply at Manton Bay for a quick meal, or if she remains on the Manton Bay nest where she did successfully breed in 2007. We will also have to wait and see what happens once 08(97) returns; Manton Bay was his territory for many years and he may try and reclaim it from 5R rather than returning to Site N.

Sadly the Manton Bay camera has been out of action for the past week but the transmitter is being checked out and there will be live pictures from the Manton Bay nest in the Lyndon Centre as soon as possible.

Postscript…5R eventually returned to the Manton Bay nest with a large trout at 6pm but having eaten his share, dropped what was left before he had a chance to give any to 5N!

26th March

32 continues to visit Lagoon 4 sporadically but is spending most of his time at the various other vacant nest sites. However there is no doubt that as soon as the breeding males return to those nests, that the young upstart will be given his marching orders and will return to Lagoon 4. This means that if you are planning to visit Rutland Water this weekend in the hope of seeing an Osprey then Lagoon 4 is probably your best bet. Osprey volunteers will be manning the hide for most of the weekend so please come and say hello.

Osprey project staff and volunteers will also be on duty at the Lyndon reserve over the weekend; last year 5R first returned to Rutland on 5th April, but if 32 is anything to go by he is likely to be much earlier this year.

23rd March

As reported in the Site B diary, we were a little surprised that 03 arrived as early as he did this year. However that pales into insignificance when compared to the return of 32. Last year the young male arrived in early April. We suspected that he would be back a little earlier this year, but nothing prepared us for what happened on Sunday.

Shortly after midday an Osprey was seen over the North Arm of the reservoir carrying a fish. It wasn’t 03, so who was it? The bird disappeared, but two hours later it landed on one of the perches on Lagoon 4. Several members of the team rushed up to Dunlin hide to identify it. It couldn’t be 32, could it?

Scopes were trained on the bird (photo on right), and sure enough there was the yellow ring on the right leg. It was 32! He was back three weeks earlier than 2009.

His early arrival demonstrates that he is clearly very serious about breeding this year. Having paired with the unringed female last summer, he is now ready to breed. All he needs now is for the female to join him.

Its now two days since 32 arrived and he has spent only sporadic periods on Lagoon 4. In the intervening periods he has wandered widely, taking the opportunity to visit various vacant nest sites. Once those territory holding males teturn though, we are sure that he will become an almost permanent fixture on Lagoon 4!