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5R the fishing machine

If you have visited the Lyndon reserve recently then there is every chance that you will have seen a top class fisherman in action. In the past few days 5R has been in great form – catching numerous fish near the nest, often within sight of the hides on the Lyndon reserve. Here’s a series of photos showing him delivering a roach to the nest – and the female then feeding the young.

The chicks are thriving on such a fantastic supply of fish. The fact that there is so much food around means that there is rarely any squabbling at feeding time – as this video shows.

One chick is better than none

Without a camera looking directly into the nest, it is not until young Ospreys are several weeks old before you can be sure exactly how many chicks have hatched. We’ve been watching the Site B nest intently since we noted the first signs of hatching on 25th May and now know there is one healthy chick in the nest. Sadly there is nothing to suggest that there are any other chicks and so we can only presume that the intrusions by 09(98) earlier in the season may have resulted in the other eggs becoming chilled – and therefore, not hatching. Although this is disappointing, it does mean that the one chick will get plenty of food and should be in excellent condition when it embarks on its first migration in early September.

One of the reasons it has taken until now to be sure exactly how many chicks did hatch is that 03 and his mate have added numerous sticks to the nest over the past couple of weeks. Some are pretty large…

Like 5R in Manton Bay, 03 has caught several roach recently. Here’s a photo of him delivering one to the nest just before dark.

Another Rutland Osprey returns home

When 06(09) returned to Rutland last week it meant that three of the nine chicks who fledged from nests in the Rutland Water area in 2009 had made it back. This roughly equates to the return rate of previous years and we were delighted. Surely we couldn’t expect any more?

Earlier this afternoon a male Osprey intruded at Site B and then Manton Bay. We didn’t get a positive ID, but we expected it to be 06(09). Half an hour after being chased away from Manton Bay, it landed on a vacant nest nearby; allowing John Wright to read the ring. Amazingly it wasn’t 06, or either of the other 2009 returnees. Instead it was blue/white 03. A male who fledged from Site N in 2009. This is absoultely brilliant news, not least because 03 is one of 08(97)’s chicks. We said when 08 disappeared in May that it would be a fantastic leagacy for him if one of his chicks returned, and now it has happened!

We’ll post more about 03’s return in the next couple of days.

Paul measuring 06's wing shortly after ringing him in July 2009

Paul’s Osprey returns home

Two year old Ospreys often return to their natal site for the first time in early June. The two Site B chicks from 2009 have already made it back and Roy Dennis’s young Osprey, Rothiemurchus, is currently touring Scotland. Now, excitingly, a third young Osprey has made it home to Rutland. Project Information Officer, Paul Stammers was in the hide to witness it. Here’s his account in words and video.

“It had been another busy and eventful morning at Lyndon. We had planned the early morning cruise for the next day, contacted all the volunteers for the next round of monitoring and spoken to numbers of visitors in the centre.

At 12:30 I decided to take a walk on the reserve, and arrived at Shallow Water hide shortly after 1 pm. John Wright was there in his usual spot, camera posied and scope at the ready. He told me that 5R had just gone fishing. I decided to wait for him to return.

After about ten minutes a bird came in from the east. We assumed it was 5R, but then we noticed that the female was mantling over the chicks in the nest. “We have an intruder” said John. The bird circled the bay, passing very close to the hide. John was busy snapping away, “It has a blue ring on the right leg – I bet it’s 00 or 01”. The bird then passed even closer allowing John to take an even better photo. Suddenly there was a lot more excitment in his voice, “Hang on, I think it is a new bird – maybe 06”. Sure enough a few minutes later we were able to confirm that it was 06(09), a male who fledged from Site O in 2009.

And then a thought struck me – I might have ringed this bird! I phoned my partner Christine and asked her to check my ringing records. Sure enough, she was able to confirm that I had ringed the bird on 15th July, 2009. Fantastic – my very own Osprey had returned!

06 intruding at the Manton Bay nest

I left the hide to walk to the centre thinking how fortunate I had been to witness so many of the project’s milestones – the translocation of the first chicks from Scotland in 1996, the return of 08(97) in May 1999, helping to monitor the first breeding pair in 2001, and watching the return of 5R and 5N in 2006. I thought that visiting Senegal and Gambia earlier this year had been the highlight of my involvement in the project, but now even that had been superseded by seeing the return of my very own Osprey!

Paul with 06

Paul measuring 06's wing shortly after ringing him in July 2009

On returning to the centre the radio crackled. It was Angela in Waderscrape to say that 06 had now landed in the tree in front of the hide. Like me, she was very excited. She was delighted to know that she was the first volunteer to see the latest addition to the Rutland family. What a great day it had been for us all.

Site N update

Site N update

As you will know if you have been following the story recently, the disappearance of 08(97) from his nest on 11th May had serious consequences for his mate, 5N(04), and the clutch of three eggs that they were incubating at Site N – a nest on private land close to Rutland Water.

Male Ospreys provide fish for their mate and also undertake about a quarter of the incubation, allowing their mate to feed and, importantly, to rest. Our first concern when 08 went missing was that 5N hadn’t fed during her mate’s absence. She had resolutely sat on the eggs, but there was only so long she could go without fish and so if we didn’t provide food for her, she would eventually go fishing for herself; leaving the eggs at the mercy of crows and other potential predators. To prevent her doing this, we erected a feeding tray near the nest and provided fish kindly donated by local anglers. 5N took our fish almost straight away-proving just how hungry she was. We continued to feed 5N in this way for the next few days.

Our fish meant that she wasn’t hungry, but the absence of 08 meant that she was having to incubate for much longer periods than usual – and being alone at the nest must have made her uneasy. With this in mind we contacted the licencing department at Natural England and applied for a licence to move the eggs or chicks should 5N abandon them.

On 20th May 5N left the nest at 7am and flew to the reservoir to bathe – leaving the eggs unattended for more than half an hour; the first indication that she was less settled. Sure enough, she was on and off the eggs all morning, and then stopped incubating in the afternoon.

It was evident that she had now given up on incubation and so, in an effort to save the chicks, we removed the eggs and incubated them artificially. We weren’t particularly hopeful that any of the eggs would hatch because they had been left uncovered for several prolonged periods. As the photo below shows though, one did. We moved it to the Site O nest where there were three chicks of exactly the same age -important if we were going to ensure that there was not any aggression in the nest. The photo was taken when the chicks were a few days old. Of the other two eggs in the Site N nest one sadly died during hatching (probably because it was very weak after insufficient incubation) and the third egg failed completely (possibly for the same reason).

Site O, like Site N, is a nest on private land close to Rutland Water. AA(06) raised three chicks with his Scottish mate there last year and we felt that he would be able to cope with the addition of an extra chick. There are several records of Ospreys raising four chicks, but in an effort to give the chick every chance of surviving we have been putting fish (again kindly donated by local anglers) close to the nest – as we did for 5N at Site N. Of course there is no guarantee that this chick will survive – particularly in view of the fact that incubation was not constant after 08’s disappearance – but we feel we have done everything we can to help.  We will keep you informed of progress at the nest.

Meanwhile, 5N spent several days wandering away from Site N, but she has now returned and has been joined at the nest by 09(98). You may recall that 09 is unpaired and caused trouble at the Site B nest earlier in the summer. He has been catching fish for 5N and they now seem very settled together – a very good sign for next year.

Thanks to the tremendous generosity of project volunteers and supporters, we have now raised enough money to satellite tag at least two male birds this summer. Bearing in mind that 09 has taken over 08’s territory, we hope to fit a transmitter to him, along with perhaps AA(06), in the next couple of weeks. This will mean we can follow exactly where the birds are fishing, and if either bird disappears as 08 did, we will know where. Once again we’ll be sure to keep you up to date with developments.

Finally I would like to thank everyone who has either sent messages of support or donations for the satellite tracking fund, in the past few weeks. Your support has been greatly appreciated during what has been a very worrying and taxing time for the project. It’s great to know so many people are behind what we are trying to achieve; to get this magnificent bird back to where it belongs throughout southern Britain.