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Manton Bay's smaller residents

Lots of visitors in Manton Bay.

It’s been our busiest day of the season so far at Lyndon today and the ospreys have been putting on a show.

In this clip you can see the Manton Bay pair mantling in the nest as two other ospreys intrude above.

Lucky for us John had popped in and managed to capture the birds flying directly over the Lyndon Visitor Centre and from his photos he identified them as females 5N(04) and 00(09).

It’s great to see 00(09) again as we haven’t seen here around the bay since she returned on 18th March and spent a few days in Manton Bay.

It didn’t take long for the Manton Bay pair to notice these two intruding birds, there were a few handbags thrown before 5R(04) chased off his sister 5N(04) and her new pal.

As well as the ospreys there have been a pair of much smaller visitors to the Manton Bay nest this afternoon. In previous years a pair of pied wagtails have nested in the underside of the nest; it looks like they may be eyeing it up again for this year!

Manton Bay’s smaller residents

Volunteer Rick Pegler has written a blog following his shift in Waderscrape hide on the evening 5R returned to Manton Bay on 28th March.

The Site B pair on a perch

Settling in at Site B

Here is a selection of John’s photos from the morning when 03(97)’s mate returned to Site B yesterday.

We can see you!

03(97) and the Site B female together in the nest

The Site B pair in the nest

The Site B pair on a perch

Making themselves at home

Making themselves at home

The Manton Bay & Site B pairs have been settling in nicely since 5R(04) from Manton Bay returned on Thursday and the Site B female who John Wright first saw at Site B this morning.

An icy morning in Manton Bay

5R on his first morning back in the bay

5R reaquainting himself with his favourite perches

5R(04) has caught three large fish today but he has only managed to take one back to the nest for the female as he has dropped the other two.

This was partly a consequence of a third osprey in the bay, 30(05). She is one of the other female birds who has bred in the area since 2009 but her mate is yet to return. These videos show 5R(04) and the Manton Bay female mantling on the nest before 30(05) landed beside them. If you look closely you can clearly see her faded yellow ring.
A little while later as 5R(04) came in to Manton Bay with a fish she re-appeared and caused him to drop his catch as he chased her off.

If you have been watching the webcam you may have noticed that the nest is looking a bit bare, in his efforts to nest build today all he has managed to bring in a single spindly stick and a piece of thistle. The Manton Bay female has been on the nest for a lot of the day, tidying up and nest scraping.

The picture below shows the pair at Manton Bay.

John has spent most of the morning at a blustery Site B, where he saw the Site B female for the first time this Spring. In contrast to 5R(04) in Manton Bay 03(97) has built the nest up quite considerably whilst he has been waiting for almost two weeks for his mate to return.

He too has managed to catch a fish, albeit a small one, and taken it to his mate.

This photo shows 03(97) on the left and his unringed mate on the right.

We’ll have a full update from Site B and more pictures from Site B in the morning.

5R and his mate re-united on a very cold-looking Manton Bay nest

Re-united in Manton Bay

In my opinion there is not a better sight in the natural world than a newly-returned Osprey sitting at its nest in the spring. So as myself and the Rutland Osprey Project team sat shivering in Shallow Water hide this morning we almost forgot how cold we all were. Well, almost.

The previous evening 5R had arrived back at the Manton Bay nest, a full ten days later than last year. Even though we know that many of our summer migrants have been held up by the unseasonal snow and cold, it’s hard not to worry about our returning Ospreys. We already know that one of our long-established Ospreys, 09(98), won’t be returning to Rutland this spring after dying on migration in the Sahara, and there is no guarantee that any of our adult birds will have survived the winter, or the vicious easterly winds that they’ll be encountering on the flight north. So, when 5R landed on the Manton Bay nest at 5:06pm yesterday evening, there was a collective sigh of relief all round.

Although it’s been bitterly cold since she arrived on Thursday last week, 5R’s mate seems to have had little difficulty catching fish since her return. And, as if to demonstrate just that, she presented 5R with a welcome-home trout within minutes of his arrival; a complete role reversal of what we’ll see at the nest over the next few months – when its the male who will be doing the fishing for his family.

This morning, things were back to normal. Whilst his mate sat on the nest, 5R made several forays around Manton Bay for nesting material. Despite the cold, there were a few signs of spring. A group of Goldeneyes, resplendent in their breeding plumage, were displaying in front of Shallow Water hide, the drakes tossing their heads backwards in an effort to impress the on-looking females. Nearby a bit of head shaking suggested a pair of Great-crested Grebes were also beginning to think about the onset of spring. Other than that though, things still felt very wintery. By late March Sand Martins would usually be zipping around above their heads, but not today. Unbelievably we’ve only had one Sand Martin record so far this spring.

Shortly after 7am 5R headed off down the reservoir in search of a fish. As he passed in front of the Lyndon Visitor Centre he suddenly folded his wings and crashed into the icy water. He had obviously got hold of a fish because for the next few seconds, he floundered on the surface. Then, after mustering up some strength, he attempted to haul what was clearly a very large fish out of the water. After a couple of beats of his broad wings he was almost airborne… but not quite. He flopped back down onto the surface as several Great Black-backed Gulls and a couple of Cormorants looked on eagerly. Several more failed attempts to take off followed before 5R had to let go of the fish. He had now been struggling on the surface for more than a minute – and needed to take off before he got too water-logged. He retreated back to the nest to dry off.

Several more aborted fishing trips followed, before he finally caught a trout just after midday. As usual he ate the head before presenting the reminder to his mate on the nest. As the female tucked into the fish with the easterly wind still blowing cold air from the Arctic, it was hard to believe that the two birds hadn’t seen each other since early September last year.

5R and his mate re-united on a very cold-looking Manton Bay nest

Over the course of the next few weeks 5R and his mate will settle down into breeding mode. Like last year we’ll be keeping you up to date with a daily blog from Manton Bay. And don’t forget you can also watch all the action live on our webcam. We’ll also be updating you regularly with events from Site B where 5R’s father 03(97) has been breeding since 2001.

As you may know, there are several other nests in the Rutland Water area where Ospreys have reared young in recent years. One of them is Site N where 09(98) raised two chicks with 5N(04) last summer. As I mentioned earlier, sadly 09 died on migration in the Sahara last autumn and so we’re hoping that 5N will find a new mate this year. Excitingly, she returned to Rutland a couple of hours before her brother (5R) yesterday. And she even had the audacity to steal the remains of 5R’s trout from the Manton Bay nest earlier this afternoon! We managed to capture the moment on film.

We’ll update you with the progress of 5N and some of the other Rutland birds later in the season but we hope you’ll appreciate the need to keep some information confidential for the time being. Sadly egg collecting and disturbance – accidental or otherwise – remains a threat to some of our rare breeding birds, Ospreys included.

In the meantime, keep watching the webcam and look out for our regular updates from Manton Bay and Site B. Or, even better, come and see it all for real at the Lyndon Visitor Centre. Here’s to another very successful Osprey season!

Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Another day passes by as we wait for the female to return to Site B but the bad weather doesn’t seem to be hindering ‘Mr Rutland’. Since 2001, 03(97) has raised 27 chicks, making him one of the most successful breeding Ospreys in the UK and he is already preparing for another season. Who knows, this year it could even be the big 3-0! Here are some of John Wright’s photos of 03 nest-building a couple of days ago.