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Too full to feed?

Apologies for the fact that the webcam was down for much of today. We had problems with the wireless transmission, but fortunately that is all now resolved.

If you’ve been watching the camera since we got it working again this afternoon, you’ll have noticed something quite unusual. Yes, that’s right, we had some sun! The nest has been bathed in glorious sunshine for much of the afternoon, meaning that for the first time this week, the female hasn’t really had to brood her offspring.

As the video below shows, food once again hasn’t been a problem today. In fact the chicks were so full by the time they had a feed this evening, that they were hardly able to hold their heads up! Once the two larger chicks have had their fill, they flop down onto the nest, allowing the youngest to have an uninterrupted feed. At a nest like Manton Bay where food is plentiful, this hierarchy isn’t a problem, but at sites where food is harder to come by, the youngest member of the brood can sometimes become a runt. Fortunately there are no such problem for the Manton Bay family…not with a master fisherman like 5R around!

Roach o'clock

Roach o’clock

It never ceases to amaze me how fast Osprey grow and this year is no exception. If you’ve been watching the webcam today, you’ll have probably noticed that the two eldest chicks are quickly loosing their down and replacing it with feathers. Being three days younger, the third chick is noticeably smaller and more downy, but there is no need to worry; 5R is providing so much fish that it always gets a good meal. At this stage in the chicks short lives, an age gap of three days makes a great deal of difference in terms of size and development, but the youngster will quickly catch up over the coming weeks.

Roach has been the fish of choice at the nest over the past couple of days and that has continued today. At lunchtime 5R delivered a superb Roach to the nest which his mate eagerly took off him to feed to her growing offspring.

The view from Shallow Water hide

A fishing masterclass

One of the great things about watching the Manton Bay nest from either Waderscrape or Shallow Water hide is that you stand a good chance of seeing 5R fishing. As you’ll know if you’ve visited, the nest is on a telegraph pole positioned in the middle of the bay; with water on all four sides. 5R doesn’t always fish close to the nest – often he will head off to the eastern end of the reservoir – but this weekend he caught several fish in Manton Bay; treating lucky visitors to some spectacular views in the process. Luckily for us, John was there to capture all the action.

The view from Shallow Water hide

In recent years we have noticed a decline in the number of roach caught by the Ospreys – suggesting that the reservoir’s population has declined. There are indications, however, that they are on the increase again. And that certainly seemed to be the case over the weekend – all fish that 5R caught in the bay were roach.

5R hovering over Manton Bay

Beginning the dive…

Lifting the roach - with its characteristic orange fins - out of the water

During the incubation period 5R rarely caught more than two fish each day. But now, with three hungry chicks to feed, he has really upped his game. He has more than doubled his daily fishing effort; and it was no surprise on Sunday morning that he started fishing again almost immediately after delivering the first roach to his family on the nest. What was a surprise, though, was just how close he was to Shallow Water hide when he made his next strike. John’s photos say it all…

He’s seen a fish…

5R uses his powerful wings to help him lift the fish out of the water

A Greater Black-backed Gull attempts to steal the fish

If two catches wasn’t enough for the excited visitors, 5R later completed a hat-trick of Manton Bay catches.

Sometimes it can take a fishing Osprey up to a minute to lift its catch out of the water – and so its not uncommon to see them with their wings splayed as 5R is here

5R passes a Black-headed Gull and a Gadwall as he heads back to the nest

Ospreys always carry their fish head-first in the classic ‘torpedo’ position – this helps reduce wind resistance

5R with a group of Gadwall

As you’ll know if you’ve been watching the webcam, its usually the female who feeds the chicks. They are growing at an incredible rate (not surprising given all the fish Dad is providing) and its now easy to see their heads moving around from the hide. One visitor commented at the weekend that they look like puppets on a string!

In this photo, the heads of all three chicks are clearly visible as they enjoy yet another meal

The female spreads her wings after a feeding session. At this stage of the season, females rarely leave the nest unattended for more than a minute.

On Saturday evening passengers on our first Osprey cruise of the summer were treated to superb views of yet another returning Osprey. 30(10) fledged from the Manton Bay nest in 2010 and made one brief appearance last summer. We were wondering if we’d see him this year and, sure enough, he arrived on Saturday afternoon – intruding at his natal nest before being chased off by his Dad. To 5R, 30 is now just another intruding Osprey – and he treated him as he would any other bird that ventured too close to the nest. As luck would have it, 5R chased the young male into the North Arm of the reservoir and directly over the boat!

5R chasing his son, 30(10)

If this has whetted your appetite for visiting Manton Bay, you can find out more by clicking here. The view, alone, makes it worthwhile. The Ospreys aren’t bad, either.

John Wright's superb illustrations and photos accompany the text

Greetham Valley & Osprey Project Tour Packages

Greetham Valley Hotel

The Rutland Osprey Project has teamed up with nearby Greetham Valley Hotel to offer exciting three day ‘Rutland Osprey Tour Packages’ throughout the summer of 2013.

Guests may choose between catered or self-catering accommodation packages to combine with Rutland Osprey Project activities as follows:

Day 1: Arrival & evening introductory talk from the Rutland Osprey Project

Day 2: Rutland Water Nature Reserve access for the day and guided evening cruise on the Rutland Belle. (Complementary group minibus transport is available if desired)

Day 3: Departure from Hotel or Lodge. Access to Rutland Water Nature Reserve, including a guided walk from the Lyndon Visitor Centre to see the Opsreys.

Self-catering Lodge Package £84 per person, based on four sharing.

Fully catered Hotel Package £150 per person, based on two sharing.

Fully Catered Lodge Package £150 per person, based on four sharing.

Available dates for 2013 are:
Fri 28th – Sun 30th June
Fri 12th – Sun 14th July
Tues 23rd – Thurs 25th July
Tues 6th – Thurs 8th August

For more information or to book please contact Claire at Greetham Valley Hotel on 01780 460444 or by email at

Please note: Packages are subject to availability and to a minimum of eight guests.

Three chicks a week old (From L-R oldest to youngest)

One week old

It has been glorious today and the Lyndon Visitor Centre has been abuzz with visitors.

The eldest two of the three chicks are now one week old, here are a couple of pictures of them. One when the two chicks were a day old and the other of the three chicks today.

Three chicks a week old (From L-R oldest to youngest)

The two chicks a day old

At around 11am this morning 5R put on a magnificent display in Manton Bay as he caught two roach about 30 meters in front of Shallow Water hide. This took his total morning catch to four, quite impressive by any standards!

To add to the excitement in the hide there have been a couple of intruding ospreys in the bay this morning, two males 28(10) and 06(09) flew over & around the Manton Bay nest. 5R returned to the nest alongside the female for a short while before heading off in tow of the two uninvited guests.

If you were thinking that perhaps 5R deserved a rest after his mornings hard work then think again. With the remnants of the two roach in the nest and the female already feeding the chicks from one of them 5R decided that, after his practice run on Friday, he would have another go at feeding his offspring.

Judging from this it looks as though 5R could still do with a bit more practice! The Manton Bay female on the other hand has it down to a fine art.