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IEPUK Director George Peach (left) presents Tim Mackrill with a donation of £808 towards the project's work in The Gambia

The Inaugural Osprey Ball

It has been another great season for the project and this year we celebrated in style at our inaugural Osprey Ball. The ball, which was held at the superb Barnsdale Lodge Hotel, was an opportunity for project supporters, volunteers and staff  to reflect on an excellent summer and to raise valuable funds for the project.

We were particularly delighted to welcome IEPUK to the ball. IEPUK – who are based in Uppingham –  are a not-for-profit education and training organisation who have been working around the world for over 20 years. Their core business is to create opportunities for young people to gain skills and experience within the land-based sector. This fits in very well with the Rutland Osprey Project’s work in West Africa and we were delighted to receive a donation of £808 at the ball from IEPUK Director, George Peach. This valuable donation will help us to develop our work with schools in The Gambia and enable students to participate in a survey of wintering Ospreys that we’re organising in conjunction with the Gambian Department for Parks and Wildlife Management this winter. This is the first time that such a survey has ever been undertaken in The Gambia and it will provide valuable experience for the students in the company of professional bird guides and ornithologists, including author of the Birds of the Gambia, Clive Barlow and Osprey Flyways Project Co-ordinator, Junkung Jadama. Click on the video below to find out more about our work in The Gambia.

Junkung Jadama with Gambian students on a fieldtrip organised by the project

Junkung Jadama with Gambian students on a fieldtrip organised by the project

IEPUK Director George Peach (left) presents Tim Mackrill with a donation of £808 towards the project's work in The Gambia

IEPUK Director George Peach (left) presents Tim Mackrill with a donation of £808 towards the project’s work in The Gambia

In addition to the generous donation from IEPUK, ticket sales and a raffle on the night generated a further £750. It was a wonderful evening and one that we will definitely repeat next year. Watch this space!

We are extremely grateful to everyone who donated prizes for the raffle, namely Oakham Wines, In Focus, the Horse & Jockey, Paul Stammers, Trish Ruddle, Dr Rob Lambert, Barnsdale Lodge, Eyebrook Wild Bird Foods and Mike Simmons. Thanks also to Corporate Architecture for sponsoring a table.

Osprey Ball

Osprey Ball 2

Soaring so high and so free

On Sunday 31st August 2014, our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05), set off on her long migration south to her wintering grounds in West Africa. Just over eleven days later, she arrived! It took her exactly the same amount of hours as last year (267), and the route she took was almost exactly the same!

A comparison of 30's three tracked migrations. Green = autumn 2013, yellow = spring 2014, red = autumn 2014

A comparison of 30’s three tracked migrations. Green = autumn 2013, yellow = spring 2014, red = autumn 2014


In the photograph above you can see the three lines indicating 30’s three tracked journeys to and from Rutland and Senegal. The red line is this year’s migration – autumn 2014. The green line is her autumn migration of last year, 2013. The yellow line is her spring migration back to Rutland in March 2014. Below is a table that shows the total distance 30 travelled on all three of her tracked migrations. They are remarkably similar!

  Autumn 2013 (green line) Spring 2014 (yellow line) Autumn 2014 (red line)
Total distance travelled (km) 4624 4895 4686
Total distance travelled (miles) 2873 3041 2911


It is incredible how Ospreys know where they are going, and how they stick to a similar route each year. We imagine that they must use significant land marks and remember them to guide them on their way. In reality, we’ll never really know how they do it, it will remain something that we cannot possibly ever fully comprehend. But that doesn’t matter, we don’t need to know everything, what matters is that we can appreciate the intricacies and complex abilities of nature, and feel awed and inspired by them!

30’s autumn migration this year is without doubt an awe-inspiring thing. During her eleven-and-a-bit days of migrating, she travelled a total of 4686km (2911 miles), averaging 424km a day (264 miles), at an average speed of 36kph (22mph). Out of her 267 total hours of migration, she spent 130 hours actually flying, which is just under 50{aebb832937d1885646bba593f8f1074bbe61a552c8a5f5d60514d6f049ed1f58} of her time, and averages at 12.8 hours per day of flying.

The photograph below shows 30’s complete, and incredibly direct, migration to Senegal this autumn.

30's complete autumn migration 2014

30’s complete autumn migration 2014


The table below shows how far 30 travelled each day and at what times, and total hours each day.

Day Distance (km) Distance (miles) Time migrating Total hours
1 521 324 08:00 – 19:00 11
2 508 315 05:00 – 19:00 14
3 516 320 05:00 – 18:00 13
4 259 161 08:00 – 19:00 11
5 413 256 05:00 – 19:00 (1hr resting) 13
6 536 333 06:00 – 20:00 14
7 354 220 08:00 – 19:00 11
8 561 349 07:00 – 17:00 10
9 351 218 09:00 – 20:00 11
10 165 103 09:00 – 18:00 9
11 449 279 09:00 – 20:00 11
12 53 33 06:00 – 11:00 (but 2 hours migrating) 2


Migration is truly mind-blowing, and not fully understanding how it is done just serves to make it even more admirable. Just look at what this 1.9kg bird has accomplished this autumn, in just over a week and a half. It doesn’t get much more amazing than that.

Breakfast on the beach

30(05) on the beach last year


30 flew just over 350 km through Western Sahara and Mauritania on Monday

30 reaches her winter home

She’s done it! The latest satellite data from 30(05)’s transmitter shows that she reached her winter home on the Senegal coast at 11am yesterday morning after an amazing 11-day migration from Rutland.

The previous batch of data had shown that 30 roosted in the remote desert of Western Sahara on Sunday evening. Next morning she must have left her overnight roost site at around 9:30am because by 10am she was 18km further south, heading south-west at 41kph at an altitude of 660 metres. She continued to make fairly steady progress over the next four hours and by 2pm she had flown 158 kilometres on a south-south-westerly heading at altitudes of between 500 and 1300 metres. During the heat of the afternoon she took advantage of thermals created by the searing desert, crossing into Mauritania just after 4pm and continuing south-south-east at high altitude. By 6pm, she had covered another 133km and was migrating at an altitude of 2300 metres. An hour later she was a further 31km south-east and now even higher: 2440 metres above the remote and desolate desert. She continued flying for another hour before settling to roost on the desert floor in northern Mauritania after a day’s flight of 350 km.

30 flew just over 350 km through Western Sahara and Mauritania on Monday

30 flew just over 350 km through Western Sahara and Mauritania on Monday

A Google Earth view of 30's GPS fixes between 7am and 9am show just how remote and desolate the Sahara is in this part of Mauritania

A Google Earth view of 30’s GPS fixes between 7am and 9am show just how remote and desolate the Sahara is in this part of Mauritania

By first light on Tuesday morning 30 had moved 2km south from her position the previous evening and, like on Monday she resumed her migration at around 9:30am. For the first time in ten days of migration, though, it seemed that conditions were not in her favour. During the course of the day she only flew another 164 kilometres before settling to roost in the desert of central Mauritania.

For a third morning in succession, 30 resumed her migration at around 9:30am on Wednesday. By 11am she had flown 47 kilometres and was flying south at 34kph at an altitude of 350 metres. Conditions for migration must have been much better than on Tuesday because over the course of the next four hours she covered a further 146km at altitudes of over 1000 metres. 30 must have now sensed that she was getting closer to her winter home; she had made a distinct turn to the south-west and was nearing the Senegal border. At 17:30 she passed over Richard Toll and into Senegal, crossing the Senegal River; almost certainly the first water she had seen for at least four days. After flying over the huge Lac de Guiers she pressed on towards the coast. She passed to the east of St Louis as dusk was falling at 7pm and continued flying for almost an hour after dark before reaching the coast and settling to roost for the night. She was now just 40km north of Lompoul beach after a day’s flight of 450km.

30 flew almost three times as far on Wednesday as she had done the previous day

30 flew almost three times as far on Wednesday as she had done the previous day

By 9am next morning 30 was perched 23km south of her overnight roost site, probably eating her first fish for five days. She didn’t linger there for long, though. Two hours later she was perched in one of her favourite trees just inland from Lompoul beach. Just over 11 days after leaving Rutland, she was back at the site where she has spent every winter since her first autumn migration in September 2005. She had arrived two days later than last year, but having departed from Rutland 48 hours later than the previous year, her migration has taken exactly the same length of time. And when I say exactly, I mean exactly. If you give or take a few minutes, her journey last autumn took a total of 267 hours.This year it was…yes, you guessed it, 267 hours. Remarkable!

Each winter 30 spends much of her time in a clearing a few metres inland from the coast. She was back there yesterday morning.

Each winter 30 spends much of her time in a clearing a few metres inland from the coast. She was back there yesterday morning.

Having arrived at her winter home 30 will spend the next six months in leisurely fashion; catching one or two fish each day and then spending the rest of her time on her favourite perches on the beach or just inland. We know exactly what the beach looks like because last year project team members Paul Stammers and John Wright visited it. To read about their trip, click here.

30 on one of her favourite perches last winter

30 on one of her favourite perches last winter

We’ll be sure to keep you updated with 30’s movements over the coming months and watch out for a summary of her migration early next week. In the meantime, take a minute to marvel at this most incredible of migrations. Over the course of her 11-day journey 30 flew 4681km (2908 miles). She certainly deserves a rest!

Don’t forget that you can also view 30?s migration on your own version of Google Earth. To find out how, click here.

The never ending story

You will all be aware of the drama that occurred in Manton Bay this spring. At the time, it certainly felt like it was never ending!

It all began when Maya’s partner of the past four years, 5R(04), did not return. She was alone for a while without a mate, then she paired up with 28(10). She laid eggs, which was brilliant, he got the hang of incubation fairly quickly, he was fishing regularly, and everything was going well. Then 33(11) turned up and caused chaos. He spent days harassing the nest and chasing 28, until he eventually chased 28 off altogether. Then Maya was left alone to defend the nest and incubate the eggs. She couldn’t do both, so the eggs were left uncovered for prolonged periods. A few days later, 28 returned, there was an aerial battle between the two males, and they both disappeared. The next day it was 28 who was in the Bay, and for the next five days there was no sign of 33, and normal activities resumed. But then 33 came back again, and was relentless in his advances. 28 was chased away again, and eventually Maya stopped fighting 33 and allowed him onto the nest, where he scraped the eggs from the cup. The rest is history, as they say.

We wrote updates every day describing what was happening as it happened. We have now created a video (see below) that tells the whole story – a few weeks of action condensed into five minutes of footage. Some of you may have already seen this movie, as it was shown on a loop at our Birdfair stand. It is a great way of watching the story play out and remembering what happened.

As we have said previously, whilst it wasn’t good news for Manton Bay this year, it has probably worked out for the best in the long run. 33 is a strong, capable male Osprey, and he has had a good practice run this season. Therefore, should he and Maya safely return next year, we will (hopefully) have a successful nest here in 2015. The 2014 season may have ended, but the story of Manton Bay is far from over.


Farewell is a lonely sound

This morning dawned bright and fresh – a typical autumn day. I could see my breath in the cool morning air as I walked to my car, which was covered in condensation. The vision that greeted me as I drove over the top of Lyndon Hill was a sight to be savoured. The water was perfectly still, and the trees on Lax Hill, which are just beginning to turn various shades of brown and gold, were reflected in the mirror-like surface of the reservoir. The weak morning sun set off the scene by illuminating the striking colours of the trees, and making the surface of the water sparkle.

The sun’s strength increased throughout the morning, and it turned into a lovely warm day. Another perfect day for setting off on migration. Apparently 33(11) thought so too. He was seen this morning at 08:20, but he has not been seen since. It would therefore appear that he has left us too!

Yesterday, after 51(11) intruded briefly at Manton Bay, he flew off over the hide. The direction of his departure was due south. Therefore, it would seem likely that that was him leaving. This means that 33 was the only Osprey left in Rutland yesterday, and today he has made the decision to leave, as there is no longer a threat to his nest.

Maya has definitely gone, as we thought. We know then, that she left us sometime between 08:30 and 09:00 yesterday morning. We know that Ospreys’ migratory abilities are phenomenal, and based on the data we have received from 30(05)’s satellite transmitter, showing the speed of her progress, it is entirely possible that Maya could already be in France!

So here we are, Osprey-less, at the end of another season. It is weird to think that all the Ospreys have gone, it feels rather desolate. Looking at that live camera, expecting an Osprey to land on it any minute, then remembering that they won’t. Not until next year, that is! The Lyndon Visitor Centre will remain open until Sunday 14th September, and then it will close its doors for the final time this year. The Centre will re-open next spring, on Monday 16th March 2015.

So, will we look back fondly on 33’s time here in Manton Bay this year? To begin with, he didn’t do much to win our affections, what with chasing off 28(10) and erasing any hopes of his eggs hatching, and indeed any eggs hatching in Manton Bay at all. The fallout that followed 33’s arrival was both inevitable and heart-breaking. Suffice to say, he hasn’t been everyone’s favourite Osprey. However, he has won most of us over with his devotion to Maya and the nest over the last few months. His practice run this year should make him an excellent partner for Maya next season.

Next year, 33 must ensure he gets back in time to stop any other Ospreys moving in on his territory in the early spring. This year he arrived back on 13th April, so he will have to do better than that! He had no real pressing reason to arrive back early this year, but now he has a mate and a nest, and a duty to fulfil. So let’s hope he gets here in time!

Maya and 33(11) looking about for intruders

Here’s to next season, when, hopefully, there will be chicks in this nest once again