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3AU food begging

Eye of the Storm

Last night a monster thunder storm rolled across Rutland, the rain showers provided us with a necessary break from the relentless heat of the past week, however, today the sun has arrived back with a vengeance, leaving us in a warm and muggy atmosphere. In Oakham it is currently 30 degrees the same current temperature as Banjul, The Gambia, so any migrating ospreys will have an easy time acclimatising. On the Manton Bay nest we have seen all three members of the remaining osprey family, Maya visited this morning to undertake a little nest maintenance, one of the few times we have seen her on the nest recently.

33(11) has been very busy visiting the nest, mainly to chase away the many intruders who have been visiting the bay. A few days ago we even had an unidentified juvenile osprey visiting the Manton Bay nest, most likely a young bird from one of the nests on private land taking a longer flight out to explore the local area.

3AU is also still in the bay, he has been disappearing for long periods of time but for now seems to be sticking around the nest. He has been spending most of his time over the past three days food begging, at one point 33(11) seemed to give in and brought a fish to the nest, however, in 3AU’s excitement he manged to drop it into the water, never to be seen again. As 33(11) now seems reluctant to feed 3AU it looks as though it won’t be long until 3AU decides it’s time to head off on his long migration to a wintering ground, here he will become fully independent, catching his own fish and defending his own territory. 3AU has even been practising his defending skills on the nest today, backed up by 33(11) of course.

3AU food begging

We are expecting to have even more storms from late this afternoon, after the past few weeks of drought we can’t help but be thankful that we are finally getting rain, let’s just hope the ospreys are smart enough to find some shelter.

Last picture of 3AW and 3AU together

Where is 3AW?

It’s been very quiet down on the Manton Bay nest, the ospreys in the bay have only been returning to the nest to defend it or for fish. 33(11) is still doing a fantastic job of fishing and is still bringing in fish at least twice a day. Down in the hide the ospreys can still be viewed, although they are quite inactive during the day, most likely caused by the heat.

Furthermore, It looks as though 3AW has made a move, she hasn’t been seen since enjoying a monster fish that 33(11) brought in early morning on the 19th. It’s easy to forget that as these chicks hatched so early, it has now been almost a month since they fledged. Therefore, even if it is early, it could be quite possible that 3AW has started her migration south; however, it is also possible she is enjoying her new freedom and investigating other nesting sites in the area. If the latter is true, she could show up on the nest in the next couple of days, ready for one of 33’s fish. Either way, it’s nice to see she is now independent, if she has started her migration it will be interesting to see if we get any sightings of her over the winter, so with a slightly heavy heart we wish her well and hope to see her back in Rutland in 2020!

Last picture of 3AW and 3AU together

AW enjoying her last fish on the nest.

As for 3AU, he looks like he is still quite content with 33(11) bring him his fish, today he has spent most of the afternoon food begging, he’s also been busy practising his landings and seems much more confident. How much longer will he stick around?

(Anna Douthwaite)

Beauty and Beasts – Drama in the Reed Beds

The sun has brought all sorts out this past week and the lack of rain has caused the water levels to fall, generating a maze of newly created microhabitats, these mini wetlands will be full of food for a range of wildlife found on the reserve. The number of shorebirds has surged in the past few days, in Manton Bay we’ve had reports of snipe and godwit, and over at Egleton there has even been a glossy ibis.

Snipe (Anna Douthwaite)

Barn Owl seen in Manton Bay (John Smallman)

In the bay it’s not the ospreys which have been drawing attention, but what lies beneath the nest in the reed-beds, sometimes it pays to look down…. The incident was described to me by volunteer Anna Douthwaite, who also provided the photos. It was a normal Sunday morning with a bright sun and blue sky, the visitors and volunteers in the hide were treated to some lovely views of ospreys, joined soon enough by a snipe (see above), fox and beautiful grey heron.

Fox having a drink (Anna Douthwaite)

grey heron (Anna Douthwaite)

The day then took a darker turn, the heron picked its way through the reed bed, suddenly it stopped, the bird had found its prey, sadly it was one of the water voles that have been frequenting Manton Bay. The little vole put up the fight of its life and at one moment looked as though it could have got away, unfortunately, it was all in vain and before long the vole was gone.

found it’s prey (Anna Douthwaite)

(Anna Douthwaite)

almost got away (Anna Douthwaite)

(Anna Douthwaite)

Caught (Anna Douthwaite)

As for the ospreys the week as been much less eventful, the two chicks are still enjoying the shade of the poplar trees. We have been provided with some beautiful photos from John and Carol Smallman of the chicks and the adults enjoying the weather.

3AU lifts off from nest ( John Smallman)

3AW ( John Smallman)

3AW in flight ( John Smallman)

3AW lands on nest ( John Smallman)

3 AW (John Smallman)

A Sky Full of Ospreys

The osprey team have led 3 osprey cruises this week on board the Rutland Belle – one for the public on Wednesday, and two for the charity Warning Zone – and there’s still another public cruise to go tomorrow night! Luckily for our guests this is a great time of year to see ospreys at Rutland, with male birds busy collecting fish for their families and young birds beginning to stretch their wings too.
I was lucky enough to be on board last night, with volunteers Libby and Liz. We’d been on the water less than 5 minutes when we saw our first osprey, and after that it seemed to be wall to wall birds for the next hour or so.

51 making an appearance on a previous cruise
Photo Credit: Leon Kirkbride

We think that we probably saw 3, maybe 4, birds in total, making appearances again and again. The real highlight of the night was seeing an osprey diving to catch a fish not far from us as we sailed along the south arm. The bird did not seem phased by us on the Rutland Belle, or the 20 sailing boats nearby which had set out from the sailing club, catching a fish on his first attempt and flying it back to his family.

We still have a few tickets left for tomorrow nights cruise (Saturday 14th July) – please give us a call on 01572 770651 if you’d like to book a place, or to book online click here. It really is the perfect time of year to get out on the water, and our current weather makes the experience even better!

Dawn cruise and Manton Bay

Dawn cruise and Manton Bay

Well it’s been very hot down at Lyndon nature reserve the past few days, even with the cool breeze drifting over the water it feels like a Mediterranean summer, not a British one. The peak temperature today is 27oC, in Dakar, The Gambia it is 28oC, at least this means the ospreys will be well acclimatised when they decide to migrate for the winter!  The birds in Manton Bay have been very subdued in the heat, preferring the shelter of the poplar tree behind the nest rather than the exposed perches.

Today was the first day that the birds had been described as active by the volunteers in the hide, although with the temperature set to soar again my guess is that they will be back in the shade before long. Even with the birds being fairly inactive in the bay there is still lots to see at Lyndon. In the meadow in front of the centre we have had yellow hammers, tree sparrows, mallard ducklings and very small rabbit kits, all enjoying the sun. Down in the bay we have had an extraordinary number of swans, a couple great-crested grebe, barn owls and even young water voles.

View from osprey nest cam of the swans in Manton Bay. 

The young ospreys in the bay are getting braver everyday flying further each time they venture away from the nest, however, they are always straight back on when 33(11) brings in a fish. If 33(11) tries to take a break both chicks are on his case loudly food begging from the nest.

One of the chicks taking the fish from 33(11)

3AW showing us her wings.

This morning we had our second dawn osprey cruise and it was one of the best I’ve ever had. We started at 6 am; the sun was a bright beacon hanging low in the sky, its warmth penetrating though the misty morning already. The reservoir was calm and tranquil it radiated peacefulness, only broken by birds calling in the distance. The morning itself was something to behold and the views of ospreys were spectacular, we had one osprey attempt to fish, it kept plunging towards the water and was finally successful on the forth or fifth time. We also had an osprey perch in the willows at the back of lagoon 1 and watched in awe as it took off, quickly gaining height. Finally, we retired back to the Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre for a fantastic breakfast supplied by Paul Stammers (Osprey Information Officer, soon to be head chef) and our truly dedicated volunteers. Thank you to everyone involved it was a fantastic event!

If you would like to book onto one of our osprey cruise click here spaces are limited and we only have one more dawn osprey cruise left this season!