A mystery solved

The recent advances in satellite tracking technology have provided us with an incredible insight into the lives of young Ospreys. For the first time this summer Roy Dennis was able to track the movements of a young two year-old Osprey, Rothiemurchus, when he returned to the UK for the first time. Rothiemurchus’s radio proved what we had always suspected at Rutland Water – that these young birds wander far and wide when they first return. Rothiemurchus visted his natal nest site in northern Scotland at least twice but he also spent time exploring the rest of Scotland and northern England. You can read more on Roy’s website.

This summer four two-year old Ospreys returned to Rutland Water for the first time. As we followed the movements of Rothiemurchus, we wondered how far a field our own young birds were ranging. A good example was 06(09).

You may remember that 06 first returned to Rutland Water on 10th June this year. You can read about it in the Manton Bay diary for 11th June.  This initial visit was a brief one and we did not see him for another six weeks. When he did return, on 26th July, we saw him far more regularly for the rest of the summer. So where did he go for those six weeks?

06 at Rutland Water on 10th June - photo by John Wright

Well, we now know that the answer is Hampshire. I recently received an email from Keith Betton, the Hampshire County bird recorder saying that a colour-ringed Osprey had been photographed at Fishlake Meadows just north of Southampton. It was 06. At least one Osprey had been present at Fishlake from 21st June until 24th July and when we checked the various photos that Keith sent through the underwing pattern and wing moult showed that it was 06 throughout. Timing-wise this fits in perfectly. He was first seen at Fishlake eleven days after first visiting Rutland Water and he then re-appeared in Rutland two days after he was last seen in Hampshire.

The sighting not only demonstates the value of colour ringing, but also shows how the Osprey population in Rutland has the potential to help the birds recolonise parts of southern Britain. Fishlake Meadows is closer to Rutland Water that Cors Dyfi where 03(08) bred for the first time this year. So if a Rutland bird can end up in Wales, then there is every chance that one may set up territory in Hampshire. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later. The map below shows the location of the three sites. Fishlake is 118 miles from Rutland Water whereas Cors Dyfi lies 135 miles to the west.

Rutland, Fishlake Meadows and Cors Dyfi

3 responses to “A mystery solved”

  1. Steph

    Hi Tim

    That was really interesting. Two things for the future.

    1. We need to be prepared with new nest sites over the next couple of years.

    2. We need to look at protection of the Ospreys. As they increase homo sapien will predate, otherwise we wouldn’t need the projects.

    With these two things in mind are all the Osprey projects meeting together to formulate a 5-10 year plan of nesting sights and protection?



    Who met you at Rutland on the Belle!

    1. Tim

      Hi Steph,

      Yes the various projects are all working very closely together. Fortunately egg collecting is much less prevalent these days but clearly we need to avoid being complacent about it. We’re also working with various people to get as many new nests up as possible. This is definitely the best way to encourage the Rutland birds to spread further a field – Cors Dyfi being the perfect example.


  2. Valerie

    Thank you Tim for that update , I now wish I had visited Fishlake Meadows which is not far from me here in Petersfield , I know the time will come when an Osprey settles down South , lets hope soon , I know there are several projects up and running to encourage them so pretty sure the day is not far away .