Site B, what can I say, I just wish you could be there, however, you’ll have to rely on the team, Ken and myself to do our best to let you know how special this location really is. I’m going to tell you about some very special times I’ve had this season at Site B, possibly my favourite place on earth.
I’ve spent quite a few hours there during July and August, more than normal, as my husband accompanies me on the early morning shifts each Saturday in July to watch the athleticism of the juveniles. He’s always enjoyed watching the juveniles during July – with relatively poor eyesight, he can watch them helicoptering just before fledging. This year he had an eye operation and was really pleased that his long vision was greatly improved. It was, therefore, with some excitement that we set off for Site B on July 7th. How ironic that at 6am it was quite misty and as the sun rose higher, it became very foggy, not clearing until ten minutes before the end of our shift. To rub salt into our wounds, the first of the three juveniles, 1F, fledged a couple of hours after our departure. The next Saturday was misty too, but cleared quite quickly this time. Tim phoned from the Rutland Belle, on board for an Osprey Cruise. It’s always good for the team to know if an adult male has set off to go fishing and they can watch out for him over the water. ‘Hi Lynda, is 03(97) about?’ My answer, ‘I haven’t got a clue!’ And once again, to add insult to injury, 3F waited until we had left and then took to the air for the first time.
Last year was not nearly as exciting as this season has been; with only one juvenile last year, the situation became very routine – 03(97) went fishing, female was sometimes in sight and the juvenile was always disappearing. Possibly out of boredom, loneliness or sheer inquisitiveness, the juvenile, 33(11), decided to visit his cousins in Manton Bay and pitched up on their nest. This year, with three juveniles to watch over, it has been spectacular. And this year they have been so much more adventurous and advanced. I wonder if their escapes from difficult situations has made them feistier, daring and even more accepting of us. Wow, all three at Site B have caught a fish – in the years that I’ve been volunteering, that kind of fact has never been established. And at Manton Bay, last Wednesday, 15th, I saw 1F catch one too, alas he dropped it instantly.
The anticipation of doing a shift at Site B is quite frankly, heady. I was discussing with Ken (he who writes the most amazing diary) about approaching the final gate; I get goosebumps every time, whatever the weather, and each time that I arrive at the gate I think to myself, ‘I’ll open the gate first and then have a look towards the nest’. Have I ever done that? No! I’m like a child …., I cannot wait that long! I look towards the nest, scan the favourite perches, the secret places where the juveniles hide – different every year – and I can’t remember a shift when there have been no Ospreys. Of course I have a huge panic then – I have to open the gate (not easy) and then walk c~a~l~m~l~y to the hide. Approaching this nest is important – I think I know that by now, approach slowly, take the path along the hedge, and keep quiet. I’m nearly at the hide but just have to look towards the nest – I am so close, all five members present, phew, relax, and breathe.
25/07/2012 08.00 – 12.00 Lynda Berry Clear, warm, breezy
07.45 As I come through the final gate one Osprey flies close and into the wood where the hide is and then another follows. The second Osprey reappears and displays directly over my head and then returns to the new perch.
08.10 Female still on nest perch. Juvenile from far right Ash tree, flies over nest and then directly towards hide and then veers into wood.
08.28 As I step out of the hide, juvenile flies out of wood directly above and returns to nest. Female on nest calls loudly and an intruding Osprey appears. Site B female circles and chases it, first over righthand end of wood and then close over my head over wood where hide is situated.
08.39 Juvenile from nest flies over righthand end of wood and in the distance, lands on a telegraph pole. He is then flushed by a crow and circles over wood, joined by another Osprey (which one?), circling over left end of wood and both disappear NW. No Ospreys in sight now.
08.50 Osprey over hide, circles over crop field, joined by another, one makes a serious attack on a buzzard to left, then all three birds are over nest and flying NW. Buzzard and one Osprey disappear.
08.58 1F flies to the nest, 03(97) arrives with a trout. 1F takes fish, 03 to righthand Ash. Female arrives on nest.
30/07/12 08.00 – 12.00 Lynda Berry Sunny, breezy
08.00 03 on new perch, female has flown NE, one juvenile in far right tree.
08.20 Three Ospreys circling over gate to right of hide, going high and drifting together.
08.24 2F, from the three in the sky, lands on the nest. (It was possibly the female soaring with two juveniles). Other two disappear South.
08.58 Two Red Kites and two Buzzards – left of nest – 03 battles with a Kite and returns to the nest perch.
09.05 2F returns to nest.
09.10 03 and 2F take to the sky together, over crop field. 2F back to nest, followed by 03 to new perch.
09.19 1F from the far right tree returns to the nest, food begging.
09.20 3F returns to the nest perch and 03 flies to the small Oak.
09.25 All three juveniles ‘tussling’ in the air, landing here and there. One into the ‘hide’ wood, one on the nest and one on the nest perch.
09.30 1F flies very low over the crop and lands on a fencepost, left of the hide. Perches there for 15 minutes. Three Red Kites circle nest, and over 1F, who doesn’t move.
I took one of the telescopes outside the hide at this point and quietly watched him. On my walk back to the car later, I walked over to the fencepost where he had perched several times that morning; I suppose I was hoping that he had preened a feather or two loose, but there was nothing except the memory of him on this post. I know that had Ken or I approached our favourite gate when he was perched there, we would both probably have needed smelling salts.
09.45 1F flies into ‘hide’ wood.
09.50 3F from nest perch to the nest, food begging, then flies over 03 in the small Oak and into ‘hide’ wood, same direction as 1F.
09.55 A juvenile brings a stick to the nest, chipping loudly and then flies low into ‘hide’ wood, very close left of hide.
10.04 03 leaves small Oak and does battle with a Red Kite and then returns to the small Oak.
Several minutes later the hide is filled with the sound of an Osprey food begging. It must be so close and I hardly dare to move. I know that if I step out of the hide I will flush it, but it is incredibly frustrating to know that it is so close and I cannot see it. In previous years at Site B, I’ve never know the juveniles use the wood where the hide is situated and perch there – so near and yet so far.
10.27 Juvenile food begging in wood to left – heard not seen.
10.30 Juvenile from wood, back to nest perch.
10.33 Juvenile back to fencepost, left of hide.
10.40 Juvenile back to nest, alarm calling – Osprey circling over nest for 5 minutes (intruder?). 03 disappears.
10.47 Female lands on nest with a twig, followed by a second juvenile with nest material. Both juveniles food begging loudly. One juvenile disappears.
11.04 (Rains starts). Second juvenile back to nest from ‘hide’ wood.
11.07 Female flies swiftly to right of hide and divebombs something behind trees. (Very heavy rain now).
11.09 Both juveniles leave the nest ,flying over the small Oak, and have a little battle in the air. One flies to the fencepost and then into the wood and then the second one follows into the wood. (No Ospreys in sight now).
11.20 03 lands on the nest with a trout. 3F lands on the nest to eat. 03 flies to the small Oak.
11.22 A second juvenile flies to the nest. (Heavy rain again).
12.01 The female returns to the nest perch.
11.45 3F flies off and the other juvenile starts food begging, so presumably no fish left.
Of course, our main job is to observe the Ospreys, but we are blessed with other sightings. Some volunteers keep a running list in the hide and this is how it reads for this season: Red Kite, Buzzard, Kestrel, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Wren, Swallow, Blackbird, Pheasant, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Rook, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Green Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Cuckoo, Jackdaw, Great Tit, Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Wheatear, Swift, Common Tern, Great Black- backed Gull, Robin, Raven, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Marsh Tit, Mute Swan, Mallard, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Hobby, Dunnock, Fox, Fallow Deer (over 40 at one time), Muntjac, Rabbit (including a ginger one!), Hornet. I have had a female pheasant stop and pause within two feet of me; an adorable male Chaffinch hopped up to the hide doorway; the prettiest baby rabbits, so close; and last Wednesday just before ‘our’ gate, a young male fallow deer – I stopped, we made eye contact, he moved away, stopped to take another look, and carried on. I’ve flushed pheasants from the nettles in front of the hide and nearly keeled over with shock, I’ve lived in wellingtons, waterproofs, thermals for the entire season, but would I change one single minute of it – never. And as I walked back to the car last week, there were the six mares with foals that I’ve been watching grow throughout the season –a dark bay, four bright bays and my very favourite, a black foal whose mother is grey (white) with pinkish eyes. They are a little braver now, but still trot back to their mothers as I approach.
And as the country rejoices in Olympic euphoria, for me, a Gold Medal (The Marathon) must go to 03(97), 27 chicks – thank you 03. The team gold must surely go to our Rutland Project Team for dedication to the cause – it’s not an easy call to rescue suffering birds, but who could ignore any creature in its hour of need. Several members of our team have made rescues both at Manton Bay and Site B, saving 2F, 1F and 9F. And in seeing these juveniles go on to become strong, determined and fearless, it surely is a time to celebrate.