A question that we are getting a lot at this time of year is whether the Ospreys are still with us. The answer is yes! They will stay in the area until the end of August or even into early September. Last season, Maya and 33 left on 7th and 8th September respectively.
Of course, they did not raise any chicks last year, but this season, all three youngsters will have to make that 3,000 mile journey aswell. However, they won’t do it as a family – they all go alone. It is absolutely incredible that the juveniles manage to find their way to their wintering grounds, having never been before, and without being shown the way. It is something that we will never be able to fully comprehend. They make this journey based entirely on instinct. Some unseen, inexplicable force within them kicks in, which tells them they must fly south, and when they feel that pull they will leave Manton Bay, and head to West Africa.
It is not just their migration that their instinct assists them with. Ospreys are governed very heavily by their instincts throughout their lives, even from a very young age. We have seen evidence throughout the season that the young Ospreys’ instincts are guiding them.
For instance, they have a survival instinct that makes them lie completely still when there is any danger, as they are so camouflaged in the nest they are invisible when they do not move. Also, several weeks ago we witnessed the chicks begin to move sticks and nest material around the nest, so they clearly have a strong nest-building instinct.
Just yesterday, S3 was seen to instinctively mantle over her fish, to prevent her brother stealing it.
Also, the juveniles have been seen diving into the water, as if fishing, and even though they come up with nothing but perhaps a bit of algae, the instinct to fish is there. Diving into the water could also be an example of learning by imitation. The word imitation comes from the Latin imitatio, which means copying. Basically, the juveniles have observed the adults fishing and are replicating their actions.
Recently, there has been another occasion where a juvenile has used imitation – a few weeks ago we saw S3 watching S1 eating a fish, and she copied off him using a bit of nest material!
We hope their migration instincts guide our Ospreys well when they leave us in a few weeks’ time. In the meantime, however, let’s enjoy the time we have whilst they are still with us, as they are certainly putting on a good aerial show every day in Manton Bay! Visit us at the Lyndon Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve to see them.