Osprey 4K

Male osprey 4K fledged from a nest on private land in 2013. He was ringed on 12th July 2013, He first returned to Rutland on 9th June2015. He has been holding territory but has not yet successfully attracted a female. 4K(13) was fitted with a GPS tracker August 2018.

Almost There


After spending the night in the desert on the 5th of August, S1 was quickly up into the sky and off south, he has now made his way to the south of Mauritania. This morning at around 7:00 he was only about 100 km from the border with Senegal, which means he could be arriving at his wintering ground as we speak! It will be very interesting to see which part of Senegal or The Gambia he has chosen to spend his winter. We know that 30 has her preferred spot on the Senegalese coast, somewhere between Dakar and St Louis, so is S1 heading down to this area? Or could he be following his nest mate S2 who was photographed on the Sine-Saloum Delta, near the northern border between Senegal and The Gambia? At S1’s current rate it won’t be long until we have the answers to these questions, let’s hope he has a successful last few days of migration before his well-earned rest.

s1- 5th-6th


As always 30 is also making great progress in just one day she has travelled over 330 km and last night was in southern Morocco. It is more than likely that she is now in Western Sahara, following her familiar autumn migration route.


30 roost 6th

4K has rocketed along and early this morning made the crossing from Europe to North Africa. He spent last night on the Spanish coast near the town of El Palmer, then first thing in the morning he was off, heading out towards Morocco. 4K has followed a very similar route to S1, but why do the birds choose to cross the Strait of Gibraltar at this point? There is more chance of them been blown off course and much more open water to navigate. The answer could be elevation, if you look at the images below you can see the boys are perhaps choosing to miss the mountainous area around Gibraltar and choosing the much lower elevated area to the west. We are already learning so much about these amazing birds!

Strait of Gibraltar
S1 – Yellow
4K- Pink
30 -Green
Elev= elevation

Strait of Gibraltar
S1 – Yellow
4K- Pink
30 -Green
Elev= elevation

4K- 4th-6th

Autumn Travels

Manton Bay

This morning we had beautiful golden sunshine bathing Rutland Water in its bright glow, but there was also a slight nip in the air, autumn isn’t coming, it is here! Down in Manton Bay the sunshine is bouncing off the reservoir casting light all around, although it is full of wildfowl, waders and plenty of other birds it still feels empty…

The osprey nest sits proud in the water, but nothing is sat upon it, apart from the odd corvid or cormorant. There is no food begging osprey, which each year becomes the sound track of the summer. The T-perch is bare and 33(11)’s favourite spot in the poplar tree is empty, the Manton Bay osprey have gone. 33 was last seen on Monday, by now he will be off on another amazing migration, hopefully to return recharged next March.  


S1 has made fantastic progress; he entered Western Sahara from Morocco on the 3rd September at 17:00. He has been skipping over the border into Mauritania a few times; a good reminder that these ospreys don’t see our man-made borders, highlighting the need for international cooperation to protect not just these, but all migrating birds.

S1 2nd – 3rd

S1 3rd


S1 5th


If you saw the last blog you will know that 30 started her migration on the 31st of August. She has now made it all the way to Morocco! Amazingly she has flown 2622 km in just six days. She followed her fairly typical route of heading down the west coast of France, passing over the Gironde estuary, as S1 did just days before. She then swooped round the Pyrenees by taking a coastal route across to Spain; following a similar route to S1, on the 2nd she roosted just outside of Madrid. Over the next couple of days she quickly made her way through southern Spain, and crossed into Morocco on the 4th making landfall near the town of Tangier. She is now west of Marrakesh and will no doubt make her way into Western Sahara either today or tomorrow, she is on the home straight, and has managed an amazing feat already!

30 31st-01

30 01st

30 2nd -3rd

30 4th-5th


It was mentioned in the last blog that 4K was spotted over Manton Bay on Sunday by volunteer Chris Woods who managed to get a photo; I had said jokingly that he could be just saying goodbye before he headed off on his own migration, it seems I could have been right, as 4Ks’ next stop after Manton Bay was Normandy. Interestingly, he seems to be following a very similar route to that of female 30, their Northern France roosting areas are less than 100 km away from each other. However, instead of skirting the French coast as 30 does, 4K decided to take the slightly short but much more notorious Bay of Biscay, he made the crossing in seven hours and rested on the northern Spanish cost near Bibao. He then headed south-east, the last data point showed him roosting near the Valdecanas reservoir, hopefully catching a well-deserved meal.

4K in Manton Bay by Chris Woods

4K 2nd

4k roost 2nd

4K roost 3rd

4K fishing spot

roost 4th

fishing spot 4th


On Their Way

It’s been another beautiful day at Rutland Water, this morning 33 caught a fish which he then ate on the T-perch, not long after, he started to climb high into the sky, until he was just a tiny speck against a blue back drop, and it looked as though he might have left for his migration. A couple of hours later, an osprey swooped into the bay, it was identified as 33, so he’s not gone yet…

S1 is making great progress and as of last night he was about half way across Morocco, deciding to overnight west of Marrakesh.

S1 31st-1st

30 the female osprey has finally made her move as well! Unfortunately, we are missing some of the data points, so can’t show her exact journey though France, but she has managed to make it all the way to the Pyrenees Mountains in just a couple of days!

30- 31st-2nd

30- Stopover 1st-2nd

4K is still in the Rutland area, in fact he was spotted passing over Manton Bay today. Maybe he just popped over to see the neighbours before he started his own migration.

Mystery solved!

On Thursday June 28th, John saw the young female who was the SIXTH Osprey from the class of 2010 to return to the UK. This female is the fourth two-year old to return to Rutland for the first time this year and John only saw a fleeting glimpse so he wasn’t sure whether she was 25(10) or 26(10). I’m thrilled to say that she paid a visit to the reserve today and we can now confirm that she is 25(10). She fledged from Site O in 2010 and is AW’s daughter. For more information about AW click here. She is likely to spend the summer exploring the area but hopefully in the next few years she will follow in the footsteps of her grandfather, ‘Mr Rutland’ 03(97), and return to raise chicks of her own.


What has happened to AW?

If you have been following the website over the winter you will know that, following his move to the Ivory Coast in December, AW generally remained faithful to a short six-mile stretch of river in the central part of the country. Then, in early February, he began to spend an increasing amount of time 20 miles away on the northern most reaches of the vast Lac de Buyo. He was spending most days at the lake and then returning to the river each evening to roost. There was nothing in his behaviour to suggest anything was wrong, but worryingly, we have stopped receiving any data from his transmitter.

The last GPS transmissions we received were on 17th February (the last ones shown on our Google Earth pages). The last three positions – for 6am, 7am and 8am that morning – all give exactly the same location: 6.78450,- 7.00117. That in itself was not particularly worrying; as we know from our recent trips to West Africa, wintering birds often spend prolonged periods on the same perch. What is far more concerning though, is that the only data we have received from the transmitter since then, are six non-GPS positions received 24 hours later on 18th February which suggested that AW was still in exactly the same spot. This was confirmed by the transmitter’s activity meter, which also showed that he (or the transmitter) wasn’t moving.

AW's last locations at Lac de Buyo in Ivory Coast

AW's last locations at Lac de Buyo in Ivory Coast

So what has happened? It seems there are two possibilities. The first is that the transmitter has fallen off. The transmitters are held in place with a teflon harness secured with cotton. They are designed to remain in place for five years or more, but when 06(01) returned to breed at Rutland Water in 2003, her transmitter had fallen off; and the last data we had received suggested she had gone down in the North Sea. So there is a chance that the same thing has happened to AW’s transmitter. Perhaps it has fallen off and is lying upside down, depleting the battery? The other possibility is that AW has come to grief somehow. Unfortunately the satellite imagery for this part of the Ivory Coast is very poor but the last positions we received are from what appear to be an area of cleared ground; not the sort of spot you would expect an Osprey to roost in, and certainly not somewhere they are likely to linger for 24 hours. The satellite data shows that on the evening of 16th February AW had been perched – perhaps on a dead tree in shallow water – a few hundred metres out from the shore. It is likely that many of the locals living around the lake are fishermen, and so perhaps AW became tangled in a discarded net? There is also a chance that he was intentionally killed. Living on the Edge: Wetlands and Birds in a Changing Sahel, a fantastic book that highlights the conservation issues facing birds in sub-Saharan Arfica, suggests that persecution is far more of a problem inland, than on the coast. In inland areas people tend to be concentrated around lakes and birds inhabiting these sites are, therefore, more likely to be intentionally taken. We have experience of this with our Rutland Water Ospreys – in 1998, 04(97) was killed by a farmer in Guinea, who only realised the significance of the bird when he noticed the rings on its leg. Once he realised the bird was ‘on a mission’ he took it to the British Embassay in the capital, Conakry. If a similar fate has befallen AW, then it emphasises why our education work in West Africa is so important.  I know from various conversations in Gambia and Senegal, that people are less likely to kill birds if they understand more about the incredible journeys that Ospreys and other migratory species make each winter. We know that AW flew almost 4000 miles from Rutland Water to the Ivory Coast. It would be a desperate shame if he has now come to grief at the hands of humans, especially as we tagged him because of the problems we have encountered in Rutland in recent years.

We have been checking the data regularly, in the hope that the radio would suddenly spark back into life, but with almost a month having now passed, that seems very unlikely. We will just have to hope that AW returns, minus his transmitter in a few weeks’ time. Thankfully, 09 seems settled on the Senegal coast, and so, at the very least, we should be able to follow his return journey north over the next few weeks.