Last week we had the pleasure of meeting Shirley Davies and Nick Gordon. Shirley very generously donated £200 to the project from sales of her book “The New Kid On The Loch” – Thank you very much Shirley! Here is Nick’s account of their time at Rutland Water.
Well, last week marked my first ever visit to Rutland Water – a trip that I’d been eagerly anticipating in the months since booking my flight from the Isle Of Man, and I have to say that it was a trip that confirmed, met, and surpassed all my anticipation and expectation!! I’ve been so enthused by the entire set-up here for the last three years, particularly the West African project, so it was great to finally put faces to at least some of the names I’ve become so familiar with from my reading, and to also actually see the location of the nest and perches that had thus far been no more than photographs on the website!!
My friend Shirley and I arrived in the Visitor Centre on Tues morning (30 July), to be met with the warmest and most genuine of welcomes from Paul Stammers, who then introduced us to Lizzie, before accepting Shirley’s cheque of donation from sales of her book “The New Kid On The Loch” (forgive the shameless plug!!) on behalf of Tim and the team. Meeting Paul was an absolute delight, his obvious love of Ospreys and his passion for the project, are both inspirational and infectious, and his friendly disposition helped turn my first impressions into lasting impressions!! With introductions concluded, we headed off to the hides for my first view of the reservoir, and of course, the Ospreys.
Although I’ve only been watching Ospreys for just four short years, it didn’t take long to be captivated by the special kind of magic that surrounds these magnificent birds, so in walking the path down to Shallow Water Hide, I easily found myself mentally drifting away and slipping beyond the veil into that “other” world that Ospreys inhabit, and which is so eloquently described and portrayed in Ken’s diaries. A few hours in the hide was all that I required to experience that apparent suspension of time, and become oblivious to all connection with the “ordinary” world!!
Taking stock of my first sighting of the birds in this idyllic setting, I can confidently say that Manton Bay provides the best Osprey viewing I’ve seen so far, with unobstructed views of the nest and beyond, and is a photographer’s dream, especially when the birds are airborne!! With 5R, his mate, and 3 juveniles in residence, we were treated to some fantastic flying displays over the week, particularly as the youngsters were regularly exhibiting their increasing confidence, and taking turns to plunge into the water, though all three made a straight line for the nest on each of the occasions we saw dad return, complete with a big juicy fish to deliver!!!
Putting further faces to names, it was another great pleasure to meet the lovely Lynda Berry at long last, on our second full day – Shirley had wanted me to meet her ever since her visit of last year, and once again, I delighted in the warm and friendly welcome I received – many thanks Lynda, it was lovely to meet you!!
But Rutland is far from just about the Ospreys – there is a wide variety of birdlife on show here, which provide further photo opportunities during any lull in Osprey activity, and I was extremely pleased to see my first Yellow Wagtail, and my first Egyptian Geese, accompanied by their respective offspring – The shore was littered with coots, little egrets, black headed gulls, and good numbers of lapwings. Further back towards the VC, both “Cormorant trees” were occupied in number too – I also saw my first yellow legged gull and it didn’t stop there either – the top path down to Shallow Water on the gloriously warm & sunny Thursday, was a heaving mass of butterflies, and amongst the many peacocks, red admirals, small, large & green-veined whites, were my first sightings of skipper, comma, painted lady, and brimstone – many of these being species I’ve yet to see here on the Isle Of Man, so this was a particular treat for me!!
All in all, and in closing, this was a fantastic maiden visit, and I can safely say that it won’t be my last. I’d like to thank Paul, Lynda, Lizzie, and Michelle, who we also met on the Friday morning, for your kindness during our stay, and for making us so welcome – I’ll be back next year, this time for a week’s volunteering, with luck!! I didn’t get to meet Tim on this visit, but many thanks to both you and John Wright, and to Paul & Michelle for signing my copy of Tim’s outstanding book, so personalizing such a great souvenir from my week at Rutland.
With many thanks, and kind regards,