FEBRUARY. It’s a grey, drizzly morning in Rutland and I’m still dreaming of the amazing time that we all had in The Gambia and Senegal, but also thinking about our Ospreys preparing for their homecoming. It was such an exciting experience in Africa to see so many Ospreys and witness how differently they behave over there. Volunteering this season will be somewhat different for me having witnessed that kind of behaviour when they are away from their nests. Many times in the past I have tried to imagine where they were and what they were up to in their wintering grounds – now I know.
MARCH. The Rutland Project Team have now reconvened and it’s all systems go; 150 volunteers to co-ordinate – daytime shifts, Osprey cruises, night shifts, Family Fun Days, Birdfair and new this season, Midnight Nightingales and all before we know which nests will be active? How do we know which birds will return and will there be any disappointments like we had last year with the losses of 32(05) and 06(00) Oh, the sadness when two of our males made that perilous journey back to RW, only to have their lives snatched away. Many of us who made the trip to sub-Saharan Africa were astounded when we flew for hours over that desert – it is so, so vast and unforgiving. We had witnessed the miracle of their arrival safely back at RW and there was such promise and then the mystery of their disappearances and finally the realisation that they were gone forever.
Now, whatever it is that makes them leave the warmth and the plentiful fish supply in Africa will be prompting them again and they will set off on that mammoth journey, and last years’ juveniles will have the African paradise to themselves for six months. These magnificent birds bewitch us with their beauty, spirit, energy and courage, oh and their naughtiness, promiscuity and their individuality. In the past I have been very lucky to be in the right place at the right time and witness a few wonderful ‘Osprey Moments’. They will be back here at Rutland Water very soon and I am eagerly awaiting their arrival to witness a few more ‘moments’ that I can tell you about. I’ll be here every week and hope that you enjoy reading about my encounters.