This season in Manton Bay, everything has occurred a little bit earlier than last year. Maya arrived back two weeks earlier, and 33 one week earlier; the eggs were laid ten days earlier; hatching occurred eight days earlier; and the juveniles fledged eleven days earlier. This has of course made us wonder whether the ospreys would migrate a week or so earlier this year too? In 2015, the first Manton Bay osprey set off on his migration on 29th August, and the last one to leave, Maya, did so on 3rd September. Is their instinct to migrate instigated by their age, which is usually 14 weeks at the time of migration, or by the time of year, which tends to be the end of August or early September?
Well, it would appear that the first option is the correct one, as T6 seems to have gone! I say “seems to have”, because I know what you’re all thinking – T6 disappeared for four days at the end of July and then returned. This time, however, the signs all point to her having left for good. The volunteers in the hide on Monday morning reported that one of the juveniles soared in circles higher and higher above the nest, then flew off purposefully southwards. This behaviour is usually a sure sign that a migration has begun. T7 and T8 were subsequently identified in the bay, therefore the juvenile who left must have been T6.
The day before she left, John saw that there was some discord between the youngsters, as tends to happen at this age. They begin to get more aggressive and impatient, and often fall out with each other. On Sunday, T7 was very hostile towards T6, and chased her around the bay several times, forcing her to retreat to the furthest perch. This is possibly what led to T6’s decision to leave.
At this age, the youngsters also become more aggressive towards the adult birds, particularly when fish is brought in. Here are some photos John took of Maya bringing a pike to the nest, and T8 grabbing hold of Maya’s toe instead of the fish! He held on tight and didn’t let go – even when she dropped the fish!
Poor Maya! It can become quite dangerous for the adults at this time of year, when the juveniles are fully grown, fit and headstrong. Surely it would be a better idea for the adults to leave and let the juveniles get on with learning to catch fish for themselves! Ospreys are very attentive parents though, and their instincts to care for their chicks are incredibly strong. It is written that adult females usually leave first, and in some cases I’m sure this is true, but it’s not a rule that is steadfastly adhered to, and Maya has never left first in all six of the previous years in which she has raised chicks!
Here are some more excellent photographs by John Wright of the action in Manton Bay over the past few days.
Recently there have been several intrusions at the nest site by other ospreys, most of whom are likely to be from Rutland, whether breeding adults, non-breeding adults or adventurous juveniles. However, it would seem that some Scottish ospreys have also begun their migrations, as John took some photographs of an intruding osprey at the weekend who turned out to be a female from Scotland. This is known due to the fact she had a blue ring on her left leg. Ospreys in Scotland always have their colour rings on their left legs, and birds from England and Wales have their colour rings on their right legs.
This intruding female sailed through the bay steadily, having a quick look, and Maya flew up after her to see her off. The intruder then gained in height and continued on her southwards journey.