The sun rose today on our second Dawn Osprey Cruise of the 2015 season, and I think it is safe to say that this morning’s cruise was the best we have ever had…
It was an absolutely beautiful morning – the sky was clear, and the sun was just breaking the horizon and spreading its orange rays across it as we arrived at Whitwell. There was a whisper of wind, but the surface of the reservoir remained calm and unaffected.
We knew it was going to be a good cruise when Tim spotted an Osprey before we had even left the harbour! The bird flew west from the dam, and attempted two dives, both of which it pulled out of, before flying out of view. We couldn’t load passengers onto the Rutland Belle fast enough!
First of all we sailed down the South Arm, as we thought this was where the first Osprey went, and we have seen the majority of Ospreys on our cruises down there. Unfortunately, the Osprey seen from Whitwell had disappeared, and we sailed down the length of the South Arm without seeing another Osprey.
However, all was not lost – not by a long shot! Just as we had started to make our way back east, we spotted an Osprey in the distance, back where we had just come from! Then we realised there were three down there! Needless to say, Captain Matt turned the boat round and we headed back as fast as we could. It turned out that our timing was, in fact, impeccable. Just as we neared the area we had recently vacated, one of the Ospreys flew past the boat very closely, and it was clear that he was intent on fishing – he was circling around and hovering, all the while looking intently downwards, using his superb vision to focus on the fish. There was a gasp as he dived, but then he pulled out of it at the last second. Very soon after that he dived again, and this time it was perfect – his wings went back, his feet came down – talons outstretched, and into the water he plunged, sending up a splash of glittering spray. He had clearly caught hold of something, as he was struggling on the water’s surface for some time, beating his wings and trying to lift off. Eventually he managed to rise out of the water with his catch, which was a huge trout! The trout was not dead, and thrashed about so much we thought the Osprey might drop it. However, he didn’t, and managed to manoeuvre it into the classic Osprey-flying-with-a-fish pose, and flew off with it. It was fantastic viewing!
Here are a few photographs taken by Bob Moore of the Osprey fishing this morning. Many thanks to Bob for sharing these! John Wright took a look at these later, and identified the individual as male Osprey 03(97), known to many as Mr Rutland! You can read all about 03 and his legacy here.
It didn’t end there! We had little time to bask in the joy that lingers after such an impressive display from a fishing Osprey, as there was another Osprey in view at the same time! As 03(97) disappeared with his fish, we followed the second one, thinking he too might fish. We thought this second bird may have been 33, as it looked like he was over lagoon one, which he has been favouring recently. He didn’t catch anything though, and then all of a sudden he high-tailed it back to Manton Bay. Perhaps he saw another Osprey heading that way, and didn’t like it, so went back to defend his patch.
Not long after that we saw him again, along with another Osprey! We watched these birds as they flew gracefully around the boat, then gradually they eased away from us.
Time was getting on by this point, and we had to head back to Whitwell so that we were not late for our awaiting breakfast! However, on the way back we were waylaid slightly by more Ospreys! We had two in view for a long time, both circling obligingly around the boat, one this side, one that, before they flew into the North Arm. For a while we did not know in which direction to look! There were so many Ospreys seen this morning, it was hard to keep track of them all.
What an absolutely amazing cruise! As we sailed back into Whitwell, everyone aboard the Rutland Belle was deliriously happy and blown-away by the excitement of it. Not least me and Tim! It doesn’t matter how many times we may witness Ospreys fishing, or see so many Ospreys all at once, it never fails to thrill us. It was an indisputably incredible cruise, and one we won’t be forgetting in a hurry!
Words, unfortunately, do not quite do it justice. Therefore, in order to fully appreciate the exhilaration of an Osprey Cruise, you’ll need to come on one! Click here to book onto the next cruise with availability – Wednesday 22nd July. Or click here for a full list of all cruise dates.
Last but not least, this morning’s cruise was complemented by a superb cooked breakfast, which was the perfect way to end an exceptional morning! Thank you very much to our team of dedicated volunteers who assisted us with the cruise this morning, both on the boat and with the breakfast.
In other news, S3 has still not fledged. She has been doing a lot more helicoptering lately, as Tim mentioned yesterday, and she is hovering quite high above the nest for longer and longer periods. However, she still looks a bit unsteady occasionally, and doesn’t look quite ready. There is no rush for her to fledge, I would much rather she stayed on the nest for another few days to build a bit more confidence before taking to the air, than go before she’s ready and risk something dangerous happening. It doesn’t matter how long it takes her, just so long as she stays safe. It may take females longer to fledge due to their larger bulk and the necessity for stronger muscles to carry them, and therefore a prolonged period to prepare those muscles. This is another factor that makes us think S1 is very possibly a male.
In this video, S3 is looking a little wobbly.
But she’s doing a lot better here!
In this video, you can see Maya coming into the nest from a distance, and she lands on it with utmost grace and poise. S3 looks at her and then stretches her wings and jumps, as if to say, “Ok Mum, I can do that, you know.” Maya then takes off, perhaps trying to encourage S3 to follow her. She didn’t, though.
Both S1 and S2 are becoming more adventurous and seem to be enjoying the freedom their wings grant them. A couple of times today, S2 has been seen to dunk himself in the water! Perhaps he has watched his parents fish, and is attempting to copy them. You can see him in this video in the right hand side of the frame – he splashes into the water and then flies into the nest.
S1 has been showing her/his dominance again today with regards to fish, and had a bit of a tussle with Maya over one! 33 brought it in to the nest at about 18:30. Maya arrived at the nest, closely followed by S1, and when the fish arrived it was still alive, and went jumping all over the nest! Maya very deftly grabbed the fish by its face to still it, and then S1 grabbed it and she and Maya had a tug of war, which S1 won!
The three juveniles are all returning to the nest to feed, and whilst S1 likes to take the fish and eat it herself, the other two are still happy to be fed. The juveniles are also returning to the nest each night to sleep.