Maya is back!

Great news! Maya arrived back on the nest at 10.39 this morning (14th March). She battled wind speeds of up to 50mph to reach Manton Bay, and was only on the nest for a few minutes before disappearing again, presumably to find herself a meal.

Maya just after landing on the nest this morning

Seconds before she arrived, a pair of Egyptian Geese were cosily resting on the nest – not for long though! Maya is experienced in seeing off geese and today was no exception.

When Maya turned her head, we got to see the cross on the back of her head, which is her most distinguishing feature, since she is an unringed bird.

Maya arrived back on March 12th last year, and we were expecting her to be delayed this year due to the weather. She has surprised us all by turning up this early with storm Gareth raging over the reservoir. Maya’s mate 33 arrived back on this day last year, so we are now keeping our fingers crossed for his safe return too! Keep your eyes on the webcam as he could get back any time now.

Osprey Ambassador Warm-ups.. just WOW!

The seasons may not feel like they’re changing just yet, what with threats of Storm Gareth (doesn’t sound too intimidating) due to hit this week and the sprinkles of snow we had at the weekend… but one part of our reserve was feeling positively toasty from the warm-up Osprey Ambassador meeting ahead of Wild Osprey (WOW) Week! Hearing from our Education Officer team Jackie Murray, Pete Murray and Ken Davies:

“On Sunday thirty young Osprey Ambassadors from fourteen local schools had their first meeting of 2019 at the Volunteer Training Centre. This is the fifth year of Osprey Ambassadors, and these young people have the important role of being the link between the Rutland Osprey project and their school. Ken Davies welcomed returning Ambassadors, and many new ones and thanked the twenty or so parents and family members for bringing them to this event.

Their first challenge was to work out the route the ospreys take when they return from West Africa to Rutland on their 3000 mile migration later this month.

A brief presentation showed our young Ambassadors how the ospreys over winter in Africa and how we recognise and track the Rutland ospreys on this challenging journey.

We celebrate when the birds return in schools during World Osprey Week (or WOW! for short).This year it takes place from 18th -22 March. Ambassadors were given a memory stick and script with a WOW presentation to give to their class or whole school. This contained the latest news, how to follow the osprey journey using the tracking page on the website, and the osprey activities they can do in school.

The next activity was Jackie Murray’s “Feather challenge”. Four teams of Ambassadors were given six feathers and had to work out which bird the feather had come from!

Liz Elsden then produced a magnificent “osprey themed” spread of cakes and drinks for the Ambassadors .…. and only the crumbs remained.

Ken did an informal bird watching session for all from the upstairs room overlooking Lagoon 4 to finish the day. A lovely if windswept landscape today, but with beautiful light and plenty of bird activity both on the water and along the shore line.

We look forward to seeing the Osprey Ambassadors at our monthly meetings at the Lyndon Nature Reserve from April to September. We will of course meet many when we visit their schools for assemblies or educational workshops in the coming weeks, or later in the season when they have a class visit to see the Rutland ospreys at the reserve.

We really appreciate the interest and enthusiasm of our Ambassadors and the support of their parents in helping them to be a part of this exciting project. 2019 will be the year of the 150th osprey chick to be raised at Rutland Water so watch this space….”

Pina coladas? Or getting caught in the rain? Tough choices..

All of us at Lyndon HQ are looking out onto the icy waters of Manton Bay, wrapped in fifteen layers, drawing straws on who has to brave the chilly outside world to check the site is in good working order for the day. This morning Rutland woke up to a light dusting of snow on rooftops and cars, and a collective shudder swept across the landscape as we all had to force ourselves out of bed… But it’s a different story for our feathered friends… in a distant paradise, sunning themselves in secluded white beaches and turquoise shores, three of our tagged Ospreys are reveling in the final throes of their overwintering retreats. We’re lucky enough to be able to share with you a little sneak peak into their whereabouts and possible movements using satellite tracking technology. Imagine the ripples of excitement (and envy) that swept through the Osprey HQ (a rather grand term for what is essentially my mascot-adorned corner of the Lyndon office with its own small library and biscuit supply) when I zoomed in on google earth to see the journeys of these three Ospreys. Only one of our birds seems to be making any definitive movements in a constant direction North, number 30, but time will tell over these next couple of weeks who will be the first to return to Rutland’s shores. (See photo 1)

  Photo 1: 30 heading north of Dakar towards Nouakchott

She first bred at Rutland in 2009 and was tagged in 2013, and we have followed her migration ever since. She is heading up from the coast from Dakar, and is currently flying over Nouakchott in Mauritania. 

Our other Ospreys seem to be enjoying island life and kicking back on the coast of Guinea and Senegal! (Photos 2 and 3)

 Photo 2: 4k hugging the coast of Guinea

4K (enjoying the coast of Guinea!) fledged the nest in 2015 but has yet to breed, so we will wait to see if he returns to try his luck again in 2019!

 Photo 3: S1 island hopping off the coast of Guinea Bissau

S1, one of the first chicks of Maya and 33, also fledged in 2015, and may choose this year to start a breeding territory of his own.. both these Ospreys were fitted with a tracker in 2018 and the movement patterns we are seeing is within a small area, indicating they seem to be showing no signs of taking their towels of the sun loungers just yet!

So place your bets and watch this space for the next thrilling installments in the Osprey Odyssey! 

Come on down!

Yes the time has come! The ribbon has been cut, the windows polished, the phone voices perfected… our doors are officially open at Lyndon Visitor Centre for a season of wildlife watching and fun for everyone! Despite the wild edges to this weekend the sun may be tempting the adventurous ones among you to put on your warmest layers, pack a picnic and brace the elements.. what better way to spend a Saturday morning than strolling around the beautiful Lyndon reserve, with excellent views of Manton Bay, to the chorus of equally tenacious tree sparrows, bullfinches, goldcrests, wigeon and many many more! Our gift shop is glowing, our live stream of the Osprey nests are on full display and there are plenty of guides and info on the wildlife around Rutland water. What are you waiting for… Come on down!

For info about opening times, permit prices and access, click the link below to our facebook page or info page to find out more:

Look forward to seeing some friendly (albeit weather-weary!) faces!

Same places, new faces..

Braving howling winds and unpredictable downpours, driving against hunger pangs and trying to stay on course to reach the distant shores of Rutland water… hoping against hope that this would be a successful year, a young ornithologist embarks on her migration to exciting new territory…

2019, new year, new people, new wardrobe (the Leicester and Rutland Wildlife uniform is a vast improvement on my usual Attenborough-wannabee beige and blue!) and exciting new challenges. This season I’ll be working as the Osprey Project officer, helping welcome these enigmatic birds back to the UK after their arduous journey from West Africa- I struggle to comprehend doing that with British airways let alone on the wing! Migration is something I’m fascinated by and I’ve followed in the literature the extraordinary lengths our native birds go for their winter feeding grounds. I find it remarkable how much information we can obtain about migration, particularly as we are beginning to develop more and more sophisticated tracking technology. It will be so exciting to see where the tagged Ospreys go at the end of this year, we have already seen where some have ended up: Guinea Bissau, Senegal… I cannot wait for them to return to Rutland, the pre-season preparations are underway already and the enthusiasm and anticipation rippling around the volunteers and staff is infectious! I can only hope to do as good a job as my predecessors, and feel very lucky to be working with dedicated people in a beautiful location, watching and waiting eagerly for the Osprey’s return!

A little (Tern) goes a long way…

Before working in Rutland I worked with other long-distance migrants, namely the iconic and elegant Little Tern, both at Chesil Beach in Weymouth and Gronant Dunes in Denbighshire. These projects gave me my first real taste of conservation, and highlighted the importance of volunteers and project staff in shepherding a whole new generation safely through to fledging, and perhaps even see them return in future to our shores. I can already see evidence of all the hard work and commitment to the Osprey project over the years and I cannot wait to be a part of it.

The next few weeks are going to fly by… but hopefully the Ospreys will chose to stay for another productive season at Rutland! There’s a lot to look forward to this year, so I’m making the most of the calm ahead of season to brush up on my Osprey knowledge and practice my fun facts for the upcoming guided walks and talks I’ll be doing over at Lyndon later on… let’s Os-pray my jokes go down well…