The Osprey Bus

What an exciting few days! Firstly, I am happy to announce the arrival of another 2012-fledged Osprey! I mentioned a few weeks ago that we had seen an Osprey we believed to be a two-year-old female, but were unsure of her identity. Well, on Thursday this week the same bird visited Manton Bay, and John Truman, our volunteer on watch, captured a photograph of her, from which we could clearly read her ring… pause for dramatic effect… It is 2F(12), a female from the Site B nest! We have confirmed it is definitely the same bird that John Wright saw back in July.

So we now have two birds back from the 2012 season! There were nine chicks in total that fledged that year, so, based on the statistic that 25-30{aebb832937d1885646bba593f8f1074bbe61a552c8a5f5d60514d6f049ed1f58} of young Ospreys return after their first migration, we would expect to see two or three of these sub-adults return to Rutland this year. You never know, there may be a third around that we haven’t spotted yet!

On Friday, the first 2012 Osprey to return, 8F(12), was seen again in Manton Bay. Maya was on the T-perch next to a couple of fish, and 33(11) was on the leaning perch. The volunteers on duty, Sue and Rona, noticed there was another Osprey next to 33(11), with a blue ring. On closer inspection it was revealed to be 8F(12). Surprisingly, 33(11) acted completely normally. Neither he nor Maya showed any animosity towards 8F, or seemed the least bit concerned about his presence. 8F is, of course, Maya’s son from 2012 – one of two she raised that year, the other being a female – 9F. This was the only year in the four she has bred that she raised two chicks and not three. So perhaps 8F was just dropping in to see his Mum, and was making friends with her new beau…? It would be lovely to see 9F back too. She was the one who got attacked by 5R(04), after she bulldozed into him on her maiden flight and knocked him off his perch.

Here are some videos that were taken on Friday, of 33(11) with a fish, and Maya then taking it after he abandoned it on the nest. She had already caught her own fish and eaten it just an hour earlier. Maybe the fact that she is catching her own fish again means that her instincts have caught up with her, and she is acting the way she normally would at the end of a season. At this time of year, normally, her young would have been on the wing for a couple of weeks at least, and she would begin to leave the nest more often to catch her own fish and prepare herself for the long southward journey.

33(11) with fish

33(11) on the edge of the nest with his fish.

33(11) left the fish

33(11) abandoned the fish, so Maya came and took it


33(11) sitting on the nest looking chilled out


On to this morning, and the third and final Dawn Cruise of 2014. And what a cruise it was!

The morning began quite cool, with a slight breeze to chill those who had made a special effort to get out of bed early for what promised to be a wonderful experience. Steadily, the sun began to rise over the great earth dam, casting an orange glow across the cumulus clouds and reflecting in the surface of the reservoir. Despite the breeze, the water was quite calm, and fishing conditions looked good. Hopes high, we set sail from Whitwell Harbour.

Getting out of bed early proved to be well worth it! Almost immediately, everyone aboard the Rutland Belle was treated to views of not one, but four Ospreys! The birds were flying together in a loose cluster, all seemingly uninterested in fishing. It is likely that this was a quartet of non-breeding male Ospreys, forming a group, as they commonly do, that we like to call “the Osprey bus”. We watched them for some time, then they began to spread out, and keeping an eye on all of them proved rather difficult.

Two of the Ospreys then alighted the bus, and began to get serious about fishing. We watched in amazement as one Osprey dived into the water so close to the boat we were nearly splashed with the spray! Still half submerged, the Osprey struggled for a moment with his catch, then pumped those long, strong wings and emerged from the water with a shower of glistening droplets, carrying a huge trout. With his fish clutched firmly, facing forwards in his strong talons, the Osprey flew right past the starboard side of the boat and away. Wow! That would have been enough to make anybody’s morning, but it wasn’t over yet! We were treated to yet another breathtaking diving display from the second Osprey! This one also caught, and flew past the boat and away, but not before getting mobbed by two gulls who wanted his fish! He managed to evade their advances and made his escape over the trees.

But that was still not all – we saw yet another Osprey diving! A couple of times he pulled out before he hit the water, and once he went for it and plunged in, but missed. He then seemed to give up, or decided prospects might be better elsewhere, and disappeared off into the south arm of the reservoir. We decided to stay where we were, as it was almost the end of the cruise and we did not have time to follow the Osprey. Our decision turned out to be well made, because along came 28(10)! This Osprey has always been a favourite of mine, and he has proven to be the star of our Osprey Cruises! Last time he caught an enormous trout, proving to all of his critics that he is not inadequate when it comes to fishing! We did not see him catch this morning, as we had to make our way back into the harbour, as we did not want to be late for our breakfast! We did see him dive a couple of times, however, and he flew past very close to the boat. By that time, the sun had burned off most of the chill, providing a welcome warmth as the Rutland Belle was skillfully steered back into her berth. It was an absolutely amazing cruise, arguably the best one we have had this year, and even perhaps in the history of Rutland Water Osprey Cruises!

These cruises are a fabulous way of getting close to Ospreys at Rutland Water. We have three afternoon cruises left this year, on 23rd, 27th and 30th August. Click here for details. There are also some tickets still available on the Birdfair celebrity Osprey cruises, click here for details on those. And finally for the clicking, click here for general information about the Rutland Belle.


Back to Manton Bay… This afternoon, there was evidence of an intruding Osprey in the Bay, indicated by 33(11)’s behaviour on the nest. He appeared very unsettled and was looking up and mantling for a long time. Unfortunately we were unable to identify the intruding bird, as it didn’t drop down onto the nest as we hoped it would, and it was too far away from the hide to see a ring. It is likely to have been one of the two youngsters again, or one of the non-breeding males in the area.

33(11) mantling

33(11) mantling

33(11) looks up at the intruder

33(11) looks up at the intruder


2 responses to “The Osprey Bus”

  1. Mike Simmonds

    Thank you Kayleigh for a great report. I guess you are right in that it was probably one of the best cruises ever. What an amazing experience for all.

  2. Sheila FE

    Many thanks Kayleigh, another excellent update of an exciting time. It must be so gratifying for the team to hear or so many returnees, and I am so glad that 28(10) is still around and doing well too.