It has felt very autumnal at Rutland Water in the past few days. The days are getting shorter, hirundines – Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins are gathering in flocks as they prepare to head south, and passage waders – many of whom will have bred in the Arctic circle – are pausing to feed in Manton Bay and other parts of the reservoir before they continue south. They’re not the only ones who are on the move: all of this year’s Site B family have now set-out on their autumn migration.
Having fledged in early July – earlier than most other Ospreys in the UK – the Site B juveniles are at a distinct advantage. They have had plenty of time to hone their flying skills before embarking on that all-important first migration to Africa. By mid-August they had been on the wing for over six weeks, and the juvenile male, 6K(14), clearly decided that the time was right to make his move. He set-off sometime between midday on 18th August and 10am the following morning. More than a week-and-a-half later, it is remarkable to think that he could already be in Southern Spain or North Africa.
Adult females are usually the first members of an Osprey family to depart in the autumn, but this year has been a little different for the Site B female. The injury suffered by 03(97) in early July meant that she has had to do far more fishing than usual, and that perhaps explains why she remained at the nest for much longer than normal. She was last seen dropping a fish at the nest on 20th August; more than two weeks later than she lingered last summer.
The juvenile female, 7K, seemed more reluctant to leave than her brother and, more than a week after 6K had set-off the young female was still at the nest. Having raised over 30 chicks at Site B, 03 is well-used to having to wait for the last of his off-spring to depart and, as you would expect of this most-successful of Ospreys, he continued to provide fish for 7K on a daily basis. Eventually though, she too decided to go. She was still at the nest at 2:30pm on 26th August, but by next morning 03 was alone once more. Although we didn’t see her go, the chances are that 7K had set-off the previous afternoon.
That just left 03. With his family heading south, he took the opportunity to depart. Shortly after 9am on 27th August he left the nest and headed purposefully south. He hadn’t returned by dark and was again absent the next morning. It seemed that he had set-off on his seventeenth autumn migration. We wish him and his family well.
Although 03 and his family have left Rutland Water, the good news if you’re planning to visit this weekend, is that Maya and 33(11) are still present in Manton Bay. We expect them and the other non-breeding birds to linger into early next week, so there is still time for one final Osprey-fix of the year! There are a few places left on tomorrow’s final Osprey cruise of the summer, and if recent cruises are anything to go by, it should be a great way to end the season. You can book your place here.