The Story of Maya


Pronunciation – My-ah / M-eye-ah / Mi-yah

What we know of Maya comes from after she arrived at Rutland Water, as she is not a bird who was born here. Maya is an unringed female Osprey, who first came to Rutland Water in 2009, and stayed for that summer. We presume that, being unringed, Maya originates from Scotland, and was attracted to Rutland Water on her way back to her natal grounds. Maya did not arrive until June, which suggests she was a two-year-old returning to the UK for the first time.

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Maya in flight. Photo by John Wright.


Maya spent the summer of 2009 on the artificial nest on Lagoon 4, bonding with a Rutland-fledged male Osprey, 32(05). 32 was a four-year-old bird, born in Rutland in 2005, and was from the same clutch as our satellite-tagged female, 30(05). The pair did not breed, but both returned in 2010. Unfortuntately, that was the year in which two male Ospreys went missing suspiciously from Rutland, and 32(05) was one of them. Left alone, Maya began to look elsewhere for a mate, and she came across a lovely nest with a male holding territory on it. The nest was in Manton Bay, and the male was the now well-known 5R(04), a Rutland-fledged bird.

5R(04) and the Manton Bay female

5R and Maya. Photo by John Wright.


At the time, Maya did not have a name. She was always referred to as the Manton Bay Unringed Female, or some combination thereof. Over the next few seasons, this became tiresome, and we decided it would be much easier to talk about her, write about her and for people to relate to her if she had a name. It took a lot of discussion, not least as to whether we should name her at all, but also as to what to name her. Eventually we settled on Maya. Not only is it a lovely name, but it contains the first and last two letters in Manton Bay, albeit in a slightly different order. Also, Maya comes from the Greek Maia, who was the goddess of spring.

In 2010, Maya and 5R successfully raised three healthy chicks. Over the next three years, the pair raised another eight. Maya and 5R have a high return rate of their offspring (45{aebb832937d1885646bba593f8f1074bbe61a552c8a5f5d60514d6f049ed1f58}), as five of their young have since returned to Rutland!

5R and Manton Bay female in the nest with the chicks 11th May

5R and Maya with their chicks.


In 2014, unfortunately, 5R failed to return to Rutland. Those of you who followed the Manton Bay nest in 2014 will know this story. After weeks of anxious waiting, we came to realise, as did Maya, that he was not going to come back. Maya found a new partner in 28(10), a Rutland-fledged male, and she laid three eggs. But no sooner had the third been laid, the nest suffered persistent intrusions from 33(11), another Rutland male, who wanted the nest for himself. Eventually, 33 chased 28 away from his nest, and kicked out the eggs. After a while, 33 and Maya formed a bond, but it was too late to breed. It must have been a terribly confusing season for poor Maya, having been incubating eggs only to have them disappear, and not being able to raise chicks.

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33 chasing 28. Photo by John Wright.


The tale has a happy ending, though – in 2015, both Maya and 33 returned to Manton Bay and bred successfully! We hope that at least one of their three chicks – S1, S2 & S3 – will return to the area in 2017.

33, Maya and their one-week-old chicks

33, Maya and their one-week-old chicks

The three chicks of 2015

The three chicks of 2015


As we see Maya every day on the live webcam, we have come to know her very well as an individual. All Ospreys have unique, distinguishing characteristics, and Maya can easily be identified by the distinct markings on her head and face, in particular the cross that is visible on the back of her head. Also, every Osprey is individual in the ways in which they behave, and react to certain situations, though of course there are always generic similarities.

Maya is a beautiful Osprey

Maya is a beautiful Osprey


Maya is, as all Ospreys are, an extremely good mother, and is so very gentle when she is around her young. She knows just what they need, and is right there to give it to them 24/7, whether it be protection from the elements, protection from danger or satisfying their hunger. Even as they get older, and she spends less time on the actual nest with them, she still watches protectively over them. It was wonderful to watch her keeping an eye on them at fledging time – she accompanied each chick as they made their first flights, flying with them as though marshalling them and ensuring they were ok.

Maya keeping an eye on S3 during her first flight, photo by John Smallman

Maya keeping an eye on S3 during her first flight, photo by John Smallman


Maya doesn’t tend to stick to a reliable timetable when returning in the spring, and her return dates vary widely between 17th March and 6th April. We were all rather worried this season that she wasn’t going to return at all! The relief we all felt when she did is indescribable. Click here for that story!

In terms of leaving in the autumn, Maya bucks the trend of females being the first to migrate. In fact, she has never left first in all the years she has bred, and always waits until at least one chick has departed. This year, she was the last to leave, on 3rd September, and even 33 went before her. She was also the last to leave in 2011.

Something that we know about Maya is that she absolutely hates Egyptian Geese! She has good reason to, as they always try to steal her nest in the spring. She often enjoys chasing them around – here are some brilliant shots taken by John Wright this season!

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Maya also took a dislike to a Grey Heron this season…

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Maya is a beautiful, brilliant Osprey, and has now raised 14 chicks in her five years of breeding in Manton Bay. She has provided us with a fabulous insight into the nature of Osprey motherhood over the six seasons we have watched her. She has also provided us with some excellent entertainment! (See above). Whilst it would be nice to know the details of Maya’s history before she arrived in Rutland – where she was born, who her parents were etc – we must accept that this is knowledge we are never going to be privy to. Wherever she came from, we are happy that she is here, and we hope that she will breed in Manton Bay for many years to come.

Maya settling down to brood the chick

Maya, 2015


4 responses to “The Story of Maya”

  1. Mike Simmonds

    Kayleigh what a fabulous summary of this magnificent bird. Thank you.

  2. Starling

    A lovely blog, thank you. Maya really is a fantastic mum, hope they both return next year.

  3. Winnie Lisowski

    What a wonderful story of Maya’s life and raising chicks, she had some hiccups along the way but has proved she is a fantastic Mum to her chicks knowing their every move. It will be a very exciting day when she arrives back at Rutland in March or April to see her raising a family once again….can’t wait!

  4. Ashley Beolens

    It’s amazing what you have learned from this beautiful bird, long may the work at Rutland continue to provide us with such insight.

    Wonderful photos of her chasing the Egyptian goose 🙂