The promise of some warm weather for Wednesday just whetted my appetite more to do my first shift at Manton Bay. As the day dawned it was slightly overcast and dry as I drove to the Lyndon Centre. I actually couldn’t get there quick enough and after a brief word with Tim, I joined Moira in Waderscrape Hide well before 9am. One of the good things about volunteering, as I’ve said before, is that you meet some really lovely people and Moira is one of them. She reported that 5R had delivered a fish at about 7am and they had both eaten well. There had also been a buzzard about that had landed on what she thought was a nest in some trees near the Osprey nest. We chatted a while and discussed the new website, beautifully created by her and her partner and then I was left to carry on watching.
I set up another telescope and unpacked my things, checked the notes and thought I was probably in for a quiet morning. 5R was on the perch and Mrs5R was in the nest, or so I thought; on closer inspection I discovered that it was the other way around and I was in serious need of some practice. The pair actually did their best to confuse me, changing places on and off the perches and in the nest, 5R always managing to conceal the Darvic ring on his right leg, but I guess I knew which one was 5R when he actually reversed off the French Perch and landed on top of his female. I recently read in Roy Dennis’s ‘A Life of Ospreys’, that 4 to 8 days before the first egg is laid, copulation reaches its peak – we’ll have to keep watching the website as I believe the first egg is possibly due at the end of this week.
The sunshine brought out quite a few visitors and there were well over twenty people in the hide at one stage – I know that I can talk a lot but I didn’t come up for air until after noon when I grabbed a quick drink. I met some really interesting visitors including a lady called Monica, whose husband, Tony, was in Shallow Water Hide. They are both very keen photographers and she had some fantastic photos of our Ospreys to show me and also some of a delightful little wren that she’d captured, which was nesting under the guttering of one of the hides.
You’ve probably read that Diana Spencer, Education Officer of the Rutland Project for the last few years didn’t return this season and is now working for RSPB Loch of Strathbeg – well her parents called into the hide and told me that she was contributing to the Loch of Strathbeg blog and had had a bit of a coup in reporting the first Spoonbill up there this year. You can read all about it on the website.
The Ospreys in Manton Bay put on a wonderful show for us all to enjoy. The first incident was when the buzzard got a little too close and they both had a go at getting rid of him. I have to admit to thinking at first that it was an intruding Osprey – his colours are remarkably similar to the Ospreys and in the excitement of watching all three birds, he caught me out. I bet I won’t be the only one this season if he continues to hang around.
Around mid morning 5R flew off to the shoreline close to the new bund wall. He landed chest deep in the water and proceeded to have a jolly good bath. He was visited by Mrs5R who gently flew low over him – was this a romantic gesture? – she couldn’t possibly be hungry. It was a joy to watch. And then about half an hour later, with 5R on the perch, she flew up near the nest and dived into the water six or seven times, totally submerging herself and then she finished with a quick flight over the water dragging her feet to clean them. In the sunlight, each time she arose and shook herself, the waterspray in the sunshine all around her created a magical picture.
And so as my shift ended, the birds relaxed on the perches and I was joined by Peter and Di, who normally take over from me. I hope their shift was as interesting. I was cock-a-hoop at what I’d seen on my first shift and can’t wait for the next one at Site B – haven’t set eyes on 03(97) and his female yet. Let’s hope that the warm weather continues as the birds will soon start incubation – hope it’s warm for us too, I sense a few nightshifts looming.