PUBLISHED IN MARCH 2006
March: a new Osprey season in
Despite the very
wintry weather the Rutland Osprey project was
underway once again. Project Officer, Tim
Mackrill, who had been working right through the
winter, was joined by regular staff members John
Wright, Tricia and Barrie Galpin.
Please click here
to visit the staff page.
We were delighted to
announce that there would be two extra staff
joining us from the beginning of April: Martin
Blee and Paul Stammers will be working as
Information Assistants in the Visitor
A feature of this summer
will be video images from the breeding nest
displayed in the Visitor Centre. A camera is
being installed and this will also enable us to
play frequent live web-cam images on this
website. So, hopefully from the end of March...
and Wildlife Cruises in 2006
Our evening cruises aboard
the Rutland Belle were already proving extremely
details are here.
The Rutland Osprey DVD, and a
limited-edition print - details are
news from mainland Europe
Wahl, who monitors Ospreys in the Forest of
Orleans, Central France, started looking for
Ospreys on his patch on the first of March.
The weather there had been very cold with
snow. Rolf said that a few migrating Ospreys
were reported in SW France around 20 February
and there had been sightings through the
winter with at least two resident in two
different places. Rolf's work is described on
There are particularly interesting
showing a young Osprey being ringed by Rolf
last June and then photgraphed in Parc
National du Djouj, Senegal in
On 20 March Rolf
reported 16 Ospreys identified on or close to
8 of the 15 Ospreys back at nest sites that
he monitors in the Forest of Orleans. The
first Osprey arrived in the region on 7
March, four days earlier than last
From the Netherlands
Ruud Kampf sent an email pointing out the
latest addition to his website. Follow
you will find amazing pictures of an
artificial Osprey nest that has been built
high on a powerline pylon amid a frozen flat
Dutch landscape. Ruud's website
is full of interesting Osprey pictures from
around the world.
happened to the nest during the
picture was taken on 3 September as the Ospreys
this is how it looked in early
We're always anxious to
see what the winter weather has done to the
breeding nest while the Ospreys have been
away. As the pictures above show, it wasn't
too bad this year. As usual the top level of
loose sticks had disappeared and in its place
there was some grass beginning to
Robert Ovens of Rutland History
Society has drawn our attention to a book by C Reginald
Haines: The Birds of Rutland, which was published in
1907. Here is what Haines said about Ospreys, with some
Pandion Haliaetus. (Fish hawk.)
An occasional visitor on its
spring passage to the Burley and Exton Ponds
. One came on the same day, and even almost the same
hour, to the Burley Ponds every year from 1878 to
1883, staying thirty hours on each occasion. In 1884
it was shot at Coleorton in Leicestershire,
and another was not seen till April 2, 1886
Again in the spring of 1894 it was seen at Exton by W.
Whittington, park keeper, and again on February 21 and
March 5, 1898 (4).
There is a stuffed specimen at Burley House, which was
most probably shot at the ponds.
The late Mr. R. Tryon describes
the fishing operations of one which he watched at
Burley Lower Pond - no doubt one of the above
mentioned birds. It dropped like a stone with its
wings slightly open, then rose from the water with
what might have been a Jack in its claws.
The country houes at Burley and Exton had large estates,
both to the north of the existing reservoir. Their ponds
were no doubt stocked with fish and an important food supply
for both humans and passing Ospreys. Burley Ponds were
incorporated into the reservoir when it was built. They
formed the area known as Fishponds in the north-west corner
of the reservoir. In the 21st century it is once again a
good place to see Ospreys fishing.
Coleorton is in north-west Leicestershire, some 50 km away.
Haines assumes that this was the same Osprey but must have
had little way of knowing.
The point here is that there were very few Ospreys indeed
passing through England at that time - far less than are
seen on migration now. The Scottish population may have
become extinct in 1908 and these records show that it was
not only persecution on the breeding grounds that was
responsible for their demise.
These are most surprising dates. If W. Whittington was right
in his identification the Osprey(s) in 1898 passed through
nearly a month earlier than their descendents 100 years
If you have any thoughts about the
above please send
us an email. In particular
it would be fascinating to know whether anyone can supply
dates or details of migrating Ospreys in other parts of the
country at the end of the 19th century.
March: Ospreys heading north
Many Ospreys were
now back at their nest sites in Central France
above) and reports
of Ospreys in England were beginning to trickle in.
For example, the Northamptonshire Bird Club website
reported an Osprey at Pitsford Water at 9:00 am on 13
March, and another at Harlestone on 19th March. One
reported in Devon on 21st.
Until 23 March there were no
reports of Ospreys (or any other summer migrants) in
Rutland - very understandable in view of the
The chart below gave a clue as
to when our first Ospreys might arrive. The earliest
sighting since records began at the Nature Reserve was
13 March in 2001 - a migrant passing through. Last
year the breeding male arrived on 22 March.
one Osprey here
At 3:45 in the afternoon as
members of the team approached the nest where breeding
has occurred since 2001, John Wright saw an Osprey
dropping down and landing on the nest for about a minute
before flying away towards the reservoir. Could it have
been 03(97) back for another year? It was certainly a
male. Tim Mackrill next picked up the bird as it was
looking for fish along the north shore of the reservoir
and it then flew off towards the dam. With cold strong
easterly winds it was clearly having trouble finding fish
near the surface.
There were no further sightings
that evening - though it was not for the want of trying!
As darkness fell the bird had not returned to the nest
site. So was it 03(97)?... or one of the other Rutland
males?... or a migrant bird on its way further
Perhaps we would know
8-year-old male, 09(98)
March: Now 3 or 4 Ospreys
The morning dawned
wet and murky. Field Officer John Wright was out
early trying to locate yesterday's new arrival
and before long he found the bird sitting in a
dead tree eating a trout. He was able to get
close enough to read the ring and take a
photograph - it was 09(98), a male who has been
here every summer since 2000. (Details
During the afternoon the
weather improved slightly and visitors were
reporting Osprey sightings from near Lax Hill
and from the main Visitor Centre. Surely there
must be another Osprey about? Soon we were able
to see his white ring as he sat on a perch over
the water. It was the infamous 08(97) whose
exploits merit a complete page of this website
to himself. (Click
here for his
life story.) More pictures also below -see 29th
One of 08's
favourite nest sites is in Manton Bay, an
artificial nest on a pole out in the middle of
the water. Every winter this nest is covered
during the winter to discourage geese from
nesting there before the Ospreys return. So with
08 back in town it was time to uncover the nest
- an "interesting" job which involves using a
ladder, a flat-bottomed boat with a five man
crew, and intrepid volunteers Dave Cole and Ron
Follows. Meanwhile we could see 08 sitting
watching, from his perch half a mile
Just before we launched
the boat, a message came through from John
Wright that he could see 03(97) sitting on his
nest. 03(97) and 08(97) had returned yet again,
and yet again they had arrived on exactly the
same day! Of all the males that return each
year, it is 03(97) who we are keenest to see -
it is he who has now fathered 9 Rutland chicks,
having bred here since 2001. Details are
Welcome back !
Finally, while removing
the cover from the nest the mobile rang bringing
the news of yet another Osprey in the area. One
had been seen catching a fish at nearby Eyebrook
view from the boat as Ron Follows uncovers
the nest platform in Manton
March: 03(97) is back and building
John Wright was watching 03(97) at the nest
yesterday morning, less than 24 hours after
the breeding male's return. John said, "the
nest is the worst I've ever seen. It's
virtually a huge ball of soil/turf without
any sticks holding it together. "
So there was lots of
work for 03 to do before his mate 05(00) also
returned. (Fingers and talons
John was also able to
confirm the arrival of a fourth male, 06(00).
So there were at least 4 Ospreys in Rutland
again: 03(97). 08(97), 09(98) and
March: Good old 08!
where are the females?
The male 08(97) is now
nearly 9 years old and, although he has spent
every summer since 1999 at Rutland Water, he has
never yet bred. His full life story is
He arrived five days ago
and has spent his time mainly around the Manton
Bay / Lax Hill area of the nature reserve.
Highlights of his week have been:
defending the Manton Bay nest from another
Osprey, probably 06(00);
disappearing from the area - presumably he
was up high, waving a fish to attract passing
repeatedly dive-bombing a Canada Goose that
had the temerity to land on the Lax Hill
posing for the camera of John Wright - who
took these photos.
When 08(97) is
building up the Manton Bay nest, the best
place from which to watch him is the hides on
the Lyndon Reserve.
With four males back in residence,
of course we were now anxious to see the females. Last
year the breeding female arrived very early, on 1 April.
And then there are the 5 unringed females we saw last
summer. Favourite to return and breed must be U4, the one
who acted as foster mother to the transloacted females.
(Details are here).
And if she were to return early, which male would she
choose to breed with? Could it just possibly be good old
March: A Scottish visitor
The first female Osprey of
the year was seen on 29 March. During the late afternoon
it was clear that there was a second Osprey on 03(97)'s
nest tree. A visit to the nest early yesterday morning
revealed a female with an orange ring on the left leg,
probably indicating a bird ringed as a fledgling in
Scotland in 1998. The female was around for the whole of
the day though very strong winds made it difficult for
Ospreys and observers alike to maintain steady positions.
By the evening the wind was moderating and Tim Mackrill
and John Wright were able to read the ring number: it was
VB. This should enable us to find out more about this
John who managed to take the
"record shots" below described what happened
03 came back with a trout
while female VB was sitting on the nest. He then took
half of the fish up to the nest but stood holding the
fish with his back to the female, teasing her. 03 then
left the nest with the fish, returning to a lower
branch to continue eating. The clumsy so-and-so then
dropped the whole half fish into the brambles below
the tree, leaving VB none too pleased!"
The story continues here.
female is on the left.
You can just see her orange
tries to have his way with her.
What will happen when/if his regular mate
March: 05(00) is back too!
At 4:15 in the
afternoon the breeding female returned to her
nest site. Last year she arrived at 5 pm, just
one day later on 1st April . This is the bird
who, with 03(97) has raised 8 chicks in the past
Project Officer Tim
Mackrill was at the nest site, looking in vain
for the female VB. She had probably moved on to
her established nest and mate in Scotland.
From perching in a nearby ash tree, 03(97)
suddenly set off with the remains of a piece of
fish. He called frantically over the nest and
then flew upwards almost out of sight - a sure
indication that there was a female up there.
Then on a sure trajectory, using a flight path
that she knows so well, 05(00) flew idown, inch
perfect, no hesitaton, no looking around,
straight onto the nest at speed.
The green ring confirmed
that it was the bird we had been most anxious to
see - it was 05. Things look good for another
successful breeding year for the Rutland