Where have the last six months gone?
I’m referring to the return of the ospreys to Rutland Water – it doesn’t seem two minutes since September when we were wishing them safe travels to Africa.
On the 16th March we had our first osprey land at his nest site around midday and it was so good to see that he had made it back safe and well. This male osprey 03(97) – known locally as “Mr Rutland” – is back for his 14th summer. He was translocated from Scotland back in 1997 as a six week old chick and then raised at Rutland Water, and in 2001 became the first English osprey to breed in England for over 150 years. He has since raised 30 chicks.
This March was very different to last year – in fact, the weather conditions couldn’t have been further apart! After 03 sat bracing the cold and snow last year, he found himself basking in the sunshine this year when he got back to his nest site after a 3,000 mile flight!
I feel very proud to be involved with this project as part of my role at Anglian Water and to be working with The Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust who are a major partner in this successful project. The Trust manage the project day-by-day with support from Anglian Water. For the past six years I’ve also volunteered some of my own time for the project (alongside another 150 volunteers) to help support these very enigmatic birds. I’m sad to say that even in this day and age there are still people who go out collecting bird eggs. I have spent some of my volunteering time watching over a couple of nest sites to make sure this doesn’t happen. While we’re out on site we also collect valuable information on the birds’ behaviour; the fish they bring in; how long the male is away from the nest; how long the chicks are being fed; and how they interact with other birds of prey.
It is sometimes hard to believe the migration journey the birds undertake. Once they leave Rutland Water at the end of August they’ll head south, crossing into Northern France and making their way towards Gibraltar. This is the narrowest part of sea to cross, coming in to Morocco, and from there they cross one of the most inhospitable areas of land on earth, the Sahara desert. The Sahara can take up to three days to cross – and that’s only as long as there aren’t any sand storms! Around 3,000 miles later, after 16 days of flying, they land anywhere between Senegal and Guinea in West Africa. This is where they will spend the winter before returning to Rutland Water at the end of March.
They truly are fascinating birds. If you find yourself near to Rutland this summer I highly recommend you keep your eyes on the skies, for the chance to see one of the scarcer species found in England.