Rutland Water Osprey Project, run by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, celebrates chick landmark
A conservation team has celebrated a landmark in its breeding programme of a bird which came close to extinction in England.
Rutland Water Nature Reserve marked a milestone this year as it celebrated its 250th successfully fledged osprey chick.
Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust (LRWT), which runs the Rutland Water Osprey Project, launched a £25,000 Osprey Future Fund this year to help them continue the work. Almost £8,000 has already been raised.
“Our Osprey Future Fund is vital to ensure their ongoing success,” said a trust spokesperson.
Ospreys were once a common sight in Britain, but in 1847, a gamekeeper in Somerset shot one of the last breeding pairs in England, practically making them regionally extinct.
After 150 years of ospreys missing from our skies, LRWT and Anglian Water launched the Rutland Osprey Project, and between 1996 and 2001, 64 juveniles were collected from nests in Scotland, to be released at Rutland Water.
One of these, fondly known as ‘Mr Rutland’ left a legacy of 32 chicks raised, as well as 15 great grandchildren to date, including the long-term breeding male, 33/11, at the Manton Bay nest.
His recent breeding partner Maya has had 37 chicks since arriving here, surpassing the number raised by Mr Rutland.
In 2001, the first osprey to have been born in England for 150 years was welcomed, and 22 years on, the 250th osprey chick successfully fledged.
“This is an astonishing achievement for the reintroduction program,” a spokesperson added.
“This proves that with commitment, hard work and help with funding through partnership programs and the local community, conservation projects like this can be successful and can help repair the natural balance within wildlife populations, giving hope to the UK’s state of nature.”
Nest cam footage from Manton Bay offers a rare glimpse into the early life of an osprey chick from the first egg laid to hatching and then fledging. At just seven to eight weeks, they leave to overwinter in Africa.
At around six weeks old the birds are ringed for identification and monitoring over their lifetime, giving an insight into their migration patterns, longevity and whether they return to Rutland to breed.
Ospreys nest and breed in the UK from March until around September, hopefully returning to the same area each year in early spring to raise the next generation.
The Rutland ospreys are also engaging with birds from other osprey reintroduction programs and have been recorded in Wales, Northumberland and the Netherlands.
Every year, thousands of visitors flock to see the Manton Bay nest at the trust’s Lyndon Visitor Centre on the south shore of the reservoir, and millions watch for updates and view the live nest cams online.
As well as donating – at www.lrwt.org.uk/osprey25 - the trust also welcomes volunteers at Rutland Water. For more details, visit www.lrwt.org.uk/rutlandospreys/about-rutland-ospreys