A vast drinking water reservoir in the English county of Rutland, about half way between Peterborough and the home of the pork pie, Melton Mowbray, is home to the first Western Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) to breed in England for 150 years. A translocation programme means that these raptors are now breeding at Rutland Water having been settled there, migrated (naturally) to Africa (Senegal, the tracking devices show) and then returned in the spring.
In paying the birds a visit, we made the mistake of heading to the Wildlife Trust’s Rutland Water Nature Reserve in Egleton, near Oakham, paying our money (to a worthy cause, of course) to get on to the reserve only to be told that the nest site was way over the other side, a three-mile walk in fact. Well, we made the best of the visit and took in a short walk on the Reserve and could just about see the female on her nest from one of the hides, but she was far too far away and I was disappointed to not get a good shot even with a 600mm zoom.
Other visitors we spoke to during our walk though mentioned having “fallen for that” entry fee trick before (there is public access and public footpaths aplenty around the reservoir). They suggested heading back out on to the main road in the car and parking up near the railway viaduct at Manton. We did so and could see the male perched not far from the nest on a dead tree branch protruding from the water. He was still some distance away, so not a great shot, but half the distance at which I had attempted to photograph the nest from the Reserve itself. The female could be seen occasionally bobbing and turning her head on the nearby nest.
The project has a live webcam over the nest, so you can get a good close-up view of the birds, which at the time of writing are brooding three eggs, I believe. The female is called Maya and the male has the name 33. I just browsed to the webcam and saw the 33 arrived to relieve Maya from brooding duties, presumably so she could get some food and exercise, here’s a screen grab from the webcam