Osprey '98

Darren Morris is a Tatton Ranger - this is his resumé of our bird of the year

In birdwatching circles Tatton's Red Kite a couple of years ago is still famous because of it's eighteen months stay.

Remarkably this year , this has been equalled by an Osprey which spent the Summer with us. Ospreys have been seen at Tatton in the past but always very briefly, the last one some years ago even had a bench erected in it's honour at the viewpoint from where it was seen. This Summer's birds favourite perch was the exact same branch as the previous ones. It was first seen catching a fish on Tatton Mere on 3rd. June 1998 and later perched in a tree, eating it's catch on the farmland.

Over the next few days it developed a daily routine, catching fish on Tatton mid morning, mid afternoon and early evening always approaching the mere from the east end of the park and eating it's catch on the dead branch in the tree on the farmland behind the Old Hall. The best views were from the "osprey bench". Later in it's stay it spent most of it's time at Rostherne Mere only coming to Tatton to fish. Some spectacular views were had by many observers over the course of it's stay. Its presence was phoned daily to birdline and a steady stream of birdwatchers made their way to the bench. Most were lucky to see the Osprey, even a Liverpool Daily Post reporter running a story on the bird got some superb photos. The most impressive views though were those when it was fishing, flying along the length of Tatton Mere, pausing about 30m above the water, then plunging down, wing held back, feet outstretched. Sometimes it was fully submerged before flapping clear of the water with a fish gripped in it's talons. Often it appeared to struggle with the weight of the fish, indeed Ospreys have been known to drown, pulled under by large fish! Most of the fish caught by the Tatton bird were Roach weighing 1 - 2 lbs.

In the 1950's Ospreys returned to breed in Scotland at the famous Loch Garten site, protected by the R.S.P.B. One and a half million people have been to view the birds at their eyrie. Now Scotland is graced with over 100 pairs of breeding birds and it is only a matter of time before they breed in England. The R.S.P.B. are currently involved in a release scheme at Rutland Water. Young chicks which have little chance in the wild are taken from the Scottish nests and re-introduced at Rutland in release pens. Here they are fed until able to fly, then set free ready to migrate to Africa for the Winter. It is hoped these birds will return to Rutland to breed in later years.

Ospreys are not fully mature until about three years old so it is thought the Tatton bird was an immature who had not quite made it to Scotland. We know it is not a Rutland bird due to the lack of rings on it's legs.

Finally a quote from the "New Atlas of Breeding Birds", ".....observations in England, Wales and Ireland may involve passage birds, but evidence of birds summering in new areas is ever increasing and the habitat is often the forerunner of breeding attempts".

news from Rutland Water 2000

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