Ospreys at Rutland Water

A record number of people logged on to the Rutland Osprey project website – www.ospreys.org.uk - at the weekend to watch amazing high-definition footage of two Osprey chicks hatching.

18,000 webpage views were logged on Sunday alone, when two chicks were captured hatching live on camera following a 38-day incubation period. The project team are now hoping that the chicks - which were the first of the rare birds to hatch in England this year - will be followed by a third in the next few days.

Tim Mackrill from the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust said, “We made some improvements to a special nest camera over the winter that allowed us to zoom in on the eggs when they hatched. Although the first one took almost 12 hours to break out of its shell, the second hatched in just 15 minutes, allowing us to record the amazing sequence on film. It’s the first time we’ve had such a detailed look at the hatching process.”

Images from the camera are streamed onto the Rutland Osprey Project website, allowing people all over the world to share the team’s excitement.

Dave Morton from Rutland-based Morton Carnie who set-up and manage the website said, “Our website stats show a huge rise in viewing figures on Sunday in particular, with more people logging on than ever before. It is clear that Rutland Osprey fever is gripping the nation!”

And it’s not just in the UK that people are logging on; the project team has received congratulatory messages from as far afield as North America, Canada and West Africa since the chicks appeared.

Live images from the camera are also beamed to the Lyndon Visitor Centre on the south shore of Rutland Water. Centre manager, Paul Stammers said, “Sunday was a very exciting day. People were gripped by the images on the big screen and there was cheering when the second chick hatched in the afternoon. It just goes to show the interest that these incredible birds generate.”

The hatchings are the latest success for the Rutland Osprey Project, a partnership between Anglian Water and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. The first egg at a second nest hatched in the early hours of Tuesday morning and it is hoped that chicks will hatch on at least another two more nests by early June.

Tim Mackrill added, “The project is going from strength to strength, but Ospreys are still very rare birds. The loss of several male birds to suspected persecution in recent years makes every new chick vital to the future viability of the population. We are extremely grateful to our team of over 150 volunteers who help us to monitor and protect the breeding birds. 

"The interest the hatchings have generated demonstrate that the Ospreys are something that local people can be very proud of.”

The fascinating story of the Rutland Osprey Project  is celebrated in a new book. The Rutland Water Ospreys, published by Bloomsbury at the end of March, is BBC Wildlife Magazine’s book of the month for June. 

Copies can be bought at the two nature reserve visitor centres at Rutland Water and on the project’s website www.ospreys.org.uk