Saturday, 26 September 2015

Osprey at Weston Turville Reservoir

An Osprey, fishing in a reservoir in the middle of Buckinghamshire, for more than a week. That isn’t the start of an ironic birding joke, or the bird watchers' equivalent of “pigs might fly”. It’s true! I kid you not. Just north of Wendover is Weston Turville Reservoir (WTR) and this has been the main feeding ground for a young Osprey for well over a week. On Wednesday, I finally got to take a look.

I arrived around 10am to discover the bird had just caught a huge fish and disappeared. It would likely be perched up for the next hour or more, whilst it fed. Fair enough. Bird’s gotta eat. Tring reservoirs are just down the road, so, I headed there to kill time. Three Wheatears and a couple of hours later, I was back at WTR watching an Osprey approach from the south. Magical. Set against a deep blue sky, bathed in sunshine, it hovered high over the water before retracting its wings and plunging like a stone. I couldn’t see whether it emerged with a catch but, mid air, it purposefully stalled, shook itself like a wet dog - spray showering down - before continuing its flight into a dead tree. There it stayed for the next 30 minutes, giving me enough time to walk around to the hide and get a few digiscoped photos. (Conditions were far from ideal: busy hide/constantly shaking floor/scope, strong winds, distance of 120+ metres to bird and use of 50x eyepiece magnification meant paper thin plane of focus).





At 12:30, the bird flew back over the SE end of the reservoir, quickly caught a medium sized fish and disappeared east. What a spectacle. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief. If I’d had the energy, I would have hung around for the chance at some flight shots but, by this point, I’d run out of steam and had to call it a day.

I wonder how much longer it’ll put off the necessary migration south? In the meantime, it really is the local highlight of the autumn...so far.

13 comments:

  1. Look at the expression. He looks like Sam the Eagle from the Muppets!

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    1. lol, brilliant! The resemblance is uncanny! Kermit must surely have been close by although no convenient lily pads at this water body.

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    1. Thank you John. They were certainly the best I could get under the circumstances, which is all anyone can hope for ;o)

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  3. Great shots and a wonderful story. It was really interesting to me on a recent visit to the UK to discover the almost totemic reverence accorded Ospreys. Here it is a common bird, and while commanding the awe and respect of all who see it, does not evoke any response greater than for other species. Bald Eagle is making a comeback in these parts, with successful nests for the past two years, and they evoke more oohs and aahs from birders and the general public alike.

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    1. Hello David, it is a curious phenomenon that scarcity and/or rarity endows a bird with seemingly greater value isn't it? Us humans love novelty, when it's the right kind! In Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, it is extremely rare to have an Osprey linger. A handful of fly-throughs get recorded each year and the odd bird might stop for an hour or two but often it's pure luck if you see one (right place, right time).

      I do hope the experience of our awful British summer didn't scar you for life!

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  4. Brilliant shots Lucy, well done!! We had a juvenile stay a couple of weeks at ML in 2013, but so far this year just one fly thru seen.

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    1. Thanks Martin. Oh yes, I'd forgotten about your Osprey. I guess, with these lingering youngsters, there's always hope that as adults they might one day stop in at the sites they visited as a juvenile. Fingers crossed.

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    2. Yes, but not for 5 years I've been told! Hope so, would be nice to have a regular one in a few years time!

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  5. As ever a wonderful write up and pics.

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  6. Lovely shots Lucy - a tad better than mine ;)
    Nice web site by the way- hope to bump into you next year when our baby arrives ! (overdue by 1 week currently) YIKES!!!

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    1. Hi John, great to hear from you & thanks for the kind comment. Golly, poor Anna! The best of luck to all 3 of you this month. How exciting :o)!

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