Osprey Stopover

Over the years we have heard rumours that we are on the osprey migration path as the birds travel from their breeding sites in Scotland and the north of England down through mainland Europe to Africa. The reported sightings are only brief: an osprey spotted upstream, above the lock or glimpsed over the lake in a neighbouring village before flying onwards and away. We have been here eleven years and only had maybes to add to that list. Maybe it was… It could have been…

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Until, that is, the afternoon of 15th September when my attention was drawn upwards by a squabble of gulls as they mobbed a buzzard above our moorings. I stood and watched with A and R beside me. We realised pretty quickly that the colouring was wrong for a buzzard, the wing shape and primaries not quite right, it rode the thermals a little differently, and I’ve never seen a buzzard fishing… Could it really be?

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The gulls moved off, and the red kites came in. Red kites, so gentle in their flight, bullied by gull and crow and tern became the aggressors; a sight new to us. How the tables turned with the advent of this interloper.

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The osprey flew away over the neighbouring lakes to the south, unfazed by gull or kite, and an hour or so later she returned. She rode the breeze above us, directly overhead, and watched us watching her. I found myself caught in her amber gaze as she adjusted tail feathers and wing to the fluctuations of the breeze. She held me there a while, keeping herself steady, her eyes on mine, and then she was gone. She collected a thermal and lifted away leaving me to find my breath and marvel at what we had just seen.

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