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Osprey couple welcome chicks in record time

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Record-breaking temperatures was not the only attraction for crowds at Rutland Water nature reserve over the bank holiday weekend – there was also much excitement about a very special event, the hatching of a trio of osprey eggs.

The Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, who run the Rutland Osprey Project, report that of the eggs laid by the female ‘Maya’ and her mate, the first egg hatched on Saturday, May 5, followed by the second egg on Sunday and finally the third egg on Tuesday.

As well as being the hottest May Bank Holiday since the holiday was introduced in 1978, this is the earliest recorded date of eggs hatching at Rutland Water. The previous record was in 2014 when the first osprey egg to hatch was on May 14.

The osprey pair were one of the first to return to the UK, after migrating over 3000 miles from their wintering grounds in West Africa. The pair shared incubation over 37 days, with the male also catching fish for both himself and Maya. The pair now has three extra mouths to feed and the male, 33 (named after his ring number) has been meeting this extra demand by bringing in plenty of fish.

There are eight pairs of osprey in Rutland - many of which are also incubating eggs, so this could be another bumper year for the Rutland Osprey Project, safeguarding the future of this incredible bird of prey.

“It’s great that three osprey chicks have now hatched, it just shows how resilient these birds are,” said Anya Wicikowski, osprey project officer.

“The adults migrate 3000 miles from the sunny beaches of West Africa to breed here, so having the first chicks of the season is very exciting.”

“It will be another 35-40 days before the chicks are ready to fledge, but the fact we already have three chicks is a true testament to the success of the Rutland Osprey Project.”

The Rutland Osprey Project began in 1996 as a translocation project to reintroduce ospreys from Scotland to England. Prior to this, ospreys were extinct in England due to pesticide use and persecution. In 2017, 8 pairs of ospreys bred in Rutland, raising 16 chicks.

To date, the Rutland Osprey Project has now produced 136 osprey chicks in total. These chicks have gone on to repopulate other areas of the UK, including Wales.

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