Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The River Gwash Osprey Experience (Rutland)

Whilst away in Wales, we decided to visit the Osprey's at Rutland water and on the 19th and 20th July we drove the 3 hour journey up to a village called Uppingham and stayed overnight in a pub called the Old Pheasant. Very reasonably priced and an ideal stopping point when visiting Rutland water as it is only a few miles from the site. I was joined by Mike Gould, Alan Ashdown and Tim Gutsell, and we had booked 2 afternoon sessions at the Horn Mill Trout farm Osprey experience which is basically 4 photographers sitting in a hide next to a small pool stocked with Trout and ideally Osprey's diving and catching fish just a few metres in front of you. I say ideally as wildlife being wildlife, it's not on tap and you have to take what comes and dipping is all too easy to experience. That said, our experience was not a dip, (it could of been better) we saw one Osprey dive and miss a fish on our first afternoon session and 3 aborted dives from the same bird. (colour ringed blue 28) We also endured pretty gloomy weather for the first visit and high iso's were needed to get any images at all. Two images of blue 28 sitting in a tree to the side of the pool, his head never stopped bobbing as he continually watched for the trout in the pool below. A pity about the white sky.

The 1st image was when he first arrived and the 2nd image was after his unsuccessful dive.
Once the bird launches from its perch, you don't have a lot of time to focus on him diving and the light was nowhere good enough to catch it on the way down but after the splash, you have a few seconds to find the bird in the pool and catch him as he flies out, usually towards the hide and then out to the right, literally just a few feet from the scrimmage netting covering the front of the hide. A fantastic sight and worth the admission fee alone.

These images were shot with a 70-200mm lens on a full framed camera, giving you an idea as to just how close these birds are when they leave the pool. The afternoon sessions start at 4.30 pm and go on until 9.00 pm, although we left a little early on the first session as the light was so poor it was very difficult to see. (I cannot wait for the summer to arrive) 

We had a Red Kite come into the pool just after we arrived in the hide and it plucked out a dead trout but it came in from behind us, allowing rear end views only. We did see about 5 or 6 Kites in the area. Also a Green Woodpecker landed on a post but too far away for photos and a pair of Kingfishers continually visited the trout pool throughout our second visit.

After the first session and while we waited for the second session, we spent the day at Rutland water where we visited two visitor centres and learnt a fair bit about the Rutland Osprey project. Also it is an excellent reserve with at least 15 hides placed around the huge body of water. We watched a family of Osprey's, 2 adults and 2 newly fledged chicks (they are the nesting pair that can be seen on the web cam from the visitors centre) and it was fascinating to see the parent birds continually plunge into the water as if they were showing their offspring what to do. Whilst watching these I walked onto the next hide and found a Wood Sandpiper feeding on the mud. I phoned the others and after a while the Sandpiper hopped through a wire fence and was out in front of us, an unexpected bonus.

A Little Egret came close whilst busying ourselves with the Wood Sand and was another target for the camera.

So, all in all it was not as good as it could of been with the Osprey's but we never dipped and we did manage a few images. I certainly will not forget as the Osprey hit the water and then fly off just a few feet from us, wetting the appetite for more. On that note, as we did dip on the second session, the Horn Mill staff have offered us a free return visit which Tim, Alan and myself have gratefully accepted. We are going back on Monday 7th for the morning session. Again, no guarantees but i think it is very sporting of the Horn Mill Trout farm to offer us this free visit. (1 hide place available when we visit if anyone is interested, £75.00 per session). I have the phone number of the Trout farm if you want to book a place.

Hopefully my next post from Rutland will have more Osprey images and also in better light.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed it and came away with some good pics