Sunday, 20 September 2015

The History of the Panshanger Park Osprey

6th - 9th September 2015


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It is not clear just how long the Osprey, if indeed it is the same bird, has been visiting Panshanger Park, but I have data going back to 2006. In that year it was recorded during a Herts and Middx Wildlife Trust visit to the site on the 11th September and was last seen on the 17th September.

In 2007-2009 the Osprey was present from the 9th - 15th September, 14th - 21st September and the 11th - 19th September respectively, and was always aged and sexed as an adult female.I stopped visiting the site in 2010, although an Osprey has been recorded during a similar period ever since.

This year it was first seen on the 4th September and has been seen every day up to and including today. It was therefore time to go down and enjoy the throng of photographers to try my luck. As we all know, waiting for Ospreys to appear after they have just caught a large fish is a long and laborious process, and therefore plenty of opportunity to see what else is around.

One one of my days, a large tit flock was flitting from one Elder bush to another and contained Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, as well as a Blackcap and a number of Chiffchaffs. Luckily the sun was in the right direction and I was able to get this shot of one of the Chiffchaffs.

There were a couple of Hobbys around keeping mainly to the opposite side of the lake, but this individual decided to come over and give us an impromptu aerial display right over our heads. It then went and sat on a nearby tree. Interesting to note that it is ringed.

But back to the main point of interest. This Osprey did indeed show most days, but not always interested in fishing. Some days it would just waft around and disappear for considerable periods over local farmland with no standing water. Why it would want to look further afield than three well-stocked trout lakes is anyone's guess. I did manage to get some shots and it is interesting to note that the 4th primary on the left wing has small holes in it. There are two camps of thought here. The first think it is just normal wear and tear around the nest. The second camp, however, believe that normal wear and tear would result in damage to the barbs which would result in a general tatty appearance, whereas neatly cut holes are more likely to be caused by shot gun pellets.

An enlarged view of the holes in Primary 4.

At one point the Osprey was disturbed from fishing by a Red Kite which took great exception to its presence. The Red Kite certainly looks smaller, but it could be a few yards behind the Osprey, and if the Red Kite was a male it would be expected to be 20% smaller than the female Osprey.

This year the Osprey was present until the 13th September.

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