Sunday, 22 November 2009

The Chess Valley Osprey

Believe it or not I had tried 5 times to see the Chess Valley Osprey without any luck at all and with the news that it had been seen roosting along the River Chess near Sarratt Bottom I decided the following evening I would have a walk along the Sarratt Bottom footpath and see if my luck would change.

The following afternoon I headed off towards the Chess Valley and as I passed Latimer Bridge I stopped to view the trees alongside the river, a single Grey Heron was sat in one of the trees but very little else so I headed along to Sarratt Bottom where 3 Ring-necked Parakeets could instantly be heard and seen from the trees along the river. I headed off along the footpath and out in to the cattle fields flushing a Green Woodpecker as I went, plenty of Redwing could be heard from the tree tops and the odd overhead passing group were seen. I arrived at the footbridge which crosses the River Chess and met a local gentlemen who was taking a walk, we chatted and I explained that I was hoping to find the Osprey should it return to roost in the area. He soon became interested and together we walked across the footbridge to view the woods alongside the river, the weather soon closed in and as the skies became greyer with every minute the rain soon started to fall. Staying until the light started to fade there was now little chance that we'd see the Osprey even if it did turn up, I retreated back across the Chess with the rain falling and feeling rather dejected that once again I had failed to see it on my 6th attempt.

Wednesday soon flew round and mid-morning I received a call from LGRE telling me the Osprey was showing very well at Sarratt Bottom, he passed on details of where to park and after letting him know I would be there at lunchtime I thanked him for the call. I finished my daily duties and headed for the shower missing LGRE's 2nd call to tell me the Osprey was now showing even better, luckily my receptionist took the call and passed on the message;-)

I arrived at Moor Lane in Sarratt Bottom and met a couple of photographers who had just watched the Osprey fly east along the River Chess towards Sarratt Mill, just my luck I thought but was pleased to hear that a Black Redstart had been found at nearby Valley Farm. I thanked them and headed off towards Sarratt Mill to park and could then walk back to see the Black Redstart at Valley Farm later, but the Osprey remained the elusive object of desire.

I got to Sarratt Mill and suddenly glimpsed the Osprey from the car window as it sat in the trees along the rivers edge, after parking I hurried down the road to join up with a couple of familiar Herts. birders who where watching the Osprey. It flew to a group of conifers along the river and out of view but soon became visible again as it flew to the next tree, it continued moving along the rivers edge and was finally lost to sight as it disappeared further downstream. Although I didn't get the best views I was still extremely pleased to have seen it however brief the views were, I will return when the weather gets better in the hope that I can get some photos of it.

I then headed off along the footpath with the Herts. birders in search of the Black Redstart at Valley Farm. At the farm the male Black Redstart could be seen perched on one of the roofs, it gave really good views but a little distant and often disappeared down on the ground for short periods. I later found out that Bucks birder Mike Collard had found the Black Redstart whist looking for the Osprey. 2 Little Egrets were sat in the trees by the cressbeds.

So eventually I had caught up with the elusive Osprey. I cast my mind back to a few years ago when I had spent a week in Rutland looking for this very species, the whole aim was to go and see them and hopefully see a few Tree Sparrows at the same time. I had exceptionally good views of both during my stay in Rutland but they were eclipsed by events when I returned home, firstly a small brown job on the bird feeders turned out to be a Tree Sparrow! which stayed for over a month and the following day I watched an Osprey circling overhead at Little Marlow GP's, so I'd driven all the way to Rutland to see them and then seen both species in 2 days when I'd got home!

The Chess Valley Osprey is a juvenile and wearing a leg ring which identifies it as a bird ringed in Loch Lomond, Clyde this July, it seems to be still in the area but the weather is obviously making it difficult to observe, the big question is will it overwinter?


Anonymous said...

Hi Ashley,

Not sure if it the same places, but I understand that the Osprey perches at Chesham Lakes. I was over today just to have a look as I have recently spent the last few weekends over there enjoying watching the Kingfishers on the River Chess.

Ashley Stow said...

I had heard it is often seen heading towards Chesham, it seems to be travelling up and down the River Chess between Chesham and Stockers Lake near Rickmansworth and with a number of good fishing spots along the river it can be difficult to track it's exact whereabouts. Sarratt Bottom is a favoured spot where it often perches near the cressbeds but with the weather being so poor it will no doubt have to change it's routine a little, it hasn't been reported since the 21st Nov when it was seen near J18/M25 near Rickmansworth.