Osprey – Fishlake Meadows, Hampshire

I headed to Romsey to look for the first returning Osprey of the autumn which had spent the last few days at Fishlake Meadows en route to its wintering grounds in West Africa.

In the past the meadows here had the water pumped off so that crops could be grown and the land farmed. The trees, mainly poplars, were planted to act as wind breaks and field boundaries. When farming stopped the area gradually became wetter and the poplar trees slowly died off. In addition to being a wonderful feature the dead trees which border the main lakes to the south of the reserve are regularly used by birds like Ospreys.

I walked to the central viewing screen as this gets you closer to the dead trees. The Osprey wasn’t in view although as I would discover not all of the trees are visible. I sketched a Great White Egret preening and watched a Red Kite drift over followed by a Buzzard and then a Hobby.

A few people came and went and eventually after about two hours an Osprey flew purposefully over one of the lakes keeping fairly low. It was mobbed by large gulls and on a couple of occasions folded its wings into a dive with its legs starting to come forward only to abandon the dive at the last second. After a few minutes of remaining in view in full hunting mode it disappeared and I assumed that it had caught a fish and was sat in a tree somewhere out of view.

An hour later with no further views I decided to leave and started walking back north along the path. Just before the viewing screen disappeared from view I tuned back and a few trees which had previously been out of view became visible and I immediately noticed the Osprey sat towards the top of one of these trees.

It did have a fish and was busy tearing it apart. I set my scope up again and made a few sketches. Not a new bird for 2019 but this was the first time I’ve seen Osprey in Hampshire (most of my birding life has been in Dorset). Osprey takes my county list to 240.

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