So you want to read about Ospreys!

I have received several letters asking about books on Ospreys. I have quite a few in my bookshelf and I will try to spend a little bit of time telling you about each of them. I have picked out the ones that are well written and easy to read. I have not ranked them. That would be impossible or at least to me it is. Each one is rather different. Some are general knowledge while others focus on specific sites where ospreys breed. There are even books on specific birds. For those wanting to find books on these beautiful sea eagles, you are lucky. There are a number of well-written books available both new and used. I cannot say this about Red-tailed Hawks!

Alan Poole’s Ospreys. The Revival of the Global Raptor came out in 2019. It is actually a much revised version of a book by Poole written several decades earlier. Poole is an enthusiastic lover of Ospreys. The book is easy to read and extremely informative. If you wanted a first general book on Ospreys this is a good choice. It covers everything you might want to know about ospreys from the four different sub-species and their differences, to the geography and distribution, their behaviour, life cycle and breeding habits, challenges during migration to the intimate details of the mother feeding the little one. There are personal stories that bring the information to life. Only available in hardback. 220 pages with beautiful colour photographs.

Roy Dennis’s A Life of Ospreys is written just as enthusiastically as the Poole. This book also has some good general information on Ospreys but, at the heart of it are the personal anecdotes and stories that go hand in hand with Dennis working decades to reintroduce the Osprey back into the United Kingdom after it was almost made extinct at the beginning of the twentieth century. One of the things I enjoyed most was the information on conservation ecology and the Osprey as well as the inclusion of Dennis’s original notes from the 1970s. Paperback. 224 pages. Colour photographs, maps, and charts. Published in 2012.

I am a big fan of Roy Dennis and the work that he did to bring the Osprey back to the skies of of the United Kingdom – as well as his work with translocating Osprey to places such as Urdaibai Biosphere Park in Spain. Dennis fell in love with Ospreys as a teenager and has never looked back. His latest book, Restoring the Wild. Sixty Years of Rewilding Our skies, woods, and Waterways was published in 2021. It is really the personal journey and all the challenges with the kind of personal details that animates the story of the return of the Ospreys. Hardback. 452 pages. Black and white.

Written with all the love and joy this man can muster for his beloved birds of prey. While you can order this from the many on line book sellers, if you do decide to purchase it and you can afford the postage from Scotland, I suggest you order it directly from Roy Dennis’s website. Roy Dennis Wildlife Trust. All of the funds go back into helping the osprey and you can get it signed.

Many of you will be familiar with Iris, the oldest Osprey in the world. Her nest is at Hellgate, Missoula, Montana. Dorothy Patent and William Munoz have written a book specifically about the Ospreys in Montana – Call of the Osprey. Along with a general introduction, the pair cover, in great detail, the setting up of the artificial platform near the Riverside Health Centre for Iris and Stanley. There are excellent colour photographs. The book also discusses the Montana Osprey Project which looks into the toxins in the rivers from mining in the area as well as the new research using satellite trackers to find out where the osprey from Montana travel for the winter. Lovers of Iris and Stanley will, no doubt, like the detailed history of them as a couple. Hardback. 80 pages.

Another geographical specific book is The Rutland Water Ospreys. It is written by Tim Mackrill. You might recognize the name. Mackrill is the expert that assisted the Glaslyn Wildlife Centre with information on setting up the fish table for Mrs G, Aran and their now deceased chicks at the beginning of June when Aran was injured. Beautiful colour drawings and photographs give the history of all of the Ospreys at Rutland Water. There is information on the use of satellite trackers and migration. It is a great book if you are a fan of the ospreys at Rutland – and who isn’t, right? There are maps of Rutland Water Nature Reserve, histories of the birds, as well as information by year going from 2003 to 2012. A real who’s who of the Rutland birds! A joy to read. Hardback. 2015. 160 pages.

For older children (and adults like me), I highly recommend Belle’s Journey. An Osprey Takes Flight by Rob Bierregaard. Written in 2018, it is a beautifully illustrated book telling the intimate story of Belle. Belle hatched on Martha’s Vineyard. The book covers her migration to Brazil using real satellite tracking information. Easy to read but not childish. Extremely informative. There are 19 chapters – something to keep going as a bed time story for nearly three weeks. I would suggest getting a map if you do purchase the book or a globe so that you can follow Belle’s journey. 106 pages. Hardcover.

There are more books and I will mention them another time but there is one book I have in my hand to read in the next couple of days and another that I am waiting to purchase. There are many biographies about famous people but a biography about a bird? Lady of the Loch. The Incredible Story of Britain’s Oldest Osprey celebrates Lady, the oldest osprey in Scotland. She laid eggs and raised chicks for more than two decades at The Loch of the Lowes where Laddie and NC0 have their two chicks this season. It is a remarkable little paperback that from the first few pages appears to be written with great love. General information about ospreys, conservation efforts, migration and its perils are interwoven with stories about Lady. As I understand it from people I have spoken to, Lady gave all those trying to reintroduce ospreys to the United Kingdom hope. 2011. 177 pages. Black and white.

The book that I am waiting to get my hands on is only available through the Dyfi Wildlife Centre. It is by Emyr Evans and is on the life of Monty, the male super star of the Ospreys that located themselves in Wales. It is called Monty and if you followed him and his mates this will be a book that you will want to order. I understand the shop will be back on line for orders in September.

Thank you so much for joining me. If you are looking for books on ospreys, one of these should help. I want to close with a picture of the morning of 15 June 2021 at the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest – the home of White YW and Blue 35 and their three osplets. I am particularly interested in Tiny Wee Bob. He has been having some nice feeds lately but yesterday he decided to pick on Middle Sized Big Bob. It wasn’t such a good idea as you might image. He looks OK this morning. Fingers crossed he is one of the amazing third hatches that survives and goes on to do wonderful things.

You can hardly see his head but there it is in the middle of the image below. He is sort of in a strange state of his feather development. Hopefully any pulled out by the bigger siblings will return! You cannot see his body. He is between the bigger ones.

Here is Tiny Little Bob with his neck extended. You can see the Reptilian phase feathers coming and that great line of mascara extended from his eye to his neck.

Thank you to the Cumbria Wildlife Trust streaming cam where I grabbed the screen shot of the chicks at the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest.

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