Rutland osprey travels 3,000 miles despite wing injury
An osprey has returned to England after a 3,000-mile trip, despite picking up a wing injury before leaving for Africa last autumn.
The Rutland Osprey Project said its oldest bird, known as 03(97), was "nothing short of amazing" after returning from West Africa on Tuesday.
Kayleigh Brookes, of the project, said it was concerned about his ability to survive the journey.
The 18-year-old is now starting his 15th season at Rutland Water.
Staff at the nature reserve had to provide fish for him following the injury which meant he could not fly or fish for himself.
- Rutland Water is home to the first ospreys to breed in England for 150 years
- Young chicks were translocated from Scotland to the reservoir in the 1990s
- Some of the birds have been tracked using satellites, charting their remarkable 3,000-mile (4,500km) journey
- An adult osprey weighs about 3.3lbs (1.5kg) and has a wingspan of about 5.5ft (1.7m).
Source: The Rutland Osprey Project
His wing appeared improved when it was time to migrate, but staff still feared he would struggle and worried he may never return.
But on Tuesday, one day different from the previous year, he arrived back at the reservoir and immediately went fishing.
Ms Brookes said: "We all harboured concerns about his strength and his ability to survive the arduous 3,000-mile journey to his wintering grounds.
"Well, clearly he surpassed our expectations and granted all our wishes."
Last year, five of the six pairs who returned to breed at Rutland Water did so successfully, but it is hoped they could see even more birds return this year.
Juvenile birds do not leave their winter homes for at least two years after they first make the journey south.