September usually marks the end of osprey season at Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Foulshaw Moss reserve as the birds begin their epic migration.

Blue 35, our adult female, has left for southern climes. She heads off first for a well-earned break. She’s had five weeks of incubating eggs and then eight weeks of waiting for the youngsters to fledge. All that time they had to be guarded and fed. And then she had Blue 3N to contend with.

The older of the two chicks was huge and gave her little brother a rough time of it. Then she grew even bigger and gave her mum a rough time of it. When a fish was delivered she seemed to yell “MINE!” and grab it from whoever had it. Resistance was futile. After dealing with all that, mum deserves a rest.

We don’t know for certain where she spends her winters, but she was spotted on a previous migration at a reservoir in northern Spain, probably refuelling for the rest of the journey to west Africa.

We’ve been lucky enough to have sightings of several previous chicks from Foulshaw. One of the very first brood from 2014, Blue 7A, returned to Cumbria last year to breed, giving us our first grandchicks. He returned this year, contributing to a total of eight nests in the county that fledged 17 chicks between them. Not bad for a bird that was extinct in England for 150 years until 2001.

A 2015 chick, Blue V4 was seen at Kielder a couple of years ago. Then, a few weeks ago we had an intruder at Foulshaw who was seen off by White YW, our adult male. The seeing-off seemed quite good natured for such a territorial bird and they ended up perched in the same tree. Two days later we were sent a photo taken on the day of that intruder’s visit. It was Blue V8, a 2016 chick, at Leighton Moss, just four miles away as the osprey flies. Perhaps that was our visitor.

It’s too soon for our 2017 chicks to have returned yet. Ospreys normally spend their first three years at their wintering grounds. However, we do know where two of last year’s chicks ended up. Blue 7N, the youngest, was spotted at a nature reserve in southern Spain. This was long after migration season so we think he might be settled there. His oldest sibling, Blue 5N, was photographed in Gambia by a colleague from the Rutland Osprey Project who was on holiday there.

Wherever they all are, we shall be thinking of them and wishing them a safe return.