Nora and Elin

Nora

Whist Monty and I were scanning the skies yesterday afternoon, I took a phone call in the Dyfi Osprey Project office. "I'm just about to board a plane at Glasgow Airport" this gentlemen explained, "I just wanted to know whether Nora is back before I get on?"

The irony of his question struck me. He was just about to fly away and was not necessarily excited about that, but about a bird he had never seen flying in. It was a humbling experience for me. I could hear in the background all the noises that you would associate with the commotion that is last minute aircraft boarding - all the tannoys, the dings, the chatter, the service agent telling people to hurry up (in a Glaswegian accent), but this guy wanted to know if Nora had made it home.


Nora, shortly after arriving back in 2012Perch.jpg
 

Nora's STA, her Standard Time of Arrival is well gone. In fact, she arrived exactly four weeks ago (last year) - on March 24th. As I write, it's Sunday, April 21st. So, what has happened to her?

The answer is of course, we don't know. Nora was born in Rutland Water in 2008 and was ringed as a chick with a white 'Darvic' ring on her right leg - White 03. We last saw her on August 7th last year after she had seen her only offspring of 2012, Ceulan, successfully fledge his nest. Nora is not satellite tracked.

It is true to say that most breeding ospreys are now back in the UK and that the signs for Nora don't look good. Has she settled down with another male elsewhere? Almost certainly no. Ospreys are highly mate faithful and there is very little evidence of osprey divorces in populations with low numbers as here in Wales. Has she been blown off course? Possibly. Those very strong easterly winds were at their most severe at the end of March, just when we would have expected Nora to return.

The rather grim option is that she has come to grief sometime after leaving the Dyfi last August. However - we are not giving up hope just yet. See below.


Nora waited nine days for Monty to arrive last year - is 2013 payback time?Face.jpg



Elin

On April 5th, a beautiful female osprey landed on the Dyfi nest. On the same day, to the minute almost, one of our volunteers, Sîan, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Sîan named her new arrival Elin - and so have we.

Elin (the osprey) was also around the following day, April 6th. She even started doing some nestorations to the nest. Monty did not arrive until the next day, April 7th, two weeks ago today. Had he been the victim of bad timing and missed the gorgeous Elin by less than a day?

Elin arrives on April 5th to snow and no ospreysElin 12.jpg


It certainly looked like it. Fast forward almost two weeks and who should reappear... Elin was back.

She was around for several hours on Friday, April 19th. Monty and Elin were on the nest together, they were flying around together and Monty was displaying to her. They did seem a bit uneasy of each other however, Monty more so as he kept mantling at Elin on the nest. 'Mantling' is a defensive behaviour meaning 'keep away' - 'this is my territory', that kind of thing. We see a lot of mantling in ospreys and other raptors when they are protecting a prey item once caught. However, this is also normal behaviour sometimes for male ospreys when they encounter a new female for the first time.

Monty mantling as Elin looks on..
mantle.jpg

So what do we know about Elin? She is not ringed or satellite tagged, so very little actually!

She was on Monty's nest on April 5th, 6th and 19th and has possibly been the other osprey sighted in the valley between those dates. All this means that in all probability, she is not a breeding female on her way up to Scotland or Scandinavia. Being un-ringed also tells us that Elin is not a Glaslyn bird or a Rutland bird, so the most likely explanation is that she is an un-ringed Scottish osprey (less than half are ringed). Finally, we could hazzard a guess that she is a three or four year old (back too early to be a two year old really) seeing as she looks as if she does not have a nest of her own. This is pure guesswork though.

 

Here's Elin making her grande entrance on April 5th:



Here are some answers to many emails and messages over the last couple of weeks:

Why haven't Monty and Elin paired up yet?
Well, these things can take time sometimes! Maybe he doesn't fancy her - she does have quite fat legs (no, really she does). Seriously, we don't know. Each osprey is different and each pair behave differently when they first encounter. Only time will tell on this one.

Is Monty still waiting for Nora?
Yes he is, but he most probably would pair up with another female, especially at this late stage in the migration season.

What would happen if Monty and Elin paired up and Nora returns?
A fight basically. Handbags, feather pulling, the lot. Nora would most probably win and displace Elin, especially if Elin's bond to Monty was not that strong (i.e during the first few days).

What if Monty doesn't find a mate - would he go?
Almost certainly 'no'. Monty has built this nest up from 2008 onwards and for the first three years, he didn't have a female. Not one that would stay with him anyway. He finally paired up with Nora on April 9th 2011 and raised four chicks with her between 2011 and 2012. This is Monty's nest and his 'home' - he is unlikely to leave.

When is it too late to breed for Monty?
It kind of depends. The earlier he finds a female the better of course, especially if Nora comes back. Around the second week in May would be the cut off point generally. If he finds a female and pairs up with her after this point, say mid May onwards, they will probably not lay eggs but will return next year as a breeding pair after bonding throughout the 2013 summer.


So that's where we are, or more accurately, where Monty is. It's not too late to breed yet and we haven't given up hope entirely on Nora coming back either.

The Glaslyn offspring White YA (2007) is breeding in Kielder Water in Northumberland and his partner only came back two days ago. Our colleagues in Rutland reported a 2010 male as returning only yesterday. Over the years, there have been reports of breeding ospreys returning well into April and even into May, so we, nor Monty, have given up hope of Nora returning just yet. Or for that matter, Monty attracting another female.

I hope that the gentleman that rang me up yesterday from Glasgow Airport rings again once he's back off his holiday. You never know, we may have some good news for him from the Dyfi arrivals gate.

Keep Calm and Look Up.

look up.jpg


 

Many thanks for your patience on Friday during some major improvements to the Live Streaming. You can now watch Monty in his search for a female in High Definition and Hi Fidelity. Yes, after four years, we can finally hear what Monty sounds like - and it's not what you may have imagined!


Please help us pay for all these improvements if you possibly can by donating. We are not SKY or the BBC and the final bill for this year looks now to be horrendous. The equivalent of a bottle of wine or a pizza will make a real difference. Over 8,000 people a day watch the Live Streaming, if they all paid £2 we could pay for everything and then some. Donations are really easy to make, right here on the Live Streaming page

Thank you - Diolch.



 

Comments

  • Gravatar Irene Harvey 21-04-2013

    Thank you for that great update. I know a lot of us are worried about Nora and it's good to know that there's still a glimmer of hope for her return. Keep up the good work!!

  • Gravatar Linda Burton 21-04-2013

    Great blog as ever, thank you! Poor Elin, fat legs indeed, how very dare you :-). But we still hope for Nora. Keep looking up! And the new camera feed with sound is fabulous, thank you to all who worked so hard. Donation made some time ago.

  • Gravatar Val 21-04-2013

    I saw the nest from the train a couple of years ago but am relatively new to Osprey fever.. have shared the Live Streaming link and Facebook page with friends and family over the past few weeks - I see a new addiction developing. Thank you so much.

  • Gravatar Marilyn Lindsay 21-04-2013

    Never give up hope ! Thankyou DOP for all your dedication and hard work. X

  • Gravatar Denise 21-04-2013

    Excellent blog, keep up the good work and fingers, toes etc crossed for Nora's safe return.
    Now going to donate, thankyou for opening my eyes to these beautiful birds.

  • Gravatar Jenny Davey 21-04-2013

    Am distraught that since your update have been unable to get live sreaming no matter what I have tried.Any suggestions?

  • Gravatar Joy Mardon 21-04-2013

    thanks Emyr, your blog answers all the questions that were on the tip of my tongue. Its nice to know that Monty will wait awhile for Nora yet - and that if Nora doesnt return - then our handsome bird can definitely 'pull'. But I really do hope for Noras return. I would hate to think of something happening to her after all the upset of Ceulan the Celtic conqueror. All of you at the DOP have managed to teach us so much about the magnificent osprey and have managed to get thousands completely wrapped up in their lives year after year. I really appreciate it. I may have donated a few times last year, and have already donated a few times this year - but will now go donate again. Its nicew to know that if I have a couple of pounds to spare - instead of spending it on something uneccessary - I can donate it to you and know that I, along with thousands of others - will maybe have helped to make a tiny difference in the lives and the survival of our wonderful ospreys. Thank you for all your work - and thank you for giving us the chance to play a little part in it. Come on home now Nora - we are waiting for you and so is your darling Monty - and I am sure if you are nicve - he will try to avoid the flounders lol

  • Gravatar Jillian 21-04-2013

    Fantastic blog, I will not give up on Nora unless she doesn't return before the end of May. If the worst has happened then she has had a lovely home and mate here and the chance to raise 2 families which a lot of birds don't get, Fingers crossed.

  • Gravatar Jacqui 21-04-2013

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Nora's safe return but I'm away from home visiting by new granddaughter who arrived on Thursday so haven't been able to see the live streaming, so thank you for a brilliant update !

  • Gravatar The Gill Family 21-04-2013

    Thank you for the update. We are all still hoping for Nora's safe return. Just made a donation, keep up the good work! Also wearing my Monty pin badge with pride!

  • Gravatar Emyr - MWT 21-04-2013

    Jenny - look at our Facebook page for more technical details (you don't need to register if you're not on Facebook)

    You will find posts by others too regarding various browsers and devices

  • Gravatar Hilary Weaver 21-04-2013

    Another great blog and I so enjoy reading all of them. I do hope Nora returns for Monty's sake and for the Team of course. We will be there to see you in May when we are on holiday in the area. I have managed to get live streaming on my Samsung mobile with no problems at all. Keep up the good work that you are doing there at the Dyfi.

  • Gravatar Louise Cater 21-04-2013

    What a fantastic Blog!! Everything rolled in to one. Thank you so much for taking out yet more of your time (your life really) to educate us and answer so many questions. You are all genuinely dedicated and it's much appreciated. Elin having fat legs really did take a sense of somberness off the idea that Nora may not return. But like you said, we are also not giving up hope. Keep calm and look up =) xx

  • Gravatar Mary 21-04-2013

    My children and I have been loving following the ospreys since Springwatch last year. Thank you for and all you do to make this possible. We would love to visit.
    I do not want to be negative but could I please ask you to remove your reference to Monty not fancying Elin's fat legs. This is the kind of seemingly benign comment which contributes to my 10 year old daughter feeling the need to ask me this week if she is fat - she is not.

  • Gravatar Bill Jones 21-04-2013

    Diolch DOP...excellent update, comprehensively answers many questions. Like so many other Welsh Osprey enthusiasts I really hope to see the return of Nora asap, the next best thing would be to see the marvellous Monty pair up with Elin or at the very least bond with her this year and perhaps next year breed.
    We all appreciate the work you guys and gals do, when I come up for my annual visit in mid-May I will express my thanks personally and put a few quid in the donation box...here's looking skywards...!!!

  • Gravatar Barbara Mcmillan 21-04-2013

    Brilliant blog yet again, Thanks. I understood ospreys liked fat legs, I thought it was seen as a bonus point, like freckled legs in barn owls !

  • Gravatar Joan Phillips 21-04-2013

    Thanks for this blog DOP! Your blogs have taught me so much over the last 2 years since I started following events at the project. Wish Nora would return of course, buut will be watching throughout the year/s no matter what!

  • Gravatar Karen Mccullough 21-04-2013

    Many thanks for your fantastic blog and all the hard work you guys are putting in to keep us informed. I've just sent you a small donation as your blog also made me realise that my rather tiny offering, will actually help. Sorry it can't be more at the moment.
    Let's hope that Nora makes it back again, and failing that Monty and Elin pair up.
    The live streaming and sound are incredible. Almost as good as being at the project (my son and I managed to visit you last Spring).

  • Gravatar Diane 21-04-2013

    Thanks Emyr, I always enjoy reading your blog, I still have a little hope for Nora, but cannot think of her without bringing a few tears, I will never forget when we saw her practicing her feeding technique, when her first chicks arrived. I also hope Elin returns and makes Monty happy. Thank you, to all the Dyfi team, for your dedication and love for all you do. :-)

  • Gravatar Leanne 21-04-2013

    Thankyou for a great and informative blog. my hopes for nora's return heve been rekindled. its good to know osprey are still arriving this late in the season. once again thanks for the amazing cam. it is for sure the best in the world.

  • Gravatar Buster 21-04-2013

    Thanks from me also Ems a very detailed and informative blog. The 3 words of the year are 'Keep looking up' and I and we all will continue to do so. No one will give up hope why there is hope is still there.

  • Gravatar Sheena.davies 21-04-2013

    such an informative blog ems am desperately sad our dear nora hasn't arrived back yet it's heartbreaking to see monty alone on the nest(except for a few visits from elin the new bird on the block) will always live in hope nora returnsthe thought that she has perished is too much to bear!! love to you all at the DOP sheenaXXX

  • Gravatar Carol Duckworth 21-04-2013

    Thank you for taking the time to give us such a fantastic, informative blog which has answered all the questions we have regarding Nora and Elin. Still holding a small hope that Nora may arrive this week but also hoping that Elin will stick around in case this isn't to be. I'm sure that Elin and Monty would make a superb breeding pair, not withstanding the 'fat legs' :-)

  • Gravatar Rhian Roberts 21-04-2013

    Thanks for the great blog - all of the questions I wanted to ask are now answered ! Hoping to visit the DOP soon - we loved it when we were there last year. Well done to you all at the project for all the hard work . The live stream is absolutely fantastic - have already donated but will do so again soon.

  • Gravatar Janet 21-04-2013

    Don't want to raise too much hope, but another osprey on it's way - one seen over North Cornwall lunchtime today.

  • Gravatar Stu 21-04-2013

    emyr, ref: to your explanation about monty, elin with nora returning. what if elin has or had already produced eggs. would the same scenario happen or what? many thanks for your informative blogs. have already visited and will be doing again shortly. many thanks again.

  • Gravatar Sue Hyde 21-04-2013

    great blog, thanks. here's hoping nora returns

  • Gravatar Sueatt 21-04-2013

    Many thanks Ems for the very informative blog, and also to everyone at DOP, and for all your hard work and devotion to the Ospreys. I hope you all know how much you are appreciated. I don't think any of us out here will give up on Nora just yet - there's still time! Keep calm and keep looking up. :)

  • Gravatar The Harris's 21-04-2013

    A great blog again, giving us all further understanding of these beautiful and rare birds. We're still keeping the faith for Nora's return but whatever happens DOP will always have our support for the wonderful and hard work done to bring the Ospreys back to our Country. Now we know they pass through our neck of the woods we will be avidly waiting for next years sightings and hope to get a glimpse or even a photo. Our grandchildren have now learned to 'Look Up'.

  • Gravatar Steph 21-04-2013

    Great blog again, thank you Ems.

  • Gravatar Geoff And Maggie (montgomery) 22-04-2013

    Thanks for all the time spent with you yesterday -Alwyn, Chris and Graham. We learned a tremendous amount in a short time and also from your excellent blog. Hope Nora will be here soon; if not good luck to Elin

  • Gravatar Kaz Horrocks 24-04-2013

    Whoever Monty pairs up with, here's hoping he fledges chicks again this year. Congratulations to all at DOP, hope to see you, and our Ospreys soon. Donation made :D

  • Gravatar Robert The Bruce 24-04-2013

    Thank you for another great blog Emyr - you see how many lives you have touched with your dedication to these birds :-)
    I donated to the project earlier this year, and I hope the total is close to the target soon....

  • Gravatar Towbar0 25-04-2013

    We appear to have two ospreys!

  • Gravatar Elizabeth Davies 26-04-2013

    FAT LEGS??? WHAT A THING TO SAY ABOUT A LADY!!

  • Gravatar Julie 26-04-2013

    Great stuff, have chipped in to the pot :)
    Can't wait to visit in August and buy a Monty fridge magnet:)

  • Gravatar Rose-ann 27-04-2013

    If Elin isn't tagged or ringed how do you recognise her?

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