Glesni Lays an Egg!

Glesni has laid an egg. Her first ever egg.

On May 22nd at 17:18 and 40 seconds, she stood up and turned around for the umpteenth time that day and looked down. Only this time, and for the first time, there really was something there.

Here is that magical moment when Glesni sees the egg she has just laid for the very first time

First egg672.jpg

Just as many observers were resigning themselves to not having eggs this year, Monty and Glesni defied all the odds. But what were the odds? How odd is it that an osprey lays her first egg during the fourth week in May?

We know that first time breeders (Glesni) and new pair bonds take longer than usual. At least two weeks. Glesni returned to the Dyfi on 30th April this year, but was not accepted by Monty (he had other girlfriends at the time) for another three days, May 3rd. So that gives us a pair bonding time of 19 days and a bit. Not uncommon in-itself, but considering that this pair did not get it together until May anyway, it makes it pretty late to start laying eggs if you're an osprey in the UK.

Natural selection gives most birds an invisible cut-off point. It makes sense - osprey chicks on Christmas day with minus temperatures, five hours of daylight each day and frozen lakes? Not good. This glass ceiling for ospreys is around about mid May for eggs, but if conditions are optimal (good pair bonding, no disturbance, food availability, no freak weather events and so on..) this mid-May rule of thumb can sometimes be pushed forward. We saw this only last year with Black 80 and his mate, a Glaslyn 2006 male, in Threave, Scotland who also produced eggs at the end of May.

Pair bonding took 19 days from first mating to first egg. Jump on lad..jump on.jpg

What was fascinating about Monty and Glesni this year was observing all the behaviours you would associate with imminent egg/chicks arriving. The incubation by both birds (incubation of no eggs that is!), the shuffling around, the fidgeting, the mating, leaving fish in the nest, the scraping out of the egg cup, bringing soft nesting material to the nest - the list goes on. These behaviours looked so strong, so indicative of egg laying, how could Glesni not lay eggs? The only thing that was counting against them was time, and as we got in to May the 20's it did start to look as these behaviours were a dry-run of things to come next year.

Here is a video of some of these behaviours leading up to and including Glesni laying her first egg. Remember that amazing video from 2011 of Nora 'practising' to feed her newly hatched chick (Einion) at the side of the nest? I said at the time it was one of those moments that you never forget - witnessing a very rare and special moment in an animal's life that may only happen once or twice. Well, it seems that this type of 'vacuum behaviour' is not as uncommon as we first thought. Look at Glesni, a full five days before even laying an egg, let alone having a chick hatched. Incredible.

(watch in HD for best results)

The osprey nest cameras continue to teach us more about these remarkable birds of prey. Researchers just a few years ago would have reported Glesni, and Monty, incubating an egg several days before an egg was actually produced, looking as they had to, from a ground level position probably a good 200 yards away. Older osprey records often show very long incubation times - 43, 44, 45 days (average is around 37 days). Did these really happen or were the birds behaving in a similar way to Monty and Glesni and giving the impression to the observer they were incubating eggs several days before they actually were? With the best telescope they could afford and all the devotion in the world, these early researchers could only document what they saw and guess the rest. Fascinating stuff.

Monty incubating an egg (ahem) three days before there was an egg
Monty incubating.jpg

So, good news so far. When could we expect another egg? Ospreys tend to lay three eggs (occasionally two or four) at three day intervals, so May 25th and 28th would be good estimates. But will the fact that they are so late in to the breeding season already have a say in this? Who knows, time will tell.

Update:  Egg No 2 laid at 19:06 on May 25th. Thats 3 days and 1¾ hours after the first.

It's a known fact that ospreys (and many birds actually) that tend to lay later in the egg laying window, tend to have reduced productivity (chicks) rates. We can guess the reasons for this.. more predation pressure (goshawks for example trying to feed their own families), soaring hot temperatures (remember them?) that are chick killers, autumn storms during late migration in October. It's early days and we shouldn't count our ospreys just yet before they hatch (or laid!). Glesni and Monty will need more luck than usual this year, particularly from the weather. If ever we need just an average weather summer, this is it. Not too cold, too hot, too windy, too rainy, just average. A Goldilocks summer please.

June 9th 2012. Not this year thank you.
Weather map.jpg

As many volunteers around the country are just getting their lives back after long night shifts in cramped cold hides, the night surveillance and the matchstick eyes are only just beginning here at the Dyfi. There are still those individuals that will attempt to illegally steal the eggs of rare birds. Only this week an egg collector was thwarted by a canoeist at Threave Castle in Scotland where Black 80 is breeding. Good on him/her. We start our 24 hour surveillance as other ospreys in the UK are hatching - the first chick at the Glaslyn was already nine days old when Glesni laid her first egg last night - that's how late they are!

So there we are, what a saga again this year. Mind you, we do have the best scriptwriter in the world - nature. A blog I thought I wouldn't be writing this year after Nora not returning, plus Monty's problems with all his different women throughout April. A blog also with absolutely no egg puns or jokes (eggciting.... this, eggspectant... that. What nonsense). No, we are much more scientific and serious here at Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust to have to resort to cheap egg jokes.

If anybody wants me today, albumin the office.

bonding 672.jpg



  • Gravatar Frances 23-05-2013

    Thanks for the very interesting blog. I've always enjoyed watching wildlife but since I came across your 'site' 3 years ago I've learnt so much about the Osprey and have really got hooked with all the ups and downs!! I certainly hope the weather will now help Glesni & Monty raise the chick. Thanks for all you do to teach & inform us.

  • Gravatar Irene Harvey 23-05-2013

    Lovely blog, as usual, Ems! Thought you said earlier that there would be no puns? :) I suppose, after yesterday's wonderful event, you'll be (om)e-letting your hair down today!! By the way, I had a great time when I visited on Tuesday - thanks to all!!

  • Gravatar Alison Macrae 23-05-2013

    Loved reading this blog. It was so enjoyable and so happy that an EGG has been laid, hope for more and hoping that the Welsh have a better summer than last year, could not take that kind of reading again, let us also wish for a great summer for them both to have a great start for the new ones.

  • Gravatar Marion Law 23-05-2013

    Great blog as allways.Great cam footage.Totally over the moon that we have the first egg and hopefully we have more but were lucky to have atleast one as i for one was beginning to think that we were going to have an unproductive season this year.Its a shame that Nora didnt return but we have certainly been entertained this year with the harem that Monty accumulated!!!What a boy!!I live in Machynlleth and periodically come to the DOP with my three year old grandaughter,she has been coming to the reserve for the last two years,she says that Monty is Nanas bird!!Allthough she is too young to understand,i will be teaching her all i know as she gets older.She was and is part of history and it will continue.On our next visit,i want us both to join the Montgomery Wildlife Trust and DOP so that i can atleast carry on what my mother taught me about nature.Sadly my mother has passed away but her legacy can carry on in Emily and myself.Sorry about the waffle!!!!!

  • Gravatar Sam 23-05-2013

    Brilliant blog - so interesting and informative - have everything crossed for Glesni and Monty :)

  • Gravatar Tiger 23-05-2013

    Fantastic blog again. Love the seemingly relaxed style. If one were to read an astronomy book from 1970 I think most of it would now be considered wrong. So it is with ospreys. Since the technology has now improved so much we got to start looking at everything afresh.

    I know many observers were beginning to sound negative yesterday. Well this one was still confidently predicting chicks on Tuesday 20 May on the board.

    Look forward to a fantastic rest of the season and a visit to Dyfi itself to meet old friends.

  • Gravatar Emyr - MWT 23-05-2013

    Bring some crisps Tiger

  • Gravatar Mike Simmonds 23-05-2013

    Congratulations to you all. Let us hope now for a happy outcome which would be all the more special considering the roller coaster that has been this year and the sadness and drama of last year.

  • Gravatar Joan Phillips 23-05-2013

    A Wonderful comprehensive blog! Thanks & congrats to you all at DOP! Now we'll keep on hoping for a good outcome for the rest of the seasons! You have certainly proved your worth in observing, & recording & in educating us in the life of these wonderful birds! Long may you continue to do so!

  • Gravatar Susan R 23-05-2013

    Great blog, loving all the video clips and finding out so much about Ospreys :D

  • Gravatar Terri 23-05-2013

    your blog continues to be for me, a wonderful novel I cannot put down and pray never to get to the end...thank you from Maryland USA

  • Gravatar Manjari 23-05-2013

    Very interesting blog, thank you. I'll stop hoping for hot weather this summer and start wishing for goldilocks weather!!

  • Gravatar Sheena Davies 23-05-2013

    wonderful blog as usual ems who's a proud mum-to be a cariad called glesni of course she kept us waiting then the great day dawned!!!wishing her and monty all the luck in the world for this seasons chicks nora would be EGGSTATIC!!!!!love to you all at the DOP sheenaXXX

  • Gravatar Colin Douglas 23-05-2013

    Once again, Ems, you have supplied us with the most entertaining and informative of blogs and we know that it all comes from the heart. Here in Perthshire, we are eagerly awaiting the hatch of the first of Lady's four eggs some time this weekend (could even be today which is Day#35, but Saturday seems to be favourite) but for Monty and Glesni, I send my heartiest congratulations and best wishes.

  • Gravatar Keith Rogers 23-05-2013

    The news of an egg yesterday was fantastic and a great descriptive blog.
    I was at the centre on Sunday for the second visit this season and Blue 12 went through every motion as if she was aboiut to lay that day - just a waiting game.
    See you on my next visit on route to pembroke ewarly June when we hope she will be sitting on 2/3 eggs.

  • Gravatar Jude Roehm 23-05-2013

    Emyr, Your solid observation, sound assessment, and magical writing skills have helped me put last year's tears behind me and get on with Monty's new family. Keep educating us. Love being in beautiful Wales as I watch from my lofty perch in the Colorado Rockies.

  • Gravatar Jo 23-05-2013

    Written so well, relaxed and informative with just the right dose of humour. You make it so real, personal and absorbing. We cant help but love the characters as they unfold, and thats just the staff :-)
    Keep up the good work and if you need help yell theres many would step up, this is becoming a community!

  • Gravatar Norma Winston-jones 23-05-2013

    Fantastic blog again.Bendigedig.Diolch am yr holl waith caled.

  • Gravatar Buster 23-05-2013

    It is indeed after the apparent loss of Nora and the drama of Monty finding a mate, M & G have achieved their first egg, it must be said Glesni fought hard to be the chosen one. DOP deserve some luck this time around Although everything is still crossed that Einion will return one day let this year be a defining year, one we see a chick defy the odds and return one day. Here is to the future

  • Gravatar Steph 23-05-2013

    Thanks Ems. Fabulous blog. The film and photos are phenomenal, if that's how you spell it. That final picture is gobsmackingly gorgeous :D

  • Gravatar Rhian Roberts 23-05-2013

    Brilliant blog - thank you. On holiday in Spain and just had to find out how things were going at the Dyfi and delighted Glesni has laid her first egg! Well done to Monty and Glesni.

  • Gravatar Ruth 23-05-2013

    Thanks for the blog Emyr. It's so full of information and great to read. Looking forward to visiting sometime in August. Well done Glesni, Monty and all at DOP.

  • Gravatar Nicky 23-05-2013

    Great blog, really informative.
    Wishing Glesni and Monty all the luck in the world with their family.

  • Gravatar Leslie Cater 23-05-2013

    Ems as always a special and complete blog with all the facts in place. I always enjoy these blogs but most of all reality is the truth and this will be a difficult year ahead. I would like to think all will be well so I hope for this. Thanks for your time on these blogs. Brilliant.

  • Gravatar Mike Attwood 23-05-2013

    Wonderful blog Emyr, I'll be up in June and see it for real.

  • Gravatar Angela Cunningham 23-05-2013

    A wonderful blog, so glad for Glesni & Monty they have an egg. Monty is so handsome and Glensi like a princess. Brilliant camera of the nest and photo's are excellent, I love watching monty & Glensi. Am only 15 mins from loch of the lowes in Perthshire waiting on ladys eggs to hatch first one meant to hatch 25th may. All the best to Dyfi project and all your volunteers. Hope we get Goldilocks weather.

  • Gravatar Denise 23-05-2013

    So magical watching Glesni and Monty cwtching baby egg! Will visit DOP this weekend, hope they will be cwtching two eggs by then x

  • Gravatar Eileen 23-05-2013

    Thank you for the wonderful blog Ems, just brilliant news of the '1st egg' for Glesni and Monty.
    Congratulations to you and the team at DOP.
    Happy days are here again.
    Eileen from the Wildlife Village. xx

  • Gravatar Jill 23-05-2013

    So interesting and the pictures are just beautiful. One day I will get see a live Osprey ... its on the list! Thx so much.

  • Gravatar Mary 24-05-2013

    Many thanks for keeping us up to date with everything. Fabulous news! I'm sure Glesni looked surprised when, after she'd felt 'expectant' for so long, she looked down and saw what the fuss was all about! In a way, I almost hope they only have the one, and can put all their effort into getting it through to fledging.

  • Gravatar Sue 24-05-2013

    I have just read the blog in full and it's answered both my questions. Thank you so much for all the work you do and to my sister-in-law for "liking" your website in the first place that has given me the interest in watching proceedings. Well done to Monty and Glesni xx

  • Gravatar Hannah 24-05-2013

    We visited Glesni and Monty on Monday, when we by chance noticed the signs on the way to our holiday in New Quay. Just home, we can say that it was a highlight of our holiday for us all! Kids keep mentioning them, and we are all really excited to be now watching the live stream! Hearing and seeing that Glesni has laid an egg makes us all really happy! :-) So exciting! Thanks for the great website so we can follow their lives from our home in North Wales!

  • Gravatar Heather 24-05-2013

    As everyone has already said A lovely blog ,thanks you for keeping us informed and amused . All the best to Monty and Glesni and I hop to visit in July .

  • Gravatar Rosie Shields 28-05-2013

    Second egg seen this morning (i might have missed seing it earlier). They are obviously going for a full clutch! Best of luck to them and let's hope for a long summer to give the chicks the best chance.

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