Back to blog listings

What Happens in the Winter?

Posted: Tuesday 30th August 2016 by Emyr MWT

When do we close, what does that mean?


We seem to be getting a lot of questions this week regarding what happens in the winter and what stays open and what 'closes'. Also some people are unfamiliar with some of the technology and terminology we use.

To try and shed some light on these matters, here is a quick rundown of what will happen over the next few days, weeks and months:


Dyfi Osprey Project - DOP is a people engagement project welcoming around 40,000 visitors each season to our Cors Dyfi Reserve; we are open 10:00 to 18:00 every day including weekends and Bank Holidays. It is a huge undertaking for a small charity like us and extremely expensive to run. We opened on 21st March this year and we'll close on Sunday evening, 4th September. That's 168 days, straight!

Alwyn (right) with volunteers Anne and Posh Pete welcome our visitors


Live Streaming and Chat - these will also close down for the winter on Sunday evening, 4th September, at midnight. They will reopen next March for DOP 2017.

Website - This DOP website will remain open of course, and we'll be updating you on various things throughout the winter, writing blogs and articles.

DOP Facebook - Like the website, DOP Facebook will be exactly the same in the winter as it is when the birds are here. Updates, videos, photographs etc, but obviously not on a daily basis as in the summer.

DOP Facebook page - over 30,000 followers now!


Cors Dyfi and Observatory Facebook - same as above

DOP Youtube and Twitter - Again, same as Facebook, but not as busy as during the season.

Almost 10,000 followers on DOP Twitter


Cors Dyfi Reserve - the reserve will remain open throughout the winter except for Thursdays when we have volunteer work parties. Parking at the top by the gate and no entrance charge.

360 Observatory - will close Sunday evening, 4th September, apart from special events during the winter.

So What Happens in the Winter?


Our two People Engagement Officers finish this week, Alwyn and Nicky.

Kim (Learning and Conservation Officer), Janine (Volunteer and Shop Officer) and myself remain over the winter.

So, what do we do? Here's some of the stuff we get up to:


Organise Events - volunteer thank-you events, Christmas do and volunteer training events.

Karen and Alan doing the cooking at the Volunteer BBQ

Update volunteer training manual and update our DOP volunteer Facebook page.

Recruite new volunteers, inductions, training etc..

A typical volunteer rota week

Set up, design, print, store, sell, pack and send around 1,200 DOP 2017 Calendars.

This year we will open an online shop for the first time. We'll do this as soon as we can after DOP closes - expect it to be open late October. The calendars will be on sale here too.

Website - update statistics, dates, write articles and blogs - including the Christmas Day blog of course!

Media work - TV, radio, Press Releases etc

Health and Safety and First Aid - training, ordering, courses, admin, accident & near-miss book etc

Kim makes sure everybody has enough water and midge repellent


Organise and coordinate weekly volunteer work parties on the reserve to keep it in the best ecological condition possible. These take place every Thursday.

Check all the nest boxes, including three owl boxes, fix and mend any repairs. We'll also put a new barn owl box up over the winter. We may even put a camera in one of them if we can work out how to get electricity to it.

Analysis of the Monty's Incubation data the guys at Friends of Dyfi Osprey project collated in April and May.

Update all our species and monitoring records. Update fish records, fish pies etc

Community talks to a wide range of groups, mostly in mid Wales. Some of our volunteers do these too.

Volunteer Graham Pennie gives a DOP talk in Shropshire

Set up and host the first Welsh Osprey Forum in September.

Osprey nest camera maintenance and cleaning before reassembly and testing for 2017 season, including all the scaffolding work. Camera 1 (the one by the larch perch) hasn't worked since June and Camera 4 is beaming back upside down images! The IR lamps need a proper fix also.

Nest work - over the winter we will carry out major nest strengthening and structural work. The platform is almost 10 years old now, better safe than sorry. We will also replace the Boing Perch with a more solid and robust nest perch.

Nest 2 - This will be taken down (not moved) and a perch fitted on top of the pole.

Water buffalo - taken away for the winter to a local farm, TB tested (twice) and brought back next spring. We have two.

This is the male - the calm one!

Reserve maintenance - fix all the stuff we don't have time to do in the summer - boardwalk problems, car park, leaking pipes, toilet repairs and anything else that will need looking at before we open again in March 2017.

Internet - ducting work over the winter so we can have fibre broadband by next season. This will mean much better LS picture quality and the ability to stream other cameras simultaneously, including the BarnieCam if we get that far.

Fundraising - It costs around £150,000 to run DOP every year and in 2017 we will not receive a penny from external funding such as government grants or, of course, EU grants. We've received over £500,000 from EU funds since we opened in 2009, the BREXIT decision means that we will now not be able to access this funding. We'll have to find it ourselves or go bust.

Fundraising is a lot of hard work, especially for a small charity like Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust; we've already lost three staff members this year due to financial reasons. If you've recently won the Euromillions or know of anyone that has - get in touch! Seriously, do you work for a company that would like to sponsor DOP? Do you know someone that does? Do you have a Coorporate Responsibility Budget?

Special events - half term activities, children events etc

Volunteer Hilary helps Kim out with a children's event at Cors Dyfi

Licencing - all the legal stuff we need to have so that we can do what we do. We have more licenses than you can shake a stick at!

Meetings and other Wildlife Trusts - sometimes we speak to and even meet other Wildlife Trusts! It's amazing how we all have the same problems and issues. It's like moaning in the mirror!

DNA Research - we're working with Aberystwyth University on our osprey genetics. Expect some preliminary results later this autumn. The dud egg results will be published soon as well - eggspect these next month.

Ceri Hide - planning, building, interpretation - all will be done over the winter.

Biosphere - we work closely with the guys at the Dyfi Biosphere, the only UNESCO designation of its kind in Wales

Working on new stock for the DOP shop. Designing, ordering, admin etc

Enquiries - we get hundreds of questions and enquiries each week, even in the winter! We answer all of these via email, Facebook, Twitter, Website form, texts, phone calls etc

Annual leave - we try and take some time off if we can too! It's very difficult to take leave during the 168 days that we are open.

Prepare for, plan, recruite, train and manage the opening of DOP 2017.

The BIG Project - and finally, we are working hard on a really ambitious and exciting new project. It is the most significant undertaking we have ever done - we'll let you know all the details in due course!

I hope that answers some of your questions you have been asking - do let us know if we've missed anything out. Finally, thank you for all your support again this year. We really couldn't do it without you.

Monty and Blue 24 are still with us as I write on Tuesday morning - if they only knew what we do before they return again in seven months time!






Read Emyr MWT's latest blog entries.