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Monty Migrates & Welsh Osprey Summary

Posted: Sunday 4th September 2016 by Emyr MWT

Monty has left the building.

 

At 08:28 on Thursday morning, 1st September, he spent his last few seconds on the Dyfi this year. He perched just inches away from Blue 24 on the Boing perch, protesting, as if he knew we would soon be replacing it with a stronger perch!

Monty looked around one last time and with little fanfare, bolted straight upwards and out of our lives for another seven months. He had fulfilled his contract with Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust; we have him from the first week in April to the first week in September every year. He arrived at 13:07 on 3rd April and left at 08:28 on 1st September - 153 days in all, that's 42% of his year.

Monty & Blue 24 on the Boing perch on Thursday morning, together for the last time in 2016

 

This has not been one of Monty's more productive years, not since 2012 has he managed to sire just the one youngster to migration age, but this was not his fault. Another nesting female in his territory, an unhatched egg and a freak accident to his daughter meant that Tegid was the sole offspring in 2016.

Monty in a thoughtful mood as he contemplates his long journey south earlier this week             50p


Other Welsh Nests

So how did we do in Wales as a whole? Well, to say that we've had one of the most bizarre and unorthodox years ever would be an understatement.

Here's a round up of the other three nests:

Glaslyn

This was just plain eerie this year. The parallels between the Dyfi and Glaslyn nests bordered on the unbelievable.

All four established adults returned on time, both males had a second clutch of eggs with different Rutland born females (Blue 24 and Blue 5F) in a polygamous relationship, both primary nest females laid three eggs, one egg in each clutch failed to hatch, both remaining broods resulted in one male and one female each, and then, the most bizarre of all, both the female chicks in each nest sustained a serious injury a few days after fledging.

Thankfully, that's where the similarity ended for Glaslyn. Whilst Ceri on the Dyfi looked as though she would pull through after a few days, she unfortunately died. Glaslyn's Blue W7, against all the odds, seems to have made a full recovery.

It may be the Year of the Monkey in China in 2016, but this year has certainly been the Year of the Garfish at Glaslyn. Over 20 of the green-boned fish have been caught by Aran so far this year, the majority of these being caught during the last few weeks.

Aran with another Garfish delivery


The Glaslyn female has not been seen on the nest for a few days, so is obviously catching her own fish. She has not migrated just yet though, she has a has a habit of keeping a low profile at the end of each season, choosing to perch on some favourite arboreal locations out of camera reach. She was spotted on one of these perches eating a flounder earlier this afternoon.

Here's Aran bringing in two fish deliveries yesterday morning within a couple of hours of each other. A flounder and, of course, a garfish!

 

ON4

This private nest in Snowdonia has successfully raised young again for the fourth year running.

The two unringed adults produced three eggs and all three hatched - they were ringed at the end of June; Blue X0 (male), X1 (female) and X2 (male).

The big news coming from this nest this year was the positive identification of a previous offspring having returned to the UK as a two-year-old. Blue 9R (2014) was spotted three times this summer, first in the south-east of England at the end of May, then, incredibly, in Northern Ireland five weeks later, and finally in Derbyshire 17 days later.

 

ON5

This is the newest nest in Wales having produced offspring since 2014.

Both these adults are unringed also, Dai Dot being the male. However, at an early stage in the breeding season - a few days after eggs were laid, Dai was usurped as the breeding male by another incoming bird. This victorious male produced eggs with the female, Delyth (presumably after kicking Dai's eggs out of the nest), and as I write, all three youngsters are still around, as are the parents.

The three youngsters were ringed in July: Blue X3 (male), X4 (female) and X5 (? poss male, the runt of the clutch at just 1,150g at ringing).

Our friend John Williams has kindly allowed us to share this brilliant short video he took of one of the youngsters diving this week. Watch at the end where it even does that characteristic osprey shake to remove excess water to reduce flying weight.

So what became of Dai Dot?

We photographed him at the end of April at Cors Dyfi, possibly with an injury to his right wing, but he has not been positively sighted since.

Dai photographed on 27th April, the last time we saw him

There has been an osprey perching on 'Pete's Post' for the last few weeks. This is a four foot post on the sand banks at the mouth of the Dyfi estuary, around nine miles away and a favourite perching spot for Dai Dot before he started breeding at ON5. So has it been Dai perching on Pete's Post all this time?

Sadly not, probably. We managed to get this very long distance shot (c600m) of this osprey on Thursday. This is a male adult with a blue Darvic ring on his left leg - so a Scottish osprey.

Rubbish picture from a long way away, but this is not Dai

 

This is not to say Dai has not been on this post at other times of course. In fact, just because we haven't seen him since April does not mean he's died. Dai is unringed so we need to be very close to him to make a positive identification. Let's hope we see him in 2017.


A Grand Total of...

So that's nine offspring surviving to migration age in Wales from four nests; we had 10 from the same four nests in 2014 and 11 in 2015. So a slight reduction overall, but I guess we need to be thankful overall, especially considering the mishaps we've had with several chicks and allowing for two polygamous nests with eggs at Glaslyn and Dyfi. Nine birds from four nests is still an average productivity rate of over 2 per nest, well above the UK average.

W7 grabs on to her garfish with her right foot, the cause of so much distress for her just a few weeks ago     © BGGW


We have just closed the doors of the Dyfi Osprey Project for the last time in 2016 this evening at 6pm. We were open for 168 consecutive days in all, opening on 21st March, that feels like a looooong time ago!

Over 39,000 visitors came to see us in that time, over two million have logged on to the Live Streaming at some point this season, while our Facebook followers have soared past the 30,000 mark with almost 10,000 on DOP Twitter's page. Phenomenal numbers. Thank you all for your support and donations - we aim to bring you the best coverage, information, camera work, Live Chat, Live Streaming, blogs, posts, photos and videos we possibly can - your support and enthusiasm allow us to do just that.

Finally we would like to thank all of our volunteers for helping us make DOP what it is. Quite simply, they are the engine of everything we do - we simply could not do it without you. Despite the weather being relatively kind to us and the ospreys this year, the rain had its vengeance at our volunteer BBQ last night. We soldiered on however, in the usual DOP spirit, and there was plenty of that!

Janine soldiers on through the rain and the cakes..

Look out for a lot more blogs in the coming weeks - everything from the dud egg results, the DNA mouth swab analysis of Welsh ospreys and a rather intriguing update on Delyth, the ON5 female. But for now, we leave you with one last video from the 2016 season.

I don't know about you, but I find it intriguing to watch the last few moments of an osprey's time on the Dyfi before they depart on their long migration south. What are they thinking? How long before they go do they make the decision? Is it just a spur of the moment thing? How much does the weather play a part? Can they detect weather systems far away and make decisions accordingly? Do they think of their family members before they go? Do they eat more than normal pre-departure?

We will probably never know, but it's fun to guess. Here are the last two minutes of Monty's time with us in 2016, from 08:26 to 08:28 last Thursday morning. While Blue 24 is still with us - she was the first to arrive and will be the last to leave, Monty is no doubt well on his way now, probably over Spain after four full days.

See you next April, Monty - stay safe, you'll be greatly missed.


 

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