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10 Things You Need to Know About DOP 2017

Posted: Sunday 26th February 2017 by Emyr MWT

10 Things You Need to Know About DOP 2017

In less than four weeks we open the doors of the Dyfi Osprey Project for the ninth consecutive year!

This will be our most challenging year yet, as 2017 will be the first year where we receive absolutely no external funding from anywhere, including the EU of course. We will try and raise the £150,000-ish it costs to operate DOP every year from donations, visitors and shop sales.

So, without further ado, here are the 10 things you need to know about DOP 2017:

 

1. Opening Times

We’ll open our DOP doors at Cors Dyfi Reserve at 10am on Saturday, 25th March – four weeks yesterday if you’re reading this today, lol!

 

We will remain open every single day, including weekends and all Bank Holidays until the first week of September, 10am – 6pm every day. Alwyn and Janine will be back, as will Kim who has just published our events for the year. You can see these on our “What’s On” page here.

 

2. Entrance fees

We will keep these the same as last year:

All-day Pass - £3

Week Pass - £6

Season Pass - £15

As always, these will be based on a ‘suggested donation’ principle. If you can afford it you can pay a bit more, we appreciate your generosity. If you genuinely can’t afford £3 to come in, you’re as welcome as anyone else to come and see these magnificent birds. Poverty should never be a barrier between people and wildlife.

Furthermore, by running a suggested donation scheme you can also tick a couple of boxes on a Gift Aid form when you come in if you pay tax in the UK. This allows us to reclaim an additional 25% of your donation back from the government, which equates to several thousands of pounds each year.

 

3. Live Streaming

We will go live on the day we open – 25th March. Monty and Glesni usually arrive back during the first week in April, but we may well see some ospreyness before that.

Monty brings in a sea bass

Blue 24 was back on the Dyfi nest on 24th March last year and we saw Dai Dot soon after as well. Let’s hope he’s still alive – this period before Monty and Glesni return will be our best chance of seeing him as he usually makes an appearance during this time.

If we can and everything works, we’ll flick the switch on the Live Streaming a bit earlier than the 25th.

 

4. Camera System

We have some truly exciting developments for you in 2017.

We broke the mould way back in 2012 when we fitted 800m of super-armoured fibre cable all the way from the nest to the visitor centre and brought you the first High Definition pictures of ospreys, probably in the world.

Five years later we have two brand new cameras, and these are just a little bit special.

One of the new cameras for 2017: new technology for a new season

 

We’ll start our annual Live Streaming Appeal next weekend and let you know a lot more about these new cameras and some of the new stuff you'll see then.

 

5. Fibre Broadband

In order to bring you all this osprey goodness, we have, after working extremely hard with BT for a few years now, upgraded our broadband and telephone network to a fibre-to-the-premise system.

No longer will we need to bond four telephone lines together and pull some magic tricks in the background in order to squeeze out enough bandwidth to bring you a highly compressed Live Streaming service. Initial tests show that the new connection is just over 100X faster than the old copper connection. It will be so fast, you’ll see and hear Monty’s thud before it actually happened!

 

This new connection will complement beautifully the new camera system, as it would have been impossible to stream pictures back to you at anywhere near their full potential using the old copper network. More next week - now's the time to upgrade your glasses prescription.

 

6. Genetics

As you know, we took buccal (saliva) swabs from Ceri and Tegid last year at the same time they were ringed. We did the same at the Glaslyn nest and also ON 5, the mid-Wales nest, seven chicks in all.

Work is still ongoing with this research and we don’t have too much to report unfortunately, other than progress is being made. It’s not as simple as comparing human genes as the whole human genome is known; in other words, we know more or less where every bit of code (genes) is on each of the 46 chromosomes; this is called sequencing.

Humans have 46 chromosomes but ospreys have 74!

 

In ospreys we don’t know the sequencing, so to compare anything you need something to compare it with. Dr. Matt Hegarty at Aberystwyth University has been working with fellow geneticists who have previously worked on osprey DNA sequencing in order to do exactly this. As soon as we know any more about the research, you’ll be the first to know.

We are hoping to do the same this year on all four Welsh nests.

 

7. Unhatched Egg

In case you missed it, the results of Monty and Glesni’s unhatched egg were slightly inconclusive.

Geneticist Dr Nicola Hemmings at Sheffield University kindly analysed the egg for us and her main conclusion was as follows; “This egg WAS fertilised but development was arrested at a very early stage.”

2016 unhatched egg

 

We know from previous work Dr. Hemmings has done that if chick development is terminated, this usually happens right at the very start of incubation or very near the end, close to hatching. So the egg was successfully fertilised by Monty, but chick development ceased at a very early age, probably soon after the egg was laid.

This corresponds exactly with the peak time Monty was spending with Blue 24 on the other nest. Soon after he abandoned any interest in Blue 24 and invested all his paternal efforts with Glesni.

Of all 16 eggs laid at the Dyfi nest since 2011, this is the only one that has not hatched. Was there a mechanism in place, initiated by Glesni, that somehow abruptly ceased chick development in one of her eggs when it was becoming more and more evident to her that she may be losing her food provider for the summer? It makes evolutionary sense for her to abandon (or terminate) reproduction at an early stage rather than continue on, expending energy (fitness), on a futile cause. Female ospreys practically never raise young on their own, especially from this extremely early reproductive stage, without help from another osprey.

It could well be coincidence of course. Make your own mind up; I have.

 

8. New Nest

Talking of other nests that are too close, we received a licence from the regulatory body, Natural Resources Wales, just last Friday, 24th February, that allows us to remove this nest. It should never have been there in the first place.

Blue 24 joins Monty on a another nest 280m away from the Dyfi nest in 2016

We’ll take it down sometime in March before the ospreys return. We’ll also put up another nest that is (i) more than 2Km away from Monty’s nest (ii) not within line of sight, even from height (iii) not close to Monty’s usual direction of travel to and from food sources.

 

9. Ceri Hide

Just looking back at the “10 Things You Need to Know 2016” blog, we told you about some exciting developments… a new wheelchair lift for the 360 Observatory with electricity for the first time, a new pair of massive binoculars and a brand new website format. We managed to do all of these.

We also told you about a new hide…

 

2016 Blog

 

Well, we’ve built this also. This is what it looks like and we’ll open it for the first time on the morning we open – 25th March.The views from it are beautiful.

 

10. Welsh Osprey Forum

You may remember last year that Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust were keen to establish a Welsh Osprey Forum. Basically, everybody that is involved in working with ospreys in Wales getting together twice a year with the goal of working collaboratively together, adopting more of a pan-Wales approach to our work. We all face similar challenges and issues and there’s a great synergy in tackling many of these challenges together rather than in isolation.

We had a great meeting last September in the 360 Observatory and held our second just yesterday afternoon at the Glaslyn, where Dr. Tim MacKrill came across from Rutland Water and gave us a fascinating and insightful presentation about osprey ecology, population dynamics and much more.

I think we’ll see some big changes over the next few years as ospreys expand their ranges throughout the UK (and Europe) including, hopefully, setting up new colonies in hitherto ‘hard-to-reach’ places for a highly philopatric species. The south coast, East Anglia, Ireland and South Wales spring to mind, but many other places too. I’m also excited that we have the beginnings of what will be a framework for a pan-UK approach to osprey conservation and research in the future. Interesting times ahead.

Tim and I also spoke about possibly setting up a UK Osprey Conference at some point in the future. A symposium, possibly hosted annually or once every two years, with guest speakers from around Europe and beyond giving presentations on the latest osprey research and understanding. And the best bit – tickets would go on sale for the general public to get involved, attend and ask questions.

I have to say, these were only very casual and exploratory discussions over a coffee and some chocolate biscuits, but it would be great if one day we could do this.

 

And finally…

So there you are, 10 things you may not have known five minutes ago but may be useful to you for the upcoming season.

Sure, it will be our most financially challenging year yet, but we also aim to make it the best yet. Will Monty and Glesni have a successful year after the tragedy of losing an egg and a daughter last year? What will Blue 24’s strategy be in 2017? Is Dai Dot still with us? Where will Clarach turn up? And what about the “Class of ‘15”, Merin, Celyn and Brenig are due back for the first time this year as well as Gwynant and Deri from the year before.

Brenig was a real Mummy's Boy - will we see him again in a few weeks...?

 

Lots to look forward to, lots to learn, and in a few weeks we get to know whether our Heritage Lottery Fund application for a brand new Dyfi Wildlife Centre has been successful.

Seat belt, keys, you know the rest… :-)

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