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'See You Next Year'

Posted: Sunday 9th September 2018 by Emyr MWT

DOP has ended for the season

We closed the doors for the 166th and last time on DOP 2018 on Friday, 7th September - our tenth season overall. And what a season we've had.

Monty has bred for eight of those 10 years, the first two with Nora and the last five with Glesni who sadly did not return this year. Telyn, Monty's third consecutive Rutland-born female partner, emulated exactly what Nora had done in 2011 and produced three eggs, all of which hatched, fledged and migrated, and just like Nora, achieved this as a first-time mother.

We mourned the loss of Glesni in April - here is her Tribute video if you missed it:

Here is how all three ospreys, plus another Rutland female, Blue 24, are related to each other (thick black border):

Here are the times and dates, in chronological order, that we last saw all five birds this year:

 

  • Telyn - 11:31 on Aug 28th
  • Dinas - 11:51 on Aug 29th
  • Helyg - 18:00 on Sept 2nd
  • Alys - 09:21 on Sept 4th
  • Monty - 10:16 on Sept 7th

Alwyn and Karis have also migrated for the season leaving myself, Janine and Kim to do our usual winter work until we put the show back on the road again in another six months time. A massive thanks to them for all their hard work again this year.

Here are 10 things that may be of interest to you:

1. Where are our birds now?

We don't know, they are not tracked. Four of the five are ringed so there is an outside chance they may be spotted either en route or at their destination wintering grounds in west Africa or southern Europe.

Blue KS5, Helyg, joins her mother Blue 3J, Telyn, on the birch perch

Ospreys tend not to travel together in family groups, but individually; the familial bond between parents and offspring weakened throughout August and all five birds will now be on a totally separate agenda - migration and survival.

Monty will hopefully be back with us during the first week of April 2019, but as Telyn is a new female, we have no historical return dates for her. Will she be an early-bird like her relatives Nora and Blue 24 arriving in March, or an April-type of girl like Glesni?


2. Alys, Helyg and Dinas

How do our trio this year compare to all the other Dyfi chicks of the previous seven years?

Well, this year we had our second ever hatching asymmetry, whereby the second egg laid hatched before the first. Alys was actually Telyn's second egg, just as Einion was in 2011. Is this a common trait in first-time mothers who are learning the skills of incubation for the very first time?

This non-chronological pattern results in a three-chick brood hatching closer together in time than would normally be seen.

Alys, Helyg and Dinas hatched just a day-and-a-half apart rather than the usual three-to-five days. A similar pattern occurred in 2011.

Hatching spread (in days) of all Dyfi three-chick broods

 

The two sisters, Alys and Helyg, took slightly longer than average to fledge, both taking 54 days to take to the skies for the first time - a couple of days longer than the average.

Dinas, on the other hand, flew a day earlier than average. He was airborne at 50 days-old.

Fledging ages (in days) of all Dyfi chicks

 

This pattern continued at the age of migration. Alys and Helyg took slightly longer than usual to leave (94 and 92 days-old respectively) whilst their little brother couldn't wait to get away from them!

Dinas was off and away at 87 days-old.

Migration ages (in days) of all Dyfi chicks


3. Aggressive Behaviour

Usually by the time August rolls around, osprey chicks are progressively getting more independent and, sometimes, more aggressive towards each other.

However, this year it was noticeable that Alys was in a class of her own when it came to aggressive behaviour. She practically banished her (very slightly) younger sister, Helyg, to the feeding perch by the 360 Observatory around 300m away for the last two weeks they were with us, not letting her near the nest.


Dinas-Alys-Helyg in early August - the calm before the storm


We saw a similar aggressive trait in Leri back in 2011, but not to the same extent as Alys showed this year. Interestingly, one of the Glaslyn chicks has been displaying the exact same behaviour.

BGGW tell me that KS1 has been the most aggressive chick they've ever seen in 14 years. Both Alys and KS1 are females and the middle egg of three laid. Is there a pattern here? Was there something about their environment this year that caused a particular chick to be more aggressive than usual?

The most obvious environmental factor could be the hot weather we've had this summer. It's just been announced that 2018 was on par with 1976 in terms of the hottest and driest summers we've had. A Clywedog chick has also been seen displaying these aggressive behaviours this season - maybe the weather does indeed have something to do with aggressive behaviour development in osprey chicks?


4. Other Welsh Birds

Blue 24 was finally successful in breeding this year at the grand old age of eight. She and her Scottish-hatched male, Blue HR7 from Lake of Menteith, Stirling, had two eggs, one of which hatched at their Llyn Brenig platform nest. The resulting female, named Luned by Welsh Water/Dŵr Cymru, survived to migration age.

Both Glaslyn and Clywedog had three chicks survive to migration age as well as Dyfi, so that makes for 10 offspring again from Wales this year from four nests - six females and four males.

The 2018 Glaslyn chicks - two girls and a boy, just like Dyfi


Sadly the ON4 pair abandoned their nest in Snowdonia due to disturbance - let's hope they return next year and find an alternative breeding location.

For the first time, DNA swabs were taken from all the Welsh chicks this year at the time of ringing. Dr. Helen and Ilze will be doing their genetic analyses work soon and no doubt we'll get a guest blog from them when their work is done in the winter.


5. Other Dyfi Birds Returning

Talk about London buses.

In all, three Dyfi offspring were re-sighted as adults in 2018. Gwynant (2014), Merin (2015) and Tegid (2016) were all spotted within days of each other at the start of the season. So that makes one offspring from each of Glesni's four years of breeding. There will be more.

Merin is in Denmark and all was going well with his new continental partner until their naturally built nest blew over. They hung around all summer, however, and were still together last week. Hopefully they will return to their Jutland home next year and try again. That's next year's holiday sorted.

Merin photographed last week by Vagn Gejl Donskov - thank you, Vagn

 

Both Gwynant and Tegid were spotted in Wales. Will one of these Dyfi boys be the first ever Welsh offspring to return to Wales and breed?

Gwynant and Tegid spotted back in Wales this year:

 

Clarach's eggs were predated by corvids, unfortunately, at their Aberfoyle nest. She continued to pair-bond with her mate throughout the season - they'll be back next year to try again.


6. Cors Dyfi, Shop and DOP 2019

Cors Dyfi Reserve is still open to the public throughout the winter except Thursdays when we do conservation and habitat management work. However, the visitor centre, Ceri Hide and 360 Observatory will be closed. If you want to visit the reserve, just park at the gates and let yourself in, the gates will be left open for you.

DOP 2019 will open at the end of March next year. I'll let you know an exact date nearer the time.

The DOP online shop will re-open at the beginning of October, once we've designed and printed the 2019 DOP Calendar - the images from this year were amazing, it should be the best yet.

We'll put Glesni on the front cover as a tribute, Telyn, Monty and their chicks on the inside, including this cracker of an image we've just retrieved off the trail-cam on Friday of Helyg.

Helyg on the feeding perch near the 360 Observatory, keeping her distance from Alys


7. Live Streaming and Chat

Over 500 people voted in our Live Streaming poll recently on Facebook as to whether the new YouTube system was, in their opinion, better or worse than the old system.

Thankfully, 89% told us it was better.

Only a small number of the 11% of people that thought it was a step backwards told us why, unfortunately. However, of those that did we have taken their comments on board and will try to address these issues next year. We'll also fix the audio that broke in July - hopefully it's just a simple fix at the nest.

Several people have written to us asking whether the Live Streaming and Chat can stay open a bit longer than usual this year and I'm pleased to say that we will extend the Live Streaming until the end of the month - 30th September. In time, we hope to extend the Streaming/Chat times further still, doubling the time open in a year from five months to 10 months.

'Dyfi River Cam' still remains an aspiration in years to come during the non-osprey months. We'll see.

The (sadly) rare white-fronted geese make their home on the Dyfi River in the winter

8. Dyfi Wildlife Centre

Our work developing the new Dyfi Wildlife Centre (DWC) starts in earnest now that the ospreys have gone and DOP 2018 has closed.

We now have a dedicated section on this website, specifically about the new centre.

I will update you throughout the winter on developments, both here and also on the Cors Dyfi Facebook page that we've renamed to include the Dyfi Wildlife centre. You can find that page here.

The £250,000 DWC Appeal has started well and we're already over a quarter of the way there at just over £70,000.

 

9. Thank You

I just want to take this opportunity to thank everybody that makes DOP possible.

From the 100 volunteers that we have (they have donated over 8,000 hours this year already), to our staff, the community that is FODOP (friends of DOP) and other social media support groups and, of course, you.

Thousands visit us every year and hundreds of thousands engage with us in one form or another on our social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and this website.

Here's our Youtube analytics from last month. Over 41,000 comments were written and over 5 million minutes watched!

So, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust would like to thank everybody that makes DOP so special to all of us every year.

If you have not donated this year and would like to, we'll be extremely grateful if you could help us with your Dyfi Wildlife Centre appeal.

It's here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/montgomeryshire-wildlifetrust/dyfi-wildlife-centre


10. End of Season Video

No DOP season would be complete without the end-of-season video would it?

So, here's the 2018 video, it's the best bits from Monty's last week with us.

I'm off on holiday for a couple of weeks, see you on the other side...

 

Music: Juliet Wyers - 'See You Next Year'.

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