Posted: Wednesday 3rd April 2019 by Emyr MWT

Monty is back home safely.

Knocking out an April Fool's joke on Facebook every year is fraught with danger. You get the emails from those that are angry they've been deceived, from those that are questioning what's going on (they've not got the joke) and for weeks after we get people coming in asking about the six foot curlews, the osprey nest built on the Observatory roof and the train announcing ravens.

Most fraught of all, however, is that this day each year marks the opening of the window where Monty is due back from migration. Get this timing wrong with an April Fool joke thrown in, and the joke very quickly turns on you. I had a sneaky suspicion that Monty might be back early this year, hence the lack of the annual gotcha, thankfully I was right. I don't get many predictions this accurate.

At 09:25 on 1st April Telyn started behaving as if there was another osprey in the area - the best indicator we get to look up and search the skies. A couple of minutes later an unringed male osprey glides in through the gloom, conducts a quick fly-pass before alighting on the birch perch as if he'd never been away for seven months.

Monty was home.

Monty and Telyn didn't mate very much on the frist day they were reacquainted. Possibly an indication of tiredness after a long (and earlier than usual) migration home.

In fact, this is the earliest Monty has ever returned to his Dyfi nest - beating his previous 2017 arrival by six hours.

Here are Monty's arrival dates and times going all the way back to 2011:

  • 2011 - 6th April at 09:20
  • 2012 - 2nd April at 15:35
  • 2013 - 7th April at 09:01
  • 2014 - 8th April at 15:13
  • 2015 - 7th April at 14:19
  • 2016 - 3rd April at 13:07
  • 2017 - 1st April at 15:42
  • 2018 - 4th April at 14:24
  • 2019 - 1st April at 09:30


How old is Monty?

An often asked question... we don't have an exact age for him as he is unringed, meaning he hatched at a nest that was either unknown at the time, or the chick(s) were not ringed. We can have a good guess though.

Monty was at the Dyfi in 2008, building upon the nest platform we put up the previous year. From behavioural observations in 2009 and 2010 (particularly with another male, Scraggly), it was obvious Monty was at this time an inexperienced bird in terms of breeding. So, reverse engineer this timeline back would mean that Monty was born in 2006 or earlier, making him at least 13 years old this year.

Monty is at least 13 years old

Telyn, for those that don't know, is six years old this year. She is a 2013 Rutland Water offspring of Green 5R (2004 - father) and Maya (unringed)


Where is the Live Streaming and Chat?

This year again our Live Streaming is on our DOP Youtube channel - here. We've also included it on our website - here.

For the first time ever, you can now watch two cameras from the Dyfi nest so you won't miss a thing. To toggle between both cameras just click on the little suitcase icon bottom right of the window.

 

This works on all desktop and laptop computers, but various phones and tablets depending on their age and operating system will vary. Ask on the Live Chat if you have any questions or, if you're still having difficulty, use the old tried and tested method: ask a young person.

Talking of the Live Chat, it can also be found right next to the Live Streaming window. Sign up, ask questions and join the fun.

If you would like to donate to our Live Streaming appeal this year, you can do so here. We're around 75% of the way there. Thank you to the 245 people that have donated so far.


When will we have eggs?

The first thing to say is that the female does not start to produce an egg immediately after mating occurs. There's a very good reason for this.

Telyn will need time to assess Monty's fitness after returning back from migration. Is he injured, compromised in some way, committed? Can he demonstrate that he is a good fish-catcher and nest builder and protector?

Despite breeding successfully together last year (three chicks: Alys, Helyg, Dinas), Telyn still needs an evaluation period in order to decide whether Monty is the right male to share her breeding season with. Get this decision wrong, then that's it for another 12 months. Would you choose your breeding partner after one date?

Neither do ospreys.

Telyn will take her time evaluating Monty before committing to laying eggs

So, how long does this evaluation period need to be? After all, a female osprey can't take too long or she risks missing the breeding boat all together. She needs to find a sweet-spot; enough time to evaluate but early enough to start laying eggs in April.

Here's a table of all eight previous years - look at the First Mating to First Egg Laid column:

 

It's an average of around two weeks (2013 and 2014 were abnormal years - 19 and 24 days evaluation times respectively. This was due to the constant disruption from another female osprey, Blue 24)

Knowing that a female osprey takes around three days to produce an egg, this evaluation time is around 10-12 days. If Telyn is happy with Monty and all around her by this time she will commit to producing her first egg. This is an evolutionary 'decision' of course, not a conscious one.

Monty and Telyn were together from the morning of 1st April, so eggspect the first egg around 15th-17th April?


Monty (left with the orange eyes) and Telyn - reunited on April Fool's Day

 

What happens now?

Lots of pair-bonding.

Mating, nest building, fish deliveries, egg-cupping and general housekeeping. We have no idea where these two go in the winter. They may spend their non-breeding months staring at each other from adjacent trees on the mangroves of the Gambia River. On the other hand, Monty may have never been to Africa, preferring instead to overwinter in Portugal or southern Spain. We just don't know - and it's probably best that way.

As much as we love learning about these amazing birds, maybe it't best they keep just a little bit back from us - it adds to the mystery and awe.


What about the other ospreys in Wales?

Both birds are back at the Glaslyn nest, Aran (the male) returning within minutes of Monty arriving on the Dyfi. Did they meet up on their way up? Maybe they hung out together?

The female (Delyth) is back at Clywedog as is Blue 24 at Llyn Brening. Their respective males are not too far behind hopefully.

Glaslyn have already had two intruding ospreys, both females. One was a Scottish bird on her way back north (Blue LA4) and the other one unringed.


Scottish Blue LA4 - she managed to nick a fish off the Glaslyn female! ©BGGW

Just a reminder, we're now open every day until the beginning of September and we're really excited to bring you this year's Dyfi Osprey Project.

Here's a quick video of the highlights of the first few days since Telyn and Monty have been back - including Monty retrieving a large mullet off the ground he dropped the night before. Thing is, does he drop it on purpose knowing full well he can retrieve it the next day notwithstanding any prowling foxes/herons etc?

Would you take a half-eaten two pound mullet to bed with you?

Read Emyr MWT's latest blog entries.