The Dyfi Osprey Project started in January 2009. We had two overarching objectives:
1. To support and conserve the osprey population in Wales (just one nest in 2009 in Wales, at the Glaslyn valley, 30 miles north of the Dyfi).
2. To deliver an osprey project with communities at its heart.
In 2007 we erected an osprey platform on our Cors Dyfi reserve in response to an increasing number of osprey sightings each spring and autumn. By the following summer there was a male osprey and sightings of many other birds, but no breeding took place.
In 2009 we managed to 'borrow' £40,000 to start Dyfi Osprey Project (DOP). We built a small visitor centre (portacabin!) and placed two cheapo cameras on the nest after Network Rail helped us with supplying electricity to the nest to run them (which they still do today - thank you).
On 22nd April we opened our doors for the first time and Wales had its second osprey project. In year order, here are the main points from each year since 2009.
Iolo Williams officially opens the Dyfi Osprey Project on 22nd April, 2009
Although no breeding took place in 2009, we had our first chance to have a really good look at what was happening on the Dyfi nest and try and identify them as individuals - an extremely difficult task.
We had an un-ringed male who seemed to regard the platform nest we erected two years previously as his own. We named this bird 'Monty' after Montgomeryshire.
He was a little unusual looking. He was quite dark for a male, especially the chest and underwing brown feathering, so much so, and without any behavioural cues to go from, we weren't quite sure to start with whether he was a male or not!
Monty in 2009 on a favourite electricity pole - male or female lol!
30,000 people visited us in 2009, a phenomenal amount; probably 10% of them saw an osprey! We had no website, no social media and no live streaming, but we had a platform to work on...
Monty returned in 2010 and so did we with some grant funding from Communities and Nature (ERDF) which would keep DOP going for three years.
Janine and Alwyn returned as DOP People Engagement Officers and we finally had a pair of ospreys in 2010 - a pair of males!
Monty and another male, an unringed bird we named Scraggly, co-inhabited the nest quite peacefully with just rare scuffles over the odd flounder. They didn't breed, obviously, but Monty looked more in control of the nest in 2010 - maybe he was a young, unexperienced bird in 2008 and 2009?
2011 was a very special year for the Dyfi Osprey Project. Monty's return was followed by the arrival of a young female Osprey from Rutland. White 03/08, or as she would soon become known - Nora, joined him on the Dyfi nest in early April.
The nest cameras allowed us to witness the arrival of the first Osprey eggs and chicks on the Dyfi for centuries. Monty and Nora successfully raise three chicks - Einion (Blue DH/11), Dulas (Blue 99/11) and Leri (Blue DJ/11).
All three chicks left the Dyfi with satellite trackers on their backs and provided a fascinating insight into the migrations of young ospreys.
Before the ospreys returned for the 2012 season we made some significant upgrades to our camera system. The installation of four High-Definition Axis cameras meant our osprey viewing would change forever. Cameras alone don't make a wildlife viewing system, Network Rail again came to our aid with fibre-optic cable to transmit the pictures and a team of 106 volunteers pulled that cable into position. Immense efforts for what would be an immense osprey season.
Both Monty and Nora returned and again laid three eggs. However the weather in 2012 was not kind and just hours after the third chick hatched we were hit by one of the worst storms in living memory. Only one chick survived that storm - Ceulan (Blue 3C/12). Ceulan made his migration to Senegal but he sadly got caught up in fishing nets and died.
The start to the 2013 saw a procession of female ospreys visiting Monty and his nest. Nora failed to return from her migration, after a number of long and often vicious sky battles a new female emerged as Monty's new mate. It was another Rutland bird, Blue 12/10 who immerged triumphant, we named her Glesni and in late April she and Monty produced a clutch of two eggs.
With a new microphone installed under the nest we could not only see the ospreys in High-Definition but also hear them. The two female chicks, Cerist (Blue 1R/13) and Cerist (Blue 2R/13) certainly gave us plenty to listen to over the season.
With the ospreys departed for another season our energies turned to the Dyfi 360 project and the final stages of the construction of the 360 Observatory.
Easter 2014 saw the opening of the new 360 Observatory, located just 195m from the Dyfi Osprey Project nest it would bring a whole new dimension to wildlife watching in Wales. Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund had enabled us to build this incredible building without heavy machinery in the middle of a peat bog.
Glesni's year began with competition for Monty's attention, we watched as she battled another Rutland female, Blue 24/10 for days before regaining control of her nest. Blue 24 remained in the Dyfi area for the rest of the season causing frequent disturbances at the nest.
Despite the distractions Monty and Glesni again raised two chicks, Gwynant (Blue 3R/14) and Deri (Blue 5R/14).
For the first time in their time together, in 2015 Monty and Glesni produced three eggs and raised three healthy chicks, Merin (Blue W1/15), Celyn (Blue W2/15) and Brenig (Blue W3/15). The season was not without its interruptions with Blue 24 spending much of the summer near to the Dyfi nest.
As Merin, Celyn and Brenig began their migrations the staff team from DOP also departed, not for West Africa but to London to collect the National Lottery Award for the 360 Project. Fantastic recognition of the hard work that goes into running the project by all involved.
The addition of a 4K camera to the nest early in 2016 meant we were able to see even more detail of the lives of the Dyfi ospreys when Monty and Glesni arrived within hours of each other in early April. The installation of a lift to the 360 Observatory also meant that more people than ever were able to enjoy the amazing views across to the nest.
Again Glesni laid three eggs, however only two hatched. Chicks Ceri (Blue Z0/16) and Tegid (Blue Z1/16) grew quickly and appeared to thrive. The season was boosted by the news in early May that Dyfi osprey Clarach (Blue 2R/13) had been sighted just North of the Dyfi at the Glaslyn Osprey Project. The first recorded return of a Dyfi bird ever!
This good news was followed by bad news. Shortly after fledging Ceri sustained an injury during a fall and later died. Tegid did survive to make his migration.