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10 Things You Need to Know About DOP 2018

Posted: Saturday 3rd March 2018 by Emyr MWT

Not long to go

Monty and Glesni are due back four weeks today!

Another osprey season is almost upon us so as usual in early March, here are the 10 things you need to know about DOP 2018:

1. Opening Times

We’ll open our DOP doors at Cors Dyfi Reserve at 10am on Monday, 26th March, that's three weeks Monday.

We will remain open every single day, including weekends and all Bank Holidays until the first week of September, 10am – 5:30pm every day. Alwyn and Karis will be back in a few weeks to join Janine, Kim and myself, as well as around 100 volunteers of course.

If you're planning a trip and want to know what events we are holding, here they are


2. Entrance fees

After staying the same for a few years now, an all-day pass will this year go up from £3 to £4. A week pass will go up from £6 to £8 and a season pass will remain at £15

All-day Pass - £4

Week Pass - £8

Season Pass - £15

Children and Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust members - Free 

We barely made it financially last year and had to do all sorts of scrimping and saving to get by. This modest increase will hopefully mean such drastic measures won't be needed this year.

To put it in perspective, it will still cost 50% more to get to similar nature reserves in Wales with a visitor centre and a whole lot more for some other attractions. Every penny of the entrance fees will be used to deliver the Dyfi Osprey Project, we hope you understand.

3. Camera system

Starting tomorrow, Sunday 4th, we start our camera and nestorations work. Around 15 volunteers will brave the snow and the cold to put up a 12m scaffolding tower tomorrow afternoon and all the old wires and trunking will be removed.

The nest itself will have a major overhaul for the first time in 10 years and the microphones repositioned and boxed in to prevent as much water ingress as possible. An estuarine location is a brutal environment for delicate electronics, years of flooding and salt-infused high winds take their toll.

Underside of the Dyfi nest

We have one new camera this year - an AXIS Q5055-E for those of you that like to know. This is the latest PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) High-Definition camera made by AXIS and will complement our suite of other AXIS cameras. This new camera will be the main Live Streaming camera for around a third of the season. We'll start our Camera Appeal next week with an update on how we got on with the camera works this week.

Janine holds up the new AXIS camera - it's not as heavy as it looks!

4. Live Streaming and Chat

By this time next week, weather permitting (haha!), our work at the nest should be complete. We will then comprehensibly test the system for a further week or so and do any final adjustments if required.

If we can and everything works, we’ll flick the switch on the Live Streaming a bit earlier than the DOP opening day of 26th March. Likewise with the Live Chat, this will go live a few days before too. The earliest we've ever seen an osprey on the Dyfi nest is 24th March (Nora in 2012 and Blue 24 in 2016), we'll do our best to get everything up, tested and live by then for you.

4. Website

It is three years now since we moved to this new website, hopefully you've seen some improvements.

One of the main criticism we get is the layout and the stats. We've started work on trying to make this better and it will be ready just before we open. The new stats pages will hopefully be easier to navigate and understand with all the facts and figures going all the way back to 2011 on there as new tables and charts. We'll let you know when this work is done.

Starting in September we will start working an a brand new DOP website to be ready for next year, our 10th anniversary. The current firmware of this website restricts us in what we can do - including making it mobile and tablet friendly. The new website will allow us to remedy many of these restrictions.

5. Genetics

As you know from Dr. Helen's excellent blogs, we are making progress on our Welsh osprey DNA research. In the Christmas blog I mentioned some of the reasons why we are doing this work, including some of the questions we're trying to get the answers to.

World populations of different osprey sub-species

The DNA licences are in place again for this year and we'll be taking buccal swabs from all the Welsh chicks at the same time as we ring them. There hasn't been a great deal of work done with osprey genetics so it's like starting from scratch in many ways.

It's a long process, but each time we get another sample, it adds to our Welsh DNA database and we are one more step further towards identifying the degree of relatedness between our various ospreys.

6. Welsh Osprey Forum

I mentioned in the equivalent blog last year that we have set up a new Welsh Osprey Forum. Representatives from all four Welsh nests meet twice a year with other organisations that deal with wildlife law, regulatory and licensing issues. The aim is simple: we all work together, sharing information and knowledge, for the ultimate betterment of the Welsh osprey population.

I'm glad to say that we have made excellent progress since the first meeting in September 2016 and to use a rather tacky phrase, we are now all singing from the same hymn sheet. Subtle changes occurred last year with more in the pipe-line. As the osprey population hopefully grows, we'll be more prepared than ever to put conservation plans in place to protect them.

Ospreys have evolved to live in colonies, each bird having a knowledge and understanding of barriers, behaviours and ecologies of other nests and birds. Thankfully, all of us in Wales working with ospreys are now doing the same.

Blue 24 will have a mental map of all the other Welsh nests and the birds that occupies them

The fourth Welsh Osprey Forum meets at the end of next week where we will be talking to a North Wales Police Wildlife Crime Officer; our guest speaker will be Dr. Tim Mackrill from The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation. Tim be giving a presentation on the exciting Poole Harbour Translocation Project. How long will it be before a Welsh bird settles there?

7. DOP Infrastructure

As you know we have been working with various funders to make the facilities at DOP better; the car park, toilets, cafe and visitor centre were never designed to accommodate 40,000 visitors each year.

I want to thank all of you that participated in the public-consultation research we did recently. Over 1,500 of you told us what you think we should improve on and this has formed a major part of our planning. We strive to run DOP as a community-led project and this will never stop.

We believe that you should have a say in what we do, influencing the direction DOP and Cors Dyfi takes by including you in the decision-making process. Just like the genetics work, this is a long process that's ongoing. We'll update you with any news as we get it - we may even ask you a few more questions :-)

8. Ospreys

We've been stubbornly stuck on four pairs of ospreys in Wales for some years now. There are a few reasons for this and it's proving frustrating that we seemed to have plateaued off.

From the original pair of Welshpool and Glaslyn nests in 2004, we are up to four nests in 2017

There's reason to be positive though.

Blue 24 disappeared from the Dyfi for seven weeks last summer, being spotted on the Denbigh Moors in north Wales with a male during that time. Although she returned to the Dyfi for a few days at the beginning of September, we're hoping she'll return and pair up with this male - we'll let you know.

There are also the young Welsh chicks returning of course. Nine youngsters made it to migration age in 2016 and 11 in 2015. Around one-in-three ospreys survive and make it back to the UK, so that's six or seven birds from these two years. Keep Calm and Look Up.

9. Instagram

Loads of you have asked us to start a DOP account on Instagram.

Janine has been testing it out over the winter on her first ever smart phone she bought for herself at Christmas! Instagram is a photograph based platform, so it's perfect for us.

Instagram will help us be as immersive as possible with as many audiences as possible; it will complement our other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Live Chat, Live Streaming and DOP YouTube Channel. Our DOP Instagram page is here

Welcome to the 21st century Janine.


10. And finally..

We've had a fairly quiet public presence over the winter, we've been hard at work on other Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust projects. This work has now finished and we can focus 100% of our energies on the Dyfi Osprey Project.

The 2018 live pictures should be the best ever, the audio too, and we'll do our best to keep you informed of all the goings-on from the Dyfi nest and others. Many of you tell us that DOP has grown over the years to be a significant part of your lives; ospreys can be interesting, enthralling and sometimes therapeutic.

Will Clarach return to her Aberfoyle nest and raise three chicks this time? Will we see Tegid for the first time in two years, he'll be back in the UK anytime from May if he's still alive. Will Blue 24 finally breed at eight years old? And how about Merin, Celyn and Brenig from 2015, they'll be three years old this summer, an age when many an osprey is seen for the first time.

The car is warming up, almost ready to go - hope you are too...

Tegid starts his migration in 2016 - will he return this year?

Read Emyr MWT's latest blog entries.