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Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Posted: Friday 14th June 2019 by Kim MWT

MWT Telyn in the rainMWT Telyn in the rain

It has been a damp week on the Dyfi

Long Daylight Hours

It has been a little damp on the Dyfi this week but that hasn’t stopped the Bobs from growing up fast. Monty is continuing to bring a ready supply of fish to the nest. He is making good use of the long daylight hours to extend his fishing time. This has been particularly useful on the wet days when heavy rain has hampered fishing. We are regularly seeing a late evening fish delivery at up to 10.00pm. Once the whole family has had a feed from this fish it is left on the nest overnight as a handy first breakfast.

Monty feeds the Bobs while Telyn looks on
MWT Monty feeds 3 chicks

The Bony Bits

Monty brought in a whale of a mullet on Thursday afternoon. As Telyn fed it to each of the chicks in turn she carefully removed each operculum, discarding them to the side of the nest. Opercula are hard bony flaps that cover and protect the gills of the fish. While we think of them as a single bone, opercula are actually composed of four fused bones; the opercle, preopercle, interopercle, and subopercle - try saying them quickly!

They are inedible and we find them littered beneath the nest and the feeding perch. 

Mullet opercula in the nest
MWT Opercula

Fancy Feathers

As the chicks transition from two to three weeks in age we are noticing some significant changes in their appearance. Here is a video from early this week when they were still covered in their second down.

Two weeks old

Since that video was made they have all begun sprouting ‘proper’ feathers. At this stage they are said to be ‘in pin’ or developing ‘pin feathers’. This will become more pronounced over the next few days. The ‘pin’ is a feather that is still wrapped in a keratin sheath to protect it while it grows. The Bobs will spend more and more time preening to remove these sheaths from the feathers. 

The Bobs' new feathers coming through
MWT chick feather growth

It is not just the Bobs who are growing new feathers; Telyn is also showing some new plumage. Through a rain soaked camera we spotted this new feather that had appeared on her wing. She too will spend much of the next few weeks preening to ensure her feathers are in tip-top condition for her migration. 

Telyn's new feather


The Bobs are also starting to show other behavioural signs of development. They are much more mobile in the nest and are beginning to move away from the central nest cup to get closer to the food supply. We are also seeing more wing stretching and the very early stages of wing flapping. Wing flapping is important to build and tone the muscles required for flight, we have a few more weeks until the Bobs are airborne, but it is good to get the practice in now!

Early signs of wing flapping
MWT wing flap


For now the three Bobs are still totally dependent on their parents for food and shelter, especially in poor weather. As their feathers continue to grow and they begin to produce the oil require for waterproofing they will need less and less shelter from Monty and Telyn. Until then a night time ‘cwtch’ under ‘mam a dad’ makes for a cosy night's rest. 

Night time cwtch
MWT night time cwtch

With the weather set to improve over the next few days we hope the whole family can enjoy a little sunshine.

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