Ospreys, it seems, have pretty brutal love lives. Those that breed in the UK spend the winter in Africa and then fly 3,000 miles back to their nests in spring. But when they arrive here they may have to battle other birds for both their nest and their mate.
My daughter didn’t come with the rest of the family to the Dyfi Osprey Project in Wales at the weekend as she was busy revising for her GCSEs. When I told her about what the ospreys had been doing she said it sounded just like the reality TV show ‘Made in Chelsea’.
I’ve not seen the show but this was the story so far when we visited: four birds had arrived from Africa at various times over the previous week but only two remained. One was Monty, a male who’s bred here before and the other was Blue 24, a female who’s new to the reserve. Monty had already seen off another male who he found on the nest when he arrived here. Blue 24 had spent the previous day battling her cousin, Glesni, who bred with Monty last year but arrived last week to find the younger female already in residence. Just as in the best stories there was a palpable air of excitement around what would happen next. Would Glesni return? Would any other ospreys turn up? Would Monty and Blue 24 mate and have chicks? Nobody could know what would happen next.
At the entrance to the reserve is a building with a wall of screens showing live footage from the ospreys’ nest and perches. As we watch Monty deliver a fish to a waiting Blue 24, Kim Williams, the project’s Learning Officer, says: ‘He’s trying to impress her, to prove that he can feed both her and her chicks.’ Ospreys are sizeable birds of prey: the wingspan of an adult bird can reach up to 175 cms. They feed exclusively on fish, diving into the water and catching their prey with their talons. Kim shows us a replica osprey egg – my son holds it and says it’s a bit bigger than a chicken’s egg.
Kim explains that a century ago ospreys were hunted to extinction in Britain. Now they’re protected by law and there are thought to be around 40-50 breeding pairs across Britain, including here at the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust’s Cors Dyfi nature reserve. Kim says that when the ospreys lay eggs here they have round-the-clock surveillance and security to protect them: I’m amazed when she says that there have been cases of people walking along the nearby train track to get close to the nest.
We walk around the reserve. Near the entrance is a wooded area with a reconstructed osprey nest on the ground. Kim assures us that the nest is big enough for five children but my son declines to sit in it. Beyond the woods the ground is marshy with reed beds but there’s a new boardwalk winding through the reserve which offers a good vantage point for watching the wildlife. There are dormice, otters, fish and some rare small birds here as well as the ospreys and in the summer the reeds are grazed by a pair of water buffalo.
The boardwalk leads to a new observatory which is about 200 metres from the nest. The observatory is closed when we visit but is open from Easter and will be a fantastic spot from which to watch the ospreys.
If you want to follow the unfolding drama of the ospreys’ story you can do so via the live stream on the Dyfi Osprey Project website.
Family travel lowdown: There’s a suggested donation of £2.50 for adults visiting the Dyfi Osprey Project, £5.00 for a weekly pass, £10 for a season ticket. Under 16s are free. There’s a café by the entrance and there are often activities for children running during the school holidays. The Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust’s Dyfi Osprey Project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund’s Communities and Nature Project through the Welsh Government. Thanks to Visit Wales and CAN for arranging our visit.
That’e very funny about Made in Chelsea – perhaps there is only a few degrees of separation??
Susanna recently posted…Spring: Yosemite’s best kept secret
This looks like a brilliant place to visit – my two would love it!
Cass@frugalfamily recently posted…Sticky Lemon Muffins….
I would love to visit here especially after seeing a birds of prey show the other week
Kara recently posted…Beaulieu Motor Museum
I’ve learnt so much just from this post! And yes it does sound like Made in Chelsea (not that I’m admitting to watching it….) Looks like a great place to visit!
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Lisa Prince (@BEAUTY_IIAO) says
fabulous pictures, and wow what an egg , soo pretty
Kirsty Hijacked By Twins says
This looks like a great place to visit and the entry costs are really good x
Kirsty Hijacked By Twins recently posted…Nanna Kay’s No Added Salt Meals – Review
Sarah Bailey says
What a fantastic sounding place to visit, be interesting to hear what happens with Monty and Blue 24. x
Sarah Bailey recently posted…How Observant..
Carole at Healthier Mummy says
I’m gripped. Looking forward to finding out what happens next to Blue 24 and Monty. Sounds like a good trip.
I love that there was someone available to explain the unfolding saga to you and cameras so you could see the Osprey up close without too much effort. What a great place and the observatory looks amazing.
Kirsty recently posted…We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
Looks a great place and just the sort of thing I hope to get my son into. I did a lot of conservation work so enjoy anything like this.
sam@happyhomebird recently posted…St George’s Day
That sounds like an interesting place to visit. My only worry would be my noisy children scaring the wildlife away!
Jenny recently posted…Win a Lego Duplo Creative Cakes set
What a great experience – love that your son got to hold an Osprey egg.
Pinkoddy recently posted…Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Blooms Garden Centre
We have Osprey nesting near us at Rutland Water but we haven’t visited the site when it has its open day. Maybe we will this year!
Kizzy recently posted…#TheGallery Easter
What an amazing place to visit – I’m intrigued by the size of the nest!
Michelle recently posted…The #GreatBritishHomeChallenge – Living It Up In Essex!
A place I would love to visit.
Bex Smith says
Such beautiful birds! Wish I lived closer 🙁
Bex Smith recently posted…Busy Busy Bee
You Baby Me Mummy says
What a great place to visit x
You Baby Me Mummy recently posted…Snapfish Review
This looks like a great place to visit, very educational and somewhere a bit different
anna recently posted…Yvolution Y Fliker Kids Scooter Review
Mummy of Two says
This sounds like a brilliant place to visit. So interesting.
Mummy of Two recently posted…Our Easter in Pictures
Helen The good life mum says
oh wow i would love to see an osprey
Anna J says
I remember seeing an Osprey in rutland water, they really are a sight to behold. Such majestic birds.
Anna J recently posted…Week 135- trapped wind, straddling Shetland ponies and groaning like a grandad…
We have an Osprey near us in North Wales, having never been I think i will now x
Kerry recently posted…Birthday Girl
this isn’t far from us, need to pay a visit
Polly recently posted…Mamaheart
Louise Edwards says
Beautiful birds, we would love to visit this it sounds like a brilliant nature reserve cc
Louise Edwards recently posted…Egg hunting with Waitrose #easter @waitrose
Trish - Mum's Gone to says
Your daughter is right – this is compelling viewing! I love a good love story but these guys have it tough.
Trish – Mum’s Gone to recently posted…Mum’s gone to Glasgow
Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault says
Here in Normandy we have large number of buzzards, sparrowhawks and kestrels and I have seen a marsh harrier but sadly it it not osprey country. Such wonderful birds.
Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault recently posted…Where’s Elliot?
Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) says
I always wanted to go to Wales are thats where my mother-in-law is from. Such nice place! Thanks for sharing your experience in there =) #countrykids
Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) recently posted…Expressions at Brean Down Fort
Sarah Ebner says
Fascinating – sounds great for a family trip
Sarah Ebner recently posted…An Awesome Time At Hever Castle By Jessica!
Wendy at Tots says
Amazing looking building they have… love taking my girls to see things like this…