Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Glaslyn Ospreys - Great Eggspectations!

The nest is 3 miles that way!
It was a short stroll from Porthmadog to Pontcroesor which is a station on the Welsh Highland Railway. It is also the viewing point for the Ospreys who have been a regular sight in the Glaslyn valley since 2004. This is a male and a female who have occupied the same nesting site together up river of the station - actually well up river as you can only see them with a long distance telescope which is in position at an RSPB viewing platform. The enthusiastic and helpful staff told me that the birds live separate lives in Africa where they spend the winters. The male returned on the 18th of March and the female on the 20th. By the 4th of April the first egg would have been laid which strikes me as being a very short period of gestation. 2 more eggs followed over the next 4 days and we are already nearing the end of the incubation period of 36 days. So come down around the 10th of May and you may see the first chicks.

image: Andy Rouse

Other things that I learned about the Osprey are:
  • They can be easily identified in flight by a white under-body and wing with prominent black, fingered wingtips. They have black carpal patches and black tips to the under-wing coverts.
  • The Osprey feeds on medium sized fish. The bird will fly above the water's surface gliding and soaring up to 70m high before it plunge dives with wings half folded and feet thrown forward at the last moment to catch the fish in its talons either on the surface or to a depth of 1m.
  • The oldest known osprey was 26 years old.
  • The osprey breeds for the first time at age 3 to 5 and they are largely monogamous.
  • The nest is called an eyrie and is generally built on the top of a large tree. The Glaslyn nest was remade a few years ago and is sited on a pallet approximately 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep.
  • Ospreys can be found on all continents of the world except Antarctica.
Replica of the nest

A TV relays images of the nest in real time and the RSPB cabin is full of interest.
This is as close as you can get to the Ospreys' nest
Pontcroesor is a good place to catch the train up to Beddgelert

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