Ospreys have returned to Wales and they are nesting at the Cords Dyfi reserve, home to the Dyfi Osprey Project. The Dyfi Osprey Project is a conservation mission to support and protect wild ospreys that visit Wales. In 2007 they erected an osprey platform on the reserve in response to an increasing number of osprey sightings each spring and autumn. It didn't take long before the ospreys moved in, however, no breeding took place.
Two years later in 2009, there was one occupied osprey nest in Wales, 30 minutes North of Dyfi and the Dyfi Osprey Project was born. This amazing conservation project had two goals in mind:
1. To support and conserve the osprey population in Wales.
2. To deliver an osprey project with communities at its heart.
Obviously, this is singing exactly to our tune at Conservation Chat UK and we jumped at the opportunity to visit this reserve while on holiday in beautiful Wales.
Once we arrived we were told by one of the reserve managers that they had lost the ospreys and that they hadn't been able to sight them for some time. However, this news did not deter us and we decided to go looking for them anyway, so we marched straight down to the 360° viewing platform.
We weren't there for long before we heard shrieks of joy and excitement in the room. The ospreys were back and they had a treat in store for us!
Not one, but four ospreys graced us with their presence on the nest and adjacent perches. Mother, Father, and two fledglings had been fishing and were back to enjoy their efforts. While the young ate their meal of mullet and trout, Mother and Father stood back to keep an eye on the surroundings. But the ospreys are not natives to our mainland. In fact, they migrate over 3,000 miles from West Africa for the winter!
It is only once you see these birds with the naked eye (or with a little help from a zoom lens), that you realise how truly huge and majestic they are. With a wingspan of 1.3m-1.8m, these magnificent birds are a sight to behold when in the air. Their huge wings allow them to carry heavy prey items, and along with other adaptations such as transparent eyelids and four-toed feet with reversible outer toes, these birds are perfectly engineered for a strict fish diet.
It seems unbelievable to think that this species was once, and may still be persecuted by humans in the UK. Perhaps due to the competition they pose to fishers, these birds can be killed simply for being fish eaters. They also suffer from other threats such as colliding with electrical power lines, car collisions, becoming tangled in baling twine and of course, habitat loss. Ospreys are regularly shot in Southern Europe and also suffer from mercury and organochlorine pesticide poisoning. Entanglement in fishing line also occurs.
Thankfully projects such as the Dyfi Osprey Project work tirelessly to protect this species and restore their numbers in the wild by providing nesting perches for them and educating the public to the importance of saving this stunning bird from endangerment. We feel extremely honoured to have witnessed these incredible birds in the wild and to have visited an incredibly important conservation project located in Wales.#
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