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Osprey

An opportunity I cannot miss!

My time as a Seasonal Ranger has come to an end, with my last official day with them just yesterday. But why you say? You love it at Llandegfedd! This is very true, I do love Llandegfedd, and thankfully, my connection to Llandeg goes much deeper than a Job with Welsh Water, and that connection will never end. 

So what's next? Well, I've been offered a Job as a Specialist Wildlife Researcher for Aden Productions to help produce Iolo Williams' next wildlife documentary for the BBC. It's a great opportunity that I simply cannot turn down, and I can't wait to start with them on the 28th of this month. It will mean some extra travelling but it's well worth it, working alongside like-minded people, all of which share my passion for wildlife. I appreciate all the support from friends and family, as though this change is a good change, I still struggle at times like this as my anxiety can sometimes get the better of me. 

Below are four of my favourite pics from Llandeg last year. I'm sure I'll continue to have many more memorable moments at what is such a fabulous place for wildlife.  

Finish off your plate

Have you ever wondered what happens when an Osprey gets to the end of it's Fish meal?  Well, wait no longer as you can see it for yourself. Tail'n-all! down the hatch :) 

Hope you've all had a great weekend! Don't forget, I'm a Celeb is on at 9pm! (sorry animal lovers, I do love the program despite all the insect/animal abuse that goes on, and it's the only program I watch all year around). 

Osprey Last but of Fish

Glorious Ospreys

I've held this off for long enough now. What have I been doing the last couple months? Well, as far as photography is concerned, very little to be fair. I simply haven't found the time. However! after quite a few 5am starts with not one, but three! Ospreys at Llandegfedd, I set out to get a close up shot of these outstanding birds, but in a way that would leave the birds completely undisturbed, showing their natural behaviour, without them knowing I was there. 

I'm very lucky in that I got to observe these birds in and outside of work for the last month and a half, so got to learn a lot of their routine. All three birds are this years Juveniles, one of which was ringed in Scotland and the other two that stayed the longest which I believe may have been siblings due to their interaction and lack of rings. It was the two siblings that really put on the show for us as they appeared to be very much so beginners at catching fish. They would often fail to land on a perch while also trying to hold onto a wriggly, wet fish. They started off catching silver fish, like Roach and Rudd, likely because they are easier to see in the water but they did manage to get better in their time here. It was quite a proud moment watching them catch their first trout! some of which were quite big. There's lots more I learned about Ospreys thanks to these individuals and having them so late in the year was a bonus for us for sure, I just hope they manage to get to Africa in time and safely. They have all left now so fingers crossed for them. 

After the Storm

With heavy storms hitting the Uk the last two weeks, we've seen Migration in two very different ways. Firstly a halt in activity due to high winds coming from the south, this brought us 3 Juvenile Ospreys at the same time, just over a week ago. They are all still at Llandegfedd and are continuing to catch fish and put on a great show, right from the visitors centre. Following the high winds, the weather has taken a change with rain storms coming from the north, which has seen the swift movement of thousands, if not millions of Swallows and House Martins all over the country. It was quite a spectacle today to see so many bird moving south. One of the 3 Juvenile Ospreys showed a Blue Darvic Ring (Blue JL8) on the left leg which we've tracked back to Aberfoyle, Scotland this year. Darvic rings are proving to be vitally important in tracking birds of prey as the large rings can be read with a good telephoto lens. The last two photos in this group show all three Ospreys in one tree and the last picture is one of the Ospreys looking at a Fox in the background lol. Something I never thought i'd see in the same lens, despite it being a way off. 

Llandeg Updates

What a weekend! and what a pleasure to see so many birders this weekend turning up to see the 2! Ospreys present at Llandegfedd. Our original male has picked up a female bird and both are showing signs of courting so it's worth keeping a safe distance from any perched birds and observe them from the Dam, North Car Park, Petingale or Bert Hammar Hide for extended viewing in the morning or late evening. Quite a few birders were treated this morning only feet from their cars at the north car park (Glascoed End) with a fly-by from both birds as they inquisitively checked us out while fishing. 

Possibly the same male? 

Looking back through old records and our current male could well be the same male we had July 2016 last year, (See picture above) that also stayed for over a month in July before heading off. There were two other birds present last year also, one with a Blue ring that we didn't make out in the end. Could be a coincidence but the female he's picked up this year also has a Blue ring which we finally got a closer look of today and it so reads NW1

Female Osprey NW1

I'm yet to find out details from this bird but it's likely a young female as the Ring info isn't on any of the Ring Data listed online. This could mean it's been rung very recently but time will tell, I'm just waiting on a phone call. 

A beautiful Common Tern showed really well from the visitors centre around 8am and tucked up most of the day on the Fishnets after a mornings fishing. Loved the fact that it landed on one of the safety boats I regularly use. 

Cattle Egret

'Patching' is so important and there is nobody that's more committed to a single patch than Craig Constance. He really does put a lot of time and effort into birding Llandegfedd and as a result, he has found some great birds over the years. Yesterday evening was another classic example as we were just about to meet up after my shift and he finds a Cattle Egret right opposite the visitors centre, much to my approval, as I've never seen one before!. They are usually winter visitors to the Uk but breeding records are increasing yearly, this year even breeding at the popular RSPB site - Hamm Wall Nature Reserve. Llandegfedd is a perfect breeding site for Cattle Egrets with plenty of mature trees around the outskirts of the water to nest in but also plenty of farmed fields for Cattle Egrets to feed. As the name suggests, Cattle Egrets are closely associated with Cattle, in that they prefer to be feeding at the feet of cattle as they disturb insects off the ground. They are native to places like Asia, Africa and Southern Europe and you may have seen them in Nature documentaries on TV, feeding around the feet of Elephants and larger cattle. Here their feeding methods remain largely the same, only they feed around Cows, Horses and Sheep. 

In other news, the resident Osprey is still present, seen only early hours and late evening. I would recommend making an early appearance for best chance of seeing it fishing (between 5-7am, or late evening between 7-9). 

Osprey Activity

Our annual Osprey visit at Llandegfedd seems to be giving everyone a run for their money, showing only to the select lucky few as it catches a fish and disappears for days on end. Lucky for me, part of my Job as a Ranger at Llandegfedd requires regular boat patrols / rescues and on one occasion it flew as close as I think I'll ever get to a wild Osprey before returning to its roosting tree. This individual has been present for a couple weeks now and has become quiet at home for the time being. I'm not sure how long it will hang around but if you're yet to see it, I'm working lates for the next 9 days so pop by the visitors centre and if I'm available, I can give you up-to-date info on it's activities.

In other news, another victim to fishing line as a Carrion Crow manages to tangle itself on the highest branch it could find on a completely dead tree, leaving Craig Constance and myself completely helpless as it struggled. We tried literally everything and even rang our local Fire department in the end in desperation. They did everything they could to try and get it down and not even they could reach it. The bird unfortunately didn't survive the trauma. Sorry to share the images with you, I know it's not nice seeing anything suffering but we really did do everything we could. A hungry Stoat watched intently at the bird but not even a Stoat would have got that high. 

Ospreys

In other news, this year has been a fantastic year for Ospreys at Llandegfedd, with many sightings popping up. So how many Ospreys have we had? Well, I've recorded three individuals so far, two of which have been seen fairly regularly fishing in the evenings. It's possible that there have been way more than just three Ospreys passing on the way back to Africa and we may see quite a few more before autumn arrives. 

Llandegfedd Change of Seasons

At the end of summer, birding at Llandegfedd becomes a lot more interesting. Not only do we get our migratories birds passing thru again on their way back to Africa but we also get some post-breeders turn up to feed right up until Autumn/Winter. Gull numbers are quite high right now with the odd Yellow-Legged Gull among quite a large roost. Terns have already been sighted, mostly Common Tern but 1 Artic Tern has also been recorded so far. One special thing however is the Wading Birds which seem to time their arrival perfectly for a drop in water level. The mud banks are vital for them to feed on water dwelling critters

Most numerous in summer is the Common Sandpiper. The bird below is one of this years chicks, you can tell this by the stripping patterns on the outer wings which are almost non-existent on adult birds. Beautifully elegant looking birds with a bold peeping call similar to that of a Kingfisher. 

Common Sandpiper

Something a little more exciting that I always look forward to seeing is the Ospreys. I've seen at-least one Osprey every Spring and Autumn for the last three years and each year is slightly different. This year was unique in that we had an early migratory bird in July which stayed not far from Llandegfedd but not actually onsite. It was fishing every evening for 3-4 weeks but has since moved on. Other Ospreys have been sighted since but haven't stayed long (couple hours).