I’m sure many of you will have been following the sad events at the Dyfi Osprey Project where the recent torrential rain has resulted in the death of two of the three chicks. We have been especially saddened given that we have a vested interest in the nest – the breeding female, Nora, is one of 24 chicks who have fledged from the Site B nest in Rutland since 2001.
Yesterday afternoon it seemed certain that, following more than 100mm of rain in 24 hours, the third chick would not survive either. It was too weak to be fed and appeared doomed. At this point the Dyfi team intervened – they went up to the nest, collected the chick and hand-fed it. It eventually accepted some food and, once it had done so, they put it back on the nest. Within minutes its mother was back on the nest and feeding the chick herself – the fish it had been hand-fed meant it now had the strength to hold its head up and beg for food. Without the team’s intervention it is clear that this would not have been the case and it would have died.
I think the Dyfi team should be applauded for their quick-response to a desperate situation. Too often in UK conservation people put forward the argument that we should ‘let nature take its course’. I personally, don’t agree. The fact is, if we had taken this approach – and not carried out the translocation project at Rutland Water – there wouldn’t be any breeding Ospreys in either Rutland or Wales. Millions of people wouldn’t be able to enjoy watching the stunning images from the Dyfi cameras each evening on Springwatch and, even more importantly, a species that has suffered badly at the hands of humans in centuries gone by would still be absent from an area where they should be common.
If Ospreys are to continue to spread through southern Britain, then we can take positive steps to help them do so. One such way is by erecting artificial nests; just as the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust did at Cors Dyfi. However, for these nests to be used by the birds there needs to be as large a pool of ‘southern UK Ospreys’ to colonise them. For this reason every chick is vitally important and this is why the guys at Dyfi should be congratulated for what they have done. Last year we artificially incubated a clutch of eggs after the breeding male 08(97) disappeared from Site N mid-way through the incubation period. One of the chicks hatched, allowing us to move it to a surrogate nest. Like the chick at Dyfi, this youngster would have had no chance of surviving without our intervention.
With the weather now improving, the remaining Dyfi chick should grow stronger every day and hopefully migrate in late August in excellent condition. Let’s hope that it returns in a few years’ time to raise chicks of its own. Now that really would be a success story. For the latest from the nest check out Dyfi’s Facebook page.