Friday, 19 April 2013


A load of guess work (and some facts) from Wlw.

A female osprey landed on the nest at Cors Dyfi on the 5th April. All the experts agreed that she was a little hottie and well worth the watching.  Commemorating the birth of a daughter to one of the DOP volunteers, they named both newcomers “Elin”. She (the bird, not the child) hung around the site for the next 48 hours but, finding an apparently deserted nest and no male bird in sight, departed.

Monty, with appalling timing, arrived back from his migration the very next day.
Image (c) Dyfi Osprey project 2013
Click for larger
I did not expect to see her again. But I was wrong because on 19th April, the osprey with the film-star looks reappeared. Where had she been? Prospecting for a nest round the rest of the country? Or perhaps lounging on the seafront at Aberdovey, nibbling daintily at a morsel of sardine (low-calorie of course) held between immaculately-manicured toes. At any rate, lots of questions have been asked about her origins...

Where did Elin come from?

Of ospreys hatched in Great Britain, only about 1/3 to ½ are ringed. Most of the ones from monitored nests in England and Wales ARE ringed, but some nests in Scotland are in remote positions, and/or on private land to which bird ringers have no access. It's unlikely that Elin was fledged from an English or Welsh nest, more likely that she was hatched in Scotland. But there is another possibility – Scandinavia.

There are plenty of osprey nests in Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States. Their “normal” route homeward from migration would be through eastern Europe, but conditions there this season have been difficult. Many lakes and rivers were frozen (and still are), and a steady easterly airstream during March and early April could have sent many of those birds off-course towards our shores. Normally, this is not a problem for them – the prevailing winds offer a “short-cut” home from Britain over the North Sea. But until this week, those westerlies have been conspicuous by their absence.

Great circle path between Haverford West and Trondheim
Click for larger version

Ask anyone in southern or central England where Norway is, and they will point vaguely towards the East – but that isn't really the relative position of the countries. On a map, yes – but the Earth is a globe and migrating birds follow a path known as a “great circle route” from one point to another. This map plots the great circle route from west Wales to eastern Norway, and shows how displaced birds trying to get “home” from there would start off by flying in a northerly direction.

I mentioned the film-star looks and certainly there is a touch of the Scarlett Johanssons about Elin. (Well, maybe not but I wanted to include a pic of SJ in skimpy nightwear – and so would you if you could think of an excuse as convoluted as this one! And anyway, despite the surname she's no more Swedish than I am.) But I digress... Female ospreys are not as attached to their region of origin as males, and will check out potential mates and nest sites wherever they encounter them.

It looks like Elin is doing exactly that.

How old is Elin?

It's very difficult to tell the age of an osprey, just by observation.  They don't have any overt physical characteristics that give it away.  The best clues may come from behaviour and demeanour, coupled with a judicious amount of deduction.

The consenus seems to be that she's a mature female, but still fairly young - perhaps three or four years old.

An attached female (one with a mate and an established nest somewhere) when returning from migration, might be expected to head straight for "home".  Elin, on the other hand, has been taking in the sights for several weeks - it doesn't look like she's in any hurry to get anywhere.  This indicates that she is unattached and fancy-free, and could probably be persuaded to pose in a leopard-print leotard if the deal was right.


  1. Nice write up Paul =). Lovely comparison photograph too haha. Thank you for answering yet more questions fired at you on the site

  2. great blog hope Elin sticks around>leanne

  3. I want to know if she eats Tayto crisps?

    1. I doubt it. I have a niece who is a fashion model and student actress, and SHE doesn't appear to eat anything at all.

  4. She does look like an osprey in that outfit Does she mantle. Can u do a male version 4 Monty.

  5. Great blog Paul

    That Elin sure does look like a hot bird