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
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|
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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.
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.