I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Osprey

On Friday 18th April I left the car for a few hours at Derek's Tyres in Porthmadog to have 2 new tyres fitted - after my encounter with the big stone or small rock recounted here. (I'm not sure of the difference between a big stone and a small rock. Designation of the term probably depends on the expansiveness or otherwise of one's mood.) Meanwhile I took a short walk from Porthmadog harbour to the petite but beautifully formed bay of Borth-y-Gest round the corner (see pic). There at the water's edge 20 or so oystercatchers were probing the sand.

Later I picked up the car and drove to the Osprey Viewing Site next to Pont Croesor, a bridge which spans the Glaslyn River a few miles upstream of Porthmadog. (I'd called there late the previous day too, but hadn't seen an osprey. Only a grey wagtail and 2 goosanders. And heard willow warblers for the 1st time this year.) This time I was lucky enough to glimpse the head of one osprey (through telescopes provided) poking up from a large, untidy nest on a treetop's forked branch over a mile away. After a while the whole bird emerged and languidly stretched its huge wings. An RSPB warden informed me that it was the female, and that the male was likely to be out hunting for fish near Porthmadog Cob (or Causeway) at the mouth of the estuary.

The male returned to Glaslyn from West Africa at 1pm on 26 March - almost exactly the same time as he arrived last year (what an amazing body clock) - and the female not long after. They got down to mating without delay, resulting in 3 eggs being laid over a period of a week in early April. The 1st egg should hatch in mid-May. I've seen ospreys before - in Majorca and at the Scottish RSPB Reserve by Loch Garten - and they are magnificent birds. This pair is the only breeding pair in Wales, but there's a pair on Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District, 2 pairs this year at Rutland Water in the Midlands and around 200 pairs in Scotland. This really is a heartwarming story of successful wildlife reintroduction.

Ospreys are also known as seahawks, fish hawks or sea eagles.

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