Llyn Brenig is celebrating a Welsh wildlife success story this year. Ospreys returned to the lake and, under increased security at the site, went on to raise two chicks, both fledging successfully, and all migrating south to overwinter in warmer latitudes.
‘It’s been a bit of nail-biter of a summer if I’m honest,’ said Visitor Attraction Manager Nick Kite.
‘Everyone was really hoping for a turnaround in fortunes after a difficult two years for ospreys at the site. Would these magnificent raptors actually return to Llyn Brenig in 2022? And if they did, would they use our new platform for nesting? Would they raise a family? Would the new security measures work?’
‘We were hopeful because we felt we had done everything we could to support the birds this year, but nature is unpredictable…’
Nick and the team at Llyn Brenig along with partners North Wales Wildlife Trust and RSPB Cymru were right to be cautious, but things started well in the spring. The first osprey to arrive back from their winter home was LJ2 who appeared on the nest on 6 April. Four days later, LM6 returned and by 25th April, the pair’s first egg was laid, followed by a second on the 28th and a third on 1st May.
Although all three chicks hatched in early June, one sadly died soon after hatching. However, the first-time parents did an excellent job of rearing the remaining two chicks, and by July, they were sturdy young birds with healthy appetites. Local Primary Ysgol Pant Pastynog produced a shortlist for the naming of the male and female (official designations KA9 and X6) with voters settling on Gelert and Olwen.
In late July, the chicks fledged and were soon soaring over the lake, supervised by their parents. Just over a month later, all four were gone, migrating to warmer climates in southern Europe / Africa. KA9 (Gelert) was last seen on the nest on 27 August, X6 (Olwen) and LM6 on the 30 August and LJ2 on the 7 September.
‘A new parent partnership. Two fledged chicks. And a natural departure. It’s been a good year!’ said Nick.
In 2021, the ospreys returned to Brenig but the nesting site was callously felled by vandals with a chainsaw in April, destroying the nest. The birds remained in the area for the remainder of the summer but did not find an alternative nesting site so did not breed. Once they had left for the winter, a team from Openreach and GT Williams Engineering replaced the pole for free and in early 2022, colleagues from Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water winched a new nesting platform into place.
Because of last year’s crimes, extra fencing was put in place and other special covert measures were rolled out.
Brenig Osprey Project also instituted 24-hour surveillance both by automatic sentinels and online volunteers co-ordinated by North Wales Wildlife Trust.
‘We’d like to extend our thanks to the volunteer team,’ said North Wales Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Frances Cattanach. ‘It takes dedication and a sharp eye, particularly at night! Their careful monitoring of the ospreys’ progress made identifying key moments of the breeding season much timelier for our thousands of followers on social media. They also provided a key security element to our work this year.’
In addition to a look-out manned by members of the North Wales Wildlife Trust on the western bank of the lake, a discrete viewing hide about 150 metres away from the nesting site offered visitors the opportunity to observe the birds close-up and take photographs. ‘Osprey Dates With Nature’ were organised and attended by the RSPB and attracted many twitchers, nature-lovers and photographers throughout the summer.
In addition to the breeding family, other ospreys dropped in to Llyn Brenig throughout the summer. Early in the season, a young female O19 (released from Poole Harbour in 2019) was sighted on the nest. Blue 551(20) from Clywedog nest (hatched in 2020) and Blue 416 (Lake District) were also seen flying around the reservoir later in the summer.
Situated in the Visitor Centre, spread your wings to explore the exhibition, learn about the project history and follow our birds throughout the seasons.
Find out more the Llyn Brenig ospreys, the history of the project and information about the Nest Cam and platform…