Ringing of the 2016 Glaslyn Chicks

The 2016 Glaslyn chicks were ringed on Sunday 3rd July at 6pm. The best time to ring osprey chicks is when their legs are almost fully grown, but they are not yet old enough to prematurely jump from the nest if alarmed. So ideally they are ringed between 30 and 42 days old.

Aran had been seen escorting two intruding ospreys away from the nest half an hour before we were due to leave the visitor centre for the protection site and as we gathered on the decking we could still see him circling above us with one of the other ospreys, as they headed towards the estuary. Mrs G was therefore alone with the two chicks as we made our way down the lane to the caravan. As soon as Mrs G saw the small ringing team cross the footbridge she was off the nest and alarm calling, she knew exactly what was about to happen. This was the twelfth time she had experienced this scenario after all.

We made our way quickly across the field to the base of the tree, our priority was to cause as little disturbance to the birds as possible. As Mrs G circled above us she was still softly calling to her chicks to “play dead” so that they would be camouflaged from predators, this behaviour is known as thanatosis. The tree was quickly climbed and the two chicks were gently lowered down the tree in separate holdalls to the ringing team on the ground below. Mrs G had by this time settled at the top of a nearby tree to keep a careful eye on the proceedings. She was almost certainly giving us one of her famous glares.

The two bags were opened and the first chick to emerge was the eldest, judged to be a female from her weight of 1650g. She was first fitted with a metal British Trust for Ornithology ring on her left leg, followed by a blue plastic darvic ring with white lettering W7 on her right leg. She decided to heed her mother’s advice and continued to “play dead” throughout the experience. Her younger sibling had already popped his head out of his holdall to watch what was going on and soon it was his turn to be fitted with his two rings, he was judged to be a male from his weight of 1300g. His identifying darvic ring was W8. Buccal saliva swabs were taken under licence from both chicks, they will be sent for DNA analysis at Aberystwyth University. Unfortunately we were unable to find the unhatched egg at this time, but if it should be discovered still intact when the nest is refurbished over the winter we will then send it for analysis.

Before the precious osprey chicks were put back into the holdalls to be returned to the safety of the nest, we took a moment to take a photo of the two chicks together. Both chicks had to be held by the ringers for this photo, W7 because she was taking her thanatosis very seriously and was refusing to lift herself off the ground and W8 because he was attempting to make the “great escape” into the sedge. It was an emotional experience to look into their beautiful amber coloured eyes and imagine all of the incredible things they would see on their journeys. As a parting shot W8 showed his displeasure of the whole experience by releasing the by-product of the days garfish and sea bass meals over one of the ringers.

We all quickly made our way back to cross the footbridge to the caravan, and the tree climber was soon back down the tree and following to join us there. We watched as Mrs G left the tree she had been perched in during the proceedings and flew back over to the tall bent tree next to the nest, one of her favourite perching places, she was clearly satisfied that all was well with her chicks. The whole process had taken around an hour. Thank you to Adrienne Stratford and everyone else in her team for ringing the Glaslyn chicks once again. We hope that their new bling helps them to be identified again in the future, just as it has some of their older half siblings.

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