(The picture above is from their website and shows the new visitor centre just before it opened in May 21)
The Dyfi Osprey Project doesn’t open its doors until 10, which seems ridiculously late to me – birds start early, though it must be admitted that eagles do tend to be a lot more lazy than sparrows. So I had time to kill and had a wander around the campsite further up the Dyfi valley – more Rose Bay!
I got to the site at 9:15, and asked if there was any way I could get in earlier – no! To my surprise there was only one other person waiting when the doors finally opened. Without wasting any time I shouldered my heavy pack with the big lens and hefty tripod and marched down the new plastic “board” walk to the spectacular “Observatory”, and managed to get the prime spot looking straight out at the nest and the two poles with cameras which have been set up alongside it.
“You’ve got the whole family here for you ” said the girl in the red T shirt. There were several staff or volunteers on duty, and when I stumped up the stairs they hastily put on masks, so despite the gale of fresh air blowing from the big open window, I put mine on too.
And there they were, exactly 200 metres away as I learnt later in correspondence with the Project Manager Emyr. It’s the closest they are allowed to be by law.
I’d been here before but had been disappointed with the pictures then. This time I had pretty much the best kit for the job so had high expectations. First I established which bird was which. The GIRT (Girl in . . Yes I should have asked her name,) had to consult the recordings from the high definition cameras cluttering the poles out there. As I suspected the one standing proud on the right is the adult male. The bird to the right of the nest is clearly just learning to fly and practicing vertical take-off again and again. The other two are the adult female and the second youngster.
The pictures looked good on the camera screen so I stuck to my post as a few more people arrived. Suddenly an excited ripple ran through the room – there’s a bird flying! Wow – a bird doing what all birds do! Still, this counts as an event when you’ve been watching them sitting still for half an hour. I quickly track the bird to and fro and catch a few shots. We troop outside to see where it has landed in the grass – more excitement! An hour passes quickly. There really isn’t anything more I can achieve so I relinquish my space and make my way back via a beautiful hide looking out onto a deserted stretch of water and reeds.
When I get the pictures into the editing software I am miserably disappointed. I have a hundred or more pictures but not one of them is really clear. What’s gone wrong? I agonise over shutter speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity, and send an email to Project Manager Emyr with a sample picture to see if he thought it might be heat haze. I got a commendably quick response – yes, heat haze is the problem. He had the same issue with a similar lens.
Too bad, but I have a plan.