Sat in the shelter of the caravan, the rain beats down heavily on the roof. The drops from the overshadowing trees drum the loudest as the wind cascades them off the soaked leaves. The bolt hole rocks as the breeze picks up and the gloom deepens with ever darker clouds moving quickly across the view out of the plastic windows.
Above the noise of the downpour, other sounds break through; the sheep out in the wet meadows, a cuckoo in the distance and a chaffinch on top of the drystone wall. The river is rising, fed by the water running off the hills and mountains, the peak of its flow yet to come and its height uncertain. The screen shows a miserable sight; an osprey sat in a large, slowly swaying nest, protecting two speckled eggs from the shower, rain running off its soggy feathers; a picture of dejection.
The slackening of the rain and then its halting, brings some relief and hope that a flood won’t come. Despite the rain and breeze, it’s not cold; what occasional light shines from between the clouds warms through the windows. As the weather begins to clear, there’s more activity, with swallows and house martins darting across the fields and a woodpecker constantly moving from nest tree to feeders and back again, some eggs have already hatched.
Back inside the caravan, watch is kept, notes are scribbled, a sandwich is eaten, time is marked, the waiting goes on…
Slowly but surely the time for the osprey eggs to hatch is getting closer but there are still many hours of sitting and waiting in the protection caravan or out in the forward hide before there is a first sight of this year’s chicks. There are still many night hours to come, in the dark watching for the movement of an egg collector in the shadows. There are even more daylight hours to come, sitting inside away from the rain, or walking in the growing warmth of sunnier periods. All hours, however, are spent surrounded by nature, its sights, sounds and scents.
I was given two unusually close views of Aran today; first he landed in a tree on the caravan side of the river, a perch much nearer to the caravan than I have ever seen before, and then he flew past even closer with some nesting material a minute or so later.
Apart from the close views, it was a quiet shift today, just as I like them. There was no drama of intruding ospreys or other unwanted visitors, just a day spent in the valley looking at the spring views and listening to nature all around. As my hours came to an end, I wandered down to the bridge over the swollen and faster-moving river; my favourite spot not quite as comfortable as I like it with the strong breeze still present despite the passing of the rain.
It will be five weeks until I have another shift and hopefully much will have happened in the Glaslyn Valley in the meantime; all being well, there will be a couple of new ospreys in the nest when I return.