Network Rail maintenance workers are used to working in all weathers, but one of them went above and beyond the call of duty after a serious storm hit Wales over the weekend. An isolated osprey nest in the Dyfi Estuary monitored by the Dyfi Osprey Project relies on Network Rail for the electricity to power its hidden cameras, so the wildlife trust’s staff can keep an eye on the endangered birds.
When the storm hit on Saturday that power was cut off, with the mother osprey struggling to keep her chicks safe from the wind and rain.
A call was put in to Network Rail to try and restore the power, and electrical worker Gavin Macdonald headed out in his van.
It didn’t take him long to find out that the site of the nest, and much of the surrounding area, was cut off by rising floodwater. Cars lay semi-submerged on the main road to Dyfi National Park and its railway station Dovey Junction (Cyffordd Dyfi).
Mr Macdonald said: “The road down from Machynlleth was signed as closed but I didn’t know how far down it was shut so I went down there anyway.”
Having driven as far as he could go on back roads, Mr Macdonald abandoned his van, grabbing a toolkit and began to walk along a path on the edge of the railway line, as trains were still running.
He added: “It was about a two and half mile walk, but we’re used to working in harsh conditions and we’re used to walking long distances. The only thing was that to get to the power connection I had two wade through two feet of flood water… and I didn’t have any waders so it was a bit soggy.”
Having done his work on the power connection, the Dyfi Osprey Project were able to see the state the birds were in - and it wasn’t a good sight.
One of the chicks appeared dead, and the other barely clinging to life.
As a result, they took the unprecedented step of intervening and hand feeding the live chick to keep it alive. Not only did it live, but it has now been named by the project. Ceulan had a difficult start in life, but everyone hopes he will now thrive.