Birdcam Sunday

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‘Sleek, powerful and yellow-eyed’: an osprey has an irresistible screen presence. Photograph: Cornell Lab Bird Cams

Thanks to Emma Beddington and the Guardian for this story to help put today into a different perspective:

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Anyone for Nestflix?: a pair of red-tailed hawks in their nest. Viewing figures for online nestcams are now sky high. Photograph: Cornell Lab Bird Cams

On the webcam it is clear that Telyn is back. Sleek, powerful and yellow-eyed, the osprey has successfully raised a dynasty high above the wind-buffeted grass near the west Wales coast. Last year came Berthyn, Peris and Hesgyn – they sound like Game of Thrones characters. The watchers are waiting for Telyn’s mate, local hero Monty. A magnificent fisherman, heroic provider and model father, he’s been a fixture at the Dyfi Osprey Project since 2008. But where is he?

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Flying over the spire: one of the peregrines that has made itself at home in Salisbury Cathedral. Photograph: James Fisher

“Is Monty back?” says every third post on the webcam’s chatboard. He isn’t – instead, there’s a new pretender on the nest, upstart Idris. He’s doing everything right, ingratiating himself with Telyn, bringing offerings of sea trout and twigs, chasing off intruders and yes, mating. Is this the end for the Burton and Taylor of ospreys? Unswayed by Idris’s can-do attitude and beady-eyed charm, Team Monty is inconsolable. “Still waiting for Monty… His usual slot is mid-afternoon,” says one hopeful post. “Hope Monty is home tomorrow, he is all I have known since 2011, love you, amber eyes,” says another. Still they wait.

Sex and violence, birth, death and bitter rivalry: welcome to nest-flix. More and more of us are becoming bird voyeurs, tuning into nestcams in the hope of getting a peep at the precarious miracle of new life.

At a time when the world is frightening and our outlook on it has become simultaneously restricted and vertiginously wide, wildlife cams are enjoying unprecedented popularity. They offer connection and continuity – the transporting sensation of watching a creature indifferent to human endeavour going about its life. Edinburgh Zoo has seen a surge of viewers watching its penguins, pandas and koalas, from an average of around 100,000 plays per month to more than 5m in March this year. One small Hampshire zoo has seen traffic increase by 27,000%.

A call-out online reveals people watching the mesmerising Monterey Bay Aquarium jellyfish, colourful Panamanian bird feeders and Californian penguins. One respondent describes how she and her friends have “developed a deep group attachment” to a hummingbird nestcam. “There’s something very sledgehammer symbolic about it: let us affectionately watch the persistence of tiny, brightly coloured life together.”…

Read the whole story here.

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