Batten Down the Hatches

One afternoon recently Telyn, the female osprey of the Dyfi Osprey Project based near Machynlleth, started to build up the sides of the nest. She was very deliberate in her building and it was the west side of the nest that she concentrated on. A big log already in the nest was moved to the side and a formidable barrier was formed facing the estuary.

All this happened while it was sunny, dry and calm.

The weather forecast told the volunteers of a weather front coming in overnight with wind and rain but how did Telyn know?

When darkness fell Telyn moved her chicks and settled down in front of them, back to the barrier she had built and wings open to cover as much of the, now quite large, chicks as she could thus maximising the protection she could offer. Idris, the male osprey, who usually spends his nights in a tree away from the nest stayed close by.

That night was wet and windy with a weather front coming in from the west. The nest, high up on a platform, swayed and Telyn got a soaking but they were all safe. How did the ospreys know what was coming and what they needed to do?

The volunteers at the Dyfi Osprey Project described it as a humbling experience to watch her at work and then to see how she protected her chicks.

I am just amazed. For some reason I find this even more amazing than the fact that these birds fly from Africa every spring to the same nest without satnav or maps, and then in autumn they fly all the way back. I’ve followed two osprey nests in Wales for a few years now and never cease to marvel at their resilience, tenacity and their commitment to the other in the pair and to their young. They truly are remarkable.

Naturalists talk of the wonderful instincts that wildlife has developed. I would go further and say that God created the birds and the beasts of the earth and it was He who gave them instincts that are alien to humans. He cares about His creation which He described as good and so, I think, He gave them the means to survive and flourish. No one taught the birds to turn their eggs regularly, to take the shells away from the nest so that predators don’t know where the chicks are. And who taught the ospreys to fold in their claws as they land on the nest?

We are God’s handiwork too. God designed us with a purpose in mind. He loves us and has a specific role for each one of us. He promises to guide us and He doesn’t stop guiding us because we make mistakes or fail to listen or refuse to obey. God doesn’t give up on us.

We have a satnav in our car. When we take a wrong turn, it reroutes us. Sometimes we choose to ignore it because we know that it’s wrong! Sometimes it confuses us because the road we want isn’t there anymore and the update hasn’t been done for a while. Sometimes it tries to send us along a road that is simply not suitable. But it never gives up and eventually, we hear the words ‘You have reached your destination.’

Of course, this is not a perfect analogy. God is not a machine but someone who is with us on the journey. God wants to communicate with us and has promised to guide us.

We may not listen, we may choose to ignore Him but we can’t switch Him off. We may take a different route to where He wants us to go, but He still stays with us.
How does He guide us? It may be through a Bible passage we read, through a sermon we hear, through something someone says to us, through our circumstances or through the still, small voice talking to us as we pray.

God is the creator of the whole world and all the creatures living on and in it. Could it be just chance that Telyn built up her nest on the right side, on the right day, at the right time? Was it chance that she spread he wings to protect her young?


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