Cumbrian osprey returns – to Lancashire

A Lake District osprey born at the nest on the east side of Bassenthwaite Lake, near Keswick, two years ago has been spotted at Leighton Moss RSPB Nature Reserve, near Carnforth in Lancashire.

It is a momentous event in the history of the Lakeland ospreys, as it is the first of the 16 chicks raised in Cumbria to return to Britain.

Osprey photographed by David Moreton at Leighton Moss

Osprey photographed by David Moreton at Leighton Moss

The adult osprey arrived at Leighton Moss late last week and has been attracting interest from wildlife lovers around the region.

A special identity ring placed on the osprey’s leg by the Lake District Osprey Project team when it was a chick has helped enthusiasts trace the bird back to its north Cumbrian birthplace.

Bird enthusiasts David and Jackie Moreton from Cleveleys in Lancashire, managed to capture the osprey on camera as it swooped over the popular RSPB site.

David Moreton said: “We were visiting Leighton Moss to photograph Marsh Harriers when we noticed the osprey.  We had fabulous close views and managed to get photos before it flew over our heads.  We saw it again later that day, when it caught a fish, and according to reports it was seen later in the evening, and again the following morning.”

The Lake District Osprey Project team are now hoping that the young osprey will make its way further north to its home turf.

Peter Barron of the Lake District Osprey Project said:  “We’re really excited to see this former Lake District osprey chick back in the region.  We will be monitoring the bird’s movements very closely now to see if it flies back to the nest site area at Bassenthwaite Lake.

“Ospreys will often make the long migration back to their breeding grounds within their first two years of life but their youthful inexperience means they rarely attempt to breed on their first visit.  However, to have one of the young birds so tantalisingly close to its home is perhaps the best sign yet that a second pair may settle in the Bassenthwaite area in future years and that would be a real cause for celebration for the Lake District Osprey Project.”

Three osprey chicks have hatched out at the nest on the east side of Bassenthwaite Lake this year and thousands of people have already visited the Bassenthwaite area to get a glimpse of the Lake District ospreys.

Visitors can get great views of the birds from a Viewpoint in Dodd Wood, only 400 metres away from the nest.  Staff are on hand with telescopes from 10am-5pm daily, as part of the RSPB’s ‘Dates with Nature’ Project

It is also possible to see the birds on the nest on a giant videowall at the Visitor Centre on the Forestry Commission estate at Whinlatter Forest, near Braithwaite.  Live pictures from cameras overlooking and inside the nest are also beamed to the screen and can also be viewed on the Project’s website and the BBC Cumbria website.

It is now easier than ever before to visit Dodd Wood and Whinlatter thanks to the Osprey Bus which was launched in 2008.  The liveried bus service named after the spectacular birds of prey operates around Bassenthwaite Lake at weekends, Bank Holidays and school holidays.

Since ospreys first nested in 2001, more than half a million visitors have watched the birds nesting and rearing young from the viewpoints provided by the Lake District Osprey Project.

Bassenthwaite Lake, a key habitat for the ospreys, is a National Nature Reserve and a Special Area of Conservation owned and managed by the Lake District National Park Authority.

Leighton Moss is the largest reedbed in north-west England and home to some other special birds such as breeding bitterns, bearded tits and marsh harriers.

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