Keep your eyes peeled for Ospreys

03 Apr 2018

More updates from our Conservation Intern, Helen Earnshaw – this month she shares her excitement for the potential of the Osprey’s return…

At Brockholes Nature Reserve this is the time of year that we well and truly turn our eyes to the sky… will we see the Osprey pass over? Will one decide to make the long journey North and call Brockholes home for the breeding season?

Osprey flying over Brockholes, photo credit: Craig Smith

Osprey make their way back from Africa, where they have wintered, in late March/early April and can be seen soaring over the reserve as they head for Scotland, their UK stronghold, as well as Cumbria.

Just to see one of these birds over Brockholes and the River Ribble is a real treat but there has been a long term hope that one or a pair may eventually halt their journey and stay on the reserve. That hope was given a boost when an osprey became the bank holiday attraction last summer.

The bird was spotted fishing on the reserve and on the river for several days at the end of August. Was it on the hunt for a suitable place to return to this breeding season? I guess we are going to have to wait and see.

The presence of a watercourse – such as a river or lake – is one of the key requirements of an Osprey’s habitat, as it ensures them a good supply of fish to feed on. And this make Brockholes a perfect place to set up a nest.

In September 2014 the Osprey platform was erected on the site to give any passing birds a ready-made nest to call home. While no Osprey have yet taken up residence, there is still hope that this Schedule 1 bird will eventually nest and breed on site.

The Osprey platform at Brockholes, photo credit: Helen Earnshaw

This bird of prey is currently as Amber List species and there has been a decline in numbers due to illegal persecution. Despite being extinct in England 150 years ago, the bird was reintroduced in 1996 in central England and can now also be seen in Wales.

Today, there are about 300 breeding pairs in the UK – mainly in Scotland – and the Wildlife Trust has worked tirelessly at sites up and down the country to help boost the numbers of this magnificent birds.

While we may not get a resident Osprey on the site this year, keep your eyes on the sky and see if you can spot this majestic raptor as they start to make their way north over the next few weeks.

Top photo credit: Darin Smith

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