All eyes on the skies for news of 'Red 15': Cumbria hopes for the return of the chick

Osprey: (Photo: Steve Round)

Birdwatchers across the UK will be watching the skies over the next few weeks hoping for the first sighting of a very special bird.

They will be on the look out for the return of the Osprey chick raised in the Lake District nest in 2001, which could be on its way back to the UK for the first time. It will be a historic new chapter in the story of the return of Ospreys to the Lakes if this locally born chick returns this spring.

After successfully flying from its nest near Bassenthwaite Lake in the summer of 2001, the Osprey chick - the first to have been reared in the Lakes for at least 150 years - departed on its 3,000-mile flight to Africa. Young Ospreys typically remain in Africa for their first few years before making the long haul flight back to Europe.

The partners in the Lake District Osprey Project are hoping that the Osprey will be spotted somewhere in the UK this spring. They are asking birdwatchers across the country to keep a look out for the Osprey and report any sightings. If it has survived the last two years and returns successfully, the Osprey could be back in the country in April.

The bird can be recognised by the ring that was fitted over its leg when it was a chick. The distinctive red ring carries the number '15' in white letters - a combination as individual as a fingerprint and which uniquely identifies the bird. Any sightings of an Osprey carrying this ring can be reported by phoning 07899 818421 or email northengland@rspb.org.uk.

Speaking on behalf of The Lake District Osprey Project, Pete Barron of the Lake District National Park Authority, said: "This year marks the 50th anniversary of the return of Ospreys to the UK in 1954, when a pair settled in the Highlands of Scotland. It has taken many years for Ospreys to spread south of the Border and the return of a Lake District-born Osprey to England would be a wonderful way to celebrate this golden jubilee."

The Project team is also hoping for the return of the regular breeding pair of Lakes Ospreys - last year the male returned on 8th April and the female on 16th April. Public viewing facilities will again be provided at the Forestry Commission's Dodd Wood, near Keswick and the Whinlatter Visitor Centre.

The Dodd Wood Viewpoint will formally re-open on Thursday 8th April. Osprey Project staff are on hand between 10am and 5pm with telescopes to show visitors the birds. Pictures from a camera over-looking the Osprey nest are shown on a videowall at the Whinlatter Centre, near Braithwaite.

The Lake District Osprey Project is a partnership between The Forestry Commission, The Lake District National Park Authority and The RSPB. For more information visit www.Ospreywatch.co.uk.
Written by: David Hirst, RSPB