Delight as Osprey returns to the Lake District – male spring-cleans as he awaits his mate

Osprey: (Photo: Steve Round)

A male Osprey arrived back in the Lake District at the weekend, returning to the famous Cumbrian nest site from West Africa on Saturday 10th in the morning.

The return of the male raises hopes of a fourth successful nesting season in succession for the popular fish-eating birds of prey. The pair first nested near Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District in 2001, the first Ospreys to do so for at least 150 years.

The male Osprey was first seen at Bassenthwaite on Saturday 10th April at 10.14 am and immediately flew to the nest, where the pair has now successfully reared four young since their historic re-colonisation of the Lake District.

However, the male Osprey - and the partners in The Lake District Osprey Project - are now facing an anxious few days, as they wait for news of the return of a female Osprey. Last year, the female returned to the Bassenthwaite Lake area on the 16th April, having kept the male waiting for more than a week.

Since his return on Saturday, the male has been carrying out a spot of spring-cleaning at the nest by repairing the nest and bringing in new twigs. He has also been building up his strength following the hazardous 3,000-mile migration flight from West Africa and has already successfully caught several fish.

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Since their return to the area, the Ospreys have been a popular attraction for local people and tourists, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to the two viewpoints set up by The Lake District Osprey Project – a partnership of The Forestry Commission, The Lake District National Park Authority and The RSPB.

During the Easter weekend, around 2,500 people visited the Osprey viewpoints at Whinlatter and Dodd Wood to be among the first to catch a glimpse of the returning bird.

At the Forestry Commission's Whinlatter Visitor Centre, near Braithwaite, an exhibition area is dedicated to the Ospreys. Live pictures from a camera overlooking the nest are beamed to a giant videowall, allowing visitors to watch all the action as it happens. The Centre is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

The Osprey Viewpoint at Dodd Wood, near Keswick, is now open giving spectacular views over Bassenthwaite Lake, where the Ospreys fish, and from where the nest can be seen through the telescopes provided for visitors to use. The Viewpoint is open all daylight hours, with Osprey Project staff and volunteers on hand with telescopes from 10am-5pm daily.

Live pictures from a camera overlooking the Osprey's nest are relayed to television monitors at the Forestry Commission's Whinlatter Visitor Centre and can also be viewed on the Lake District Osprey Project website – www.Ospreywatch.co.uk, and BBC Cumbria website at www.bbc.co.uk/cumbria.

Written by: David Hirst, RSPB