02/05/2003
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Easter Comes Late to the Lake District...But the Osprey Eggs are Early!

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Issued on behalf of The Lake District Osprey Project - a partnership between the Forestry Commission, the Lake District National Park Authority and the RSPB.

Osprey
Osprey

The Lake District's famous Ospreys are incubating eggs, the Lake District Osprey Project announced today (Friday 2nd May 2003).

The news has taken the Ospreys' guardians by surprise, as the female has laid her eggs in the nest near Bassenthwaite Lake almost two weeks earlier than last year. A change in the behaviour of the birds in the last few days has alerted the project team to the news the eggs have been laid. The female is now sitting tight on the eggs, while the male occasionally takes his turn at incubation and delivers a regular supply of fresh fish to the nest.

Ospreys first nested at Bassenthwaite in 2001 when they successfully raised one chick. Last year the pair returned to the same nest and delighted the project partners by rearing two chicks. Local people and visitors alike have welcomed the return of Ospreys to the Lake District, after an absence of more than 150 years. The public viewpoints near Keswick are proving hugely popular with visitors to the area, while many more people are able to watch the fortunes of the Ospreys over the Internet.

After over-wintering in Africa, the pair of Ospreys returned to the Bassenthwaite area last month; the male returned on Tuesday 8th April, with the female arriving back on Wednesday 16th.

A round-the-clock protection scheme is now in place to safeguard the nest from egg thieves or other disturbance. A team of more than 60 volunteers are helping to guard the nest. If all goes well, the egg(s) should hatch in June.

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Pete Barron of the Lake District National Park Authority, said: "We are thrilled by the news that the Ospreys are incubating eggs so soon after they arrived back in the Lakes. They obviously feel very much at home here in Cumbria and quickly settled back at the nest that they have used for the last two years. We don't yet know how many eggs have been laid and the birds are sitting tight, but we are hoping that the camera overlooking the nest may yet give us a brief glimpse of what's in the nest."

Bill Kenmir of the RSPB added: "There is a huge amount of interest and goodwill towards these fantastic birds and they have many fans not just in Cumbria, but throughout the world. The response from visitors has already been exceptional, with around 9,000 people visiting the public viewpoints in just a couple of weeks."

Nathan Fox of the Forestry Commission, added: "This is great news, but for both the Ospreys and their guardians, the hard work is just beginning. The next few weeks will be an anxious time for us all, as the Ospreys are at risk not only from the changeable Cumbrian weather but also under threat from the attentions of malicious egg thieves. The nest protection team are now undertaking a 24 hour guard and we are keeping our fingers crossed that next month there will be chicks in the nest."

The fortunes of the Ospreys can be followed in several ways:

  • A public Osprey Viewpoint near Keswick gives open-air viewing of the nest from a safe distance. It is located at the Forestry Commission's Dodd Wood, 3 miles north of Keswick off the A591 - follow signs to Mirehouse. The Viewpoint is open all daylight hours and from 10am-5pm Osprey Project staff are on hand with telescopes for visitors to use. Park at NY235282
  • Live images from a camera overlooking the Opreys' nest can now be seen on screen at the Forestry Commission's Whinlatter Visitor, located west of Braithwaite on the B5292. This 'spy in the nest' gives close-up pictures of the activity on the nest as it happens.
  • A daily "Osprey diary", details of viewing arrangements and nest cam pictures are on the Lake District Osprey Project website: www.ospreywatch.co.uk
  • Pictures from the Osprey "nest cam" can be viewed on the BBC Cumbria website at www.bbc.co.uk/cumbria.

The Whinlatter Visitor Centre is currently undergoing a £400,000 makeover to provide new facilities for the growing number of visitors who have been drawn to the area thanks to the Ospreys. The revamped Centre, which is due to re-open at the end of the month, will include a new Osprey Discovery Room to house the video link from the nest and an exhibition area.

Meanwhile, as the work progresses, it is still business as usual at Whinlatter and visitors are warmly welcome to visit the temporary Osprey video link facility, which shows footage beamed from the nest.

For their own safety and to prevent disturbance to other wildlife, people wishing to see the Ospreys are asked to use only the official viewpoints at Dodd Wood and Whinlatter and not to pull up on roadsides in the area.

The Lake District Osprey Project is a partnership between the Forestry Commission, the Lake District National Park Authority and the RSPB.

For further information contact: David Hirst on 0191 2126121/6100 or Mobile: 07885 834889.

Travelling to see the Ospreys: It is possible to visit both Dodd Wood and Whinlatter Visitor Centre in a day without using a car. A regular bus service runs from Keswick to Dodd Wood - the X4 (Penrith-Workington), the 555 (Windermere-Carlisle), and the seasonal 73/73A 'Caldbeck Rambler'. Whinlatter can be reached from Keswick using the 77/77A 'Honister Rambler' service. For further information about these services please call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608.