Lakes Ospreys Incubating


The Lake District's Ospreys are incubating at least two eggs, the Lake District Osprey Project announced today (Friday 30th April 2004).

A change in the behaviour of the birds in the last few days suggests that at least two eggs have already been laid, and a third one could be on the way. The project's nest protection team, who are guarding the birds, have had a brief glimpse of one of the eggs on their CCTV cameras.

The first egg was laid on Monday (26th April) and the nest watch team logged the big event at precisely 4.38 pm. A second egg was laid on Wednesday and the project team are hopeful that a third will be laid; three eggs is the normal Osprey clutch size. If all goes well, the eggs should hatch in early June.

The female Osprey is now sitting tight on the eggs, while the male has occasionally been taking his turn at incubating and delivering a regular supply of fresh fish to the nest. The male Osprey is a very skilled angler and, so far, he has brought at least 50 fish into the nest to feed his mate and himself, most of which have been Perch.

The Lake District Osprey Project has mounted a 24-hour guard to protect the nest from egg thieves or other disturbance. A team of thirty staff and volunteers are helping to guard the nest.

The Ospreys have wasted little time in settling down to nest since their arrival back in Cumbria earlier in the month. The male arrived back on Saturday 10th April and the female on Wednesday 14th April.

The two Ospreys have arrived back at the nest site they have used for the last three years. The nesting by the Osprey pair in the Lakes in 2001 marked the natural re-colonisation of England by these spectacular fish-catching birds of prey after an absence of at least 150 years. They have raised four young since they first nested.

The public viewpoints near Keswick are proving popular with visitors, while many more people are able to follow the fortunes of the Ospreys over the Internet.

Bill Kenmir of The Lake District Osprey Project said: "It is very exciting that the Ospreys have returned to the Lakes again this spring and are already incubating eggs. The birds are firm favourites with local people and visitors to Cumbria and we are all hoping that the eggs hatch successfully, and that more young Ospreys fly from this very important English nest.

"The next few weeks will be an anxious time for us all, as the Ospreys will have to cope with the changeable Cumbrian weather and, sadly, rare birds such as Ospreys are still at risk from the illegal activities of egg thieves. For both the Ospreys and their guardians, the hard work is just beginning."

Where to watch Lakeland's Ospreys: A public Osprey Viewpoint at the Forestry Commission's Dodd Wood near Keswick gives open-air viewing of the nest from a safe distance. It is located 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. Access by less-abled people is available using a specially equipped minibus - call 0789 9818421 to book.
Written by: David Hirst, RSPB