Ospreys to appear at T in the Park festival

Osprey has staged a remarkable comeback since the mid-20th century, but nests still need to be protected from disturbance. Photo: Richard Thaxton (www.rspb-images.org).
Osprey has staged a remarkable comeback since the mid-20th century, but nests still need to be protected from disturbance. Photo: Richard Thaxton (www.rspb-images.org).
RSPB Scotland has criticised the T in the Park music festival  for potentially damaging the wildlife at the site, including a pair of breeding Ospreys.

The wildlife conservation charity had previously commented that the festival organisers, DF Concerts Limited, appeared to be poorly organised and unprofessional. The RSPB cautioned that unless a clear plan to deal with Ospreys and other wildlife emerged, it would be too late for them to ensure the proposal can go ahead as planned without unnecessary impacts on wildlife at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire, where the popular festival will take place.

The police were called in by the charity at the weekend, after a cherry-picker vehicle provided by the festival organisers was seen apparently attempting to disturb the returning Ospreys, in order to divert them to a nest a few hundred metres away, which had been moved to try and get them to leave the traditional nest site.

There are a range of sensitive species present on the site. DF Concerts had planned to remove the existing nest and construct a new one a few hundred metres away before the Ospreys returned to breed. Moving an Osprey nest like this is unusual in Scotland but has been done successfully on a number of occasions, such as when the species nests near power lines and need to be moved for safety reasons. The RSPB approved of the nest relocation with reservations, but insisted that the work be done quickly while the birds were away from the nest site, on their winter migration.

Film of the Ospreys having returned was presented to the promoters, who initially disputed its veracity, but now accept that the birds are indeed on site. Disturbing the Ospreys once they have returned and started to nest could result in a serious offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. It was also recommended that the promoters undertake habitat creation work for other species such as Kingfisher and ground nesting birds to mitigate any wider impacts.

A spokesman for RSPB Scotland said: “DF Concerts have now accepted our position that the old Osprey nest has now become active and have withdrawn the cherry picker. This old nest is closer to the T in the Park event arena and the risk of disturbance to the birds is therefore higher. If the birds do settle and nest here it doesn’t necessarily preclude T in the Park happening, but it does make it much more challenging to accommodate without risk of causing a disturbance to the birds.

“Whether the festival will go ahead is yet to be determined, and it is still the subject of a live planning application. However, RSPB Scotland will continue to work with all parties to see if any contingencies might be available to allow the event to proceed and for the birds to be given the required space and freedom they require, so they will enjoy a successful breeding season.”
Ospreys are afforded the highest degree of legal protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and 33 pairs bred in Perthshire last year. The site is also used by breeding Red Kites and Barn Owls.