About Us

About The Project

The Lake District Osprey Project is a partnership between the Forestry Commission, Lake District National Park and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) with fantastic support from many volunteers. The partnership aims to ensure the continued success of breeding ospreys at Bassenthwaite; to assist with natural colonisation elsewhere in the Lakes; and to provide visitors to the Lakes with the opportunity to see and find out more about ospreys and other wildlife sharing their habitat.

Ospreys Return to Cumbria

The return of ospreys to Bassenthwaite Lake in 2001 was the culmination of several years hard work behind the scenes to encourage them to breed. As sightings of birds on migration increased in the late 90s, so did the thought that one day these birds might breed once again. It was with this aim in mind that the Lake District Osprey Project partners built a nest platform in Wythop Woods overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake.

In 2001, all the hard work paid off and amid great excitement a pair of ospreys took to the platform and nested, successfully rearing one chick. For the first time in over 150 years, and as a result of natural re-colonisation, ospreys had been recorded nesting successfully in the Lake District!

The ospreys have returned every year since, swapping to a different nest site in Dodd Wood and then to one on the valley floor. This year, 2019, they have moved closer to the lake. They have successfully raised at least one chick and often two chicks each year.

Funding

Currently, the project is funded by visitor donations, and support from the Nurture Lakeland, but operates at a loss which is shared by the Forestry Commission, RSPB and Lake District National Park .

If you would like to discuss ways in which you could help in the funding of the project, please contact Nathan Fox.

The project would like to thank the BBC, Viking Optical, and the Tourism and Conservation Partnership for their continued support.

Impacts and Achievements

In June 2008 the achievements and impacts of the Lake District Osprey Project were reviewed by Natural Economy Northwest in a Case Study. In summary the study found the following key achievements.

  • Re colonisation of Lake District habitat by rare species.
  • Raised awareness of wildlife and bio diversity.
  • Increased environmental tourism: more than 500,000 visitors to that date.
  • New employment in bio diversity and in tourism industry.
  • Increased economic activity to sustain rural communities.
  • Improved public transport, reducing car travel.

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Recent Posts

August Ospreys

 

photo James Vaitkevicius

Now

Blue 400 and Unring are still to be seen around the valley together with other migrating ospreys , so it is worth taking your optics and having a look! Let us know if you see Blue 400 catch a fish!

August review

After a much wetter than average August it is time to take stock of the Bassenthwaite osprey family.  Blue 400 has had a difficult time learning to fish after her very successful fledging. This has not been for lack of trying!

Rain in itself does not bother ospreys, although they always look very bedraggled and miserable in a downpour with the rain dripping off their beaks. The problem is in the quality of the water they are trying to fish in. Rain on Lakeland’s bare fell tops loosens soil already eroded by centuries of overgrazing and mining and the many feet and bikes that churn up the paths. Streams in spate, with little in the way of bigger vegetation on their banks pull away more earth and this all rolls down into Bassenthwaite. Indeed Bassenthwaite, having one of the largest catchments, is the Lake most liable to silt up. Estimates put this at being between 15% and 20 % faster than it should. Nearly every day this month we have seen the Lake water turn milky brown spilling from Newlands Beck and the Derwent River. Ospreys hunt by sight so murky water inhibits them. (It must be uncomfortable for the gill-breathing fish as well) . Rain also creates flooded areas in the marsh and Blue 400 did much of her practising in these clearer lagoons. Wonderful viewing, with her wings held back like an avenging angel’s in classical pose, head forward til the last second and then feet plunging in the water. However, lagoons will only have a very few stranded fish in them so we have not seen her catch there.

It is always difficult to know how much behaviour is instinct and how much learnt. Fishing itself we know is instinctive, as has been proved by the re-introduction programs of osprey to Rutland in the early 2000’s and now at Poole in Dorset. Young birds are transferred to large open fronted cages so they can fly over the water and supplementary fish are posted in from behind a screen to keep their energy levels up. (A surrogate Dad technique). We also know also from our own observations that osprey Dads encourage their chicks to fledge initially by holding out fish as they fly past, so Blue 400 will have been watching both parents’ fishing patterns and picking up skills that way. At 5 weeks she was a big strong bird but has she caught enough and fed enough to make the migration?

 

 

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