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

Buckle up, its a rollercoaster ride!

Where do I begin! Watching the ospreys is many things: rewarding, entertaining, and sometimes, downright hard. Much like the nations favourite soap operas, it gives us plenty of drama, suspense and, as has been the case over the last couple of days, mystery.

The week started reasonably uneventfully (which believe me, can actually be a good thing). First time mum was feeding the chicks and sitting with them in the sunshine. Dad was seen sitting out on his favourite perches, keeping an eye out for threats and bringing in fish for the family. Until he wasn’t.
All day Tuesday we didn’t see him. Not a glimpse of glossy brown or a flash of white. Where could he be? Mum found an old bit of fish in the nest with which to feed the chick(s), so whilst it is unusual for the male to be gone so long, there was no cause for alarm.

A family photo from a previous Bassenthwaite brood.

Wednesday dawned with still no sign of dad. Mum was clearly getting antsy and as the second day wore on, faced a choice. At two weeks old, the chicks are still a little small to be left alone on the nest, but they also need to eat. She could go and try to bring in fish herself, but in doing so, leave the chicks at risk of being predated, or she could sit and wait. But for how long? There have been females that have chosen to wait, and tragically lost their chicks to starvation. As a young, inexperienced bird, we really had no idea what she would do.
With a hungry brood pecking away at her feet, mum decided on very short forays along the nearby beck and over the end of the lake before returning quickly to sit with the chicks once again. Each time, we crossed our fingers and toes that lady luck would smile on her. Finally, just after lunch, SUCCESS! I am not ashamed to say we may have cheered a little when we saw that silvery snack clasped tight in her talons. She made short work of lunch, diligently feeding the chick(s) before taking some for herself.

A beautiful day in the valley and some good fishing conditions helped mum out

Thoughts turned to the mystery of where dad might have got to? Perhaps there had been a tenacious intruder on the nest early the previous day and dad was busy trying to drive it away? It seems we may never know for certain, but I am pleased to report that late on Wednesday, dad came winging his way home across the water. Though he didn’t exactly get the warmest welcome as mums first reaction seemed to be quite similar to ours;
“Where an earth have you been?!”
But he is home. A little worse for wear, lending support to the intruder theory, but safe. It didn’t take him long to catch himself a fish supper, which he devoured with relish. This is great news for the whole family and we hope dad will resume his normal duties tomorrow, bringing in plenty of food to smooth over any ruffled feathers.
As always it is a privilege to get a glimpse into the lives of these fascinating birds and their struggle to survive and raise chicks and times like this are no exception. I for one think mum deserves a round of applause, after all, not all hero’s wear capes!

  1. Heads up! Leave a reply
  2. Welcome to the world little hatchlings! Leave a reply
  3. Flocks of Pandion and carpets of Pteridium Leave a reply
  4. Too fast to live too young to die Leave a reply
  5. ‘All quiet on the nesting front, honey.’ Leave a reply
  6. Ferns and Fresh Water Leave a reply
  7. Puddles, Pollen and Piriton Leave a reply
  8. No simple life Leave a reply
  9. Egg. Eggs? Leave a reply