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. 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

Strange and Outstanding

One outstanding and one strange event has happened over the past 2 weeks.

The outstanding event has been the fledging of two marsh harrier chicks on the National Nature Reserve below the Dodd Wood viewpoints. It is a unique event as marsh harriers have not bred in Cumbria for over a hundred years. In most summers we have seen single birds that have stayed just for a few days and assumed that there was not enough reed bed to attract them to become more resident However, this year has seen a pair hunting throughout the season over the marsh, hunting the swathes of reed canary grass and passing food in courtship air dances.Last Sunday week we were overjoyed to see not one but two dark brown fledglings, with their characteristic cinnamon heads fluttering out of the grass. As their favourite perches are the lines of fence posts they are easily visible through the telescopes and have provided us with hours of interest. It is likely that the recent rise in numbers of the marsh harrier have encouraged pairs to explore more marginal sites but it is not sure fire that they will return to Bassenthwaite next year as marsh harriers may change partner and nest site each season.

The strange incident concerned another pair of ospreys that visited our nest, also on Sunday, All 3 of our chicks landed on the nest in a great state of agitation, screaming,  flattening their bodies and shaking their wings. Suddenly an adult bird flew in with a half eaten perch. One of the chicks leapt forward and grabbed at it, but in the general upset managed to catch hold of the bird’s talon and then grimly hung on to it. This gave us a chance to see that it was not Unring, our own adult, but a blue ringed male. After a short tussle our chick, realising his mistake, let go of the toe and grabbed the fish. At the same time,  landing on the nest, was yet another stranger bird, this time a  rather small looking female with no ring.

On replaying the film footage we found that the ring read 2H. This we discovered was a Kielder Forest bird, hatched in 2012.It had been seen at Kielder on return from its migration  in 2014 and 2015. It is likely that he and his partner failed to breed successfully this year and were attracted to the very successful nest on Bassenthwaite. It appears trying to feed unrelated chicks  is not an unusual occurance in these circumstances but undoubtedly a first for here.

 

 

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