Ospreys are spectacular fish-eating birds of prey with a wingspan of nearly five feet. Find out more about ospreys with our Osprey Fact File.

Other Cumbrian bred Ospreys

As osprey numbers rise we can expect to see an increase in the number of pairs in Cumbria, although this is a slow process as only about three in ten naturally survive to adulthood.

For the last five years YW, our 2008 male chick, has bred successfully at Foulshaw Moss. Another of our male chicks has been breeding in South Scotland for a number of years.

In 2010, one of the 2007 Bassenthwaite chicks from bred with another un-marked osprey and laid eggs in South Cumbria. Unfortunately none of the eggs hatched, not unusual for young inexperienced osprey pairs. The pair were later seen on the coast nest building in late summer, known as frustration behaviour, often occurring after an unsuccessful breeding season.

An osprey believed to be another Bassenthwaite chick from 2007 was seen regularly around the Thirlmere area during 2010 but since then there have been no sightings.

Osprey nestOther great places to see Ospreys

Ospreys in Cumbria

In 2001 a pair of ospreys nested beside Bassenthwaite Lake and became the first wild pair to breed in the Lake District for over 150 years.

The birds were encouraged to stay with the help of a purpose built nest provided by the Forestry Commission and the Lake District National Park. This was the culmination of several years of hard work. Ospreys had been summering in the Lake District since the mid 1990’s and in 2001 they started breeding, immediately adding sticks to the nest.

Once the eggs were laid, wardens kept a round the clock watch to prevent disturbance and deter egg thieves. Ospreys usually lay three eggs, which take about six weeks to hatch. The young stay in the nest for seven or eight weeks. In late summer, the adult female will migrate south, leaving the male to feed the youngsters until they master the art of fishing.

Bassenthwaite Lake is a National Nature Reserve, owned and managed by the Lake District National Park. Most of the surrounding woodland is managed by Forestry England and provides valuable habitats for wildlife.


Although the UK osprey population doubled during the 1990s, and has steadily increased since then, ospreys remain the fourth rarest bird of prey in the UK. Their eggs are still at risk of being stolen by collectors and they are easily disturbed by human presence. If water quality deteriorates, a reduction in fish could have a dramatic effect on the number of young birds raised. As ospreys migrate, they are also vulnerable to habitat changes across southern Europe and Africa and risk being shot by hunters.


Recent Posts

End of Summer Round-up

A pair of ospreys nested by Bassenthwaite Lake this year. From their behaviour we think them to be Unring, and the unringed female from the past two years. They returned to the Lake at the end of March. As last year, they nested on the platform on private property. It was not possible to ascertain how many eggs were laid but 2 chicks hatched out. From the outset they appeared to be strong and healthy. Unring did a grand job keeping the family supplied with fish and the female nurtured them diligently. The two chicks proved to be very independent and by mid August were not hassling Unring for food, very different to many others we have seen.By the last week in August only one bird was seen fleetingly so we must assume the female and the chicks flew sometime then, winging their way to Africa. It was not long after the solitary bird (male) also moved on. Their breeding success just re-enforces the fact that as long as wild creatures are left alone, they generally thrive.

The chicks were not ringed and so they will not be traceable again but as usual, crossed fingers for a successful journey down Europe and over the Sahara.

Bassenthwaite Lake from the top of Dodd

Whether they go to the West coast or follow in White 14’s wing-beats to Bioko is anyone’s guess.


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