RSPB Scotland is celebrating the 60th anniversary of ‘The Loch Garten Osprey Centre’ and ‘Operation Osprey’ this year and is inviting the public to join in the ‘Birthday Bash’ fun.
On Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st July, a whole host of activities and vintage ‘Operation Osprey’ fun will be on offer from 11am – 4pm. There will be old-fashioned games with a nature twist, like ‘pin the osprey chick on the nest’, an Operation Osprey treasure map and of course, there will be cake. Behind the scenes access to the Forward Hide, where out-of-hours monitoring of the osprey nest is carried out, will also be on offer. RSPB Scotland have invited various individuals from the early days to come along.
The centre’s anniversary exhibition, will also be on display. It celebrates the history and pioneers of ‘Operation Osprey’ and has been inspired by the original ‘Osprey Camp’, when staff and volunteers slept in tents and ate in a caravan. Visitors will have the opportunity to pick up a limited-edition osprey pin badge which has been produced in recognition of the 60th anniversary.
Ospreys became extinct as a breeding bird in the UK during the early years of the 20th century after years of persecution. When a pair turned up at Loch Garten in the 1950s, nature conservationists and bird enthusiasts banded together to protect them.
In 1959, the pair hatched three chicks under 24-hour nest protection and George Waterston, then Director of RSPB Scotland, took the brave decision to open up the nest to controlled public viewing rather than keep it secret. This protection and public engagement project was known as ‘Operation Osprey’ and its goal was to raise awareness and support, so that ospreys would benefit from greater protection and their survival as breeding birds in the UK would be secured.
Sixty years on and more than 2.75 million people have visited ‘The Loch Garten Osprey Centre’. From just one breeding pair at Loch Garten in the 1950s, there are now around 250 breeding pairs in the UK. These fish-eating birds of prey have captured the hearts of people from all over the world. Over 300,000 people tune in to the centre’s live webcam to follow the trials and tribulations of the ospreys and all the other species that call Loch Garten home.
The osprey ‘episodes’ have, at times, seemed like a soap opera. 2007 was the year of ‘The Loch Garten Love Triangle’ when EJ, affectionately nicknamed ‘Easy Jane’ by fans world-wide, had two males fighting over her. EJ was the longest serving female osprey at Loch Garten and was last seen on the nest during the 2018 season. While no osprey has claimed the nest so far this season, there have been a few birds inspecting it. RSPB Scotland staff expect another osprey pair to claim the nest next year if it isn’t claimed this year.
Jess Tomes, Site Manager, said: “The fact that six decades on from that first breeding pair at Loch Garten there are now ospreys present across the UK, is an incredible triumph for conservation and a real testament to those early pioneers of rare bird protection and ecotourism. We owe George Waterston and his team an enormous debt of gratitude for helping to bring these amazing birds to the attention of the British public – they’ve brought a huge amount of joy, along with a fair amount of pain, it has to be said, but we can’t imagine a British summer without these charismatic birds. We hope that many visitors will come and share the special weekend of celebrations with us.”
RSPB Scotland Loch Garten Osprey Centre Birthday Bash
Dates: 20th and 21st July 2019
Time: The centre is open from 10am – 6pm (last entry 5pm). Special anniversary activities will run from 11am – 4pm.
Venue: RSPB Scotland Loch Garten Osprey Centre,
Price: Normal entry fee applies. RSPB members free of charge. Adult non-members £5, child non-members £2, student & concession non-members £3, family (two adults and four children) £10
For more information: Please contact the visitor centre on 01479 831476 or visit https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/events-dates-and-inspiration/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-466239
Last Updated: Monday 8 July 2019