A new osprey nest platform has been constructed at a local nature reserve, RSPB Scotland is delighted to announce.
The platform was put up by volunteers from Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) at Loch of Strathbeg near Fraserburgh and the reserve team is hoping that it won't be long before it finds a pair of tenants.
Lorna Dow is one of the wardens at Loch of Strathbeg. She said: "We see two or three ospreys using the loch very regularly to fish, but they have limited local nest sites available. We wanted to give them a safe, secure place to nest on an ongoing basis. We are very grateful to SHEPD who both supplied the telegraph pole and put up the platform free of charge."
She added: "We have fixed some branches in place on the platform to provide a foundation for the new nest and to give them a headstart. An osprey has been spotted at the reserve already this spring, so we now just have to wait and see if they like this new home we have built for them".
Ospreys are fish-eating birds of prey with a wingspan of nearly 2 metres (1.8 m). They spend the winter in Africa, returning to the UK each year in late March or April to breed.
They are a true conservation success story, having become extinct as a breeding bird in England in 1840 and in Scotland in 1916, mainly due to heavy persecution by Victorian egg and skin collectors. In 1954, they re-colonised naturally, setting up home at Loch Garten. Early recovery was slow but by 2001, there were 158 pairs (mainly in Scotland) and they bred in England for the first time in 160 years.
Scotland is still their UK stronghold with approximately 250 pairs now nesting here and numbers increasing each year. They build large nests in trees (usually conifers) but readily use platforms, sometimes occupying them within days or weeks.
Graeme Gill, Team Manager from SHEPD said: ""When the RSPB Scotland team at Loch of Strathbeg approached us, it quickly became clear that we had the equipment and the skills to help out. Our sturdy wood poles play a vital role in keeping the lights on for north east communities, but they also make a nice secure base for a nesting platform that's well out of harm's way.
"SSE's Be the Difference programme gives every SHEPD employee a day each year to spend volunteering for a community or charity cause of their choice, so this was a great opportunity to get involved. We're excited about seeing the new nesting platform in use and hope it will help to give many more people the opportunity to watch these majestic birds thriving in the local area."
It's unknown how long osprey fans will need to wait for the new platform at Loch of Strathbeg to be occupied. However, there are plenty of other places to visit to see nesting ospreys including at Loch Garten where the famous pair EJ and Odin have laid their eggs.
For further information and to arrange an interview, please contact:
Richard Humpidge, RSPB Scotland Sites Manager, on 07979 933130
Lorna Dow, RSPB Scotland Warden, on 01346 532017
Kirsty Nutt, RSPB Scotland Communications Officer, on 01224 627869 or 07711385595.
Images to support this story are available please contact Kirsty Nutt or Lorna Dow.