New arrivals at Lochter

Lochter's resident Osprey's Libby and Branson have two chicks on the nest
Lochter's resident Osprey's Libby and Branson have two chicks on the nest

There was good news at Lochter Fishery, Oldmeldrum as the two resident Ospreys returned safely to the Activity Centre in the second week of April.

This was slightly later than usual, but who can blame them staying in warmer parts for a few extra weeks.

The pair began refurbishing the nest, and the female (Libby) began sitting in late April. The Male (Branson) has been attentive in doing most of the fishing and taken turns of around one and half hours sitting on the eggs.

The nest was deeply dished as usual giving only glimpses of the eggs, of which two could be seen.

On Tuesday, May 26, Lochter Fishery had two eggs hatch to reveal very hungry chicks. Both seem to be thriving and are being fed around six times a day on Lochter’s home grown rainbow trout.

Sometimes in the heat of the day, Branson will disappear down the Lochter burn to do a spot of river fishing, often returning with a brown trout.

The Lochter ospreys are available to watch throughout the day from the live nest cam in the restaurant.

Ospreys formerly inhabited much of Britain, but heavy persecution, mainly by Victorian egg and skin collectors, during the 19th century and early 20th century brought about its demise.

The Osprey became extinct as a breeding bird in England in 1840. It is generally considered that the species was absent from Scotland from 1916 to 1954, although there is some evidence it continued to breed in Strathspey in the 1930s and 40s.

In 1954 Scandinavian birds re-colonised Scotland naturally and a pair has nested successfully almost every year since 1959 at Loch Garten Osprey Centre, Abernethy Forest Reserve, in the Scottish Highlands. The Osprey Centre at Loch Garten has become one of the most well-known conservation sites in the UK and has attracted over 2 million visitors since 1959.

Early re-colonisation efforts were, at first, very slow, because of contamination of the food chain by pesticides, and the activities of egg collectors, and had reached only 14 pairs by 1976. “Operation Osprey” ensured the security of the birds by stopping egg collectors.

Barbed wire was placed around the base of trees, electric wires around the tree and a watch was kept over them through the night.

Thanks to concerted efforts in 1991 there were 71 pairs. In 2001, 158 breeding pairs were located, mainly in Scotland. In 2011 RSPB estimated there were between 250 and 300 nesting pairs in Great Britain.

Ospreys are summer visitors to Scotland, spending their winters in west Africa. Unlike other raptors, they feed exclusively on fish, both marine and freshwater.