Fame-seeking osprey flies 250 miles north to raise chicks in front of a lens
One of only two female Welsh ospreys breeding successfully in the UK has hatched out two chicks in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
The osprey, named Clarach, was raised live on webcam as part of the Dyfi Osprey Project in mid-Wales. But she has chosen to nest 250 miles north of where she fledged, at the Aberfoyle Osprey Project, another nest monitored by webcam.
Clarach is the first osprey fledged from the Dyfi nest to make it back to the UK to breed. She is also the great grandchild of “Mr Rutland”, one of the most famous ospreys in the English osprey re-introduction programme.
Mr Rutland was taken from his nest in north Scotland in 1997 under special licence, and moved to Rutland in the East Midlands in an attempt to help the British osprey population grow and spread. He returned to breed in the area until 2015, fledging 32 chicks. The two Aberfoyle chicks are his first confirmed great-great grandchicks.
Emyr Evans, from the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We've all been incredibly excited to hear that Clarach has returned safely from her perilous African migration, and has now settled down to raise a family of her own. To be able to watch her do this live on camera is simply a privilege.
“Clarach was also spotted last year at nests with cameras across the country, including Glaslyn, Rutland and Kielder. She's clearly a bird who's not shy about showing off to the public, and that does seem to run in her family!”
Sarah Lester, the Wildlife Information and Education Officer for Forest Enterprise Scotland and RSPB Scotland, said: “Clarach originally hatched three chicks, but sadly one didn't survive. However, the remaining two are doing great and are being well fed from the huge fish brought in by their father.
“He's un-ringed, so unfortunately we know nothing about his history. But it just shows that when you have a ringed bird like Clarach, you can find out so much about the birds' behaviour and movements. Her story is quite remarkable, and it's brought a lot of interest from up and down the country, so if Clarach really was seeking fame, she's certainly found it.”
Ospreys are fish-eating hawks that became extinct in the UK in 1916 due to illegal persecution. They recolonised Scotland naturally in the 1950s and have slowly spread, with the UK population now estimated to be 250 breeding pairs.
Ospreys migrate to Africa every autumn and only around 30 per cent of young birds survive long enough to return to the UK to breed. They normally raise two or three chicks, and are often site-faithful, returning year after year to a favourite nest.
The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre in Aberfoyle is open every day with live webcams on red squirrels, owls and other birds, as well as the ospreys. The wildlife viewing project is a partnership between RSPB Scotland and Forest Enterprise Scotland.
Visitors to the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre in Aberfoyle can watch live footage of Clarach as she raises her chicks throughout the summer. She can also be seen every day from 9.30am-5.30pm on webcam at http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/forest-parks/queen-elizabeth-forest-park/aberfoyle-ospreys. To find out more about the centre, contact 0300 067 6615 or visit the Facebook page Facebook.com/LodgeAberfoyle.