It’s been a momentous year for us at Rutland, with Maya and 33 laying claim to the 150th chick to be hatched since the project began in 1997. This is not only a real remark on how well Ospreys are starting to do in the UK again, but also shows how the dedication and hard work of conservation projects can really pay off. Our hopes are for Osprey numbers in England, Scotland and Wales to continue to rise, and eventually for numbers to return to sustainable levels, throughout the UK and not just in isolated spots.
That’s why it’s so important for the Osprey projects in the UK to communicate, spread their own successes, and for us to celebrate each other’s. On Springwatch last night, a short feature was made of the anniversary of Ospreys returning to Loch Garten. It has been 60 years since the initiative to protect the birds was put in place and anyone that is involved with the Osprey project will have watched with excitement and awe.
In 1958, the first pair of birds to return to Loch Garten showed up, coming from Scandinavia, this was jaw-dropping news for those involved with the RSPB up in Scotland, and quickly various ideas were put in place to protect these birds and encourage them to nest. Frank Hamilton, who was involved with the team at the time, spoke about how exciting it all was, and how fantastic their arrival back to the UK could be for the Osprey’s reinstatement in the UK. Undortunately, the following year, just as nest checks were being carried out, it transpired that egg collectors had been in and replaced the real Osprey eggs with decoys. This is unimaginable today but in the early days egg collection was still incredibly popular. The decision was made to open the site up to the public, an incredibly brave move considering the potential for egg theft, but this really showcases that putting faith in public decisions can drive immense support and education about many of our endangered species.
And Today, it’s a success story, and after many slow years of encouraging breeding pairs, there are now 400 breeding pairs of Ospreys in the UK, and Ospreys have now been back in the UK for 60 years. We have a long way to go, as a stable population needs to be able to withstand bad seasons, disease and other disturbances and still be able to recover, and we have some way to go. However with luck, the hard work of project staff and volunteers we’ve provided a safe haven to hundreds of Ospreys, and this will continue well into the future. Bravo Loch Garten!