Ospreys once again on a nest in Assynt!
Ardvreck Castle over 150 years ago was the last known location of Ospreys, Pandion haliaetus, nesting in Assynt.
Since their eradication all those years ago sightings of Ospreys fishing on Assynt’s lochs have increased noticeably. This has been particularly so over the past 10 years. Sadly, there had been no signs of birds nesting or even attempting to nest in the area. These fishing birds all seemed to be transporting their catches east, and out of Assynt to an unknown location.
Encouraged by the increasing number of Osprey sightings Culag Community Woodland Trust applied for, and were awarded, funding from the FCC Communities Foundation to erect an Osprey nesting platform at a location in Assynt.
FCC Communities Foundation receive their funding from the landfill activities of FCC Environment through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund and the Landfill Communities Fund.
Ospreys are very happy to take up occupancy of man-made nesting platforms so after some discussion the location was agreed upon and the work completed by 2019.
Jump to the late spring of 2020 and Highlife Highland Countryside Ranger, Andy Summers, who had originally suggested installing the platform, started to receive a number of reports of Ospreys. Nothing too unusual about that in the spring, however, several of those were from the general vicinity of the platform.
The Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in travel and other restrictions. So Andy had to wait until he was passing the location on an essential journey to check what was happening.
Success! Andy saw two birds at the nest although it didn’t look like they were tending eggs.
Andy spoke with me about this exciting development and several days later I managed to visit the location. I was eventually rewarded with the sight of two Ospreys adding sticks to the nest structure and calling to each other. Once again though there was no sign of either bird siting on, or even taking care not to stand on, eggs during the construction works.
It seems what we had was most probably an inexperienced pair. The thought (hope!) is that they were building up the nest, and their pair bond, for next year.
All very exciting and it will be quite fantastic if 2021 sees the return of breeding Ospreys to Assynt.
Words and photos, David Haines
Please note these birds are given full protection under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They were photographed from behind cover and c750 metres away causing no disturbance.