Preston's resident osprey has been killed by a truck on the M6

The bird of prey had made its home near the River Ribble but has reportedly flown into the path of a truck after being spooked by a pedestrian.

Friday, 24th April 2020, 1:07 pm

The osprey is believed to have been killed yesterday evening (April 23) after it was spooked by a pedestrian wheeling a bicycle along the hard shoulder of the M6 near Brockholes.

But the bird, which had been perched on a bridge over the River Ribble, became spooked and flew into the path of an oncoming truck.

It had been hoped that the osprey would be the first to nest in the city for centuries.

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The osprey enjoying the sun on the M6 motorway bridge over the River Ribble in Preston. Pic credit: Darren Lean

Whilst celebrating its residence on the Ribble, Lancashire Wildlife Trust had urged people not to approach the bird.

A spokesman for the Trust said: "We have had the sad news that the osprey has been killed and we have spoken to Highways England.

"They have heard the same report that the bird was hit by a heavy goods vehicle. They believe the body has been recovered.

"All we can really say is that this is devastating news.

Osprey on bridge over River Ribble in Preston: Pic credit: Darren Leen

"The osprey was a real character and caused a lot of excitement perching on the bridge and fishing in the Ribble and on our Brockholes nature reserve.

"There were a lot of sightings of the bird in and around the nature reserve, which is an ideal habitat.

"There was a real chance that this beautiful bird was going to hang around for most of spring and summer and the Wildlife Trust was hopeful that it may have attracted a mate to nest on the reserve in the future.

"We have had osprey sightings at Brockholes but all the birds we have seen have been passing through during migration between Africa and Scotland and Cumbria.

"This osprey had certainly stayed here a lot longer than usual.

"While we have been in lockdown, seeing the pictures of the bird taken by Darren Leen, at Highways England, and local birders, has raised our spirits and given us a reason to be hopeful that wildlife is doing well.

"Birders are reporting that the bird has been disturbed but that is, obviously, a police matter at the moment and we cannot comment."

Ospreys have passed through the city and its nature reserves over the last couple of years, there is no record of one nesting in Lancashire since the mid-18th century.

Its recent residence along the river had fuelled excitement among nature lovers and birdwatchers.

But the bird's popularity had led to an increase in visitors along the pedestrianised stretch of the bridge.

This week, traffic police officers were forced to patrol the bridge to prevent people seeking an up-close view of the bird.

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Why the bird stopped off for so long at Brockholes rather than returning to his nest site in the Lake District, and whether he would have returned or stayed to breed locally, will never be known.