One of Britain’s rarest birds of prey has been spotted in Lancashire.
An osprey was seen by staff at Brockholes Nature Reserve in Preston who believe it may have been eyeing up a specially created nesting site.
The sighting has sparked great excitement as the last time ospreys bred in Lancashire was in the mid-18th century.
Volunteers and staff from Electricity North West built an ‘osprey platform’ on an island on Brockholes’ Meadow Lake in 2013 after the success of similar platforms in Wales in attracting the birds.
Ospreys have been seen around reserve next to the M6 at Samlesbury before but they have never nested at the wildlife haven.
So hopes were raised when the osprey landed on the branch which is attached to the platform this week.
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Tim Mitcham, director of conservation at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, which owns Brockholes said: “We have seen ospreys at Brockholes every year but they have been passing through on the way to breeding grounds in the Cumbria and Scotland in spring and off to overwinter in Africa in late summer.
“However, this is the first time a bird has shown an interest in our osprey platform, which exciting. It is interesting to think that it will pair up with a mate and nest here next year, but we can hope.
“There is certainly plenty of food at Brockholes, in the Ribble and in the estuary, where ospreys can feed so there is no reason why they wouldn’t nest here.”
The osprey platform was built with instructions from Darren Moore, of Friends of the Osprey, who has been involved in the creation of 18 platforms on sites across North Wales.
Eight of these platforms have been taken up or visited by these distinctive birds of prey with chicks being born three years running on one site.
Darren said the Brockholes site was ideal being in the middle of a network of lakes and close to the Ribble.
The nest is built of various kinds of wood with soil and carpet used to make it a little more comfortable for feathered youngsters.
The osprey’s arrival caused a real stir at Brockholes this week and birders Ian McGill, Jim Beattie and Bill Aspin were on hand to film and photograph the occasion.
Known as the fish eagle, the osprey’s diet is 99 per cent fish so they tend to live close to the sea or lakes and rivers.
These are big birds, up to two feet long with a wingspan of nearly six feet across. An osprey has a white head with a dark mask across its eyes. It has a black bill and golden-brown eyes. Its wings are brown making its white chest stand out.
Osprey numbers have dropped by almost 30 per cent in the past 30 years.