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Braithwaite Court

Cumbria, England

The Lake District Osprey Project

Posted by Luci Ackers on Apr 26, 2016
Osprey on Bassenthwaite Lake
Osprey on Bassenthwaite Lake

There has been a lot of excitement this month as a much-loved pair of ospreys has returned to Bassenthwaite Lake to breed for the fourth year in a row!

Here at Braithwaite we're just a short distance from the nest site and so take a special interest in the fantastic Lake District Osprey Project that supports and protects these birds of prey that were, for so long, absent in Britain.

So why are ospreys so special?

Ospreys are incredible birds of prey; dark and beautiful with a wingspan that can sometimes reach five foot! As their diet consists mainly of fish, you'll usually spot their nests around lake sites. These incredible creatures had, unfortunately become extinct from Britain by the 1800s, and in the early 1990s the Lake District Osprey Project sought to change this and began putting plans in motion...

The birds were naturally recolonising further north in Scotland, and were spotted flying over Bassenthwaite en route to their breeding sites. Late in the 90s artificial nest platforms were erected around the lake to try to entice them to stop here. They began to pay more attention to the area and, finally, in 2001 a pair of ospreys nested and successfully raised one chick.

This was a huge result; the first breeding pair in Britain for 150 years. Coincidentally, this was the same year that the Rutland Water Osprey Project also saw its first success from the translocation project that was taking place in central England. It seemed like the ospreys' luck was starting to pick up! Since 2001 ospreys have been returning to nest at Bassenthwaite every year since.

The Osprey Project

The Lake District Osprey Project is supported by the Forestry Commission, the National Park Authority and the RSPB. Together their combined aim is to support the continued success of ospreys in the Lake District, further their conservation goals and encourage an awareness amongst visitors. They hope to build an understanding and appreciation for these birds amongst tourists to the National Park.

This year Bassenthwaite saw the happy return of KL, a female who was ringed back in 2009. Unring, her mate of four years, joined her just three days later and the two are currently incubating three eggs. You can keep track of their progress during the nesting season here.

The Whinlatter Visitor Centre, just a 10 minute drive from Braithwaite, is an ideal way to learn more. During the nesting season, there is an informative team on hand to share their knowledge. You'll find information on the birds' behaviour and about other wildlife you can spot in the area. There is also a video feed coming through of KL and Unring's nest, so you can keep an eye on their progress!

In-depth information at the Whinlatter Visitor Centre

Get a better look at the ospreys of Bassenthwaite in action from the two viewpoints (Upper and Lower) located in Dodd Wood. If you head to the Lower site first there will be directions on how to reach the Upper site which is about half a mile further into the forest. It'll be a steady walk of roughly 20 minutes, but it's worth it for the views! The nest is about a km away, you'll have a good view of the area and there are telescopes and binoculars available too.

A view out over Bassenthwaite Lake and Skiddaw from the village of Braithwaite. A stunning environment for ospreys to live and hunt.

To find out how to stay at Braithwaite Court yourself, enter your details at the bottom of the page.

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Luci Ackers
Author: Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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