Osprey watch at Lochter

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STAFF and patrons at Lochter Fishery have been eagerly awaiting the return of the ospreys to their popular activity centre. In 2011 there is added excitement as Lochter management have installed CCTV and are keen to share the birds’ activities with their customers.

High above the trees in the woods is the pseudo-nest that the ospreys have established as their breeding ground and this year sees the addition of a state-of-the art static video camera that will record and monitor their movements 24 hours per day, with two TV monitors located in the restaurant.

Plans to attract osprey to Lochter began when a pseudo-nest structure was erected at the site two years ago. At first the 20m fixture failed to inspire the visiting fishers to the nest. Lochter manager, John Webster said: “They landed on it a few times two years ago but didn’t build a nest, so we moved it into the wood. We put a few twigs in it to get it started and then they built their first nest but didn’t breed. In 2010 they produced two chics.

“We decided to put a camera up and as the osprey were very comfortable and confident with human presence, we thought they would accept the camera if it was on a branch out from the original pole, and this has proved correct.

“The camera is painted green and makes no noise. We looked at several cameras but the one we chose provides excellent detail in HD for everyone to enjoy the eggs and then hopefully the chicks throughout the season..”

The system, known as ‘Osprey Cam’ was installed by local company Telecosse, while the electrical work was done by Ray Buchan (Rothienorman). Both companies gave their time free of charge in support of the project.

Telecosse Managing Director, Jim Mennie said: “We are very pleased to have been involved with the team at Lochter. The installation was one of the most complex we have done, but we are all very pleased with the final result. The Osprey Cam will, I’m sure, be a big benefit for both educational purposes and tourism in the area and we hope many people enjoy seeing the different stages the Ospreys go through whilst at Lochter.”

At the time of going to press, the female osprey had been in residence for about a week with the male, who follows later, due to make an appearance soon.

Stuart Paterson was the first to see her and reported that she stood at the edge of the nest for almost an hour before bringing some small twigs to build her nest.

He said: “It was very nice to see her again after she produced her first pair of chics last year. You always worry that they won’t make the journey so it was wonderful to know she had arrived.”

John Webster added: “When we first opened Lochter we couldn’t have dreamt we would come to the point of sharing the magnificence of the ospreys with our visitors.”