Osprey flying over RSPB Loch of Strathbeg

Ospreys have been regular visitors to Loch of Strathbeg over the years. Spending the winter in Africa they come to the UK in late March/early April to breed, leaving again in August/September. During this time they can often be seen from the hides on the reserve fishing on the loch. Unfortunately they do have limited options for suitable nesting sites in the area and because of this the team at Loch of Strathbeg have been organising and building what will hopefully be the ideal nest site on the reserve.

In the spring of 2016 with the help of volunteers from Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) an enormous pole and platform were put up amongst the pool systems in front of the Tower Pool hide. The pole itself is a large telegraph pole kindly donated to us by SHEPD. The large platform on top was built by a previous volunteer at Loch of Strathbeg and will provide a good sturdy base for an osprey to build a nest amongst ideal and regularly used feeding habitat.

Volunteers from SHEPD putting up osprey nesting platform and perch.

One year later it was decided that we would help the ospreys along a bit more by doing some of the hard work for them and construct an actual nest on the platform. A couple members of staff from RSPB Abernethy who already had experience of building osprey nests came over to build the nest. For a couple days before hand we collected branches of various sizes from numerous tree species on the reserve including willow, silver birch, pine and beech. On the day of the build we took all the branches and tools we need over to the platform with a quad bike and trailer and the guys from Abernethy got to work setting up a ladder and ropes to get everything up onto the platform. Beginning with the larger branches they built the outer ring of the nest. They then gradually added smaller and smaller branches to build up a sturdy nest structure. Then finally a layer of mud and vegetation was added to the inside of the nest.

Constructing the nest on the platform

How the nest looked once the guys from RSPB Abernethy had finished

When an osprey hopefully decides to use the nest it is very likely that they will add some more material like dry grass to make it just right for them and their young. Ospreys tend to prefer using existing nests rather than spend a lot of time and energy making their own, so it is hoped that with a nest already built in an area with great food resources that a passing ospreys might decide to stay here for the summer and for the first time on this reserve breed.

We will all be keeping our fingers crossed!

Katie Bell

Intern at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg