Scotland offers some fantastic opportunities to get out and about and do some wildlife watching. When it’s  not possible to do so, there are some great ways to watch a magnificent bird of prey from the comfort of your own home.

History

Ospreys have now returned to Scotland for the breeding season. These large birds of prey overwinter in Africa and return to the UK to breed in the spring. They feed mostly on fish caught in lochs and rivers and they tend to pair for life. Ospreys were found extensively across the UK until they were persecuted to extinction. This meant that in Scotland ospreys became extinct in 1916. 

They started to return to Scotland in 1954, but re-colonising was a slow process and by 1976 the breeding population was only 14 pairs. Nest protection and conservation projects helped the population to increase and to colonise other parts of the UK.

Where to watch

There are visitor centres at Loch of the Lowes and Loch Garten, where you can watch the ospreys as they tidy their nests, raise their chicks and see the young birds take their first flight. However, if you prefer to watch from the comfort of your own home, you can follow the birds’ progress on the Loch of the Lowes webcam here.

There is also a webcam for the osprey nest at Loch Arkaig which can be viewed here.

Further Information

More information about ospreys can be found on the RSPB website here.

If you are interested in birds there are several books about them in the Edinburgh Napier collection. Here is a selection of the many titles available:

The history of British birds

The British Birds

Collins Bird Guide

Urban Raptors : Ecology and Conservation of Birds of Prey in Cities

Birds of Prey : Biology and conservation in the XXI century

Article by Vivienne Hamilton