Four ospreys fledge at Aberdeenshire fishery

FOUR young ospreys are preparing to fly to West Africa for the winter after fledging from Lochter fishery and activity centre near Oldmeldrum in Aberdeenshire.

The fishery has played host to a pair of ospreys each summer for the past 12 years, but they’ve had mixed success with breeding.

Buzzards have frequently snatched and eaten growing chicks, with the predation caught on film in 2012.

Lochter’s camera was blown down during Storm Arwen, but photographers Les Park and Wendy Sleigh have captured this season’s action.

Four ospreys and their parents at Lochter fishery

Euan Webster, the fishery’s owner, said: “After several difficult breeding years, we are thrilled to see our resident osprey birds successfully rear four beautiful chicks which have now fully fledged.

“We always look out for their arrival around early April.

“We have had ospreys at our site during the summer months for more than a decade, with the unrivalled supply of trout at our fishery clearly a star attraction for birds that are perfectly adapted to hunting fish.

“The food they can obtain on site makes Lochter an ideal location to raise chicks but with nature as it is, there have sadly been many unsuccessful attempts over recent years, not helped by predation from local buzzard populations.

Osprey fishing at Lochter

Webster added: “The ospreys have always been so popular with our visitors, helped in part by the camera feed we’ve been able to broadcast in our restaurant until Storm Arwen intervened.

“With the help of Les and Wendy, this year we’ve got some wonderful images to share of the birds before they eventually make their way back to northwest Africa as winter approaches.

“We hope ospreys will return to us next summer and that they’ll be able to repeat the breeding success we’ve all enjoyed witnessing this year.”

Kingfisher at Lochter fishery

As well as the ospreys, a pair of swans reared nine cygnets at the fishery, with other fledglings including seven grey partridge, little grebe with multiple hatches, sandpipers, and kingfishers.

At least 74 species of birds can be seen regularly at Lochter, in addition to winter visitors.

Ross Ewing, director of moorland at trade body Scottish Land & Estates, added: “Lochter is a haven for birds and other wildlife, due in no small part to the excellent way that Euan and his team look after their land.

“It is wonderful to see these four osprey chicks fledge after many years of difficulty for the birds.

“We hope they now have a safe journey south for winter.”

Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.

Plus, don’t miss Keith Kingland’s Arctic tern article in the October’s luxury issue of Scottish Field magazine.