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The BBC's Emma Simpson
"The osprey is a spectacular bird of prey"
 real 56k

Thursday, 21 June, 2001, 23:20 GMT 00:20 UK
Lake District nurtures rare osprey arrivals
Ospreys
Ospreys have recently returned to England
The first osprey chicks to be hatched in the wild in England for more than 150 years are being watched by wildlife experts in the Lake District.

Forestry minister Elliot Morley is set to visit the nest in the wild on Friday, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is building a hide to allow birdwatchers to see the new arrivals.

It is hoped the birds will provide a much-needed boost to tourism in an area devastated by foot-and-mouth.

The pair of nesting ospreys had been kept a closely guarded secret since their arrival in the wild in April, with a round-the-clock guard mounted on the nest.

Historic hatching

Since the chicks entered the world, it has been announced that they are nesting in the Forestry Commission's Thornthwaite Forest, above Bassenthwaite Lake, near Keswick, Cumbria.

Last week an osprey chick was hatched in controlled circumstances as part of a re-introduction programme in Rutland Water in Leicestershire.
An osprey
There are now 130 breeding pairs of ospreys in the UK

At that point it was the first chick to be born in England in 150 years.

Mr Morley, an avid bird watcher, is set to emphasise the importance of the hatching in wildlife terms.

The first few weeks are a critical period for the chicks and the Lakes Osprey Watch team will be keenly watching any developments.

The chicks are due to leave the nest by mid-August.

The osprey is a fish-eating bird of prey with a wing span of up to five feet.

Its return to Scotland in the mid 1950s after a century of extinction and its growth to 130 breeding pairs is a great conservation success story.

The Osprey Project has been jointly run by the Forestry Commission, the Lake District National Park Authority and the RSPB.

Rutland success

The successful hatching in Rutland last week was the first to raise hopes that the endangered birds could again become a common sight in the English countryside.

Since 1996 up to 12 osprey fledglings a year have been released at the sanctuary, which is Europe's largest man-made lake and a frequent stopping point for migrating birds.

Male ospreys usually return to the area where they fledged, and the father of the chick is one of four that have returned every year since 1999.

He has been seen diving for fish there on successive years, and fought off one rival to win the affections of a female thought to have come from Scotland.

The chick was hatched on 6 June after an anxious 36-day wait by conservationists.

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See also:

11 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Ospreys nest in England again
01 Aug 00 | UK
'Solar-powered' ospreys
04 Oct 99 | Sci/Tech
Bird's eye view of osprey odyssey
03 Sep 99 | UK
Ospreys return to England
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