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Last Updated: Monday, 12 January, 2004, 07:50 GMT
Osprey celebrations take off
Osprey - generic picture
There are 160 breeding pairs of osprey in Scotland
Enthusiasts are marking the 50th anniversary of the reintroduction of ospreys to Scotland.

Golden jubilee events are being organised by groups, including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

The species was wiped out north of the border by persecution during the Victorian era but returned in 1954.

The Scottish population of osprey has now reached 160 breeding pairs. They spend the winter in Africa.

As part of the celebrations, bird watchers will be able to see the ospreys at home in their eyries - or nests - and via CCTV at four sites.

Egg thieves

Duncan Orr-Ewing of RSPB Scotland said: "Although this bird re-colonised Scotland naturally, from then on the osprey's population increase has been achieved largely as a result of much hard work by conservationists and land managers."

Since the 1950s, RSPB wardens have at times staged all-night vigils around nests to guard the birds from the threat of egg thieves.

Once quite common in the Highlands, the osprey ceased to breed in Scotland around 1916 after persecution by shooting and the theft of eggs.

Although they continued to pass through on migration, none attempted to nest again until a pair settled at Loch Garten, in Strathspey, and reared two young.

Viewing sites

Since then almost two million nature lovers have visited the colony of osprey - cherished as Scotland's national bird - at the site.

Moira Baptie, of the Forestry Commission Scotland, said: "We have been working for many years with partners to secure the spread of this iconic species.

"Now we have opened remote viewing sites where the public will be able to watch these magnificent birds in action."

However, the birds continue to face man-made hazards such as power lines, being caught up in fishing lines and swallowing fishing hooks.

Osprey missing food of love
05 May 03  |  Scotland
Rare eggs thief jailed
10 Apr 03  |  Scotland
Osprey's flight of fancy
08 Apr 03  |  Scotland

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