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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 June, 2004, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
Rare bird spotting thanks to CCTV
Hen Harriers at the Geltsdale Reserve
Hen Harriers are among Britain's rarest bird of prey
Birdwatchers are being given a rare chance to observe two of the UK's most graceful birds.

Clyde Muirshiel park, Lochwinnoch, is showing CCTV pictures of hen harriers nesting and David Marshall Lodge at Aberfoyle is showing footage of osprey.

Hen harriers are known for their acrobatic flight and striking plumage.

Ospreys used to be common, but they were wiped out in the Victorian era. They have been back in Scotland for 50 years and can be viewed on CCTV.

It is hoped visitors will see the eggs hatch, the parent birds tend and feed their chicks and the young finally fledge from the nest.

The footage is also on show at RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch Reserve and the Cornalees Centre.

'Amazing sights'

The Clyde Muirshiel Park Authority and RSPB Scotland have worked closely with Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Ornithologist Club and local landowners to bring the viewing project to fruition.

Charlie Woodward, regional park manager, said: "We are delighted to be able to offer visitors to the park the unique opportunity of seeing live, close-up images of these fantastic birds of prey nesting in the wild, and we are grateful to the private landowners who have worked with us to make this project possible."

ZoŽ Clelland, RSPB Scotland conservation officer, added that some amazing sights would be seen over the coming weeks, thanks to the insight from the CCTV.

The osprey population continues to struggle
All activities at the park are free.

Visitors to the David Marshall Lodge will be able to see its research station as well as view the ospreys nesting.

There will also be guided walks, children's activities and competitions.

Ospreys are large, fish-eating birds of prey native to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and America.

Although their population in Scotland is now much more secure than for many decades, they continue to face threats, including:

  • habitat loss in the wintering quarters

  • collisions with overhead power lines

  • entanglement in discarded fishing lines and ingestion of fishing hooks

  • and the natural hazards of migration to and from their wintering quarters in west Africa.

Hen harriers live on remote moorland and open country, where they hunt for small wild birds and mammals.

They are rare and difficult to see and many moorlands that were once home to hen harriers have been lost or have become degraded.

In many areas adult birds are still killed and their eggs and chicks destroyed.

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