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Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Friday, 25 March 2011
Preparations made for ospreys
Ospreys are fish-eating birds of prey with a wingspan of nearly five feet

Cobwebs are being dusted away and pillows plumped for the anticipated return of one of Cumbria's most famous couples.

But they are not film stars or football players, and the pillows are made of twigs and leaves not eiderdown.

The eagerly awaited duo is a pair of fish-eating birds of prey - ospreys.

The Lake District Osprey Project is now into its 11th year and is hoping to add to a total of 21 osprey chicks fledged in Cumbria.

Scanning the skies

Staff at Bassenthwaite have started scouring the Lake District skies for signs of ospreys - in the hope a breeding pair will return for the 11th year in a row.

A pair of ospreys first nested near the north Cumbrian lake in 2001, raising a single chick, the first ospreys to do so for 150 years.

Since then there has been a successful nest every year with a total of 21 chicks fledging.

Thousands of visitors have watched the spectacular birds of prey at a specially constructed viewpoint at Dodd Wood near Keswick and at the Whinlatter Visitor Centre on a live nest-side camera.

Unfortunately there is a high mortality rate with first-year chicks.
Christina Turtle, Lake District Osprey Project

Like the fevered preparations of house-maids and footmen at old country houses, before the lord of the manor returns, staff at Bassenthwaite have begun making the nesting ground fit for habitation.

Tree climbers have been pruning branches around the high-altitude nests to give the birds greater visibility.

And as with any celebrity couple, a dedicated security team is on stand-by to provide 24-hour protection.

Others are getting ready to staff the viewpoint at Dodd Wood which opens from 2 April, 2011 to 4 September 2011 and the Whinlatter Visitor Centre.

Sad news

The osprey team has also been looking out for news of the birds which have hatched at Bassenthwaite over the past 11 years.

YU - one of the class of 2007 - was recently spotted over the African country of Senegal.

But sadly the remains of one of last year's chicks - No. 11 - were discovered in nearby Mauritania.

Christina Turtle of the Lake District Osprey Project said: "We were saddened to hear that No. 11 had died as we spent many happy hours watching him at Bassenthwaite last season."

"Unfortunately there is a high mortality rate with first-year chicks."

Tagging planned for Lakes ospreys
22 Mar 10 |  Cumbria
First egg spotted in Osprey nest
17 Apr 09 |  Cumbria
First ospreys land at Lakes nest
05 Apr 06 |  Cumbria

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