On a trip home from Ireland this week we stopped off at Wigtown and Threave to try to see ospreys. There was a new female bird at Wigtown this year and unfortunately the nest failed so there was nothing live to see at the Wigtown County Buildings where a room has been set up with a video screen and lots of osprey related activities. This has been done by the Wigtown Bay Osprey project, a partnership between local landowners, Dumfries and Galloway Council Ranger Service , RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Police. The only osprey we saw was a very impressive paper model hanging in the stairwell of the County Building. We had a walk down to the bird hide on the Bladnoch estuary (Wigtown Bay Local Nature Reserve) where there were quite a few young herons waiting for fish in the mud.
We had more luck with ospreys at Threave. First of all we took a boat trip across to Threave Island where there is an impressive castle. The castle is currently closed due to consolidation works being undertakend by Historic Scotland so we spent our time looking for the osprey nest and were fortunate to get a distant view of 3 ospreys perched in the nest area. Moving on to the osprey viewing point we were informed that this was the male (Black 80) and his 2 fledglings. Duncan managed to get a shot of the birds with my small camera looking through the telescopes. We failed to see the female , although there was an osprey flying about when we walked on round the reserve and the fledglings had been looking around hopefully when viewed through the telescopes. Black 80 was born at Glaslyn and so is the brother of the Kielder males, another pioneer in the family! He has been returning to summer at Threave since 2008 and raised 2 chicks in 2009 followed by more in subsequent years.
They are very lucky at Threave in that the viewing area is relatively close to the nest and you can just about pick out the perching birds with the naked eye. Tom Hall (Osprey Ranger) was with a young volunteer from Newcastle upon Tyne (but on holiday locally) and they gave us lots of information on the ospreys and other local wildlife. A hen harrier had been seen that afternoon but not by us. Tom is soon to change his title to Duck and Goose Ranger for the autumn. Follow this link for the latest news from the National Trust for Scotland Dumfries and Galloway Countryside Team. The Threave ospreys also have a facebook page.
We can thoroughly recommend a trip to Threave – great views, lots of other wildlife other than ospreys and a castle to admire as well. We ran out of time to visit the gardens which are on the other side of the A75 so will be back. If you like bats – Threave is the first dedicated bat reserve in Scotland!