A rare sighting of an osprey on the River Ribble has birdwatchers hoping for the flitter flutter of tiny wings at Brockholes Nature Reserve.Advertisement
Ospreys have been spotted at the nature reserve near Samlesbury in recent years but there have been no known nestings in Lancashire since the mid 18th century.
Darren Leen, who works for Highways England’s traffic officer service, next to the M6 and A59 at Samlesbury, was on his break when he caught site of the rare bird on a motorway bridge.
He said: “I was at the outstation when I saw the osprey on a motorway bridge. It had been scanning the River Ribble for its next meal, sitting unfazed by 44-tonne vehicles passing less than three metres away.
“I recognised the features of the bird due to being a birdwatcher in my younger days. Seeing this beautiful bird so close to the motorway was very much unexpected but a great joy to see”.
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The bird already has birders getting excited on social media, but no-one can get too close because it is in a restricted area.
Brockholes’ Director of Conservation, Tim Mitcham, said: “We had a juvenile male here late last summer, showing an interest in the osprey eyrie at the top of a telegraph pole, which we built with the help of Electricity North West in 2013.
“We were hoping it would return this year with a mate, so this is very exciting.
“Brockholes is closed in the lockdown so there is little disturbance, which will benefit this osprey, so there is a greater chance of it looking at the eyrie.
“We hope that people will adhere to the lockdown, allowing the birds an opportunity to settle and, when it ends and we open the reserve again, who knows, our wildlife cameras might be showing off osprey chicks?”
Ospreys nest in Scotland and Wales, and at Foulshaw Moss in Cumbria, which is as close as they get to Lancashire.
This large bird of prey with a 1.6 metre wingspan has a white head and underparts, and dark brown upper parts. Their wings show strong barring during flight and distinctively dark brown, angled ‘wrists’.
The bird will have flown in from Africa to look for somewhere to nest. That trip from the south may have taken 20 days, with stops along the way to refuel. Normally Lancashire is just a refuelling spot.
Tim said: “Of course the bird may just be stopping over before moving on and could be gone by tomorrow.”
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Brockholes is closed to the public during the lockdown and the bird’s perch is difficult to access. Please abide by social distancing rules and government guidelines and do not drive to visit Brockholes to see the osprey. Under lockdown regulations, photography and birdwatching are not ‘essential travel’.
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