Monday 17 May 2021
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.theguardian - 30 days ago

Country diary: the ospreys are back – this is the ultimate spring thrill

Badenoch, Highlands: The sight of the male taking up his proud perch and the sound of his high-pitched call mark the climax of springThe ospreys are back! All the way from west Africa, over 4,000km away, these powerful birds of prey have returned to the Scottish Highlands to breed. There is a nest near me, a twiggy crater the size of a truck tyre balanced precariously at the top of a tree on an island in my local loch. Part of the floodplain of the upper Spey, this area is called Badenoch – “the drowned lands” in Gaelic – and is cradled by the Cairngorm mountains to the north-east and the Monadhliaths to the south-west.Ospreys pair for life and the male comes first to prepare the nest, usually returning to our loch in the first week of April. For me, the sight of him taking up his proud perch and the sound of his high-pitched call ringing across this amphitheatre mark the climax of spring. The arrival is not just a sign of the eternal cycle of seasons and the renewal of life, but of the possibility of recovery. Persecuted to extinction in Scotland from 1916, ospreys began recolonising naturally in 1959 and there are now 158 breeding pairs who can hatch up to three chicks each year. Continue reading...


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