October 3, 2008

Shot Naturalists Would Prey for!

A Wildlife-lover got a treat when she spied a rare osprey over the Humber on its migration to sunnier climes.

Wildlife enthusiast and amateur photographer Mandy West (45), of Grange Avenue, Barton-Upon-Humber, managed to photograph the bird of prey at Far Ings nature reserve.

She said: "I saw an unusual-looking bird catching a fish and realised it was an osprey.

"To see it on my local patch was absolutely fantastic as ospreys are on the Amber list of protected species.

"I have lived here for five years and I have never seen one before."

The birds have been carefully reintroduced to sites in the UK by conservationists after becoming almost extinct in 1916, with most breeding in Scotland.

Mandy suggests the birds may have flown from Loch Garten in Scotland en route to West Africa for the winter.

The unusual sight was not just a one-off, either, as the bird appears to be one of four that have spent the past few days plucking the juiciest fish from the Humber.

Mandy said: "You do sometimes get ospreys passing through, apparently, but this year there are a couple who seem to have thought 'there are plenty of fish here' and decided to stay for a while.

"These have been hunting in the banks of the Humber for the past couple of weeks.

"They go for medium-sized fish like perch and rudd: They hover above the water and then go into the most fantastic dive."

Far Ings' principal education officer Helen Hornby said seeing the ospreys fishing had been a 'spectacular sight', which could be encouraged in future.

She said: "Ospreys have never really spent much time here but we have had three or four in the area, which is very unusual.

"I don't know whether there is scope to encourage them to breed here as we are principally a bittern reserve.

"It would be fantastic if we could put up some breeding platforms and see if they stay.

"Bitterns and ospreys would compete for a similar food source, but we have a huge area so there would probably be enough to go around."

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust spokeswoman Rachel Shaw said ospreys usually return to where they were born to breed, but there is potential for expansion from nearby breeding sites in Rutland.

She said: "If the population of ospreys at Rutland Water was to increase and spread outwards, we think these birds may be more likely to settle at Far Ings.

"There probably are enough lakes and pits with surrounding trees for the birds to nest in that it wouldn't be necessary to put up special nesting platforms.

"So we'll just have to watch what happens."

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