Rickmansworth Lake has built nest to attract breeding Ospreys


Rickmansworth Lake has built nest to attract breeding Ospreys

A new artificial osprey nest has been thoughtfully constructed to attract these magnificent birds of prey back to Hertfordshire.

Ospreys, once driven to extinction in the UK by hunting and habitat loss, are being lured back to Stocker’s Lake.

Ospreys are migratory birds that grace the UK during the summer months. Their striking appearance and impressive hunting skills make them a sought-after sight for birdwatchers.

The new Osprey Nest at Stocker’s Lake (image Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust)

The nest is strategically positioned 10 meters (32.8 feet) above Stocker’s Lake in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. 

These majestic birds vanished from England as breeding birds over 180 years ago due to factors like Victorian collectors, pesticides harming their eggs, and competition fears from gamekeepers. Habitat loss also played a part. Thankfully, conservation efforts are making a difference.

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust hopes to return ospreys to the area. (image by Derek Moore)

The story began in 1954 when two Ospreys from Scandinavia nested in Scotland. Successful breeding came in 1959 thanks to a round-the-clock watch by the RSPB in “Operation Osprey.” Since then, Osprey numbers have risen steadily. They were even relocated to Rutland Water in England, with the first breeding pair there raising a chick in 2001. Today, the UK boasts around 300 breeding pairs and 1,500 Ospreys in total, though none currently nest in southeast England.

This is where Stocker’s Lake comes in. A new nest, built by experts who helped Ospreys thrive at Poole Harbour, awaits them. Constructed from materials donated by the local Friends of Stocker’s Lake group, the nest sits 10 meters above the lake, offering a perfect vantage point for these hopeful residents.

Josh Kalms, the Trust’s People and Wildlife Officer at Affinity Water sites says:

“The success of Osprey re-establishment programmes and indeed those involving the reintroduction of other wildlife species demonstrate that despite the devastating declines we are seeing in our wildlife, with one in six species at risk of extinction, we can reverse this trend if we take action. You don’t have to be a nature lover to appreciate that we are in the most pivotal decade of our lives in the nature and climate crisis – we all want a more sustainable future and a planet we can live on. Every action we take for wildlife, no matter how small, is a positive.”

“Ospreys are magnificent birds of prey and it is wonderful to think that the species could become part of our local birdlife in future. We recognise this could take some years, but it is hoped our artificial nest may be seen by a juvenile or displaced Osprey, on its southern, autumn migration to the Congo. The following year it may choose to make a new home at Stocker’s Lake.”

Stockers Lake nature reserve, is owned by Affinity Water and managed by the Trust. (image Watford Media)

Sophie Mortimer, Biodiversity Manager at Affinity Water says:

“We have been working with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to enhance biodiversity on three of our priority sites as part of our Biodiversity Programme since 2016, but our working relationship spans over three decades. Our common aim is to connect people and wildlife through collaborative working and sharing expertise. Our partnership enables expert site management and wildlife monitoring, as well as joint educational and community events to raise awareness of environmental issues, particularly around habitats and biodiversity and the link to water saving. Stocker’s Lake is a great example of a site where a number of conservation initiatives have been implemented over the past nine years. Some successes include Kingfisher nest creation, pond creation and the introduction of Dexter cattle for conservation grazing.  We love that we can use the expertise of our colleagues from the Trust to enhance biodiversity on site and create habitat to attract and give home to rare species such as Osprey.”

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