Osprey - Pandion haliaetus


    Seen in flight from below the Osprey has white or slightly mottled underparts. The long wings are angled, bending at the 'wrist', which has a black patch contrasting with the white wing linings, and at a distance it could be mistaken for a large gull. This spectacular fish-eating bird of prey is an Amber List species because of its historical decline (due to illegal killing), and low breeding numbers.

    Identification difficulty

    Its main UK stronghold is in Scotland - nest sites with public viewing facilities are at Loch Garten, Speyside, and Loch of the Lowes, Perth. It recently began breeding in England at Bassenthwaite in Cumbria and at Rutland Water (where it was introduced). Can be seen at almost any large body of freshwater during the spring and autumn migration.

    When to see it

    Birds arrive back from Africa in late March and April, leaving again in August and September.

    Life History

    The Osprey has a worldwide distribution and is found in temperate and tropical regions of all continents except Antarctica. Fish make up 99% of the Osprey's diet. It typically takes fish weighing 150-300 grams (5-10oz) and about 25-35 centimetres (10-14 in) in length. It breeds by freshwater lakes, and sometimes on coastal brackish waters, building a large platform nest of sticks in trees or even on telegraph poles and masts.

    UK Status

    In Britain its stronghold is Scotland but even here it is a rare bird.

    VC55 Status

    Scarce breeding bird and bird of passage in Leicestershire and Rutland.

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

    Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
    Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

    UK Map