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Osprey adult female landing at eyrie (rspb-images.com)

The osprey has been an ever-rising star of the Scottish hooked-beak-and-talons scene since its natural re-colonisation of Scotland began in 1954. The stronghold of the 150 or so pairs now breeding is the Highlands, but there are good locations to see ospreys at eyries from the Borders northwards.

What to look for

Although it’s a fish-hawk, you could confuse an osprey with a large gull. Look for white and brown plumage and the very sharply down-turned angle to its outer wings, making a 'V' shape from its 'wrist'. Makes a high-pitched, whistling call and often hovers over water with deep, slow wingbeats while fishing.

Interesting facts

Ospreys eat fish, from both fresh and salt water. They winter in West Africa, in places such as Senegal and the Gambia. Satellite tracking has shown that some Scottish ospreys make long sea crossings (such as from southern Ireland to northern Spain) during their autumn and spring migration.

When and where to see

Look out for ospreys in the Highlands and the Borders from late April until August. You can watch them at their tree-top nests from special hides at Loch Garten, near Aviemore and Loch of the Lowes, near Dunkeld. There are also live video links to osprey eyries from the Glentress Forest Visitor Centre and Kailzie Gardens Visitor Centre, near Peebles, and from the David Marshall Lodge, near Aberfoyle.

Good places to watch ospreys fishing are the Rothiemurchus Fish Farm, near Aviemore, and Findhorn Bay, near Forres.
For more information see Rutland Ospreys.