The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is an easily recognisable bird of prey species and a fantastic representation of successful nature conservation in the UK. These impressive raptors were forced to extinction across the British Isles during the early 20th century, largely down to victorian egg and skin collectors. In 1954, they made their return and naturally recolonised to the now famous Loch Garten RSPB reserve in Scotland.
Ospreys are widespread birds of prey and can be found from Florida to Argentina, and right the way up to Scandinavia. The birds seen here that are gracing the Scottish landscapes during the breeding season are mostly from North and West Africa where they spend the winter months in the heat of the equator. They are a largely monogamous species, to both partner and nest site, returning year after year to breed with the same mate at the same location. Males and females can easily be distinguished from one another when seen in close proximity. Here the smaller males sits at the bottom of the tree whilst the larger female perches at the top.
Ospreys are fantastic hunters with fish making up 99% of their diet. They are perfectly adapted to a life of collecting fish with closable nostrils to stop water entering during dives, impressive vision attuned to seeing movement underwater and backward facing scales on their talons to better grip their prey. Here the male poses with a freshly caught pike.
The majority of the time spent photographing ospreys, like most animals, is spent waiting! Waiting whilst they sit in their tree, waiting whilst they fly off for food and waiting for them to do anything but stand! But when they do start to move it's definitely worth the wait and seeing them inflight or with a freshly caught fish is an amazing experience. To finish here is a 3 image sequence of an adult returning to its nest site.