Osprey breeding success at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park in Inverclyde

Rangers at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park in Inverclyde are soaring high after another successful year of Osprey breeding. 

Since Ospreys returned to the park in 2014 and the first chick was born in 2018, there have been 11 confirmed chicks born and raised in Inverclyde, with another one born this summer.

The magnificent birds of prey were considered extinct in the late 19th Century. But a concerted effort by park rangers and volunteers have brought them back and they have all settled within the Inverclyde boundary of the regional park.

Councillor Michael McCormick, convener of the Environment and Regeneration Committee said: “We all know what a wonderful place Inverclyde is to live, and the success of the Osprey breeding programme shows even birds of prey feel the same! 

“It is fantastic news that we have so many Ospreys returning and breeding in Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. 

“They are a spectacular bird of prey and it is a real treat for visitors to the Park to see them soaring high, hunting for food over Loch Thom and surrounding bodies of water. 

“I’d like to thank the park rangers and the volunteers from the Clyde Ringing Group for all their hard work monitoring these spectacular birds and ensuring their continued return to Inverclyde.” 

Osprey ringing at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park
Volunteers have worked with park rangers
to help monitor the birds of prey

Ospreys were considered extinct in much of Britain by the late 19th century as a result of game keepers, egg hunters, a loss of habitat and water pollution. 

In 1954 a pair of Ospreys settled in Aviemore from Scandinavia which started their return to Scotland. Clyde Muirshiel rangers thought they could encourage them to the regional park and started putting out man-made bird nests in the early 2000s, in the hope of encouraging them to re-establish a home in the hills of Inverclyde. 

By 2014 a regular lone male established a territory within Inverclyde, met a mate in 2017 and the pair had their first chicks in 2018. Since then, there have been 11 confirmed chicks born and raised within Inverclyde. 

It is estimated that only 60 per cent of chicks survive their first year so all the chicks born in Inverclyde may not make it back. But the ones that do will likely return to Inverclyde and establish their own territories in the area where they were born. 

Every year since the first hatchlings, park staff from Inverclyde and Renfrewshire, along with volunteers from the Clyde Ringing group, go to the nests to ring the chicks. This helps with monitoring the Osprey population and allows them to track the birds as they travel back and forth on their migration route. A chick with the ring KW7, born in 2022, made national news earlier this year when she was recorded in the Bahamas surviving against all odds a trip across the Atlantic Ocean. There was no ringing undertaken during the pandemic so it is likely there are a few more Inverclyde Ospreys out there. 

Mike Holcombe, senior Inverclyde Council ranger for Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, said: “We are delighted with this success and the fact we have Ospreys here in Inverclyde shows that the Park is a good place for them. 

“We will continue to monitor and record the Ospreys within Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park and while we won’t tell people where the nests are, we do encourage folks to keep their eyes peeled when visiting the Greenock Cut Visitor Centre and surrounding lochs and reservoirs.  

“The sight of the Osprey fishing over the lochs is confirmation that with the right help, positive things can and do happen.” 

Following a reorganisation of Clyde Muirshiel – Scotland’s largest regional park – the council took over the reins of the Inverclyde locations of the park and the associated ranger service in 2021. It covers areas including Lunderston Bay and Greenock Cut. 

Inverclyde Council committed to £450k worth of improvements to both areas with a new £195k children’s play park at Lunderston Bay opening late last year. Improvements to the Greenock Cut Visitors' Centre are also nearing completion. 

For more information about Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park and upcoming events, visit www.clydemuirshiel.co.uk and find out more about what Inverclyde has to offer at www.discoverinverclyde.com.