South Scotland

Threave osprey egg theft thwarted

Image caption Ospreys have been successfully nesting in the area for the past four years

A 24-hour watch has been put in place on osprey nests in southern Scotland after a suspected egg theft attempt.

National Trust for Scotland Countryside Rangers are monitoring the site on the Threave Estate near Castle Douglas.

On Monday evening a member of the public spotted a man in full climbing gear making for the ospreys' tree-top nesting platforms.

When he was challenged, the man ran away. Later, fresh vehicle tracks were found in the vicinity.

The incident was reported to the police.

The site has been host to ospreys every year since 2007, when the nesting platforms were put in place as part of a conservation project.

Two years later, eggs were laid and successfully hatched for the first time.

Although located on private land, the platforms are viewed from the National Trust for Scotland's Threave Estate near Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway.

Tom Hall, the trust's osprey ranger for Threave, described the incident as a "close shave".

'Warped and selfish'

"Thanks to the vigilance and initiative of a member of the public the ospreys' nest has been left undisturbed," he said.

"Loss of the eggs would have been a disaster for osprey conservation - a raid on the nest may have discouraged breeding pairs from returning to Threave in the future.

"Thanks to the warped and selfish minds of people who collect rare birds' eggs, there is a thriving black market and this is probably what led to this contemptible attempt to reach the nesting platform."

He said a rota of staff and volunteers had now been arranged to monitor the nest constantly until the eggs hatch.

"If anyone makes another attempt to raid the nest, they will be caught," he said.

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