All Change! Introduction to 2015 Foulshaw osprey season

Foulshaw at dusk. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

I'm delighted to be taking over as Reserves Officer, with responsibility for Foulshaw Moss. Let me introduce myself - my name is Simon Thomas. I've lived in the area for 25 years and worked at Cumbria Wildlife Trust for 6 years now, surveying and restoring bogs in the uplands. I originally started my career nearby with the RSPB at Leighton Moss.
Installing web cameras at Foulshaw Moss 2015

Installing web cameras at Foulshaw Moss 2015. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Following the popularity of our nesting ospreys in 2014, we have been racing to try and install live webcams before their return this spring, but we need your help. CCTV cameras from 2020 Vision are now installed in the nest tree, with the expert help of Radiata Tree Services, but still need to be connected via control units and 850m of electrical and fibre-optic cable.

We desperately need osprey web cam donations to help pay for the equipment and installation.

If we can get this system up and running, you will be able to watch all the action unfold 24 hours a day via this page. Staff and volunteers will also be able to protect the nest and make detailed observations about the birds' behaviour.

I've also started work to improve wildlife habitats in the old peat cuttings near the car park and right around the reserve perimeter, where wetland areas were created in winter 2013. Planting of reeds, wetland flowers and willow trees is ongoing until May.

Whilst we still have aspirations to extend the boardwalks, this is provisionally scheduled for spring 2016, and we hope to attract grant funding to make it possible.

Simon Thomas and Foulshaw art trail 2015

Simon Thomas and Foulshaw art trail 2015

We already have marsh harrier, water rail, teal, snipe, woodcock, red deer and otter amongst the species reported this week. A migrating osprey has been seen in Morecambe Bay, and we expect ours back in the next few weeks. I will be leaving a sightings book at our information point, and look forward to finding out what our visitors have seen.

Radio-tracking has shown that UK ospreys fly back from their West African wintering grounds as fast as they can, in half the time taken in autumn. The instinct to claim and guard their nest seems very strong.

Our birds were born in northern England, at Bassenthwaite Lake and Kielder Water, but many others pass through on their way to Scotland and Scandinavia. The fishing in the shallow estuaries of Morecambe Bay is good, and other ospreys often roost at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve or nearby whilst migrating.

Finally, I want to thank my long-standing predecessor, John Dunbavin, who has overseen the slow transformation of Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve from a bleak conifer plantation to a vast wetland where you can experience fantastic wildlife in what is once more becoming a really wild setting