Birdspotters in Borders now in line for up-close view of ospreys

An osprey at Lanton in the Borders.
An osprey at Lanton in the Borders.

Birdspotters in the Borders are now in line for an up-close and personal view of osprey chicks being born and reared.

Closed-circuit television cameras have been installed near a nest used by the birds of prey at Lanton as part of work carried out to help keep them safe.

Brewery boss John Henderson.

Brewery boss John Henderson.

SP Energy Networks has put safety measures in place along its overhead electricity cables at the Born in the Borders brewery site to try to ensure that two ospreys don’t come to any harm on them while up here from Africa during the spring and summer.

Born in the Borders, founded in 2011 as the Scottish Borders Brewery, attracts around 30,000 visitors a year for guided tours, and now, as well being shown how its bottled and cask ales are made with barley grown in the fields around them, they will be in with a chance of seeing osprey chicks born and raised.

The site has been a nesting ground for rare ospreys from Africa for the last 11 years, and the present pair making their home there have been nicknamed Samson and Delilah after the Biblical characters.

Concerns had been raised for the safety of the ospreys, however, after they were seen flying near live electricity lines, and on several occasions last year, newly-fledged chicks were spotted perching on power pole.

Ospreys are a conservation success story as, having once been classed as extinct in the UK, there are now thought to be around 240 breeding pairs on these shores, and brewery boss John Henderson was keen to ensure they continue to flourish in the Borders.

John and Rosie Shields, an osprey enthusiast and regular visitor to the site, contacted SP Energy Networks to ask if it could do anything to safeguard the birds, prompting a series of works.

Johan Gillespie, customer engagement manager at the firm, said: “We were called in to help at the Born in the Borders premises in Lanton after there were concerns raised about the welfare of an osprey family that had been seen landing on live poles.

“Together with John, Rosie and the rest of the team at Born in the Borders, we were able to limit the risk of any danger to the ospreys by inserting dummy poles for them to rest on.

“A perch was also inserted above the equipment on one pole, as well as bird diverters being placed along power lines, to minimise any risk.

“We were more than happy to help, and we’ll keep in touch with the team at Lanton to make sure the site is safe for the ospreys to continue to spend their springs and summers there.”

John added: “For the last few years, we have been lucky enough to have been visited by a pair of ospreys, who return each spring to the same tree, and have successfully reared several chicks.

“We noticed that the birds were beginning to become a little bit too comfortable near power lines, so we spoke to SP Energy Networks and worked with them to bird-proof some of the poles beside the live wires.

“Thanks to SP Energy Networks, as well as the organisational ability of Rosie Shields and some wonderful volunteers, we also installed an artificial platform to help them rebuild their nest and make them feel extra welcome during the spring and summer.

“At the same time, we installed a CCTV camera, which transmits live footage of the nest to our restaurant, so we now we have a ring-side seat to see Samson and Delilah hatch and rear their latest brood.

“They’ll most likely be here until August or September before flying back to their winter home, probably in Africa, but we look forward to welcoming them back here for many years to come.”

Rosie, of Lanton, said: “I can’t thank SP Energy Networks enough for what they have done.

“I feel that the safety measures put in place have helped these iconic birds enormously to remain safe around their nesting site.

“The engineers were so enthusiastic and couldn’t do enough to make sure the birds were going to be as safe as possible from the live wires and equipment.

“I hope they’ll take up our invitation to come back and see the birds as they raise their family during this and subsequent summers.”