THOUSANDS of bird enthusiasts have been keeping their eyes on the skies for a glimpse of the Bassenthwaite ospreys since they began nesting in 2001.

But now hopes are high that the rare birds will be spotted further south in Cumbria after a pair of the birds settled at a peatbog near Witherslack.

John Dunbavin, reserve manager at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve, said the ospreys arrived from Africa in early April.

He is hopeful that the site will get its first chicks later this year and has set up a blog so those interested can folllow any progress.

“We’ve had ospreys since 2008 but it’s only the last two years they have tried to breed,” said John. “Last year we think the female was too immature but we are really hopeful we will have a success story soon.”

John said the incubation period was around 35 days and so far the female had been sitting on the nest for 10 days.

Cameras overlook the nest and relay pictures via mobile phone signal back to Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s offices.

The images show that the male has a white ring on his right leg, indicating he was born at Bassenthwaite in 2008.

The female has a right blue leg ring and was born in Kielder Forest in 2010.

John said the prime age for females to breed was between the ages of three and five.

“It is an ideal site for nesting,” added John.

“There’s a large expanse of raised bog and it is close to the River Kent and Morecambe Bay – a great source of food for the fish-eating birds.

“Ospreys are a real spectacle - there aren’t many sites in the UK where you can guarantee seeing them.

“Even if they do hatch they have got to survive potentially poor weather and predators.

“It’s not until they fledge that it will be a success.”

You can follow John Dunbavin’s blog at: