Osprey Watch

One of Britain's rarest birds is a regular visitor to Piper Dam Golf Club, near Dundee, and Head Greenkeeper, Gordon Mitchell, has become very used to watching them. 'Ospreys have been using Piper Dam, near Dundee, for about 30 years for feeding only as the dam is ideal and stocked regularly with Brown and Rainbow trout', said Gordon.

In 1997 Piper Dam constructed an 18 hole golf course around the dam and this was opened in August 1998 and although there was all the activity normally associated with a golf course it did nothing to affect the Ospreys' behaviour or pattern of feeding.

'In 1999 the Directors of Piper Dam, Tom Smith, Phil Mullholland and Murdie Smith decided to erect a nest and Osprey Centre so that the birds could be studied and also give visitors the chance to see these magnificent birds', explained Gordon.

'That year a pair of birds took to the nest and although no eggs were laid the thought was that perhaps the female was too young and this same pattern was followed for the next two years.'

'However this year a new pair of birds arrived and ousted the resident pair, who had worked hard at improving the nest which had been provided for them to the extent that they stole divots from the fairway to line it.'

The new pair also improved the nest and in May there were three eggs which hatched in June.

Sadly two of the chicks were lost, possibly because of the weather but we now have one thriving chick.

'The nest is about 150 yards from the 18th tee and security is extremely tight and the nest is monitored 24 hours a day seven days a week with cameras and a very sophisticated alarm system.'

'I will never get tired of watching them catch fish in the dam and feel very privileged to be able to observe such stunning birds,' said Gordon.