Police investigating an incident in which an amateur photographer is said to have recklessly disturbed an osprey nest said that they were “pursuing a positive line of inquiry”.
Officers received complaints that the photographer’s “sustained presence” had frightened the adult male and female birds so much that they flew from their nest near Aberfoyle, Perthshire, leaving their chicks unattended and vulnerable to predators.
Inspector Gerry McMenemy of Callander Police Office said: “The presence of this amateur photographer caused both birds to leave the nest at the same time. We are following a line of inquiry. The osprey is a protected bird of prey in the UK and it is an offence to recklessly disturb their nest. At this time of year people should be conscious and take extra care.”
He added: “If a bird becomes annoyed or disturbed you should retreat immediately. While it may seem a good idea to try and get the perfect photo, your presence could have a seriously detrimental affect on the well-being of the birds.”
Stirlingshire naturalist Keith Graham said anyone who who disturbed the nest of protected birds was committing a serious offence.
Mr Graham said: “People might think they’re just getting a good picture but being so close can be harmful. It is very selfish.
“Ospreys are exceptionally good parents but a sustained presence will disturb them and cause them to leave the nest. If you go anywhere near them they will begin ‘alarming’ so you’ll know to move away and keep your distance.
“If chicks are left then they will be extremely vulnerable to predators like crows or, if the parents don’t return, eggs can chill which can prove fatal.There have been a few instances of this kind of thing in the past so the local community should do their bit to help protect them.”
Gordon Donaldson, Forest Enterprise Scotland’s manager for the Trossachs, said: “Conservation is a fundamental part of what we do so we absolutely abhor any form of wildlife crime but particularly the persecution of raptors.
“These magnificent birds are key elements in Scotland’s biodiversity and are also significant tourism draws as well, bringing many hundreds of visitors to the area every year to get a glimpse of these amazing birds in the wild.”