A BIRD of prey, which has not bred in Lancashire since George III sat on the throne, has been spotted above a ready-made nest at Brockholes Nature Reserve.

An osprey was spotted on a branch in the reserve, staring at the specially-built platform, which was constructed in 2013 by volunteers and staff at Electricity North West, on an island in the Meadow Lake.

Ospreys have been seen around Brockholes in the intervening years but they have mainly ignored the nest, so the hopes of the reserve staff were raised when it was spotted looking at it.

The birds have not nested in Lancashire since the mid-18th century.

Tim Mitcham, director of conservation at The Lancashire Wildlife Trust, which owns the reserve, said: “We have seen ospreys at Brockholes every year but they have been passing through on the way to breeding grounds in the Cumbria and Scotland in spring and off to overwinter in Africa in late summer.

“However, this is the first time a bird has shown an interest in our osprey platform, which exciting.

“It is interesting to think that it will pair up with a mate and nest here next year, but we can hope.

“There is certainly plenty of food at Brockholes, in the Ribble and in the estuary, where ospreys can feed so there is no reason why they wouldn’t nest here.”

Known as the fish eagle, the osprey’s diet is 99 per cent fish so they tend to live close to the sea or lakes and rivers.

The number of ospreys have dropped dramatically, almost 30 per cent in 30 years.

The platform was built with instructions from Darren Moore of Friends of the Osprey.

Mr Moore has been involved in the erection of 18 of these osprey platforms on sites across North Wales.

Eight of the platforms have been taken up or visited by these birds of prey with chicks being born three years running on one site.