WE never know what wildlife we’ll see at Cannop Ponds, writes MANDY GRAHAM. 

Mallards and swans on the lake of course, maybe a kingfisher or wagtails at the weir….but an Osprey diving and catching a fish?

On a sunny Friday afternoon (September 29) we decided to take a walk with our cameras around Cannop Ponds. 

After enjoying some recent autumn bird arrivals–a handsome Gadwall drake, rafts of black Tufted Duck, and colourful flotillas of Mandarin Ducks–we reached the path between the two lakes. 

Four angry buzzards were chasing a large bird of prey gliding effortlessly higher on very long slender wings.

For about half an hour it repeatedly circled above the lake causing consternation among buzzards and rooks, and spooking ducks and grebes on the water. 

My husband watched with amazement as finally the big bird plunged into the top of the Pond, caught a fish and flew the length of the lake directly toward him and over his head!

A watching rook immediately took off in hot pursuit harassing it as if to make it drop the fish. 

He is quite convinced that the rook had been waiting and knew what was going to happen, as if it had seen the bird fishing before.

I took my pictures on the bridge next to the picnic area, and got a shot of the bird with the fish in its talons.

On checking our photos, we were astonished to confirm that it was indeed an Osprey (with no visible leg rings) possibly on its epic 3,000 miles migration to sub-Saharan Africa. 

Ospreys became extinct as a breeding species in Britain by 1916,a but in 1954 a pair of Scandinavian ospreys naturally recolonised, and now they are legally protected, their numbers slowly increasing with the help of wildlife agencies.

It was thrilling to watch this iconic bird – with a broadly 5 foot wingspan – fish in Cannop Ponds. To experience this rarity in its known territory on a Scottish loch is splendid, but to have a such an unexpected and amazing encounter locally is something to be treasured.

Cannop Ponds is more than just a beauty spot for families and fun outdoor activities, it’s one of Gloucestershire’s best hotspots for birdlife because of its amazing habitat, truly part of the Forest of Dean’s natural heritage.

How wonderful if this osprey and future ospreys were able to make use of Cannop Ponds on their migration. nd how marvellous it would be if the Ponds could continue to provide vital sanctuary for not just star birds, but for all the varied species that depend upon this beautiful waterscape, giving us so much to admire, learn and enjoy.