Fossil evidence shows that osprey had been in Scotland around twelve thousand years ago, at the start of the Mesolithic period. However, during the nineteenth century, this migratory bird was hunted to the point of extinction in Great Britain.
Collectors took the birds’ eggs and they were also shot for taxidermy, becoming extinct in England as early as 1840 and in Scotland in 1916 when the last breeding pair was recorded. That was until 1954, when two Scandinavian birds arrived at Loch Garten in the central Highlands.
The recolonisation of this species has been very slow, not helped the suspected negative impact of pesticides in the food chain or by the unlawful behaviour of egg collectors. By the mid-1970s, there were still only around a dozen breeding pairs in Scotland, though this figure had risen to 158 by 2001. Elsewhere in Britain, the birds have been reintroduced at Rutland Water.
Taxidermy specimens likes this are often found in natural history collections in museums.
Memorialising… Declining Animal Species