Look who’s back! Famous Alyth ospreys Harry and Flora return to nesting platform for tenth year


Local wildlife enthusiasts and staff at SSEN Transmission’s nearby Alyth substation are delighted to welcome home two of Alyth’s most famous feathered friends to a purpose-built nesting platform for the tenth year in a row.

The two ospreys, named Harry and Flora by pupils at nearby Meigle Primary School, were spotted back at the platform over the Easter weekend, and have since been busy sprucing up their nest for the upcoming breeding season.

Their arrival was captured on the live webcam to the nesting platform, with avid followers of the birds delighted at their return. The webcam will once again provide a birds-eye view of the local osprey residents, meaning the local community and osprey enthusiasts alike can follow their progress once again this year.

The webcam has over 3,600 subscribers on YouTube, with fans flocking to follow the birds’ progress live each year.

The nesting platform was created in 2014 as an alternative home for the ospreys ahead of the start of a programme of upgrade and reinforcement work to the transmission East Coast network, after the birds were spotted nesting at the top of one of SSEN Transmission’s 48-metre-high electricity towers which was scheduled for maintenance as part of the project.

Ornithologist and osprey expert Roy Dennis MBE helped advise on the design of the nest, which has been used by Flora and Harry ever since, returning each year to breed since its installation in 2014.

Since then 20 chicks have successfully fledged the nest, and the team at SSEN Transmission are hoping to welcome even more chicks as the resident pair take up their nest for the tenth year.

The nesting platform is one of many initiatives that SSEN Transmission teams working on the Alyth substation, which was recently energised in January this year, created to help protect and enhance the environment in which they operate.  Teams developed various ecological improvements around the site to encourage native species of flora and fauna around the perimeter of the substation compound, contributing to a positive net gain in biodiversity.    This included installing two new bat boxes along with nine bird and red squirrel feeders around the perimeter of the substation, as well as plans to plant over 5,400 native trees around the site.  The site perimeter bunds will also be sown with native wildflower seed to help increase biodiversity for insects in the area and help the local species of farmland birds with sheltering, nesting and feeding.

Initial studies have forecast a 50% increase in biodiversity since teams first arrived in the area. SSEN Transmission has committed to designing biodiversity enhancements across all projects in the north of Scotland, aiming to leave the environment in a demonstrably better environment than before development started. 

SSEN Transmission’s Senior Consents and Environment Manager, Ewan Jelly, said:

It’s wonderful to welcome back ospreys Harry and Flora to their nesting platform near Alyth substation after their migration south for the winter.  Already they’ve been hard at work sprucing up their nest area and getting reacquainted with their former fishing grounds in the nearby Tay estuary.

“This will be the tenth year the pair have returned to the platform, and we’re truly delighted at the success of the development in that time.   Harry and Flora have reared 20 chicks since it was first installed in 2014, and we’re hopeful that this year we can welcome even more chicks in the nest.

“After some maintenance earlier this year once again we’re delighted to have the webcam back in operation just in time to welcome Harry and Flora’s arrival, meaning we can follow their progress this year and keep a close-eye on them as any chicks hatch.   It also means we can closely monitor for any signs of distress and take steps to mitigate any impact our remaining operations on the nearby substation may have.

“It’s a real joy watching the pair take to the skies and bring fish back to the nest - they are firm favourites amongst the teams at the substation and they’ve also got a fair few fans flocking to follow them on the webcam too.  Initiatives like this underline our commitment to ensuring we protect the natural environment across all of our projects, making sure we leave biodiversity in a better position than when we started and protecting vital ecosystems wherever we can.” 

The new £86 million Alyth substation forms a key part of SSEN Transmission’s reinforcement of the East Coast transmission network, which will help to support the connection of new renewable generation in the north of Scotland to the grid and enable clean energy to be taken from where it is generated to where it is needed most.

Built to an operating capacity of 275 kilovolts (kV), the substation has been designed so that it can be increased to 400kV in the future with minimal operational changes.  This increase to 400kV operation will deliver the full capacity increase required to facilitate major new renewable generation connections in the future.

The project is part of a significant number of projects on the East Coast of Scotland to strengthen the transmission network in the region, enabling the connection of new renewable generation to the grid and helping to facilitate the transition to net zero emissions.   Currently under construction is the East Coast 400kV Overhead Line Upgrade Project, which involves upgrading the existing 275kV overhead line circuits between Kintore, Fetteresso, Alyth and Kincardine Substations to 400kV operation.  Funds for the webcam are provided by the project team delivering the overhead line upgrade. 

As with previous years, the ospreys are carefully monitored by an on-site ornithologist throughout the nesting season to ensure any remaining construction work at the substation doesn’t cause any disturbance to the ospreys. 

Learn more about the Alyth Substation project here: https://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/projects/project-map/alyth-275kv-substation--reactive-compensation/