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29 Jun 2020

Spotlight on breeding ospreys at Threave in new film project

An osprey looking straight at the camera
The ospreys that migrate each year from Africa to breed at Threave Estate are to be the focus of a new film project.

Environmental video artist and filmmaker John Wallace has been named as the recipient of the Artful Migration residency, which commissions artists to create new work informed by wildlife, the natural world, the environment and climate change.

John not only plans to explore the lives of the rare birds of prey but also wants to look at the wider ecosystem that supports them, plus their impact on people.

John said: ‘It’s a real privilege for Threave that ospreys have been reintroduced and migrate here for this vital part of their lifecycle – the breeding and raising of their next generation.

‘I’ll be looking at the period of their absence as well as their presence, because so much happens in the ecosystem all year round that prepares it for the return of these predators which are at the top of the food chain.

‘And they have a cultural impact too. So I’ll be talking to osprey experts, estate staff, volunteers and birdwatchers about what the ospreys mean to them – and their experiences of these birds.

‘There’s a sense of anticipation ahead of the ospreys’ arrival, which is matched by a melancholy at their departure. And the sense of freedom they embody is particularly striking during this period of lockdown.

‘COVID-19 brought society to a standstill but nature carries on. The birds have still been free to fly while we have not.’

A close-up of an osprey chick.
Female osprey chick from Threave

Artful Migration is a partnership between Upland CIC arts development agency and Ginnie Wollaston and Nicholas Parton Philip of Moving Souls Dance. It has been developed with the Trust, where we have received funding from Creative Scotland.

Originally planned to start earlier in the year, the project has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Much will initially be done remotely and on-site work will be carried out once restrictions are lifted. We hope that John’s work will be shown at Threave in 2021.

Samuel Gallacher, who is responsible for the Trust’s activities in Dumfries & Galloway, said: ‘This is a great example of partnership working in the cultural sector, which we’re delighted to support. We’re thrilled to be hosting John and are looking forward to seeing the results of his artistic endeavours.

‘The osprey conservation programme is long-established at Threave. It’s supported by a highly enthusiastic and knowledgeable team of volunteers and staff, who will take pleasure in working with John to help promote the story of these magnificent raptors and their cultural and ecological significance.’

A wetland habitat
Ospreys have been breeding at Threave Nature Reserve for several years. They escape the cold Scottish winter by migrating south each year - some wintering as far as North Africa!

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