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Early birds of prey start nesting

Some early birds of prey are already nesting at sites ranging from city cathedrals to Scottish lochs, conservationists said.

The RSPB said the early arrivals of ospreys, peregrine falcons and goshawks in their nests was "unexpected".

But with a series of "date with nature" sites that allow people to witness the lives of wildlife they would not normally see, the public are getting an early chance to follow the lives of feathered families across the UK.

In Manchester, images from a camera positioned on a skyscraper where a pair of peregrine falcons are nesting are already showing four red, speckled eggs. Images from the nest will be streamed live on to a big screen in the city from April 16 so shoppers and commuters can follow the family's progress until the chicks fledge.

There is also a pair of peregrine falcons with four eggs on Chichester Cathedral, and another two on a clock tower in Cardiff, which have returned for the fifth year in a row to the city site.

In Wales, a female goshawk is already sitting on two eggs, a week ahead of where she was last year, and in Glaslyn, a male osprey has returned to his nest nearly two weeks before he was expected.

A pair of ospreys known as "Mrs" and "No-ring" have been getting reacquainted with each other in the Lake District and a pair of goshawks have laid two eggs in the last week in the New Forest.

And EJ the osprey has been mating with her partner at Loch Garten Osprey Centre in Scotland, following her return to the Cairngorms for the ninth year.

Brian Reid, the "date with nature" project manager, said: "These early arrivals have been an unexpected but very welcome surprise. Some of these birds return to the same site year in, year out, so they've built up quite a fan base."

To find out more about date with nature events, people can log on to www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature for a full list of projects and news.

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