7,682 boost for Loch Garten bird watching facilities
Plans to upgrade bird-watching facilities at the RSPB centre in Loch Garten are to receive grants totalling 7,682 from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

A project that will include the installation of new camera equipment, DVD recording facilities and an additional CCTV on lekking Capercaillie, will receive 3,513. This project will also see new Capercaillie interpretation for children, nest box cameras for the tawny owl and new boxes for swifts. Cabling will also be upgraded to improve picture quality. The SNH grant amounts to 45% of the cost of this project, with the remainder coming from Joint LEADER Plus, BG Group and RSPB.

A further SNH grant of 4,169 has been awarded towards a second project to provide viewing equipment, including binoculars and telescopes, at the centre and to help cover the cost of a reprint of the Osprey 'big book' pages, an interpretation book for children. Bench seating will also be added to the hide. The SNH grant amounts to 70% of the cost of this project with the remainder coming from the BG Group and RSPB.

Confirming the SNH grant, Siobhan Egan of SNH's Aviemore office, said: "The RSPB centre at Loch Garten has, for many years, provided valuable opportunities for the public to view some of Scotland's most outstanding bird species in their natural habitat. Each summer it is visited by some 35,000 people, 2 million since 1959, making it hugely significant as a centre for education and enjoyment of local wildlife. These projects to upgrade and improve the facilities and interpretation will help meet the increasing interests and demand from the public, visitors and residents alike. Promoting interpretation and enjoyment of the natural heritage is one of SNH's key roles and I am delighted we are able to support these valuable projects."

Abernethy Site Manager, Richard Thaxton said: "It is great to be able to build on and improve the wildlife experience for visitors to the Osprey Centre and we are grateful to the sponsor for their help making the improvements and innovations happen. With their help, we are particularly pleased that these projects will be in place for the 2004 season, a double celebration of the 50th anniversary of the osprey's return to Scotland and the centenary of the RSPB's work in Scotland."

The projects are expected to be completed by the end of April.


Scottish Natural Heritage is the Scottish Executive's statutory advisor in respect to the conservation, enhancement, enjoyment, understanding and sustainable use of the natural heritage.

For further information:
Calum Macfarlane, SNH Inverness, 01463 723106 (07770 814206)