Archive for April, 2022

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour
A pair of Osprey have laid an egg at a secret nest site in the Poole Harbour area, making it the first nesting attempt in southern Britain in nearly 200 years. The striking bird of prey was once widespread across Western Europe, but was routinely persecuted until they became extinct in the early 1800s. The nesting attempt is the result of an Osprey reintroduction project which began in 2017, carried out by the charities Birds of Poole Harbour and Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation in an effort to restore a population across its historic range.
The pair, known as CJ7 and 022, first met last spring having made their migration back to Poole Harbour from their wintering grounds in West Africa. The female, CJ7, first visited Poole Harbour in 2017 during the first year of the reintroduction project, but has shown interest in nesting here every year since, visiting purpose-built nesting platforms installed to attract Ospreys to breed. The male, 022, was released as part of the reintroduction programme during 2019, before making his first migration and spending two years maturing in his wintering grounds. He then returned for the first time on the 18th May 2021 which is when he first met CJ7, although he was too young to breed at the time. The couple spent the summer of 2021 pair bonding and establishing nesting territories, indicating that they were keen on breeding here in the future. Both left Poole Harbour in early September 2021 and those involved in the project kept everything crossed for their safe return this spring.
Paul Morton from the Birds of Poole Harbour charity explained:
“When 022 and CJ7 left on migration last autumn, we then had an anxious time waiting 7 months to see if they had survived the journey. Flying from Britain to West Africa and back again is incredibly dangerous, with the birds facing many challenges along the way including the Sahara Desert, adverse weather conditions and illegal hunting. Luckily they both returned safely earlier this month, with CJ7 arriving on April 5th and 022 a few days later on April 10th. Having spent the whole of last summer together their instincts to breed this summer kicked in straight away and the pair settled on a nest, which is exactly what we were hoping to see.”
The diet of Ospreys consists solely of fish, which is one of the reasons Poole Harbour was selected for the reintroduction project. Ospreys that breed in Scotland and Northern England pass through the harbour on migration each spring and autumn, feeding on species like Grey Mullet and Flounder, before continuing on their journey. With the harbour’s large shallow channels and bays, Ospreys find hunting in here incredibly easy. 022 can now regularly be seen hunting in the harbour. Should the breeding attempt be successful, he will be responsible for providing fish for the whole family throughout the rest of the season. 
It’s hoped that CJ7 could lay two more eggs over the next week, which will then see a 35-40 day incubation period begin. If all goes to plan, the team hopes for a hatching date of around late May. Paul Morton concluded:
“To know there’s now an Osprey egg in a Poole Harbour nest is just amazing. This is the culmination of seven years hard work. Projects like this are always going to take time, but it’s such a great feeling to know that the birds have reached this important milestone, and to see CJ7 incubating her first egg is stunning. There’s still a lot for them both to learn as new parents, and breeding success is certainly not guaranteed. However, everything we’re seeing at the moment is looking really positive, and hopefully by late May we’ll begin to see them feeding their newly hatched fledglings.”
Anticipating this historic moment, Birds of Poole Harbour installed a livestream camera on a favoured nest platform over the winter to be able to capture these moments. The charity didn’t, however, anticipate that the camera view would be slightly altered, thanks to several mating attempts from the Ospreys over the last two weeks on top of the camera. The livestream camera can be watched on the Birds of Poole Harbour website and YouTube channel, which means that the public can now tune in and watch the story unfold from their own homes

Reintroduction programme working: Historic Osprey & White-tailed Eagle projects bring education and eco-tourism opportunities to Dorset

Posted on: April 12th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The recent arrival of a pair of Ospreys and several White-tailed Eagles into Dorset – specifically Poole Harbour – has seen new, exciting environmental education and eco-tourism opportunities arise which are set to benefit schools and the local economy.

Ospreys, which haven’t bred in Southern Britain for nearly 200 years, are on the brink of returning thanks to a reintroduction program which began in Poole Harbour in 2017.  Whilst White-tailed Eagles, which haven’t bred in England for nearly 250 years, began regularly appearing in Poole Harbour in September last year with a young male called G461 who began exploring and making the harbour his home. The eagles, which have an 8ft wingspan, originated from the Isle of Wight reintroduction program that’s being hosted by The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry England.

The Poole Harbour Osprey reintroduction program, which is being carried out by local charity Birds of Poole Harbour and The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, received a boost this week when a male and female Osprey arrived back safely on their migration from West Africa and settled on a nest platform at a secret location in the area. The pair known as CJ7 and 022 first met last summer, although the male was too young to breed. However, they’ve now both retuned early enough meaning there’s a good chance the pair will attempt to breed this summer, which will be a historic moment for Dorset.

During the latter months of 2021, a male White-tailed Eagle known as G461 spent his days touring the harbour, being seen regularly at sites like RSPB Arne, Brownsea Island and from public bird boat tours. Local school Longfleet Primary also had a special encounter, whilst taking part in the School Bird Boat project, an initiative run by the Birds of Poole Harbour charity.  They saw the massive lumbering giant over the Brownsea Lagoon, providing a nature experience never to forget.

Longfleet School Children on School Bird Boat Project

Eco-tourism opportunities predicted to soar

As a result of the reintroductions of both White-tailed Eagles and Ospreys in southern Britain, it’s predicted that both species will establish breeding populations on the south coast over the coming years, which will not only help re-establish the species across their native range, but bring significant economic benefits too.

A recent study called the “The Economic Impact of White-Tailed Eagles on the Isle of Mull”, published by RSPB Scotland, has revealed the scale of the economic benefits that White-tailed Eagles have in that area.  Tourism inspired by these majestic birds of prey accounts for between £4.9 million and £8 million of spend every year on Mull with the money supporting between 98 and 160 full time jobs on the island, and between £2.1 million and £3.5 million of local income annually.  It’s hoped that the South Coast will benefit in a similar way, with evidence already emerging that the eagles are beginning to have a positive impact in the area.

In recent weeks several other White-tailed Eagles have found their way into Poole Harbour, including two regularly visiting females known as G801 and G318.  Their presence has seen excitement build even more with visits to nature reserves and bird boat bookings increasing as a result.

There are also now plans through different initiatives to use the eagle’s and Osprey’s presence as a platform to engage local schools in educating students about the process of nature recovery, reintroductions and restoration. Live webcams have been installed on several of the Osprey nests so schools and members of the public can hopefully watch this historical moment.

White-tailed Eagle – Brownsea Lagoon and Poole Quay – Alison Copland

Paul Morton from the Birds of Poole Harbour charity stated;

‘It’s been a fascinating last 6 months. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we’d regularly be seeing White-tailed Eagles in Poole Harbour, but here we are, thanks to the hard work and persistence of multiple teams, that dream has become a reality. Also, to now have a pair of Osprey back in the harbour looking to set up territory is a perfect scenario.

One of the highlights of my career was the school bird boat last year when we saw male eagle G461 with Longfleet School.  It was a really significant moment as it highlighted how far we’ve come as a society in our understanding, acceptance and knowledge in taking on ‘big’ projects like this. It’s not just eagles either. We’re of course currently carrying out our Osprey reintroduction right here in Poole Harbour, another species that hasn’t bred here for nearly 200 years due to human persecution, and with both ‘CJ7 and 022’ now safely back, we’re on the brink of seeing them back where they should be. 

We’ve seen a real increased desire from the public to learn about and experience these reintroduction stories. On our Spring Safari Cruises recently we’ve been seeing the female White-tailed Eagles from the boat and most recently displaying Osprey too. It’s just magical. It was without doubt one of the most incredible moments of my career.  To witness and share these moments with like-minded people was truly special, as it symbolised hope, progress and willingness to make things better.  It was a hugely positive experience, something we all need at the moment’.

The Poole Harbour Osprey reintroduction has also shown the positive economic impacts these kinds of projects have on an area with the Birds of Poole Harbour charity seeing an increase in the number Osprey boat tours they’re now hosting each year. When the reintroduction project started in 2017 they hosted just three boat tours, however, this coming August and early September they’re hosting thirty. The team have now also begun twice weekly tours to cater for the demand in interest.

White-tailed Eagle – Middlebere – Kate Plater

Challenges and the need for collaborative partnerships

It’s not all good news as sadly, the male eagle G461 was recently found dead on a private estate in North Dorset having been confirmed by Dorset Police to have ingested high levels of a rat poison called Brodifacoum. Conservationists involved in the project have seen this a tragic loss, but are committed to persevering and completing the reintroduction despite this set back.  This wasn’t only devastating for the team carrying out the project, but also the school children that saw him on their school trip and the members of the public who watched in awe as he made his way around the harbour in late 2021.

To help protect any current or future nesting attempts of Osprey in Poole Harbour, the Dorset Wildlife Crime Team have committed to supporting and advising on keeping the birds safe from disturbance.

Poole Harbour Osprey pair, female CJ7 (left) and male 022 (right)

Paul Morton added; “It’s a really fascinating time for nature conservation. There will always be challenges and the death of the male sea eagle won’t be forgotten, but it’s through close, collaborative partnership working, including with Dorset Police, that we can all make things better. For example, in 2016 we discovered there was a mass-illegal collection of gull eggs from Poole Harbour’s Black-headed and Mediterranean Gull colony. As soon as we found out we contacted Dorset Police who played pivotal role in getting the issue stopped with regular harbour patrols and liaising with us. It was so successful that the story made the national news and even featured on BBC’s Countryfile. Dorset Police have also been hugely supportive in regards to any immediate or future nesting attempts of our Ospreys making sure any nests get the best protection they can. It’s these types of partnerships and positive approaches to tackling these issues which will ultimately see success”

Birds of Poole Harbour has said they’re committed to making sure that the pupils exciting experience last year doesn’t end on a negative, and are keen the children understand efforts are being made to look after the remaining eagles that are currently exploring the UK.  With other White-tailed Eagles from the reintroduction program now beginning to visit Poole Harbour, more opportunities will be arise to see these awe-inspiring birds of prey in a wild setting.

Tim Mackrill from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation explained;

When we heard last year that the school children had seen the sea eagle from their boat trip it was really exciting because we know that experiences like that can ignite a real passion for natural history and conservation. The fact that other White-tailed Eagles are now visiting the harbour on a regular basis is an extremely encouraging sign for the future and shows what a superb place Poole Harbour is for these amazing birds. I hope that many more people, of all ages, will be able to enjoy the thrill of seeing them here and in other locations along the South Coast for many years to come”

LIVE: Poole Harbour Osprey Nest Cam

New Poole Harbour Osprey Nest Cam Goes Live……

Posted on: April 10th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Ok, things have all happened a bit quickly today but we have an exciting update for you……

This is a NEW live webcam of a Poole Harbour Osprey nest platform, which may possibly see the first breeding attempt in Southern Britain for nearly 200 years. We hope to be able to live stream you this historical moment over the coming weeks and months depending on female CJ7’s and male 022’s behaviour. We apologise there’s currently no sound, but should we see a successful breeding attempt this season we’ll of course seek to have a full installation ready to go next year.

As we (and CJ7 and 022) have had so much support from you all over the last few years, we’re thrilled to be able to share these moments with you. Everyone deserves this moment.

There’s no doubt it’s going to be a rollercoaster of a season, and we of course don’t know how it will pan out, or whether they’ll even stick with this nest. But with both CJ7 and 022 back so early there’s every chance we could see a successful nesting attempt this year somewhere in the harbour….finally!

IMPORTANT: The location of this nest will not be announced for the safety and protection of the birds and ask that if anyone learns of it’s location to not share the information publicly or on social media. This is obviously a hugely significant moment for the project and the expansion of the UK Osprey population. The nest will now be receiving constant monitoring and protection from our team and partners, including fantastic support from Dorset Police.

We’ll provide more of an update as things develop and provide the back story of what we’ve been seeing up to this moment…

So, for now, sit back, relax (if you can) and enjoy as hopefully one of the most exciting conservation stories of the year unfolds live in your own homes………


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