Osprey Project20/05/2021

022 Returns to Poole Harbour!

A young male Osprey from the Poole Harbour Osprey Reintroduction Project has returned, raising hopes for a breeding pair for the first time in nearly 200 years.

On Tuesday 18th May 2021, a translocated male Osprey, identifiable through his leg ring “022”, returned to Poole Harbour, 2 years after his release into the area in 2019. Shortly after his arrival, he was pursued by a female Osprey ringed CJ7, and spent the day bonding together on different nesting platforms in the harbour.

Identified: 022 landing on a nesting platform in the harbour area

CJ7 is a 6-year-old female Osprey that has been summering in Poole Harbour since 2017. Having previously been the only resident Osprey in the area, CJ7 gathered a fantastic community following during lockdown 2020 with hopes for her to find a mate and breed. As a migratory bird, Ospreys arrive into the UK each spring, making a treacherous journey from their wintering grounds, usually in West Africa, to return to their nest, before leaving again in the autumn.

In 2017, CJ7, who originally fledged from a wild nest in Rutland, was initially attracted to the area by the release of young Ospreys during the first year of the Poole Harbour Translocation Project, and she’s returned to Poole Harbour every year since. The translocation project, which is led by the charity Birds of Poole Harbour in partnership with the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and local tech company Wildlife Windows, was set up with the aim of restoring a breeding population of Ospreys in Southern Britain, after a two century absence as a breeding bird. Their demise was mainly down to human persecution and egg collecting.

CJ7 on livestream nest platform with her catch

Each year, a cohort of Osprey chicks are translocated from monitored nests in Scotland and released into the Poole Harbour, triggering them to form a critical bond with the area. As Ospreys are a migratory bird, they leave the UK each autumn and make a treacherous journey to their wintering grounds, usually in West Africa. After spending a couple of years maturing abroad, they return to the UK each spring and due to the bond that is formed during the project should attract them back to breed in Poole Harbour.

In 2019, the project got off to an encouraging start, when another young male from the project ringed LS7 returned and bonded with CJ7. In anticipation of potential breeding, Birds of Poole Harbour fundraised to install a livestream webcam on a nest platform within the harbour, to document the return of these birds to the local landscape. With huge support from the public and Natural England, as well as sponsorship from Osprey Europe and the Fine Family Foundation, the camera was installed ahead of the 2020 season. Unfortunately, the male LS7 did not return to reunite with CJ7 that year, but the webcam allowed viewers to watch and follow CJ7’s story through lockdown, bringing together viewers from across the world, all rooting for her to find a mate. With no success last year, hopes were high for a new male to join CJ7 in 2021.

The Birds of Poole Harbour team had been closely monitoring the harbour for returning Ospreys during this spring, and were finally rewarded with 022’s arrival in the early morning of the 18th of May. After spending the day bonding and exploring nesting sites in the harbour, the pair settled on the livestreamed nest in the evening, giving viewers an insight into the potential for breeding in Poole Harbour, with several mating attempts being made. 022’s excellent condition and quick bond with CJ7 means that their relationship is off to a promising start, despite him being only two-years old.

022 and CJ7 on livestream nest platform

Paul Morton, Co-Founder of Birds of Poole Harbour commented: “This is just fantastic to see. So many people had grown a bond with CJ7 and were all rooting for her to find a mate this spring. 022’s arrival has given the project a big boost and we’re all now on tenterhooks to see what happens next. ” 

Since his arrival both CJ7 and 022 have continued to build their bond and can be seen regularly on the webcam either eating freshly caught Grey Mullet straight out of the harbour or prepping the nest, possibly for a breeding attempt this spring and summer. 

Paul Morton concluded: “These are such incredible birds of prey and deserve to be part of our landscape. After all, it was humans that made them disappear in the first place. They’re also heavily protected by law and we’d like to thank Dorset Police Rural Crime Team and the National Wildlife Crime Unit for their support and advice on protecting the nest

All the partners working on the project are thrilled with the return of 022 and the progress made between the pair. They will continue to monitor the situation of the birds and are looking forward to updating the public with their story and the exciting return of breeding Ospreys to the South Coast some time in the future.

The live webcam can be viewed on the Birds of Poole Harbour webcam –

https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/osprey/osprey-webcams/

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