Osprey Project13/06/2019

First Poole Harbour Osprey Arrives Back From Africa

A male Osprey from the Poole Harbour reintroduction program has returned to the UK for the first time since being raised and released in south Dorset back in 2017.

This is the first Osprey to return to Poole harbour from the project, which aims to re-establish a south coast breeding population of this majestic bird of prey. The charity leading on the project, Birds of Poole Harbour were alerted to the birds presence when they received a photo on June 12th from one of their static SMS camera traps which was deployed out in the south of the harbour, indicating that a new blue-ringed Osprey was about.  The team then spent the day looking for the bird so they could read the leg ring to confirm its ID. The charity is now hoping that with the return of this male Osprey, breeding may take place in Poole Harbour as early as 2020 or 2021.

Osprey are a large, fish eating bird of prey that was once widespread across the whole of Western Europe. However, populations were persecuted to extinction through the 18th and 19th century and they sadly never recovered in England.

The Birds of Poole Harbour charity, in partnership with the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Wildlife Windows began the project in 2017 by bringing 8 Osprey chicks down to Poole Harbour from Scotland where populations are doing better. The team then reared and released the Osprey chicks into the harbour where they then spent several more weeks familiarising themselves with the local area before naturally migrating down to West Africa for the winter

Birds of Poole Harbour co-founder Paul Morton stated:

“This is such exciting news; we can’t believe we’ve actually got one of our chicks back. This is the big next step in seeing Osprey colonise the south coast once more after an absence of around 180 years. When they left the harbour on migration back in 2017, their fate is completely out of our hands, so to know this bird is safe and well having not seen him for two years is just the best feeling”

Ospreys don’t reach sexual maturity until at least 3-4 years old, so there won’t be any immediate success to the project this year. However, his presence in the harbour has already drawn the attention of a female who has been present since April 1st and the two seem to have already shown signs of interest in one another.

Paul Morton added:

“There’s still a long way to go with this project as we’ll be bringing the next batch of Osprey chicks down from Scotland this summer, and more in 2020 and 2021. The support we received from the local community has been incredible, we can already feel the excitement around town. We especially need to thank the landowner for allowing us carry out the project on their land, and also Poole based company Sea Fresh, who provided fish for our birds, which obviously saw them in good stead”

There’s still also a chance more of the 2017 chicks could arrive back to Dorset over the next 2-3 months, so the team be keeping our eyes to the skies for a good while longer yet.

So, in the meantime, please enjoy this footage of when we first saw him yesterday afternoon (June 12th). AMAZING!!!

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