Osprey Project16/05/2024

First wild-fledged Osprey in 180 years returns to Dorset!

The first Osprey born in Poole Harbour since the species was lost nearly 200 years ago has successfully returned to Dorset! The now two-year-old female known as ‘5H1’ was spotted by staff from local charity Birds of Poole Harbour when she appeared on a nest early on Tuesday morning.

Her return represents a major milestone for the Poole Harbour Osprey Reintroduction Project, which began in 2017 led by Birds of Poole Harbour in partnership with the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation. The project seeks to reestablish a healthy population of Osprey to the South Coast by translocating young birds from Scotland to the local area. 

The first pair of Osprey bred as a result of the project back in 2022 on a nest at Careys Secret Garden, with translocated male “022” pairing up with female “CJ7”, to rear two young. 5H1 was their single surviving chick from that season – the first wild-fledged Osprey in Southern England since 1847 – making her a very significant and important bird!

The last time 5H1 was seen was the day she departed on migration at just 12-weeks-old on Thursday 24th August 2022 as she flew over the Middlebere Channel in Poole Harbour. Incredibly, she has now returned to exactly the same place almost two years later, touching down on an artificial Osprey nest on the RSPB’s Arne nature reserve, where she was photographed by a motion-sensitive camera. 

The image revealed that she was also perched alongside her father, 022, who seemed to have detected the presence of another Osprey nearby and gone to investigate. They quickly went their separate ways to hunt for fish, before 022 then returned to his nest at Careys Secret Garden, where he and CJ7 are now breeding for their third season and have this year laid a record clutch of four eggs. This comes following their success in raising a further three chicks in 2023. You can follow CJ7 and 022’s progress this season via the live web cameras at www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/osprey/osprey-webcams

Image of 022 (right) and 5H1 taken in the Middlebere Channel on Tuesday morning

The return of 5H1 bodes well for the return of more wild-born chicks in the future and for the success of the project overall in re-establishing a self-sustaining population of Ospreys in Dorset and restoring this magnificent species to its historical range. The hope is that 5H1 will soon meet up with another translocated male released in 2021 known as 374 who was spotted back in the area on 15th April and has also taken an interest in settling down on several artificial nests in Poole Harbour. Should they form a new pair and attempt to breed in future years, the prospects for growth of the local population would be very bright indeed!

Brittany Maxted, Species Recovery Coordinator for Birds of Poole Harbour said:

This is a momentous day for all of us involved in the project! The return of 5H1 is testament to years of hard work, and to the incredible quality and parenting skills of our breeding pair. It demonstrates once again what a fantastic place Poole Harbour is for Ospreys (alongside so many other species) and how comfortable they are in the landscape here.

Our joy at seeing them back is shared by many in the local community and further afield. We’ll be eagerly following and sharing 5H1’s progress over the coming months and years, and hope to see her become a permanent feature in the harbour skies each summer.

If you are hoping to watch Ospreys in Dorset this season, Birds of Poole Harbour  offer boat trips throughout the season, and are once again partnering with Careys Secret Garden to offer expert-guided Osprey Tours for a chance to see Southern England’s only active Osprey nest. Tickets for all events are available at www.birdsofpooleharbourbookings.co.uk For anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of 5H1, there are plenty of excellent places to go and watch from, including the Osprey Lookout at BCP Council’s Ham Common reserve and the RSPB’s Arne reserve.

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