Osprey Project10/03/2020

New Osprey Platform Built in Town Centre Beauty Spot

A new Osprey feeding platform has been installed on Pergins Island, Holes Bay to try and encourage migrating Osprey to use the busier areas of Poole Harbour, therefore bucking the trend of this typically shy bird of prey. The concept is being trialed due to the increase in Osprey activity in the northern area of Holes Bay last autumn, when three different Osprey began using the island as a feeding site in the early part of October 2019. For around two weeks the three juvenile Ospreys could be seen hunting for fish next to the dual carriageway on the outskirts of Poole, before grabbing a Grey Mullet out of the shallows and taking their meal back to Pergins Island to feed.

New Osprey Platform – Pergins Island

Local charity Birds of Poole Harbour are currently running an Osprey reintroduction scheme in the harbour which seeks to re-establish Osprey as a breeding bird in southern Britain for the first time in almost 200 years, but as the charities co-founder Paul Morton explained, these three particular Osprey were nothing to do with their project, and were in fact migrants that had likely originated from Scotland and were on their way south to West Africa.

Paul stated;

“It was incredible to see Osprey hunting on the edge of town last October, with the RNLI building and Twin Sails Bridge in the background, it was almost an iconic moment. Our reintroduction scheme is hoping to see nesting Osprey in the Poole Harbour area sometime in the near future, but it’s also key to remember that each year we see good numbers of Osprey pass through the harbour on their migrations back and forth between their breeding sites up north and their over-wintering sites in West Africa. It’s for that very reason Poole Harbour was chosen to host the project”

Peak Osprey activity in Poole Harbour tends to take place during April and August, with quiet sites such as RSPB Arne and Middlebere seeing most activity. However, last year’s three juveniles obviously took a liking to the Holes Bay area and seemed un-phased by the busy road as they often flew close to the cycle path that borders the bay.

Paul continued..

“The views were so good our charity decided to put on some ‘pop up’ viewing stations along the Holes Bay cycle path with telescopes and binoculars for people to use. Over a few days many people turned up to see the birds, and people were getting some incredible photos. This new platform which was kindly sponsored by a local from Lytchett Matravers will hopefully encourage Osprey to use Pergins Island on a regular basis and provide similar opportunities in the future”

Osprey – Holes Bay – Fiona Liddiard

Ospreys are timid birds by their very nature due to the history of persecution they suffered across Western Europe, often favouring to stay away from humans. The Birds of Poole Harbour team, in partnership with BCP Council, are keen to see that behaviour change and agreed to place a feeding platform on the western edge of Pergins Island which will hopefully give any migrating Osprey’s a reason to stick around. The platform essentially looks like a nest, though is smaller in scale than a true Osprey nest, but it’s hoped that over time they’ll begin utilising this platform and start getting used to busier areas.

Pergins Island is owned by BCP council but has no public access so should Osprey begin using it on a regular basis in the future then they should feel safe from the hub-bub of the busy shoreline. Plus, with the nest being visible from the Upton CP shoreline it’s hoped that if any Osprey do utilise the platform during migration then visitors will be able to encounter these special birds.

Councillor Dr Felicity Rice, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change  stated ‘This is a very inspiring project and demonstrates that we can potentially bring wildlife back into our urban areas.

Jez Martin from BCP council added

“This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage this fantastic bird to be more regularly seen in Holes Bay so close to Upon County Park”

Although it’s thought that Osprey will initially attempt to nest in a quiet corner of the harbour somewhere, it’s hoped that over several years their behaviour and confidence will change and possibly see them attempt to nest at sites like Pergins Island.

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