Osprey Project21/03/2023

New Poole Harbour Osprey Webcams Go LIVE!

After a long, cold winter, and months of anticipation, we’re thrilled to announce that our new and improved Poole Harbour Osprey nest cameras are now LIVE.

Last summer saw the historic moment that our Osprey pair CJ7 and 022 raised the first two Osprey chicks in southern Britain for nearly two centuries. The season and spectacle was enjoyed by many thousands of people and we hope that this year will excite and inspire even more.

It’s been a busy winter, with our team building new Osprey nest platforms across the area, servicing the old ones and planning for the year ahead. A major part of our work this winter has been to look ways we could improve the experience for people tuning in online to watch Dorset’s celebrity Osprey couple. Last year we were incredibly lucky, as we had only decided to place a camera on this particular nest as a ‘backup’, after the pair were seen visiting on a few occasions the previous autumn. With only limited time available before they returned we rushed to get a camera in place at the very last minute, and hence the camera quality and position ended up being not as good as the one on their original nest. However, we were incredibly relieved that we had managed to get something in place, as when CJ7 returned less than a week later she went straight to this new site, without even bothering to return to her previous nest. Once she’d settled at this new site, it was only a matter of time before 022 joined her on April 10th 2022, and the pair took straight to making this new nest their home for the season.

Having completed a successful breeding season at this nest site we expect that (all being well) CJ7 and 022 will return to breed here once again later this month or in early April. With this in mind, we wanted to make sure that if and when they do return, viewers are able to experience the best possible views of the pair through all the exciting moments milestones that come throughout the spring and summer. To cater for this we’ve worked hard to make some major system upgrades. Firstly, this year, there isn’t just one camera but two! Last year’s camera has been repositioned so that it looks straight down into the nest, whilst a brand new second camera has been added, providing a more scenic landscape view. Secondly, and best of all, we now have sound! This will make such a difference to the story this year, not only allowing us to hear the social and interaction calls between CJ7 and 022, including him ‘skydancing’ way above the nest, but also to capture the amazing moments when the chicks start calling and food begging. And so everything is now in place for what we hope will be a brilliant 2023 season.

 

Original 2020 & 2021 nest-camera update

A large part of managing Osprey nest sites is not only monitoring the general Osprey activity, but also looking out for any changes in behaviour and evaluating any future risks. In 2020, just as lockdown kicked in, many of us were transfixed and absorbed in the beginnings of CJ7’s story and her efforts to try and establish as a breeding female. This saw her take up residence on her original nest at another site within the Poole Harbour area, which also had a webcam on it. As lockdown progressed more and more people began tuning in, watching CJ7 as she patiently waited for her mate to arrive back. Sadly, he never did and CJ7 spent the rest of the summer touring the harbour, occasionally visiting the nest site, idly waiting for the days to grow short, before she then left on migration in late August. The following spring she returned, and met her now mate, 022, on May 18th 2021. The pair quickly settled on the original nest, and although 022 was too young to breed that year, hopes were raised the pair would develop their bond during the summer and return the following season to make an attempt. During 2021, the original nest camera provided a fascinating insight into the pair bonding between CJ7 and 022, seeing them even make several celebrity appearances on multiple online programs and TV news channels.

Throughout this period we visited the original nest site many times to observe the birds and also had a security device installed close to the nest, to log and record any disturbance issues. Despite the birds’ initial liking for that site, it soon became obvious that there were a number of general trespassing issues at that particular location. We think that this was a key determining factor in the pair abandoning the original nest site in late summer 2021 and settling at their new site in 2022. Despite our pair ‘moving house’ we were keen to know if the original site was still suitable for another pair to potentially settle at in the future, so we continued monitoring there during 2022 and unfortunately logged a few more incidences of general trespassing. The conclusion was reached that this was not a safe site to encourage Ospreys to breed at, and so this winter we made the tough decision to decommission that nest and camera. In the meantime, we have been looking for a safer location nearby to build a replacement nest, and the good news is we think we’ve found an even better spot on the same estate and are now liaising with the landowners with the hopes of rebuilding a nest here this coming autumn. We know that many people particularly loved the original nest and camera, and like us will have many fond memories of watching CJ7 and 022 (plus the Bourbon/Kit-Kat/Doughnut hiding Ravens!) on there and will be sad to see it go. However, we hope you’ll understand and share our view that the provision of safe nesting sites for Ospreys in Poole Harbour and ensuring their overall wellbeing must be our ultimate priority. We hope that being able to watch our pair continue their story via the exciting new camera setup will more than make up for this though, along with the knowledge that they may soon be joined by other birds establishing on the alternative nests we continue to put up around the harbour. Let’s not forget that this year we could see the return of some of our young Ospreys from the 2021 cohort return to the UK for the first time, and the Poole Harbour Osprey family will hopefully continue to grow with another year of translocation planned for this summer!

We can’t wait to watch the season unfold on the new cameras along with you all, here’s to hoping for the safe return of CJ7 and 022 in the coming weeks!

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