Osprey Project20/08/2018

Osprey Translocation Project Update

In July this year we began the second phase of the Poole Harbour Osprey translocation project following the successful release of eight Osprey chicks into Poole Harbour last summer.

The aim of the project is to help restore a South Coast breeding population of Osprey for the first time in over 200 years, and in doing so help fragmented populations across Western Europe to link up and expand.

This summer, the team received fourteen new chicks from Scotland, which were collected under licence by the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and translocated to Poole on 11th July.

The first birds were released on 31st July, and further releases were undertaken over the course of the next week. Seven of these birds are now exploring the harbour, including Arne and Middlebere and interacting with several migrant adult Ospreys who are also present. However, over a six-day period, from 6th August to 11th August,six birds, including four which had yet to be released, devastatingly, died.

On 5th August, we started to notice signs of ill health with two birds. Immediate action was taken to assess the cause of this deterioration and following the first unexpected death during the night of 6th August, each of the ill birds were taken to the Cotswold Wildlife Park for urgent veterinary assessment and care. Sadly a total of five birds with similar or identical symptoms died. Bacterial and viral infections were ruled out, and further precautionary tests were carried out, including a review of our process, so we could begin identifying possible causes.

Having liaised with the pathologists and veterinary experts, it is thought that a nutritional Thiamine deficiency has been a significant contributing factor in the deaths. This is likely to have been exacerbated by this summer’s extreme heat wave, which is known to have caused problems for a range of other different species. Blood tests continue to be carried out to confirm this and we hope for the results in the coming days.

In a separate incident, one of the released birds which had been out flying for over a week was found drowned off the east side of Round Island, having become tangled in a ball of thick algae.

This sequence of events has been extremely shocking for the project team, but identifying the cause of death and the care for the remaining birds have been key priorities over the last ten days.

We thank you for your patience regarding this news.

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