Osprey Project27/07/2022

Poole Harbour Osprey Chicks Fledge!

It's been an exciting week for followers of the Poole Harbour Osprey Project, with the two chicks successfully fledging from the only nest on the South Coast.

The two young Ospreys, which are identifiable by coloured leg rings “5H1” & “5H2”, took to the skies earlier this week at just over 7 weeks of age. It’s been nearly two centuries since Ospreys fledged from a nest in southern England, with the last known breeding attempt taking place in 1847 on the Somerset Levels. Since 2017, Birds of Poole Harbour and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation have been working to restore a breeding population of Osprey to the South Coast through a reintroduction project. This spring saw initial success for the project, with first breeding attempt made by Ospreys ringed CJ7 and 022. CJ7 went on to lay 3 eggs in late April, 2 of which hatched in early June. Since then, viewers have been eagerly watching the chicks develop through a livestream webcam. Both chicks are believed to be female due to their large size, with measurements taken during the ringing process in July. The video of the ringing of the chicks can be watched here. As the weeks progressed, the chicks could be seen preparing for flight, strengthening their muscles through regular wing flapping.

5H1 strengthening her wings for flight

The eldest chick, ringed 5H1, then fledged on the morning of Saturday 23rd July after days of making short hovering flights above the nest. She spent much of the day making short flights around the nest site, regularly coming back down to the nest and the surrounding perches. Webcam viewers then patiently awaited the fledging of the younger chick, ringed 5H2, which took place on Monday morning. Both chicks are now flying well and will continue exploring the nearby local area until they get the confidence to range further from the nest site.

5H1 giving the webcam watchers an upclose view!

It will still be another 4-6 weeks before the young birds make their first migration, typically travelling 4000km to West Africa to countries such as The Gambia and Senegal. As they continue to strengthen their flight and prepare for migration, they will still be provided food by 022, the adult male, who will bring fish back to the nest for them. As first-time parents, 022 and the female CJ7 have done a fantastic job of raising the two chicks, provisioning for them well and protecting the nest from any unwanted visitors.

Liv Cooper, Projects Coordinator for Birds of Poole Harbour, commented “This is truly a momentous occasion. It’s fantastic to see the hard work that has been put into restoring this species to its historical range finally coming into fruition. There’s still a long way to go to ensure that a sustainable and resilient population of Osprey continues to grow on the South Coast, but seeing these first steps has been a privilege.”

Activity on the webcam is likely to continue into September, so the charity recommends still tuning in to see the latest developments. They are also running a series of 30 Osprey Cruises through the last two weeks of August and early September, ready for peak passage of Ospreys moving through Poole Harbour on their migration. Dates and tickets for the cruises can be found here.

5H1 making a quick landing on Saturday 23rd July

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