Ospreys lay eggs in Dorset for the first time in 200 years

Ospreys lay eggs in Dorset for the first time in 200 years Source: Steven Chiefa

Conservationists and bird watchers across the UK have reacted with excitement to the news that a pair of Ospreys lay eggs in Poole Harbour, Dorset, the first to do so in Southern England in almost 200 years.

The nest.which is under 24 hour guard in a secret location, can be viewed live thanks to nest cameras.

Once common across all of Western Europe, the birds numbers dwindled over the past two centuries due to persecution, hunting and habitat loss. The picture was even more dire in southern England where the birds disappeared 200 years ago, with nests plundered for eggs and birds shot for taxidermy.

Efforts have been made across all of Europe to reintroduce the bird and to re-establish colonies including here in Valencia where local conservationists have working with Scottish scientists to breed the birds.  

In Dorset experts at the Roy Dennis Foundation and Birds of Poole Harbour have been working to reintroduce Ospreys to southern England, by relocating adult birds from Scotland. There is a breeding population at Rutland Water in the Midlands, after a translocation programme that began in 1996, and after decades of conservation efforts there are now hundreds of ospreys in Scotland.

Paul Morton from Birds of Poole Harbour said: “To know there’s now an osprey egg in a Poole Harbour nest is just amazing. This is the culmination of seven years’ hard work. Projects like this are always going to take time, but it’s such a great feeling to know that the birds have reached this important milestone, and to see CJ7 incubating her first egg is stunning.

“There’s still a lot for them both to learn as new parents, and breeding success is certainly not guaranteed. However, everything we’re seeing at the moment is looking really positive, and hopefully by late May we’ll begin to see them feeding their newly hatched fledglings.”

Those involved in the programme hope that the pair might produce more eggs, which should hatch after a 35 to 40 day period. That could see hatchlings by late May and the return of the birds next autumn after their return to West Africa for the winter.

Poole Harbour is said to be a great location to reintroduce the birds given the abundance of grey mullet and flounder in the harbour’s large shallow channels and bays.

Ospreys migrate across Europe and into Africa, a journey that is fraught with danger. Thankfully this pair returned alive and well after being away for seven months.  

Now it is a case of wait and see whether the Ospreys eggs hatch, with Dorset not only having eggs for the first time in 200 years but also potentially hatchlings and fledglings.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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