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Episode 2: Ospreys part 2: the chicks leave Scotland

Continuing the story of a batch of osprey chicks being translocated from the Highlands of Scotland to Poole Harbour on the south coast of England, this podcast explains what young birds require if they are to thrive, and hears how Roy Dennis learned the skills he has needed to run successful translocation projects over many years.

This episode – recorded in the field in Scotland and at the birds’ new home in Poole – explains why translocations can benefit not only populations as a whole, but individual birds, too. In years when many young chicks die due to a lack of food, or because of bad weather, a young bird’s chances of survival can be improved if it is moved elsewhere.  And being moved to an area where there is less competition for nest sites mean that the birds can potentially begin to breed much earlier, once they are old enough, than they might have done in a part of the country where there is fierce competition with others.

Roy and his colleague Tim Mackrill explain the apparently simple process by which chicks are nurtured, placed in temporary ‘nests’ and taken 600 miles south by road to their new home.  In Dorset, the Birds of Poole Harbour team, which will be responsible for caring for the young birds for the next few weeks, settle them in to their hacking cages, start to make careful observations of their behaviour and look forward to the day when they can be released back into the wild, ready to migrate for the first time to Africa.  Should they survive that dangerous first migration, the birds, especially the males, should return to Poole, from where they left, and – it’s hoped – go on to establish a new population on the south coast.

Music credit: Realness by Kai Engel, form the Free Music Archive

Episode 1: Ospreys part 1: collecting chicks

It is year three of a five-year project, that sees us working in collaboration with the conservation charity Birds of Poole Harbour, aiming to send a total of 60 young ospreys from the Highlands of Scotland to the south coast of England.  It’s not that Scotland has ‘enough’ ospreys and can afford to pass some on: it’s more that a population at saturation point, as it is in Roy’s study area, means that birds have less chance of breeding.  If some young are moved, the idea is that they will return from migration, if they survive, to find a mate in their adopted area, and have the space to breed there without undue competition from other ospreys.

In recordings made largely as they carry out their fieldwork, Roy and his team (Tim Mackrill and tree climbers Fraser Cormack and Ian Perks) describe the privilege of working with these special creatures, and of being allowed an insight into the lives of a species which, only recently, was on the brink of extinction in the UK.

Music credit:  Realness by Kai Engel, from the Free Music Archive