Translocation to Poole

After an incredibly busy four days collecting a total of 20 young ospreys for translocation to the Basque Country and Dorset, Emily Joáchim and I set-off from Roy’s house in Moray with eight of the birds shortly after 4pm on Monday. Each bird was placed in a large cardboard box lined with moss in the back of our hired van in order to keep them as quiet and as stress-free as possible during the long journey to Poole Harbour. Aitor Galarza, meanwhile, was already en route to Spain with the final 12 birds to be translocated to the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve near Bilbao.

The birds were transported in large cardboard boxes lined with moss

Rather than drive the 630 miles to Poole Harbour in one go we decided that it was far better to split the journey into two. Our destination on the first evening therefore was Fradswell in Staffordshire where Barry Dore and Jakkie Tunnicliffe had kindly offered B&B for both us and the birds. Fortunately the roads were clear and we made good progress, arriving at 11:15pm. The overnight stop not only allowed us to check the birds were travelling well but also to feed them that evening and again at 6 am next morning.

The stop in Staffordshire enabled us to check and feed the birds.

Barry and Jakkie with the consignment of eight young ospreys.

After saying goodbye to Barry and Jakkie we were on the road again at 8:45am on Tuesday morning. I had already heard from Paul Morton that excitement was building in Poole and that was very much in evidence when we arrived at our pre-arranged meeting spot at 1:30pm that afternoon. Even heavy rain couldn’t dampened our spirits as we were greeted by Paul, Jason Fathers and others. We checked all was well with the birds and, after a quick photo, call headed straight to the release pens at a site on private land adjacent to the harbour. Having been travelling for almost 24 hours we were keen to get the birds settled as quickly as possible.

Once on site Paul, Jason and I were met by Brittany Maxted and a group of volunteers who will be feeding and caring for the birds over the coming weeks. Roy and I had already decided which birds would be placed in which pen, with siblings together and broods of a similar age. After a quick briefing with the assembled team, we put the birds into the relevant pens along with a good supply of local fish kindly sourced and prepped by local restaurant, Storm. We then retreated to Osprey HQ – Jason’s old caravan where live CCTV images from each pen enabled us to watch the birds settling into their new surrounds without disturbance. Within a few hours several birds had fed and all looked very settled.

The birds settled into their new surrounds very quickly.

Over the past two days Brittany and the team of volunteers have been monitoring the birds very carefully and providing fresh fish three times a day. All are feeding well and several of the more advanced birds are wing flapping and showing a great deal of interest in the view across the water. The birds are likely to remain in the pens for about three weeks before being released in early August.

Brittany and Jol monitoring the birds at Osprey HQ.

We’re pleased that this important project to restore breeding ospreys to the south coast estuaries is underway and delighted to be working with such a great team at Poole – Paul Morton of Birds of Poole Harbour, Jason Fathers of Wildlife Windows and the volunteers led by Brittany Maxted. An exciting five years lie ahead.