I began to become very interested in Spanish ospreys once we started our satellite tracking projects, as it is on our Scottish ospreys’ direct migration route to Africa.  In 1999 I went to search for the breeding female from nest A11 near Carrbridge and found her wintering in Extramdura.  At this time there were no ospreys nesting in mainland Spain and they had, in fact, been absent for nearly half a century.

I had discussions about osprey translocations with Miguel Ferrer and Eva Casado of the Doñana Biological Research Institute, following our Rutland Water Project.  They were keen to restore the osprey to mainland Spain and so developed a re-introduction project in partnership with Scotland, Finland and Germany.  In July 2003 the first four ospreys from Finland were released at the site and the following summer young ospreys from Scotland and Germany were released there.  More have been released each summer since, with the majority collected in northern Germany. The Foundation organised the licence arrangements and collection of suitable young in Scotland and transportation to Spain, latterly with support from FlyBe.

Scottish osprey chicks for transportation to Spain


There was excitement in 2005 when the first ospreys started to breed. The first pair comprised a German male and a Scottish female and they have bred each year to 2012. A pair of unringed ospreys built a nest that year but they were not our young birds. It was believed that they had been stimulated into breeding in the areas because of their interactions with the ten young ospreys released the previous autumn. Their eggs failed to hatch but were substituted with two small young from Germany, which they reared.  Reintroduction continues and in 2012 there were at least 7 pairs on territory. Interestingly, of 7 Scottish young translocated to Spain in 2009, 4 returned from Africa to Andalusia.

Chicks in transportation cages at the airport

Cages used to house the young ospreys










The building of new nests is a critical part of any osprey restoration project and we gave advice and helped to construct a number of nests at the beginning of this project.

Construction of an artificial nest. Photo by A.Ventas

Heading out to trap a Scottish wintering osprey

Attaching a transmitter to an osprey wintering near Cadiz