Osprey chick hatches at Poole Harbour – the first in southern Britain for 200 years
A pair of wild Ospreys have hatched young at a secret nest site in Poole Harbour, which is the first to hatch in southern Britain for 200 years. The successful hatching is a result of an Osprey reintroduction programme that’s being carried out by Dorset based charity Birds of Poole Harbour and conservation organisation the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation.
The reintroduction which began in 2017 is aimed at restoring a population of Osprey to Southern Britain after it was historically eradicated across much of Western Europe. The large, fish eating bird of prey is a summer migrant that returns to the UK each spring having over-wintered in West Africa.
The adult pair of Poole Osprey known as female CJ7 and male 022 first met in Poole Harbour in May 2021 and instantly made a connection. CJ7 had already established a nest the previous year, but had no mate to try and breed with, meaning she spent the whole of 2020 on her own. Once met in 2021 their partnership grew in strength with continuous nest building and pair bonding over the summer, but breeding was never likely as the male was too young. With no breeding in 2021 the pair both left on migration in September that year.
The Osprey project team, as well as members of the public were on tenterhooks in the early spring of this year, eagerly awaiting the safe return of both CJ7 and 022 and after a long and agonising wait, the pair arrived back in early April and got straight down to business.
Paul Morton from the Birds of Poole Harbour charity explained:
“Words don’t even began to describe what this means to us, and of course Osprey conservation in Western Europe. We started our licence application in 2015, and the actual reintroduction in 2017, and the prospect of actually having wild hatched chicks in a nest always felt so far away. But here we are, with an official birthday of June 1st 2022, and we now have the first wild Osprey chick for Southern Britain in 200 years, right here in Poole Harbour“.
The Osprey pair had originally shown interest in a different nest in the harbour during 2020 and 2021, so when they decided to change sites to somewhere else in the harbour this spring it took the project team completely by surprise. Luckily, they had the foresight to put a makeshift webcam on the new nest a few weeks previously just in case, so all the action and this historic moment could be watched live. The pair have been thriving since their arrival back this spring, favouring species such as Grey Mullet and Flounder to feed on.
It’s thought that the pair laid three eggs in the nest during April, meaning the other two should hopefully hatch over the Bank Holiday Jubilee weekend. It’s predicted that once all three chicks have hatched safely, male 022 will become sole provider of fish until the chicks fledge after about 50 days. The chicks will stay low in the nest for the first few weeks, but by mid-June should be visible on the webcam as they grow and build in strength. Once fledged the chicks will stay for several more weeks, flying around and imprinting on the local area, learning that Poole Harbour is home, before instinct then kicks in and they’ll leave on migration. After two years, pending their safe migration down to West Africa and back the youngsters should then return to Dorset and begin thinking about starting families of their own, therefore seeing the beginnings of a new colony in Southern Britain.
Paul Morton concluded:
“The restoration of lost species and biodiversity takes time, and don’t forget, if humans hadn’t got rid of Ospreys in the first place, we wouldn’t have even needed to do a reintroduction. Now these birds are back, and successfully breeding, we hope that they can continue to build in strength as a population here on the south coast and be enjoyed by generations to come. It’s been a huge team effort getting to this point, and everyone within the project is ecstatic and the public response has been just superb. It feels great to actually have some positive news when it comes to raptor conservation here in Dorset”.
Given the furore over SNP MP Angus MacNeil’s call for a cull of white-tailed eagles in Scotland (see here), here’s a timely press release from the charity Birds of Poole Harbour:
Reintroduction programmes working: historic osprey & white-tailed eagle projects bring education and eco-tourism opportunities to the south of England
The recent arrival of a pair of Ospreys and several White-tailed Eagles into Dorset – specifically Poole Harbour – has seen new, exciting environmental education and eco-tourism opportunities arise which are set to benefit schools and the local economy.
Ospreys, which haven’t bred in Southern Britain for nearly 200 years, are on the brink of returning thanks to a reintroduction program which began in Poole Harbour in 2017. Whilst White-tailed Eagles, which haven’t bred in England for over 250 years, began regularly appearing in Poole Harbour in September last year with a young male called G461 who began exploring and making the harbour his home. The eagles, which have an 8ft wingspan, originated from the Isle of Wight reintroduction programme that’s being hosted by The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry England.
The Poole Harbour Osprey reintroduction programme, which is being carried out by local charity Birds of Poole Harbour and The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, received a boost this week when a male and female Osprey arrived back safely on their migration from West Africa and settled on a nest platform at a secret location in the area. The pair known as CJ7 and 022 first met last summer, although the male was too young to breed. However, they’ve now both retuned early enough meaning there’s a good chance the pair will attempt to breed this summer, which will be a historic moment for Dorset and southern Britain.
[Ospreys CJ7 (female) and 022 (male) on a nest platform in Poole Harbour, April 2022. Photo by Birds of Poole Harbour]
During the latter months of 2021, a male White-tailed Eagle known as G461 spent his days touring the harbour, being seen regularly at sites like RSPB Arne, Brownsea Island and from public bird boat tours. Local school Longfleet Primary also had a special encounter, whilst taking part in the School Bird Boat project, an initiative run by the Birds of Poole Harbour charity when they saw the massive lumbering giant over the Brownsea Lagoon, providing a nature experience never to forget.
[White-tailed eagle on Brownsea Lagoon with Poole Quay in the background. Photo by Alison Copland]
As a result of the reintroductions of both White-tailed Eagles and Ospreys in southern Britain, it’s predicted that both species will establish breeding populations on the south coast over the coming years, which will not only help re-establish the species across their native range, but bring significant economic benefits too.
A recent study called the “The Economic Impact of White-Tailed Eagles on the Isle of Mull”, published by RSPB Scotland, has revealed the scale of the economic benefits that White-tailed Eagles have in that area. Tourism inspired by these majestic birds of prey accounts for between £4.9 million and £8 million of spend every year on Mull with the money supporting between 98 and 160 full time jobs on the island, and between £2.1 million and £3.5 million of local income annually. It’s hoped that the South Coast will benefit in a similar way, with evidence already emerging that the eagles are beginning to have a positive impact in the area.
In recent weeks several other White-tailed Eagles have found their way into Poole Harbour, including two regularly visiting females known as G801 and G318. Their presence has seen excitement build even more with visits to nature reserves and bird boat bookings increasing as a result.
There are also now plans through different initiatives to use the eagle’s and Osprey’s presence as a platform to engage local schools in educating students about the process of nature recovery, reintroductions and restoration. Live webcams have been installed on several of the Osprey nests so schools and members of the public can hopefully watch this historical moment.
Paul Morton from the Birds of Poole Harbour charity stated:
“It’s been a fascinating last 6 months. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we’d regularly be seeing White-tailed Eagles in Poole Harbour, but here we are, thanks to the hard work and persistence of multiple teams, that dream has become a reality. Also, to now have a pair of Osprey back in the harbour looking to set up territory is a perfect scenario.
One of the highlights of my career was the school bird boat last year when we saw male eagle G461 with Longfleet School. It was a really significant moment as it highlighted how far we’ve come as a society in our understanding, acceptance and knowledge in taking on ‘big’ projects like this. It’s not just eagles either. We’re of course currently carrying out our Osprey reintroduction right here in Poole Harbour, another species that hasn’t bred here for nearly 200 years due to human persecution, and with both ‘CJ7 and 022’ now safely back, we’re on the brink of seeing them back where they should be.
We’ve seen a real increased desire from the public to learn about and experience these reintroduction stories. On our Spring Safari Cruises recently we’ve been seeing the female White-tailed Eagles from the boat and most recently displaying Osprey too. It’s just magical. It was without doubt one of the most incredible moments of my career. To witness and share these moments with like-minded people was truly special, as it symbolised hope, progress and willingness to make things better. It was a hugely positive experience, something we all need at the moment”.
The Poole Harbour Osprey reintroduction has also shown the positive economic impacts these kinds of projects have on an area with the Birds of Poole Harbour charity seeing an increase in the number Osprey boat tours they’re now hosting each year. When the reintroduction project started in 2017 they hosted just three boat tours, however, this coming August and early September they’re hosting thirty. The team have now also begun twice weekly tours to cater for the demand in interest.
[Eager members of the public have been flocking on to the Birds of Poole Harbour ‘bird boat tours’ to have a guided view of the ospreys, eagles and other wildlife. Photo by Ruth Tingay]
[Tim Mackrill from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Paul Morton from the charity Birds of Poole Harbour giving a running commentary on one of the guided ‘bird boat’ trips. Photo by Ruth Tingay]
It’s not all good news as sadly, the male eagle G461 was recently found dead on a private estate in North Dorset having been confirmed by Dorset Police to have ingested high levels of a rat poison called Brodifacoum. Conservationists involved in the project have seen this a tragic loss, but are committed to persevering and completing the reintroduction despite this set back. This wasn’t only devastating for the team carrying out the project, but also the school children that saw him on their school trip and the members of the public who watched in awe as he made his way around the harbour in late 2021.
To help protect any current or future nesting attempts of Osprey in Poole Harbour, the Dorset Wildlife Crime Team have committed to supporting and advising on keeping the birds safe from disturbance.
Paul Morton added: “It’s a really fascinating time for nature conservation. There will always be challenges and the death of the male sea eagle won’t be forgotten, but it’s through close, collaborative partnership working, including with Dorset Police, that we can all make things better. For example, in 2016 we discovered there was a mass-illegal collection of gull eggs from Poole Harbour’s Black-headed and Mediterranean Gull colony. As soon as we found out we contacted Dorset Police who played pivotal role in getting the issue stopped with regular harbour patrols and liaising with us. It was so successful that the story made the national news and even featured on BBC’s Countryfile. Dorset Police have also been hugely supportive in regards to any immediate or future nesting attempts of our Ospreys making sure any nests get the best protection they can. It’s these types of partnerships and positive approaches to tackling these issues which will ultimately see success”.
Birds of Poole Harbour has said they’re committed to making sure that the pupils exciting experience last year doesn’t end on a negative, and are keen the children understand efforts are being made to look after the remaining eagles that are currently exploring the UK. With other White-tailed Eagles from the reintroduction program now beginning to visit Poole Harbour, more opportunities will be arise to see these awe-inspiring birds of prey in a wild setting.
Tim Mackrill from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation explained:
“When we heard last year that the school children had seen the sea eagle from their boat trip it was really exciting because we know that experiences like that can ignite a real passion for natural history and conservation. The fact that other White-tailed Eagles are now visiting the harbour on a regular basis is an extremely encouraging sign for the future and shows what a superb place Poole Harbour is for these amazing birds. I hope that many more people, of all ages, will be able to enjoy the thrill of seeing them here and in other locations along the South Coast for many years to come”.
The live webcam which will hopefully document the first breeding pair of ospreys in southern England in nearly 200 years can be viewed here:
HUGE congratulations to the conservationists who have spent years working on the osprey reintroduction project, particularly Roy Dennis, Tim Mackrill, Paul Morton, Brittany Maxted, Liv Cooper and Lucy Allen. They’ve had a long slog, including plenty of heartbreak, but hopefully this will be the year where their efforts finally pay off.
I have to say I’m totally unconvinced by Dorset Police’s ‘commitment to supporting and advising on keeping the birds safe from disturbance‘ after their appalling failure to conduct a proper investigation into the poisoning of a white-tailed eagle on a shooting estate in Dorset (here). Really, don’t bother.
If anyone is interested in booking on to one of the Birds of Poole Harbour Osprey Cruises in August (which I thoroughly recommend), you’ll find booking information here.
Title: Species Protection Officer (x 4 posts) Status: April 2022 – June 2022, 17.5 hours per week Salary: £17,290 pro rata per annum Location: Loch of the Lowes, Dunkeld Closing date: 31 January 2022, 12 noon
Scotland’s leading nature conservation charity is looking for enthusiastic individuals to undertake the role of Species Protection Officer (SPO) based at Loch of the Lowes. This paid role includes free accommodation, invaluable training and the opportunity to develop experience in nature conservation, working with volunteers and public engagement!
A substantial portion of Osprey Watch duties will require SPOs to work night shifts. The role will also require working closely with the Perthshire Ranger, the Volunteer Nest Protection Team and Visitor Centre staff.
During this 8-week role, candidates will focus on providing an ‘Osprey Watch’ nest protection programme based at Loch of the Lowes. This will be a combination of paid working hours and voluntary unpaid hours. Successful candidates will work under a 17.5 hour temporary employment contract, the remainder of the 35 hours each week will be under a volunteer agreement. Successful candidates will receive invaluable training, practical experience, and free accommodation, in a loch-side, wooden eco-bothy for the duration of the role.
Duties include: • Monitor and record breeding ospreys’ behaviour • Provide round the clock ‘osprey watch’ protection of resident ospreys, their nest and eggs during the critical part of the breeding season • Monitor additional webcams for beaver activity and other wildlife footage • Create interesting social media and blog posts about the osprey breeding season
Training and Support: The candidate will have the fantastic opportunity to gain experience in; • Species ID • Managing data • Use of webcam and security camera software • Use of Adobe Premier Elements editing software • Use of WordPress and other social media platforms • Working with volunteers • Public engagement
The successful candidate(s) will ideally have:
• An interest and passion in nature conservation • Good knowledge of natural history and species ID • Experience of bird monitoring or species protection work is beneficial • The willingness to live in shared accommodation with colleagues • The ability to work unsociable hours, including nightshift • A reasonable standard of physical fitness and resilience to undertake shifts in the hide in cold conditions • A positive and flexible approach to work and other team members • The ability to communicate with volunteers, staff and members of the public in a confident manner • A high level of self-motivation, personal responsibility and organisational skills • Good computer literacy skills, including a working knowledge of Excel
Please note the Species Protection Officer role is dependent on the return of breeding ospreys. Strict Covid-19 procedures will be in place, particularly with regards to the bothy accommodation.
Ten more young ospreys have been successfully translocated from Scotland and released at Poole Harbour in Dorset as part of a project to re-establish a breeding population in southern England.
Beginning in 2017, the Poole Harbour Osprey Translocation Project is led by the charity Birds of Poole Harbour, the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and local tech business Wildlife Windows.
[An osprey photographed at Lychett Bay in Poole on 25th August 2021. Photo by Rene Goad]
Ospreys were extirpated in the UK by the early 1900s, largely due to persecution and egg collectors. The species naturally recolonised Scotland in 1954. During the late 1990s, a pioneer translocation project re-established the species at Rutland Water in the Midlands and ospreys have since spread to Northumberland and Wales. Further translocation projects have since taken place in Spain, Portugal and Switzerland and another is planned for Suffolk.
The restoration of a breeding population in Poole Harbour, where they haven’t bred for 180 years, is seen as key to connecting the existing UK and European populations.
For updates on the project please follow the Birds of Poole Harbour website (here) and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation (here).
Brenig Osprey Project partners woke up this morning to the worst possible news. Last night 30/4/21 , at 21.42, someone took a chainsaw to the osprey nest and felled it. This is a fast-moving situation and we’ll issue more news of the birds when we can – please, please be kind to staff this weekend as we work out how to respond to this horrific act of vandalism.
For a start – if you have any information that can help us identifying the individuals responsible, please let us know or contact the police with crime reference Z059734.
[Photograph of the felled platform tower]
North Wales Police’s Rural Crime Team are attending and an investigation is underway.
The Brenig Osprey Project is hosted at Llyn Brenig, a North Wales Wildlife Trust nature reserve. In partnership with Welsh Water the project aims to connect locals and visitors with wildlife and has a live camera feed from the osprey nest to the visitor centre and a viewing point where rangers help visitors to watch the ospreys through telescopes and binoculars.
[Webcam footage from the Brenig nest during a previous breeding season]
If you have ANY information about this disgraceful criminal act, no matter how insignificant you might think it is, please contact North Wales Police on 101.
UPDATE 14.15hrs: North Wales Police Rural Crime Team has just tweeted this:
Conservationists have drawn up plans to reintroduce Ospreys to Suffolk.
The Suffolk Wildlife Trust has teamed with experts from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and the Leicestershire and Wildlife Trust, who were behind the reintroduction of Ospreys to Rutland Water in the late 1990s. The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation is also a lead player in the reintroduction of Ospreys to Poole Harbour and White-tailed eagles to the Isle of Wight.
Assuming the project gets the go-ahead from Natural England, the five-year plan is to move up to eight juvenile ospreys per year to Suffolk from the Rutland Water area in the East Midlands where a healthy population is now established.
The team has just completed a public consultation and is now preparing to submit a licence application to Natural England.
For more details about the proposal, please visit the Osprey project page at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust website here
The Poole Harbour Osprey Translocation Project has just released eleven healthy young birds as part of a five year plan to establish a breeding population on the south coast.
This year’s birds were collected from nests in Scotland (only from broods with multiple chicks) in mid-July and have spent the last few weeks being cared for around the clock by a team of dedicated staff and volunteers. The birds were released from the aviaries at the weekend and are reported to be doing exceptionally well (see here).
[Osprey project team members Paul, Brittany & Lucy showing Lou Hubble (Head, National Wildlife Crime Unit) around the site last month. Photo by Ruth Tingay]
[Osprey #21 in fantastic condition inside the release aviary, being photo bombed by another. Photo by Lou Hubble, NWCU]
The project is jointly led by local charity Birds of Poole Harbour, The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and local Poole-based business Wildlife Windows. This is the third year of releases and already one of the 2017-released birds has returned to the harbour after a successful inaugural migration to West Africa and has been seen pair-bonding with an older female who originated from Rutland Water but has been hanging out in Poole since the project began.
The project team has built a number of artificial nest platforms around the harbour and hopes are high that next year will see the first breeding attempt.
As you might expect, these birds are attracting a huge amount of local public interest and support and Birds of Poole Harbour has hosted a number of special ‘Osprey Boat Cruises’ which have proved to be extremely popular. The boats go for a leisurely cruise around the harbour for a couple of hours with members of the project team on board to provide a commentary and help spot the ospreys (highly recommended – these trips are great fun). If you’d like to book you’d better be quick – book here.
Congratulations to everyone involved with this excellent project and fingers crossed that all the hard work will pay off next year with at least one breeding attempt.
Last August a farmer was convicted of recklessly disturbing a pair of breeding ospreys at Bassenthwaite, in the Lake District (see here).
Paul Barnes, 59 from Keswick, had been found guilty after a three-day trial at Workington Magistrates. The court heard how he had taken a group of children in his tractor and trailer close to the site, without a Schedule 1 disturbance licence, causing the birds to leave their nest.
Mr Barnes appealed his conviction at Carlisle Crown Court and last week his appeal was upheld and his conviction quashed.
[Paul Barnes outside Carlisle Crown Court after his conviction was quashed. Photo from Cumbria Crack]
The following write up appeared in Cumbria Crack last Friday:
A Lake District farmer convicted last year of “recklessly disturbing” an osprey nest has had his conviction quashed.
Paul Barnes vehemently denied two charges. These alleged that he had intentionally or recklessly disturbed a male and female osprey which were in a nest at Bassenthwaite on June 13 in 2017.
The charges arose after 59-year-old Mr Barnes, of Braithwaite, near Keswick, was seen to drive a tractor and a trailer containing children close to the nesting site as he conducted one of many educational visits which have become a regular part of his farming business. The two adult ospreys were said to have left their nest for around 20 minutes.
Mr Barnes was convicted on both charges after a magistrates’ court trial in August but lodged an appeal.
This began at Carlisle Crown Court earlier this year and, after two adjournments, concluded earlier today (FRI).
A judge and two magistrates ruled the case should be stopped – and Mr Barnes’ appeal upheld – after legal submissions were made during an application by his barrister, Peter Glenser QC.
Judge James Adkin – sitting with two magistrates – summed up the three main strands of Mr Glenser’s submissions.
“An individual in authority told Mr Barnes to carry on farming as usual,” noted Judge Adkin.
“Observations had been undertaken of (nest) disturbances not wholly dissimilar to the current circumstances – in some cases arguably worse. They are characterised as agricultural disturbances and not criminal offences.
“Combined with these features there has been a lamentable failure by the prosecution to adhere to the (legal document) disclosure regime.”
As a result, the appeal panel concluded the court proceedings should halted, and Mr Barnes’ appeal against conviction was upheld.
In response, Mr Barnes – a farmer for 35 years and also a trained primary school teacher who has won national awards for conservation and children’s education – spoke “emerging from 18 months of turmoil” which had a “massive impact on family life”.
“I’m pleased with the outcome; relieved. But I wasn’t totally disappointed after the trial because I knew that all the evidence hadn’t been heard,” he said.
Moving forward, Mr Barnes said he looked forward to developing a “fruitful partnership” with all groups and individuals who had a genuine osprey interest.
The Lake District Osprey Project, a partnership between the Forestry Commission, the RSPB and the Lake District National Park Authority, aims to ensure the continued success of breeding ospreys at Bassenthwaite. Since the birds returned in 2001, ospreys have raised over 30 chicks and have received over a million visitors, with an estimated value of £2 million to the Cumbrian economy.
The charity Birds of Poole Harbour is recruiting for two (paid!) Osprey Project Assistants.
An exceptional opportunity for a keen conservationist to get experience on a landmark Osprey translocation project in Poole Harbour. The role will include husbandry and monitoring of translocated chicks pre and post release.
Birds of Poole Harbour was founded in 2013 with three key objectives in place; to educate and promote bird conservation, preservation and observation in and around the Poole Harbour area.
Ospreys, which feed exclusively on fish, historically bred across the whole of Britain and NW Europe; but populations drastically declined in the Middle Ages and became extinct in England by the mid 1800’s. The five-year project looks to restore Ospreys to their former breeding grounds in the south of England where they used to have the local nickname “Mullet Hawk”. At the same time the project will provide an important stepping stone between breeding populations in Britain and northern France, with the aim of enhancing the long-term survival of the Western European population as a whole. The project is part of a wider conservation recovery plan of Osprey in Western Europe and the Mediterranean region and is being led by Birds of Poole Harbour, Scottish charity ‘The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation’ and local Poole based-business ‘Wildlife Windows’.
Translocation has proved a highly successful means by which to restore ospreys to areas from which they have been lost. The much-admired population at Rutland Water in the East Midlands was established by a pioneering translocation project in the late 1990s and similar work has since taken place in two regions of Spain as well as in Italy, Portugal and Switzerland.
This pan-European experience means that the Poole Harbour project, which will involve licensed collection of five/six-week old chicks from healthy, sustainable populations in Scotland, has the best-possible chance of success. Once collected the chicks will be safely brought down to Poole Harbour and held in large holding pens at a confidential site for just two – three weeks to acclimatize to their new home and prepare for their first flights. Once released they will continue to be provided with fresh fish on artificial nests, to replicate normal osprey behaviour, and so are likely to remain around Poole Harbour for a further five-six weeks (the normal post-fledging period) before beginning their long migration to West Africa. During this period the birds will imprint on the area and adopt Poole as their new home.
We are now in the third year of the project and seeking to recruit committed, responsible and diligent individuals to assist in the husbandry and monitoring of the birds during their time here in Poole Harbour.
Duration: 3 months, 1st July –30th Sept 2019
Working Hours: Full-time (40 hours per week) including weekend, early morning and evening hours.
Pay: Pro-rata £17, 000
Reports to: Osprey Project Officer and Head of Science and Operations.
Closing Date: 28th February
Interviews are expected to be held the week beginning 11th March.
The Osprey Project Assistants are expected to assist with:
Preparation of Osprey food – cutting fish
Feeding of Osprey chicks
Monitoring chicks via CCTV
Monitoring of fledged chicks using detection of radio transmitter signals and optical equipment
Collection of data on food consumption, chick development, behaviour and location
Data entry as per data collected above
Equipment, site and resources maintenance – cleaning food preparation area, re-stocking supplies
Supervision of volunteers
Full training will be provided for this role including food preparation, feeding, behavioural monitoring via CCTV and telemetry (yagi) and data recording.
Friendly and outgoing personality
Attention to detail
Dedicated and proactive attitude
Ability to work as a team
Accurate data entry
Full clean driving licence and access to own vehicle
Knowledge of animal husbandry or ecology, especially avian
If you think you could excel in this role, then please email Jobs@birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk with a CV and cover letter explaining why you think you’re suitable.
A farmer has been convicted of recklessly disturbing a pair of breeding ospreys at Bassenthwaite, in the Lake District, in June last year.
Paul Barnes, 58, of Brook Cottage, Keswick, was today found guilty after a three-day trial at Workington Magistrates. The court heard how he had taken a group of children in his tractor and trailer close to the site, without a Schedule 1 disturbance licence, causing the birds to leave their nest.
He was fined £300 with £2,000 costs.
[Photo of the Bassenthwaite osprey pair with their offspring in 2017, photo by The Lake District Osprey Project]
The Lake District Osprey Project, a partnership between the Forestry Commission, the RSPB and the Lake District National Park Authority, aims to ensure the continued success of breeding ospreys at Bassenthwaite. Since the birds returned in 2001, ospreys have raised over 30 chicks and delighted over a million visitors there.
Like all wild birds, ospreys are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is a criminal offence to harm or disturb them during the nesting period. Anyone found to have done so faces an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail.
There are 21 breeding pairs in England, and are worth £2million per year to the Cumbrian economy.
Annabel Rushton from the Lake District Osprey Project said: “A huge effort has been made to bring the osprey back to Cumbria and here at The Lake District Osprey Project. Local staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to ensure the birds can nest in safety, while enabling visitors to be inspired by these wonderful birds from the designated public viewpoints at Dodd Wood and Whinlatter. Barnes acted recklessly by running his own tours which did not follow the correct protocol and resulted in the disturbance of the Bassenthwaite pair of ospreys, which could have been detrimental to their breeding success.
“We would like to thank Cumbria Police for their support and diligent work in this case.”
PC Sarah Rolland of Cumbria Police said: “Laws are in place to protect all species of birds and, without these laws and their enforcement, these birds will be put at great risk. The osprey is a rare bird in the UK and therefore has a high level of legal protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. A disturbance like this during the nesting period could be detrimental to their breeding success and their very existence within the UK.
“In this instance, there was a clear offence of disturbing a Schedule 1 bird, whilst having young in the nest during the nesting period. This was fully investigated resulting in a charge following a CPS charging decision.
“We hope that today’s result will serve to highlight the importance of adhering to these laws and serve as a warning to others that there will be consequences if the laws are ignored or willfully broken in relation to wildlife crime.”