‘Vast’ egg collection, including hen harrier & osprey eggs, seized by Suffolk Police

Suffolk Police’s Rural, Wildlife & Heritage Team has seized what it describes as a ‘vast’ egg collection in Halesworth. The haul is thought to include clutches of hen harrier and osprey eggs.

The police raid last Friday was part of Operation Easter, a policing initiative that began in Scotland 25 years ago (see here for background) that primarily targets wild bird egg thieves, although in recent years it has been expanded to also cover related crimes such as the online trade in eggs and the disturbance of nests for photography (see here).

This initiative is a good example of partnership-working. It’s facilitated by the National Wildlife Crime Unit that leads on intelligence reports and key partners include UK police forces and the RSPB’s Investigations Team. It’s seen some major successes over the years, with convictions often including custodial sentences, and large numbers of wild bird eggs being taken out of circulation.

More information about illegal egg collections can be found on the RSPB’s website here.

Well done to Suffolk Police’s Rural, Wildlife & Heritage Team for keeping the public informed.

Guest blog: Ospreys in the Glaslyn Valley

This is a guest blog written by Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, a small Community Interest Company (CIC) working to protect breeding ospreys and other wildlife in the Glaslyn Valley in north west Wales.

Ospreys in the Glaslyn Valley

Thanks to concerted conservation efforts, the osprey has in recent decades made an encouraging comeback in parts of the UK, none more so than in a stunning corner of North West Wales, the Glaslyn Valley near Porthmadog, where a special success story continues to unfold.

It was in 2004 when a local man first spotted an osprey flying up the Valley carrying a fish. He later found a nest and a temporary viewing area and nest protection scheme was quickly organised.

The male osprey was a Scottish bird born in 1998, Ochre 11(98) who had been translocated to Rutland Water, before making his way to Wales. His partner was an unringed female, now known as Mrs G, who remarkably has this year returned for her 19th year and is Wales’ oldest female breeding osprey.

[Scottish osprey Ochre 11]

It wasn’t the best of starts in 2004 with the nest blowing down in a storm, killing two chicks. The nest was repaired over the winter and happily the pair returned the following year and went on to breed until 2014. Their dynasty has since spread far and wide.

Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, now in its tenth year, runs Glaslyn Ospreys and has managed the project since the RSPB’s stewardship of the project came to an end in 2013. BGGW is an entirely volunteer-run operation relying on visitor and supporter donations.

The success story of Glaslyn’s ospreys took a new turn in 2015 when 11(98) Mrs G’s partner of eleven years, failed to return.

There were various potential suitors at the Glaslyn nest including one of Mrs G’s chicks from 2012, Blue 80. After some uncertain weeks, an unringed male, thought to be around three years old, Aran, arrived on the scene and went on to breed successfully with Mrs G producing two chicks that year. By 2020 they had gone on to raise a further 13 chicks, some of which have since been resighted in the UK and Africa. A new chapter had opened in the story of Glaslyn Ospreys.

[Osprey pair Mrs G and Aran]

By 2021, forty-one of Mrs G’s chicks with her two partners had fledged and five of them were continuing to breed in the UK. Furthermore, three grand chicks were also known to be breeding in Northumberland and Scotland. In total there were 112 grand chicks and ten great grand chicks the project knew of. Offspring continue to be spotted in their winter migration grounds in Africa and in 2022, the first male chick from 2005, Yellow 37, returned to breed for the twelfth year at Kielder. A family tree produced this year illustrates the story so far.

In 2021 the Glaslyn pair returned to the nest in the Spring and three eggs were laid. Unfortunately, the hatching of the eggs coincided with a severe storm during which Aran injured his wing and, consequently, was unable to fish. Sadly, the chicks died, the first time since 2005 that none had fledged from the Glaslyn nest. It was a tremendous blow for the project, but gradually over the summer Aran went on to make a full recovery, fishing and re-enforcing his bonds to Mrs G and the nest. He returned in perfect condition from his winter migration in April this year and the pair have had three more chicks, bringing the number of the female’s offspring to 52.

[Chicks from the 2014 season – Blue 7C, 8C and 9C. Chick 9C is breeding in northern England and chick 8C was re-sighted this year at Poole Harbour in Dorset and then Loch of the Lowes in Scotland]

In the Glaslyn Valley alone, no fewer than 19 different ospreys were seen and many of them identified on the Glaslyn nest or in the surrounding area last year. Many were Welsh born returnees. In 2022 there are seven known nests in Wales, three of which are in the Glaslyn Valley.

Today, a popular Visitor Centre and a new Hide (recently opened by Iolo Williams) at Pont Croesor provide a place where people from far and wide can see these magnificent birds. Live pictures are streamed from the nest and followed by thousands. The Centre is open every day between 10.30am and 4.30pm until the birds migrate in September.

The project will be represented at Wild Justice’s forthcoming Hen Harrier Fest at Adlington Hall & Gardens in Cheshire on Sunday 24 July. Call in and see us!

Osprey chick hatches at Poole Harbour – the first in southern England for 200 years

Press release from the charity Birds of Poole Harbour (2nd June 2022)

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”.


Reintroduction programmes working: ospreys & white-tailed eagles bring education & eco-tourism opportunities to southern England

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.

Job vacancy: Species Protection Officers x 4 (ospreys), Scottish Wildlife Trust

Job announcement from Scottish Wildlife Trust

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.

To apply, please click here


10 more ospreys translocated to Poole Harbour

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).

Osprey nest platform cut down with chainsaw as first egg is laid

The nest platform of a pair of breeding ospreys has been cut down overnight by someone with a chainsaw, just a day after the pair had laid their first egg.

A statement from the Brenig Osprey Project in North Wales:

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:

Plans to reintroduce Ospreys to Suffolk

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

More osprey chicks released at Poole Harbour, Dorset

Some welcome conservation news…..

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.

Lake District farmer’s osprey ‘disturbance’ conviction is quashed

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.

Lake District Osprey Project website here