Osprey reintroduction project in England celebrates 200th chick

A project that reintroduced ospreys to England and helped bring them back to Wales has seen its 200th chick fledge this year.

The 200th chick, a female, fledged in July and was ringed with the number 360 to identify her, according to Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust launched the Rutland Osprey Project in 1996 in partnership with Anglian Water and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation to reintroduce this magnificent bird of prey to the skies of England, where they had been extinct for over 150 years.

Ospreys are a huge fish-eating bird of prey with a wingspan of nearly 5 feet and can live for up to 20 years.

As a result of the Rutland Osprey Project, ospreys have now spread across the two countries and this year the project is celebrating a major milestone with the hatching of its 200th chick! 

Abi Mustard, Osprey Information Officer for the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, said: “This year is an important and exciting year for the Rutland Osprey Project – we’re thrilled to be celebrating our 25th anniversary and also welcoming the 200th chick. It’s brilliant that we now have a self-sustaining population of ospreys in England.

“The success of the Rutland Osprey Project is not only due to the resilience of the birds themselves, but also to the hard work, support and dedication of everyone who has been involved – we have a wonderful team of volunteers, staff, local landowners and supporters who have helped facilitate these incredible achievements. We are all looking forward to seeing what the next 25 years brings.”

As well as establishing an osprey population in and around Rutland Water nature reserve, the project has helped the birds to breed in other parts of England and Wales.

Osprey are now found breeding in Cumbria, Northumberland and North and West Wales, while Suffolk Wildlife Trust is working with the Rutland Osprey Project and Roy Dennis Foundation to bring breeding osprey back to East Anglia for the first time in over a century.

Ospreys were once widely distributed across the UK, but faced intensive persecution through shooting, egg collecting and habitat destruction, which eventually led to their extinction as a breeding species in England in 1847.

In the mid-1950s a population in Scotland began to slowly recover, however it was estimated that it would be approximately another 100 years before breeding ospreys would naturally recolonise central and southern England.

The osprey chicks, born this year, will likely remain in Rutland until early September, before they begin their 3000-mile migration journey south, to the west coast of Africa. The chicks will remain in their African wintering grounds for the first couple of years, so it won’t be until at least 2023 before the 200th chick returns, according to Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

This year, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust saw the 150th chick, identified as “male 056”, which fledged from the Manton Bay nest in 2019, make his return to Rutland for the first time. 

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living

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