Dorset

Poole Harbour osprey breeding project begins

Osprey Image copyright Peter Moore
Image caption Similar projects have also taken place in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland

A project that aims to restore osprey to their former breeding grounds in the south of England will begin in July.

The five-year "translocation" scheme involves transferring six week-old chicks from sustainable populations in Scotland to Poole Harbour, Dorset.

It is being led by the Birds of Poole Harbour, Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Wildlife Windows charities.

Ospreys historically bred across all of the UK but populations "drastically declined" in the Middle Ages.

The birds of prey are annual visitors to Poole Harbour as they migrate between their winter-homes in West Africa and breeding grounds in Scotland and at Rutland Water in the east Midlands.

Image caption The birds of prey are annual visitors to Poole Harbour

Over the past eight years, efforts by the RSPB in Poole Harbour to encourage the birds to stay and breed have proved unsuccessful.

Roy Dennis and Tim Mackrill, of the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, said translocation was the "next logical step".

Once collected the chicks will be held in large holding pens in Poole for up to three weeks, before being released at the end of July and provided with fresh fish on artificial nests.

They will then migrate to West Africa in August before hopefully returning to Poole.

However, they are not expected to start breeding there until 2020 at the earliest.

Similar work has also taken place in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland.

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