Osprey are birds of prey that hunt on fish that became extinct in Ireland many years ago. The NPWS has been studying these birds and preparing for a possible reintroduction for several years and now is expecting the arrival of the first 12 Osprey chicks in July. The objective of the programme is to establish a sustainable, free-ranging Osprey population that will eventually breed in Ireland.
The programme is led by a senior NPWS team, led by Divisional Managers Dr Phillip Buckley and Eamonn Meskell, also responsible for the ongoing White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction Programme, also in Ireland, which has been very successful. The Eagle project was a great learning experience in preparation for the Osprey Reintroduction Programme.
“The NPWS plans to bring 50-70 Osprey chicks to Ireland from Norway over a five-year period. NPWS has drawn on international expertise and learning from around Europe and North America in the development of this programme,” Minister Noonan spoke on the preparations for the chicks’ arrival. “In particular, the project has the direct involvement of colleagues from Norway and UK, who are not only top Osprey experts, but who have led and supported other key species reintroduction programmes in Europe. The NPWS has great expertise from its introduction of the white-tailed eagle and the same, highly experienced team will now put their knowledge to good use as we embark on the reintroduction of the Osprey.”
As an event in the celebration programme for National Biodiversity Week, Minister Noonan visited some of the nesting platforms currently in place for migratory Osprey who occasionally visit Ireland. New ones are being built in the Southeast of the country, on a major migratory route for Osprey between Northern Europe and Africa. They will be ready for the chicks’ arrival by the coming of the summer.
Eamonn Meskell, Divisional Manager of NPWS, elaborated that “In addition to the holding pens at the release sites, artificial eyries will also be constructed in the release area. The details of construction of holding pens and artificial next sites, feeding and care of birds, their transport and release are based on extensive experience with other Osprey reintroduction programmes in Ireland over nine years. Once the chicks arrive in Ireland, we’ll be monitoring their progress and adapting their feeding regime to build towards their eventual release over the summer.
“We are extremely grateful to the authorities and colleagues in Norway for supplying the young Ospreys,” Dr Philip Buckley, NPWS Divisional Manager for the South West Division, added, “and for their expertise which is enabling this landmark conservation programme to happen. Likewise to the farmers and landowners involved and also to many others from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Britain, elsewhere in Europe and indeed internationally who are providing expertise or helping with this work; their help is critical and much appreciated.”
The Osprey went extinct in Ireland 150 years ago. Their heritage on the island is extensive, with several place names around Ireland, particularly in Munster, referencing the bird. At Loch Léinn, in Killarney National Park, is home to a site known as Osprey Rock, a tribute to the bird’s history in Ireland, particularly around rivers and lakes where it hunts for fish. The programme may go on for a while before the birds begin breeding again, but the reintroduction of this pescatarian apex predator will provide meaningful insight into the state of the Irish ecosystem and its waters over time.
Star in the 2015 music video for the hit single “Headlights” by German musician, DJ and record producer Robin Schulz featuring American singer-songwriter Ilsey. Also a journalist.