The female osprey who has spent her summers in Poole Harbour unsuccessfully looking for a mate, has returned to try her luck for a fifth season.
If the female osprey known as CJ7, does breed this year, it will be the first time that the bird of prey will have done so in the region for almost 200 years.
She has again settled into the nest specially created to tempt her to stay in the Poole Harbour region and it has a webcam, so viewers can watch what she gets up to.
CJ7 posing for the nestcam
Swooping over Swanage within a decade
This is part of an osprey breeding programme led by the charity, Birds of Poole Harbour aimed at reintroducing ospreys to England’s South Coast, which could see them swooping over Swanage within a decade.
Ospreys were hunted to extinction in the UK by 1916 and started to return, first in Scotland in 1954. There hasn’t been a known breeding pair in Dorset for almost two centuries.
In 2017 the project began by bringing 60 juvenile ospreys from Scottish nests down to the Poole Harbour area. While CJ7 wasn’t one of those chicks, she did visit Poole Harbour and spotted the babies, which it’s believed gave her the impression that this was a good breeding ground.
Since arriving back, CJ7 has been collecting twigs for the nest
Spent the summer bonding with a three year old male
In 2019 she returned to Poole Harbour again and spent the summer bonding with a three year old male called LS7 but he had turned up too late in the season to breed.
Migrating conditions to the UK were not good in 2020 and LS7 never made it back, but CJ7 did, returning to on Thursday 2nd April 2020.
So CJ7 spent last spring looking for a lockdown lover but didn’t get lucky despite putting a lot of effort into nest building and even producing three eggs but they were sadly unfertilized.
This year she arrived on Thursday 1st April 2021 and has been settling into her nest, viewed by hundreds via the webcam.
At dusk CJ7 flies to nearby trees to roost for the night and while she was away, a tawny owl dropped in for a visit!
“Eagerly watching the webcam for a male to turn up”
Osprey project manager, Brittany Maxted said:
“For there to be successful breeding this year, CJ7 really needs to attract a male osprey anytime between now and the end of May, so we’re all eagerly watching the webcam for a male to turn up.
“Getting breeding pairs of osprey established is obviously a big challenge for conservation so we’re giving them a helping hand. We’re trying to create connectivity between the isolated osprey communities. The South Coast creates a stepping stone between the birds in Scotland and those in France – there’s also ospreys in Wales and northern England.
“By encouraging those connections, we’re helping make the ospreys more genetically resistant. Small populations are also quite vulnerable.
“That’s why we are so excited by CJ7’s return. Lots of people watch her on the webcam and really love her. She was a saving grace to many during lockdown last year – one couple told me that they watched her every morning over breakfast and it really lit up their day.
“If all goes to plan and the ospreys do get established in the Poole Harbour area, they’ll soon be breeding in Swanage over the next decade and they’ll once again become part of the Purbeck landscape.
“But who knows what is going to happen this year? We’ll just have to keep watching the nestcam!”
Watch CJ7 on the nestcam
- More about the osprey project is on the Birds of Poole Harbour website
- The osprey project team hold live question and answer sessions on YouTube chat from 10 to 11 am on most Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The Reintroduction and Rewilding Summit
However on Saturday 10th April 2021 the Birds of Poole Harbour team will be hosting The Reintroduction and Rewilding Summit.
It’s a free online event from 10 am with presenters Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin from the Self-isolating Bird Club. Osprey project manager, Brittany Maxted will be one of the guest speakers. To find out more and register to attend go to the website