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First Osprey Chicks from Norway Released Into the Wild in Ireland This Weekend

27th August 2023
Under the plans, around 50 to 70 Osprey chicks will be brought to Ireland from Norway over five years (file image)
Under the plans, around 50 to 70 Osprey chicks will be brought to Ireland from Norway over five years (file image)

The first osprey chicks acquired in Norway to re-introduce the species to Ireland were released into the wild this weekend.

The satellite-tagged chicks are part of a National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) programme aiming to re-introduce 50 young ospreys.

Ospreys are fish-eating birds of prey, living close to rivers, lakes or coastal areas, which ensure a sufficient supply of their favourite food.

They are known to be monogamous and faithful to both their mate and their nest.

Ospreys became extinct in Ireland over 150 years ago, but a breeding pair was discovered for the first time in Fermanagh over three years ago – giving birth to chicks recently, according to Ulster Wildlife.

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan describe the release of Norwegian-born osprey chicks as a “milestone moment” which is “particularly exciting given the news of a breeding pair in Northern Ireland”.

“It is a positive sign of the quality of the habitats on this island and gives us reason for great hope that these chicks will eventually breed here too and reminds us that biodiversity action can – and does – yield positive returns,” he aid.

“We know from our European neighbours and our own first-hand experience that reintroduction programmes can bolster declining populations, gradually increasing them over time, while giving us valuable scientific insights into managing the return of this vulnerable species to our shores to plunge and dive for fish and eventually breed,” he said.

“Similar to the white-tailed eagle programme, the success of this initiative relies on the support of our farmers and landowners, who are working together with an experienced NPWS team, and I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to them for their contribution in bringing this spectacular bird back to our skies,” Noonan added.

The NPWS has developed expertise over the past 16 years in re-introducing species that had been extinct.

Its white-tailed eagle programme has reintroduced 170 white-tailed eagles to Ireland, some of which are now fledging chicks, in an ongoing partnership with Norway.

NPWS south-west divisional manager Philip Buckley, who heads up the osprey re-introduction programme, said that identifying a suitable habitat to which the birds will return each year is key”.

He paid tribute to international partners and thanked the farming community in the southeast for “their engagement and co-operation.”

Published in Marine Wildlife
Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!