English-born osprey back home after 150 years

Emotional return

An English osprey chick has returned to its place of birth in Rutland Water after a 20-month jaunt to western Africa - the first such homecoming to England in 150 years, The Telegraph reports.

The two-year-old male, dubbed "R5", migrated from his Leicestershire nest in September 2004, and recently reappeared to the delight of staff who have toiled for 12 years to establish an osprey colony at Rutland.

Rutland Osprey Project supremo Tim Mackrill enthused: "It was a fantastic moment. He flew back to the nest where he was hatched, although I don't think his parents were as pleased to see him as they were in 2004.

"The idea was always to create an environment where the ospreys think of Rutland Water as their home and this shows it is working."

Fish-eating ospreys were extinct in England by the mid-1800s "because of the Victorian trend for egg collecting and taxidermy", The Telegraph notes. Their gradual reintroduction, notably in the Scottish Highlands, has been a partial success, although of twelve English ospreys hatched at Rutland since 2001 - when 64 chicks were relocated there from Scotland - none has made its way back from migration until now.

Ospreys are born between May and June, fledge at around nine weeks and leave for Africa - generally Senegal or Guinea - at two to three months.

Mackrill explained: "When we started and brought down the ospreys from Scotland we had no idea if it would be successful. This gives us hope that we can re-colonise them across the south of England and that one day you will see them flying up the Thames."

He added: "Rutland Water is brilliant for them. It's got all the natural infrastructure and of course is stacked with live fish."

The site currently boasts one five males and two females, including one breeding pair. Yesterday, three chicks were fitted with ID rings in anticipation of their September departure south. ®

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