The excitement is building and we're now just counting down the days until the magnificent Osprey is reintroduced to Ireland.
An expert team in our National Parks and Wildlife Service has been laying the groundwork for this milestone moment for a few years now, and I'm thrilled to be able to confirm - during National Biodiversity Week - the expected arrival of our first twelve Osprey chicks in July.
While visiting Osprey (mostly from Scotland) have been known to grace our shores in recent years, this truly awe-inspiring fish-eating bird of prey became extinct in Ireland many years ago. Our NPWS has been researching and preparing for the potential reintroduction of these birds for the last few years, and the aim of the reintroduction programme is to establish a viable and free-ranging Osprey population that eventually see the bird breeding in Ireland once again.
We hope to bring 50 to 70 Osprey chicks to Ireland from Norway over a five-year period, and the NPWS has drawn on international expertise and learning from around Europe and North America in the development of this programme. But it must be said, the NPWS has also built significant expertise in this area from its successful reintroduction of the white-tailed eagle, and the same, highly experienced team - headed up by Divisional Managers Dr Phillip Buckley and Eamonn Meskell - will now put their knowledge to good use as we embark on the reintroduction of the Osprey.
During my National Biodiversity Week travels, I got to see some of the nesting platforms currently in place for the migratory Osprey who sometimes visit Ireland. New nesting platforms are being built in the Southeast, on a what is a key migratory route for Osprey between Northern Europe and Africa. These new platforms will be in place and ready for our arrivals this summer.