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The return of the Osprey!

August 30th, 2023

With Derek Mooney, of Mooney Goes Wild fame, and my Green Party colleague Marc Ó Cathasaigh

This week we saw the release of the very first osprey chicks to be reintroduced to Ireland under our new NPWS osprey reintroduction programme. Following in the footsteps of our hugely successful white tailed eagle programme, the reintroduction of ospreys will return this magnificent bird of prey to Irish skies so that we can establish a viable, free ranging population in the wild once again.

Over the next five years, the NPWS plans to reintroduce fifty osprey chicks as part of the programme.

Ospreys are thought to have become extinct as breeding birds in Ireland over one hundred and fifty years ago, but they have continued to visit the island as part of their migratory pattern. Earlier this week, a breeding pair of ospreys and their chicks was discovered at a nesting site in Northern Ireland – a momentous, first sighting of naturally established, breeding ospreys in over one hundred and fifty years.

About to reclaim its space in Irish skies - one of our magnificant osprey chicks, photographed by Valerie O'Sullivan

Our reintroduction programme will help boost and support that burgeoning population, and it was an immense privilege for me to release the first osprey chicks into the wild today, under this programme, and watch them take flight. This milestone moment is made all the more exciting given that news of the breeding pair in Northern Ireland. They are a really positive indicator of the quality of habitats on this island, and gives me reason for great hope that the chicks we released this week will eventually breed here too. They are a powerful reminder that biodiversity action can – and does – yield positive returns.

We know from our European neighbours, and our own first-hand experience, that reintroduction programmes can bolster declining populations, gradually increasing them over time. Our osprey reintroduction programme will also give us valuable scientific insights into managing the return of this bird to our shores to plunge and dive for fish and eventually breed.

As with our 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 as always I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to them for their contribution in bringing this spectacular bird back to Irish skies.


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