Osprey causes excitement at Ranworth

All summer it has been the big attraction for trippers aboard the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) pleasureboat Damselfly.

An osprey has taken up residence at Ranworth Broad since May and, happily for holidaymakers, has seemed happy to pose for pictures like these.

And if one of the rare birds was not enough to satisfy visitors, two were spotted together at the broad for a time in June.

NWT staff are now looking at providing nesting platforms in the hope they might return next year and make Ranworth Broad one of the only breeding sites in the UK outside Scotland.

Kevin Hart, the NWT's broads nature reserve manager, said it was believed that the resident osprey might be the same bird which visited Ranworth Broad and the neighbouring reserve at Cockshoot Broad last summer.


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He said: 'Although ospreys are known to visit the Broads it is unusual for one to take up residence in Norfolk for so long.

'If we can encourage them to breed here it would be an amazing thing.'

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Mr Hart said NWT staff who had previously worked with ospreys were looking at various nesting platform designs, including ones on poles and ones in trees.

He said: 'The way we manage the site as a private broad with no boats apart from our electric pleasurecraft is already favourable for encouraging ospreys as well as other wildlife.'

News of the osprey's presence had increased demand for boat trips and the almost silent Damselfly was perfect for wildlife spotting.

NWT conservation manager Reg Land said the only present osprey breeding sites in England were at Rutland Water – where they were actively introduced – and in the Lake District and Northumberland's Kielder Forest.

He said: 'The population of ospreys is growing with 200 pairs now in the UK and it is natural that they should spread out and find somewhere to settle. You would expect them to be attracted to areas of waterways like the Norfolk Broads.'

Mr Land said ospreys were site faithful so there was a high probability one or both would return to Ranworth next spring after their winter migration south to Spain or Africa.

Tim Strudwick, RSPB site manager for the mid-Yare reserves said: 'Ospreys are regular visitors to the Broads in late summer and autumn when they stop off to feed on their journey south from nesting grounds in Scotland and Scandinavia to their Africa winter quarters.

'From late July to October ospreys often spend weeks roaming the broads and rivers, and occasionally two or three are seen together. Spring visits are usually more fleeting as the birds are in a hurry to get back to their breeding grounds. For a big bird they can be rather elusive, spending much of the day sitting in secluded trees, and watching one fishing is a real treat.'

He said ospreys were exterminated as a breeding bird by 1840, largely through human persecution, and only returned in the 1950s. Until recently, nesting ospreys had been confined to the Scottish highlands, but pairs had recolonised the Lake District and Wales in the past 10 years. In recent years, one or two ospreys had spent the summer in the broads, giving hope that they might return to breed.

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