Encouraging Ospreys: Artificial Nests to Be Installed on the River Dart

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We’re delighted to announce that we’ve been awarded some funding from the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme to build and install artificial nests for ospreys along the River Dart in Devon!

Having heard that these iconic fish-eating birds have been seen regularly in our area, it’s possible that they may be unable to breed because of a lack of suitable sites (they are quite fussy!). Working with an experienced team, we’re putting up some pole nests to encourage the return of ’the mullet hawk’ aka osprey (they feed on mullet fish a lot!). If you’d like to learn more about the entire process, from the initial thought, through stakeholder engagement, funding, and building the artificial nests this will be one element of our ongoing training courses.

Other info:

The poles are 8m high.  Ospreys are quite cautious around people and prefer to rest in locations where they can see things approaching from some distance away. They are sensitive to disturbance. The old English name, Mullet Hawk is one of several old descriptive names. The nest platforms are made from a metal base, 1m square, to which we add bundles of sticks at the edges and turf and straw in the middle to mimic a natural nest. We may also add white paint to simulate bird poo. All this is done to encourage birds to land and adopt the rest for breeding. This has been successful in Poole Harbour and Rutland.

After we’ve installed the artificial nests on the top of their poles we’ll have to wait until next March to see if any ospreys returning from their migration to Africa drop in to investigate. We’ve fitted each nest with a camera that will take a photo if something lands nearby – so we’ll be monitoring them closely next spring and be sure to report back to you.

📸 Fig 1 Credit:francois-roux
📸 Fig 2 Alex Cooper Photography 

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