Rutland Water ospreys protected by satellite trackers

An osprey flying above Rutland Water. Three male ospreys disappeared from Rutland Water between 2011 and 2012
An osprey wearing a GPS tracker. The birds are now being fitted with GPS trackers
An osprey with a fish. In the past, ospreys have sometimes been seen as a nuisance by anglers
Two ospreys in their nest. Rutland Water was home to the first osprey chick to be bred in England for 150 years

A wildlife trust is hoping to prevent what it believes is the persecution of rare ospreys in Rutland by attaching satellite trackers to the birds.

Start Quote

The GPS trackers give us amazing detail, including the speed, altitude and direction of the birds.”

End Quote Tim Mackrill Senior reserve officer

The Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust said it has purchased three GPS trackers to monitor the ospreys.

Three male ospreys disappeared from Rutland Water during a 13-month period in 2010-11. The trust believes they may have been shot.

Ospreys were extinct in Britain for nearly 40 years because of persecution.

'Amazing detail'

Tim Mackrill, the trust's senior reserve officer, said: "We have three satellite transmitters we will be fitting to ospreys over the next few weeks.

Ospreys back on the water

An osprey in flight
  • Ospreys became extinct in Britain between 1916 and 1954 following illegal persecution
  • The birds were reintroduced to Rutland Water from 1996
  • In 2001, the first osprey chick to be bred in England for 150 years was spotted there
  • A total of 62 young ospreys have now fledged from nests in the Rutland Water area
  • The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds estimates there are between 250-300 breeding pairs of ospreys in the UK, the majority of which are in Scotland

"The GPS trackers give us amazing detail, including the speed, altitude and direction of the birds."

While some trusts in England monitor osprey chicks with GPS trackers, no others monitor adult birds.

The transmitters cost £2,500 each. Mr Mackrill said it was hoped they would act as a deterrent to anyone considering persecuting the birds.

Ospreys have historically been seen as a menace by anglers because they hunt fish.

Mr Mackrill said Rutland had lost three male birds during a 13-month period.

"They went out fishing and never came back," he said. "It was very suspicious. We never got to the bottom of it but we suspect the birds fell victim to persecution.

"People are now aware we are tagging them and it's a big risk to shoot at a bird that's tagged with a satellite transmitter."

Those found guilty of killing birds of prey can face penalties of up to £5,000 and a six month prison sentence.

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