Osprey breeds in Ireland for first time in 200 years


Osprey has nested in Ireland this summer for the first time in more than 200 years.

A pair bred at a confidential location in Co Fermanagh and successfully raised at least two (and possibly three) chicks to fledging, Ulster Wildlife revealed.

Although plans are afoot to reintroduce Ospreys to Ireland, the charity said that the species had recolonised Co Fermanagh naturally.

Osprey has nested in Ireland this summer, with a pair successfully raising at least two chicks (Kenneth O'Keefe).

The discovery was made by Giles Knight, Ulster Wildlife's environmental farming scheme adviser. He has been observing the breeding pair for the last three seasons alongside his local farm visits in the area.

"I have been keeping this news close to my chest for a long time to ensure the safety and welfare of these spectacular but vulnerable birds,” he explained.

"Along with my son Eoin, I have watched the adults return to the same site since 2021, so you can imagine my excitement the moment that I saw three chicks and two adults this year.

"It was a rub-your-eyes, once-in-a-lifetime moment; an absolute highlight of my 30-year wildlife career – like finding long-lost treasure.

"With at least two of the chicks fledging this season, this is a huge conservation success story and indicates a healthy wetland ecosystem with plenty of suitable habitat and fish to bring this apex predator back to our skies and plunging into the Fermanagh Lakelands."

Osprey is thought to have become extinct as a breeding bird in Ireland in the late 18th century due to systematic persecution.

Although now regularly seen on migration to and from sub-Saharan Africa, confirmed breeding in Ireland had not happened until this summer. Scotland is British breeding stronghold, but birds are now also nesting at widely spread sites in England and Wales.

Mr Knight added: "It has been both encouraging and heartwarming to see the landowner, the local farming community and our partners welcome the Ospreys' return.

"Their ongoing support will enable future generations to enjoy these magnificent birds far into the future."