So Lucky 13 has left the building – the sole chick produced by the Bassenthwaite Ospreys has started his epic migration tracked to spend his first night roosted at Derby and his second via London on the south coast. What a tremendous feat, bearing in mind he has only been fledged for five weeks, and he has another 3,000 miles to go before reaching his wintering grounds in west Africa. One of the inspiring things about these magnificent raptors is that they don’t recognize political or geographical boundaries. To them, countries don’t exist. There is no Scotland, no England, no France, no Spain, no Senegal. There is only the drive to life and the acutely developed sense of land, of movement, of shadow, sound, tide, wave, storm, enemy and fish. They have no defence against their greatest enemy, man except ironically, man himself. Since 2001 the Lake District Osprey Project has supported the re-colonisation of England by ospreys and helped to establish the beginnings of a viable Cumbrian population. This year there have been three breeding pairs in the Lakes producing a total of five chicks, with three other non-breeding pairs. So that’s better. But the persecution continues, perhaps not so much with this species in the UK, but what about hen harriers? They lie on the brink of extinction with no breeding pairs at all in their heartland, the Forest of Bowland this year. As part of the 400 Witches project, remembering the Lancashire women executed in 1612 for being “witches”, artist Louise Ann Wilson is presenting a silent walk and installation in the Trough of Bowland on. It’s called “Ghost Bird” after the feathering of the male hen harrier and runs on 15th and 16th September. Let’s hope that some of the awareness and active consciousness awakened through the Lake District Osprey Project can inspire a revival of the fortunes of this magic bird.
Here’s my watercolour sketch of an osprey chick having been privileged to attend the ringing one year.