Ospreys return to Portugal

ospreyAfter years and years of planning, waiting and hoping, the research centre for Biodiversity at Oporto University has announced that ospreys, only casual visitors in Portugal for over a decade, have at last returned to breed and raise families.

A joint long term project between Italy, Spain and Portugal seems to have borne fruit with successful breeding pairs now a feature of the Andalucian skies but Portugal lagged behind, until now.

The species failed to breed in Portugal in 1997 and had disappeared completely by 2002, returning occassionally during the winter months at a few sites but breeding elsewhere.

The last pair was seen in the Costa Vicentina Natural Park where the recent discovery of a new breeding pair has given environmentalists renewed hope for the future of Pandion haliaetus, various known worldwide as the fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, or fish hawk.

The welcome return of ospreys is the result of a commitment from Mediterranean countries which saw some birds reintroduced in Andalusia in Spain in 2003. In 2006 it was the turn of Italy, followed by Portugal in 2011 and the Basque Country in 2013.

In total over one hundred ospreys have been released in Spain and Portugal in an attempt to kick start the recovery of the osprey population across the Iberian Peninsula, with 13 breeding pairs registered in Andalucia but none in Portugal until now.

Portugal’s project base is at the Alqueva reservoir where researchers and technicians are involved in monitoring the osprey’s progress.

The osprey is is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey reaching more than 60cm in length and 180cm across the wings which are long and narrow, with black spots. The tail is short, legs are grey-green and the beak is black.

Portugal's birding community now has a welcome additon to the wide variety of birds on offer, a variety which continues to attract tourists from within and from outside the country.

The Algarve's tourism board recently has started to take steps to encourage this niche market sector which is served by specialist accommodation and tour businesses.

Frank McClintock, known to many readers as the man behind the Save Salgados campaign, runs Paradise in Portugal, a holiday and birdwatching tourism business from an idyllic property overlooking overlooking the Santa Clara dam at Santa Clara-a-Velha in the southern Allentejo, and comments,

'I am of course delighted at the ospreys' return. Guests have always enjoyed seeing them fish in front of our Quinta during the winter and now we'll have them nearby the whole year through - a major plus."

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0 #7 Richard Stead 2019-03-02 16:42
Pair today near the Alvor marshland as you drive up to the track to the Lagoon. Lots of other birds including a flock of flamingos but the Ospreys were magnificent and unmistakable
+1 #6 Trab 2017-09-24 19:53
Osprey spotted hunting and carrying food in the river of Ria de Alvor Portimao Algarve. Would be interested in any other spotting is in this area
+1 #5 barbara flynn 2017-03-26 15:44
Was in Faro mid-March/2017 and saw many populated nests up on poles, light standards, and crevices in taller buildings. Fascinating.
-9 #4 Colin Key 2015-05-04 16:55
I wonder whether this Osprey nest site is being given any protection (i.e. surveillance) by SPEA or any of the other Portuguese conservation groups? It certainly deserves it, as is the case with nesting Ospreys in the UK.
-9 #3 A. Thomas 2015-05-03 14:48
We must be clear that in urging school children to get involved Mr Williams is not maligning Portugal.

Just stating a simple fact ! If the Malta bird shooters were coming home to their children asking them 'Why do you shoot the eagles that are flying back to Germany / UK / Ireland / Denmark (put your own country here) to raise their young. Then they return next year to West Africa?'

Maybe a few more gunnies each year would put away their guns. And each year a few more gunnies would try and argue with their ex-gunny mates that 'Other countries want to see these birds - alive'

So a few more birds each year will survive the Med. crossing. A good example of which countries are in the EU for real.
-10 #2 Simon Williams 2015-05-02 16:58
An excellent cause and I will sign it now !

I was initially reluctant to throw my bulk behind the petition being mistakenly thinking it was about saving billionaire bankers - but having checked it I urge everyone to go to the avaaz.org site and sign it.

And tell any school teachers to get their kids to sign up. Start them young ... and they can save Portugal for future generations.
-6 #1 Mike Towl 2015-05-02 06:52
How long before some Blockhead dressed like Rambo and Rat-arsed on Mondronha runs short of Sparrows to kill and shoots them?

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