Ospreys, once on the brink of extinction in the UK due to persecution, are now thriving and their numbers have reached record levels, according to the 48th annual report of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP). The report highlights the success of conservation efforts, with the osprey population continuing to grow in Scotland and spreading to other parts of the UK.
In 2021, a total of 281 osprey pairs were reported to the RBBP, with at least 232 laying eggs. This is a significant increase compared to just 10 known breeding pairs recorded when the panel started collecting data in 1973. The osprey now breeds in all mainland counties of Scotland and has expanded southwards into northern England and Wales.
Reintroduction projects have played a crucial role in the recovery of the osprey population. Breeding has been successful in the East Midlands around Rutland Water and on the Dorset coast, contributing to their overall increase in numbers. The success of this conservation effort is further underlined by the thriving populations of other rare birds of prey, including the marsh harrier, goshawk, and white-tailed eagle.
While ospreys and other birds have experienced positive growth, the Montagu's harrier has faced challenges. The report reveals that only one male made attempts to attract a mate, with no records of any females. This underscores the need for continued conservation efforts to protect and support these endangered species.
Dr. Mark Eaton, secretary of the RBBP, emphasized the importance of the organization's ongoing monitoring and reporting efforts. Celebrating 50 years of documenting and safeguarding the UK's rarest breeding birds, the RBBP's work is vital in understanding population trends and implementing effective conservation strategies.
In addition to the success of birds of prey, the report also highlights positive outcomes for rarer breeding herons, such as the great white egret and cattle egret. The figures suggest that overall, 2021 was a favorable year for rare bird breeding in the UK.
The remarkable recovery of ospreys and other rare birds of prey in the UK is a testament to the power of conservation efforts. With continued support and conservation measures, these magnificent species can thrive and inspire future generations to appreciate and protect our natural heritage.