The 150th osprey chick has hatched as part of a pioneering project to bring the bird of prey back to England’s skies, conservationists said.
Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and Anglian Water’s project to reintroduce ospreys in England, where they had been extinct for more than 150 years, celebrated the milestone when the chick hatched on Monday night.
Efforts to restore a population to the skies of central England saw 64 six-week-old Scottish ospreys released at Rutland Water reservoir between 1996 and 2001, with the first of the birds returning to breed at the site in 2001.
There are now 25 of the fish-eating birds of prey, with eight breeding pairs in the area.
The new chick belongs to Maya and her mate “33” who have been breeding together at Manton Bay, on Rutland Water, since 2015 and have successfully reared 10 chicks.
This year they have laid four eggs, and the third chick to hatch after the seven week incubation period has brought the total number of hatched as part of the Rutland Osprey Project to 150.
Ospreys were driven to extinction in England by persecution, through egg collection and taxidermy, and habitat loss, and ceased to be a breeding species in the country in the 1840s, the wildlife trust said.
The birds had previously been widely distributed across areas such as the Fens which provided them with good breeding and feeding habitat.
Marie Dipple, osprey project officer for Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust said: “Thousands of supporters and volunteers are celebrating this exciting milestone today.
“It’s fantastic that we now have so many ospreys back from migration and breeding at Rutland Water Nature Reserve.
“Some of our Rutland ospreys are spreading to other parts of the UK too, helping the UK osprey population to grow.
“We expect that many of our other pairs will produce healthy chicks which bodes well for the future of osprey populations in the UK.”
The chicks hatching this year are likely to remain in Rutland until September when they will set off on a 3,000 mile migration to West Africa.
If they survive the migration, they will remain in Africa until they are two years old.
Visitors to Lyndon Nature Reserve at Rutland Water can view the osprey nest from the visitor centre via a live webcam or from a dedicated hide.