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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July, 2004, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Spanish migration for ospreys
Osprey
The aim is to re-establish Spanish breeding colonies
A group of Highland ospreys have left their Scottish home for Spain as part of an effort to reintroduce the species to southern Europe.

The five birds were transported to Andalucia by plane, leaving Inverness Airport on Tuesday morning.

They were taken from their Highland nests at the weekend to prepare for the journey.

The last known breeding pair of ospreys on mainland Spain was near Malaga and was lost in 1982.

In total 20 birds will be moved to Spain from Scotland over the next four years.

The Spanish authorities have worked very hard to ensure that the young ospreys will have every chance of establishing themselves in the future
Professor Colin Galbraith
The reasons the birds became extinct there - loss of hunting grounds, killing of birds and theft of eggs - have largely been eradicated.

The Scottish birds will join other young ospreys being brought from elsewhere in Europe and it is hoped the initiative will see the species re-establish Spanish breeding colonies.

Ospreys have increased in Scotland, from only one occupied osprey nest in 1954 to 162 in 2003.

The ospreys were travelling from Inverness to Andalucia in a transfer licensed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Professor Colin Galbraith, director of science at SNH, said he had high hopes for the scheme.

Scottish numbers

He said: "I am delighted that we have been able to licence the translocation of these osprey nestlings.

"Whilst we need to take care about when to use reintroduction to help the conservation of a species, it can, in special circumstances, be very effective."

Prof Galbraith said the reintroduction of the red kite and the sea eagle in Scotland were successful examples of the policy.

He added: "It is particularly important that the reasons why the species died out in the first place have been rectified and in this case the Spanish authorities have worked very hard to ensure that the young ospreys will have every chance of establishing themselves in the future."

Ospreys on aircraft
The birds are made ready for their flight
Ospreys recolonised in Scotland 50 years ago and have increased in numbers from only one occupied osprey nest in 1954 to 162 in 2003.

Ornithologist Roy Dennis said redistributing ospreys was a prudent policy.

He said: "What's happening now in places like Strathspey is that young ones want to breed there and they come back and they keep fighting with each other sometimes breaking eggs and damaging nests.

"And sometimes not managing to breed until they are five, six or seven years old.

"So, actually redistributing them is really quite sensible wildlife management."


SEE ALSO:
Ospreys set for Spanish journey
06 Jul 04  |  Scotland
Double joy as osprey chicks hatch
28 May 04  |  Scotland
First osprey chick's global debut
18 May 04  |  Scotland
Delight as Osprey lays rare eggs
07 May 04  |  Scotland
Osprey couple finally settle down
31 Mar 04  |  Scotland


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