It’s been another exciting year for Dorset’s famous osprey pair. In early spring, our male osprey 022 and his mate CJ7 (their names relate to the ID rings around their legs) arrived back safely in Poole Harbour from Africa and immediately got down to business. This involved sprucing up their original nest, seeing off rival ospreys, aerial courtship displays and lots of mating! After a busy two weeks of repeating each of these tasks daily, our Birds of Poole Harbour team were elated when CJ7 laid her first egg on May 21st. This was soon followed by two more, a full clutch of three eggs. Then an anxious wait began as CJ7 settled into her lengthy 38-day incubation period.

Over the winter, we upgraded our osprey nest-cam to a full HD system, which is now providing crystal clear images from two cameras (with audio), streamed live from the osprey nest via our website. This meant viewers around the world could watch in awe when key moments have happened in the nest since the osprey couple returned. Conveniently the wildlife television series BBC Springwatch were also in the area, with live shows broadcast from their base at RSPB Arne over three weeks from the end of May. They gave our osprey nest some brilliant coverage, often cutting live to our webcam feed during the programme to share the latest updates with their viewers.

It seemed almost to have been written in the stars when, just after the first Springwatch show aired, our first osprey chick hatched at 22:40; the remaining two chicks successfully hatched during the last few days of May. Our webcams, which stream 24/7, gives us a privileged insight into osprey family life, a rare thing indeed considering that last year was the first time in nearly 200 years that a pair of ospreys had successfully raised chicks in the wild in the south of England. Of the two that fledged, one successfully migrated to Africa where it will stay a couple of years before returning to breed.

READ MORE: BBC Springwatch series returns from new Dorset location

The most amazing thing about bird development is just how fast chicks grow and evolve in the nest. The time it takes between hatching and fledging varies considerably depending on the species. For ospreys it’s roughly eight weeks. However, their change in appearance each day is staggering. At the time of writing, the three chicks are exactly three weeks old, and they are all doing brilliantly. The male osprey has been doing a phenomenal job at bringing in five or six fish to the nest every day to feed this hungry brood and his mate. These include both salt and freshwater fish such as grey mullet, bass, flounder, roach, rudd and brown trout. Thanks to their dad’s hunting skills in providing this abundance of fish, and their mum’s diligent feeding, the chicks have rapidly evolved from cute and fluffy into dinosaur-like creatures as their adult feathers emerge. Soon they will start to look more like ospreys and less like extras from Jurassic Park.

Great British Life: A view from the live osprey webcam showing CJ7 feeding her hungry brood of three chicks. ( Photo: Birds of Poole Harbour)A view from the live osprey webcam showing CJ7 feeding her hungry brood of three chicks. ( Photo: Birds of Poole Harbour)

READ MORE: First osprey chicks to hatch in Dorset since 1847

The hope is that the chicks will fledge towards the end of July. They will then go off on their own and explore the local area, hopefully imprinting Poole Harbour as ‘home’. This post-fledging period is so important as it is during this time the young birds are mapping out and memorising the local landscape in preparation for their own return from Africa in two years.

July 4th is scheduled as the day our team will be ringing the young chicks in the nest. This means that, like their parents, we will be able to identify them as individuals in years to come. So, if you haven’t had a chance to watch our osprey nest webcams yet then please do. There’s still plenty of excitement happening in this fast-growing family before they leave our shores at the end of summer.

Watch at


Osprey Walks at RSPB Arne

You may have seen the resident pair of breeding osprey CJ7 and O22 and their second brood of chicks on BBC Springwatch which was hosted at RSPB Arne this year. Most UK ospreys start their migration back to West Africa in late August, making stops along the way at their favoured feeding grounds including Poole Harbour. Many of the ospreys from the north of the UK will be stopping here, sometimes for a week or so, boosting the resident osprey population at this time of year. We are hosting Osprey & Birds of Arne Guided Walks throughout August and September. A chance for you to see these magnificent birds of prey fishing low over the water, as well as spotting the other heathland and migratory birds in the area. Walks are at 10.30am on August 23 & 29 September 7,14 & 21 Book at