Excitement as Foulshaw osprey spotted in The Gambia

Osprey which hatched at Foulshaw Moss in 2016 is now thriving on the West African coast
Image of Foulshaw Osprey V8 in The Gambia Jan 2021 © Fansu Bojang

Foulshaw Moss osprey V8 was spotted in The Gambia in January 2021 © Fansu Bojang

A four-year-old osprey has been spotted in The Gambia, some 4,000 miles away from where it hatched at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve near Witherslack. The male bird of prey (tagged as Blue V8) was spotted this week at Tanji Bird Reserve in The Gambia  by Fansu Bojang, a bird guide, who regularly guides British birdwatchers in search of UK colour-ringed ospreys.

Blue V8 is one of two chicks that successfully fledged from Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve in 2016. Paul Waterhouse, Reserves Officer at Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: “This is very exciting news indeed and we are very grateful to Fansu for letting us know about it! We know that the osprey chicks which hatch in Cumbria face a long and arduous migration to West Africa, when they are about five months old, and sadly as many as 60-70% don’t survive this first journey. We know their survival chances are very slim so we’re really pleased to hear that Blue V8 is thriving four years on!”

Osprey chicks are tagged at around three months old and Paul explains why this is so important: “These leg tags enable us to identify the birds individually, keep tracks of their movements and understand their life history, as with this sighting of Blue V8. They are fitted with metal BTO rings, as part of the national bird ringing scheme and also a plastic colour ring, which allows individual birds to be identified in the field using a telescope or telephoto camera.”

This is now the second Foulshaw Moss chick to be recorded in the Gambia: 5N (2018) was recorded by Chris Wood in the winter of 2019 at Gunjur quarry, not all that far away from this sighting. We know that V8 has returned to the UK at least once since his first migration as he was photographed in 2019 at Leighton Moss.

Osprey pair Blue 35 (female) and White YW (male) started nesting at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve in 2014. Since then they have successfully raised 18 chicks including Blue V8 - eight males and 10 females. Paul and his colleagues are hoping that the breeding pair will return again this year (usually in late March/early April). We are working to get the live osprey web cam up and running once again. You can make a donation to help with the running costs of this camera here.  

Last year, record numbers of people tuned in to the osprey web cam, to watch the return of Blue 35 and White YW, and the successful fledging of two more chicks. Many web cam viewers told us that having this close-up daily contact with such amazing wildlife became a ‘lifeline’ for them during lockdown. Online page views of the web cam doubled during the 2020 osprey season, compared with the same period in 2019 (822,000 compared to 486,000).

Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve is located off the A590 near Witherslack. If you are visiting the nature reserve, please follow Government Coronavirus guidelines and observe social distancing.

You can now experience visiting Foulshaw Moss from the comfort of your home, with our stunning new 360-degree virtual tour of the nature reserve. Watch the 360 tour here - (scroll all the way down the page).