First Ospreys to breed in Yorkshire after several hundred years

Friday, 5th August 2022

First Ospreys to breed in Yorkshire after several hundred years


Embargoed until 16.00, 5th August 2022

First Ospreys to breed in Yorkshire after several hundred years revealed to Sacha Dench and crew amid expedition following Osprey migration

 Sacha Dench and Flight of the Osprey Expedition team visit the site as part of journey following Osprey migration route from Scotland to Africa

Ospreys have never been recorded as breeding in Yorkshire since records began in 1800 and were generally extinct in the UK until returning initially to remote parts of Scotland from Scandinavia in the 1950’s.

The very first Osprey nest for centuries in Yorkshire, on the Bolton Castle Estate near Leyburn in Wensleydale now has a young adult pair who have produced two chicks (one male one female). 

The osprey was once common across Europe but was driven to extinction in many parts, including Britain, in the 1800s. In recent years, with active reintroductions, it has been trying to make a comeback, but threats and mysteries still remain. Why do so many birds disappear on their migration? And is our insatiable consumer demand part of the problem?

VIP’s Meeting at the nesting site

Sacha Dench (Founder of Conservation Without Borders and Ambassador for the UN’s Convention on Migratory Species) and leading the Flight of the Osprey expedition, will be visiting this significant site on Friday 5th August and meeting with Tom Orde-Powlett, son of Lord Bolton, and other individuals who have been instrumental in creating this notable Osprey nesting site at the Bolton Castle Estate.

The Expedition 

The Flight of the Osprey expedition is an epic 10,000km conservation journey from Scotland to Ghana through 14 countries, bringing together UN agencies, scientists, governments and communities to address the effects of climate change & human threats to the osprey and other migratory species. They and local country partners will be following the track of 4 GPS tagged ospreys. The team will meet people and communities along the flyway, showing grassroots conservation projects and highlighting inspiring new initiatives with practical solutions to mitigate against the effects of climate change and rampant consumerism. They will also be filming from air, land and underwater – providing a legacy that will be open for use for educational or scientific purposes in the future.

Sacha Dench, known as “the human swan” for her journey following Bewicks Swans from Arctic Russia to the UK by paramotor is not yet able to fly following a tragic accident during last year’s Round Britain Climate Challenge leaving her legs damaged. But as a champion freediver, she intends to dive to investigate some of the wetland sites so important to the fish-eating ospreys, including sites of dynamite fishing, seagrass beds, looking at the impact of ghost nets and plastics at critical sites along the flyway.

The new Yorkshire Osprey’s lineage

The mother of the new chicks is known as Blue KS1 and hatched at Glaslyn in Wales in 2018, her mate is un-ringed. KS1’s mother is known as 'Mrs G' and has been returning to Wales since 2004 and her father known as Aran has been with Mrs G since 2012. It is believed that this is the first of Aran's offspring known to be breeding.

Encouraging nesting

Tom Orde-Powlett, in cooperation with a number of interested organisations instigated the re-colonisation on the Bolton Castle Estate. One of Toms gamekeepers noticed two birds together in the area and this gave Tom the confidence that there could be a pair establishing a territory.  With the expert help of Mike Thornley of Thornley Wildlife Trust and Brian Towers, Toms’ river keeper and former tree surgeon, two platforms were built on the Estate. The pair that had been seen by the gamekeeper ultimately built a nest on one of the platforms and produced the two chicks in mid-June which have now been ringed 

Tom said

“Over the last twenty years or so I had seen Ospreys with increasing frequency, and in 2019 what we thought might be a pair were spotted. I decided to stock two ponds near where we had seen them with some trout, hoping that a good food source would keep them here and also reduce pressure on wild fish.

Friends, family and colleagues from Natural England, the Cumbria Raptor Study Group, BASC and the Lower Ure Conservation Trust all helped in assessing where might be best to build nesting platforms near the areas where the pair were mostly frequenting

We were overjoyed when they eventually built a nest on one of our platforms and we saw the hen bird apparently sitting on something – we hoped an egg in May – which would mean potential hatching in mid-June.

One of our keepers has taken a keen interest and has been checking the nest every day of incubation. I had a real shock on the day we thought was hatching day when a local farmer who had been observing them on his rounds, saw a large amount of net trailing behind the flying male bird. We climbed up to the nest site but luckily by the time we got there the male had freed himself of whatever it was and seemed fine. 

We were pretty confident of one chick but when we went to ring them we were thrilled to discover two, one of each sex.” 

Sacha Dench added: 

“I am incredibly honoured to be able to visit the very first Osprey breeding pair in Yorkshire. What Tom and his colleagues have achieved is nothing short of a miracle!

Our expedition is designed to shine a light on some of the fantastic efforts organisations and individuals like Tom are making to address the challenges faced by Ospreys and other migratory birds. In the long run we humans can do so much to help ospreys and a wide range of other birds and animals whose lives, like our own, depend on healthy, unpolluted land and oceans.”

Simon Warwick MBE, Director, Lower Ure Conservation Trust concluded

“Based on photos, it appears that the male Osprey comes south to Nosterfield Nature Reserve to fish on most days, - an easy return trip for an osprey - interestingly every fish we have managed to identify him catch has been a chub.

It has been a real delight to work with Tom on this and to witness his enthusiasm.  As he suggests, all our research indicates that this pair is the first in Yorkshire in historic times – incredibly exciting and hopefully the beginning of a Yorkshire dynasty!”


NOTE: It is a criminal offence to approach or disturb nesting Ospreys and other raptors

Sacha and Tom will be available for interview to discuss the expedition and the story behind the re-colonisation of Ospreys to Yorkshire

They will be at Bolton Hall, Leyburn, DL8 4UF at 4pm 5th August for face-to-face interviews and photo opportunities

Stills and video available of the Bolton Castle Estate and Ospreys available on request

Sacha Dench and related images available here: and

Watch the Flight of the Osprey expedition trailer

For more videos of Conservation without Borders:

Flight of the Osprey is funded by MAVA Foundation pour la Nature and the Global Environment Facility in association with the UN Convention on Migratory Species and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.


Jackie Pedersen, M: +44 (0)7980 767710, E


Kendra Grahame-Clarke M: 07910 214474 E:


Tom Orde-Powlett

Has always been interested in wildlife and has been involved in conservation increasingly seriously since 2009. In addition to his work with Ospreys Tom has been a trustee of Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust is on the steering group of The Curlew Recovery Partnership for England and is vice chairman of The Moorland Association

Sacha Dench

• Biologist, conservationist, adventurer, motivational speaker

● Ambassador for UN’s Convention on Migratory Species

● First woman to receive prestigious Britannia Trophy in 50 years

● Freediving record holder,

● Woman of the Year 2017,

● Environment Campaign of the Year 2017

● British Women Pilots Association Trophy 2017