A NEW osprey nest webcam which live streams from a secret site within Poole Harbour has gone live for public viewing.

The camera, installed by the charity Birds of Poole Harbour, streams a manmade osprey nest within the harbour.

It is hoped the nest will be used by the rare birds of prey this spring, which could be the first nesting attempt of osprey in southern England for the first time in nearly 200 years.

Charity co-founder Paul Morton said: "This is such an exciting time for the project, as we could see the first nesting attempt this year as osprey begin to migrate back from West Africa.

"Last year saw the first return of one of our chicks from 2017, a young male called LS7 and he immediately hit it off with a female called CJ7 that had been hanging around the harbour for a number of summers.

"We set up camera traps on nest platforms last spring and got some incredible photos of the pair together. Last year he was too young to breed, but this spring he should hopefully now be thinking about raising a family."

The Birds of Poole Harbour charity, in partnership with the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and local technology firm Wildlife Windows, began a five-year osprey reintroduction scheme in 2017. Their aim was to re-establish a south coast breeding population of osprey, after they became extinct in the area due to human persecution 180 years ago.

The charity has been relocating wild osprey chicks from Scotland and raising them in Poole Harbour for three years and this spring could be the first time a nesting attempt is made in the harbour.

Paul said: "“The truth is, we have no idea what’s going to happen this spring or summer but based on our knowledge of other osprey nesting sites in the UK and the behaviour exhibited by LS7 and CJ7 last summer, we can make an educated guess on how things might pan out this year."

The charity hopes the virtual connection to nature will provide a welcome distraction for anyone in self isolation, as well as potential learning opportunities for parents that are beginning to home school due to the recent school closures.

Birds of Poole Harbour have other live webcams including a busy feeding station at Livability Holton Lee and nesting islands on the Dorset Wildlife Trust Brownsea Lagoon.

The project is backed by the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Dorset Police Rural Crime Team.

Claire Dinsdale from the Dorset Wildlife Crime Team said: "Ospreys are a schedule one species in the UK meaning they have the highest level of protection under the wildlife and countryside act, therefore making it an offence to disturb them on or around their nesting sites.

"We’re seeking the public’s cooperation in not mentioning on social media where the webcam nest is, as not to increase the risk of disturbance in the early part of the breeding season.

" We will robustly investigate any suspicious death and bring the offenders to justice. We will also take action against those who disturb these magnificent birds, especially when nesting.

"This includes use of drones or photography.”

n Visit https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/osprey/osprey-webcams/ to view the webcam footage live.