In 2013 and 2014 Animalcouriers helped to organise the transfer of osprey chicks from Scotland to Spain. This year we were very pleased to be asked to help again with this important and interesting osprey conservation project.

In July, Roy Dennis of the Highland Foundation for Wildlife in Scotland, and Dr Aitor Galarza of Urdabai Bird Center near Bilbao, organised the transfer of 13 osprey chicks to the centre. The birds flew with BA from Aberdeen to Madrid via London Heathrow.

Roy is also involved in a new project to reintroduce ospreys to Switzerland, about 100 years after the last breeding osprey was seen there. Ospreys continue being seen regularly (though in very small quantity) passing through Switzerland during their migration, but the last actual breeding pair of the species was back in 1914. Roy worked with Wendy Strahm from Projet Balbuzard/Nos Oiseaux to mastermind the move of six ospreys from Aberdeen to Geneva. Animalcouriers arranged the flights with BA from Aberdeen to Geneva via London Heathrow. The six young birds spent the night at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre before continuing their journey to Switzerland.

A mountain of paperwork was involved. Because Switzerland isn’t part of the EU, CITES export and import certificates were needed. Roy also had to arrange special licences to capture the birds from the wild. As with all CITES movements in and out of the EU, special customs clearance was also needed, but this couldn’t be done until after the birds were checked in at Aberdeen, so it was all rather nailbiting as the period between checking the birds in and loading them was quite short. Then we had to stop biting our nails and instead cross our fingers that there wouldn’t be any computer glitches to interfere with the HMRC centre at Salford granting the OK. Thankfully all went well and the birds went on their way without delay.

One of the young birds in the aviary shortly after arriving (photo © Denis Landenbergue from the Projet Balbuzard website:

One of the young birds in the aviary shortly after arriving (photo © Denis Landenbergue from the Projet Balbuzard website:

Swiss TV coverage (in French) of the birds’ arrival. Their aviary was built at at Swiss prison surrounded by 350 hectares of agricultural land which is inaccessible to the general public. This ensures the birds will have all the peace and quiet they need to settle in once they’re released from the aviary.