FOR the first time in 100 years, much to the delight of conservationists and raptor enthusiasts, two young ospreys have been seen displaying promising mating behaviour in the Yorkshire Dales.

The ospreys were first seen together on May 4 at a newly built nesting platform in the Wensleydale area.

One of the pair is known to have been hatched in Wales in 2018; the other has no leg rings and its origins are unknown.

Ospreys take several years to reach maturity and young new pairs are often seen practising nesting in years prior to successfully raising chicks.

Mike Thornley, regional officer and osprey expert for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) said: “These are two immature birds that have taken exceedingly well to the nesting platform and the area.

“While there is still a slim chance of them successfully laying eggs, it is getting late in the season and it is most likely, at their age, they are simply getting to know each other better and improving their nest ready for next year.

“With no ospreys nesting in the region for many decades, this pair could be the future of the Yorkshire population and the continued growth of ospreys in the UK.

“It’s good news for the continued growth of osprey numbers in the UK.

“However, with a long autumn migration to West Africa ahead, we will have to remain patient and hopeful for their return next spring.”

The nesting platform erected earlier in the year is part of a wider osprey conservation project run by BASC with support from local landowners and volunteers.

Ospreys were extinct in the UK for much of the 20th century. It is the work of numerous conservation bodies and volunteers that has resulted in osprey numbers across the whole of the UK now increasing to 300 pairs.

With a wingspan reaching 1.5m, they are among the largest birds of prey in the UK.

They are also the only UK bird of prey that feeds exclusively on fish.