Can we bring back a missing predator?

Paul Stammers will present Returning a top predator: the reintroduction of ospreys in England at Durrell’s Academy Lecture Theatre at 19.30 on Friday 8th March. Free entry and everyone welcome.

We are increasingly familiar with rewilding environments: trying to bring back missing elements such as those important species that helped shape the landscape and the way that others including ourselves have lived. Think of beavers, marmots, bison and deer – all species returned successfully to parts of Europe. But, they are herbivores, how easy is it to bring back a predator? Well, agencies in the UK have become very good at bringing back predatory birds like the white-tailed eagle and the red kite. Less well known perhaps is the story with the osprey – a bird that famously came back naturally to Scotland in 1954 after a long absence and some serious effort to stop it leaving again. More recently this iconic bird has been directly restored in England, at Rutland Water, and work is underway in Poole Harbour which will see ospreys nesting once again in southern England.

Paul Stammers was born in Norfolk, the son of a gamekeeper. After leaving college, Paul joined Rolls Royce in Derby to serve an Engineer Apprenticeship and gained a degree in mechanical engineering. He went on to work on the design and testing of the RB211 engine at Derby and Hucknall.

In 1972 Paul was approached by Mars Ltd to join their design team at Melton Mowbray where he went to work in design, project engineering, production management, local external relations and finally environmental management. He then took the decision to retire at 50-years old to follow his interests in conservation.

In 1996 Paul started as a volunteer on The Rutland Osprey Project, assisting with translocation of osprey chicks from Scotland to Rutland Water. In 2007 he became a member of staff working with Dr Tim Mackrill, Project Officer Rutland Ospreys for the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and Anglian Water.

During the last 12 years Paul has helped in the day-to-day running of the project and establishing a breeding colony of nine pairs of ospreys and in excess of 20 adult birds returning each year to the local area. Between 2011 and 2019 Paul regularly visited both Gambia and Senegal tracking ospreys and visiting schools that are supported by the project and LRWT.

At the end of the 2018 season Paul decided to step down from his staff position but continue to work as a volunteer with the project. In September 2018 he was appointed Trustee of the Osprey Leadership Foundation. The aim of the Foundation is to give young people the opportunity to study and work in conservation in both the UK and West Africa.

On Friday, Paul will talk about the translocation of ospreys to Rutland, the establishment of a colony and then on to Africa and the work with schools in The Gambia. Finally he will give a summary of the aims of the Osprey Leadership Foundation.

During his visit, Paul will have a look at Jersey with ospreys in mind. He will come to us from Guernsey where he will have been hosted by BOTE friend, and conservation stalwart, Vic Froome. Vic will come across with Paul, not least as he likes to see some choughs from time to time!

Durrell’s Academy is at the Les Noyers Hostel site across the green car park from the Zoo entrance (map here) . Please park on the grass or walk over from the main car park (you may need to bring a torch).

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