Ospreys return to our Asturias reservoirs
Posted on 14.08.13 by
Not satisfied only being surrounded by Unesco biosphere reserves, ArcelorMittal Asturias employees in Spain decided to contribute to the environment by getting involved with local NGO FAPAS on a project that aims to repopulate the area with Ospreys.
“Asturias is a region of exceptional natural beauty; a region where we have been able to combine our deep-rooted industrial traditions – linked fundamentally to coal, iron and steel – with the wealth of biodiversity to be found in our region on the northern coast of Spain. In June, ArcelorMittal Asturias took this a step further through its involvement with local NGO Fund for Protection of Wild Animals (FAPAS) on a project that aims to repopulate the area with Ospreys.
Did you know that Asturias – a region about three times smaller than Belgium – has six areas that have been declared biosphere reserves by Unesco? And it is in Asturias that ArcelorMittal is collaborating with an initiative at two of the reservoirs next to our facilities in the region, to encourage Ospreys to breed here.
I personally find Ospreys beautiful. Also called sea hawks, fish eagles, or fish hawks, they are medium to large raptor birds of prey that feed on live fish and nest close to large expanses of water, provided they can find vantage points offering good visibility of the surrounding area. The global population is estimated at 460,000. In Spain, there are only around 40 breeding pairs left.
Ospreys are incredibly flexible and when flying towards the sun, they are able to bend the joint in their wing to shield their eyes from the light to make flying safer?
ArcelorMittal has three reservoirs in the Asturias region and two of these are exactly the kind of fish-filled water bodies needed by Ospreys. Built several decades ago to supply the water required for our steelmaking process, the ‘San Andrés’ reservoir, close to the Gijón site, and the ‘La Granda’ reservoir, next to our Avilés site, have been designated Special Protection Areas for birds and, as such, enjoy public protection. Several species use them as stopover points during their migrations between Africa and Northern Europe. All this natural wealth is only a few metres away from ArcelorMittal’s steel production units, providing perfect examples of the peaceful and successful co-existence of industry and the natural environment.
After we received the necessary approvals, colleagues and FAPAS volunteers installed an artificial nest at the ‘San Andrés’ reservoir on 3 June. This operation involved driving a 6m-high wooden pole firmly into the ground. An expert from FAPAS installed the nest – a framework of plastic tubes covered with branches – at the top of the pole and placed a resin mock-up of an osprey next to the nest, to serve as a decoy. This will help ospreys to identify the nest as a good place for breeding. Any activity in the nest will be recorded by a video camera installed next to the decoy.
A few metres from the nest, FAPAS also installed a 4m-high perch that provides a vantage point from which the Ospreys can seek their prey and on which they can feed without being threatened by other animals.
On 26 June a second nest was installed on a small island in the middle of the ‘La Granda’ reservoir.
We were hoping that the Ospreys would take to at least one of the two dwellings created for them by the reservoirs. But I am happy to report that some birds have already been spotted at both locations.
Check out here a video about Ospreys (in Spanish) produced by FAPAS and footage showing the installation of the nest and perch at our ‘San Andrés’ reservoir. This video was used as part of an environmental awareness activity for young students.”
FAPAS is one of the most active entities in the area of environmental preservation. Created in 1982, its main aim is the preservation of mountain eco-systems in northern Spain and of the wildlife species that inhabit them, such as brown bears and capercaillies. It currently has over 18,000 members and supporters. ‘Alerta pescadora’ (www.alertapescadora.com) -in English, Osprey Alert- is one of the various projects run by FAPAS. Its aim is to recover the presence of nesting ospreys in Asturias, after more than 40 years.