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Human Swan to follow Flight of the Osprey just months after tragic Sutherland crash

Sacha Dench is returning to the skies on her Flight of the Osprey project. Picture by Conservation without Borders
Sacha Dench is returning to the skies on her Flight of the Osprey project. Picture by Conservation without Borders

A conservationist seriously hurt in a mid-air collision that killed her colleague is taking to the skies once more to track an endangered species.

Sacha Dench, dubbed the Human Swan, is planning for the Flight of the Osprey expedition, setting off from Scotland in August.

The project will be undertaken as a film, narrated by Joanna Lumley, and dedicated to the memory of Dan Burton, who was killed during the Round Britain Climate Challenge expedition in 2021.

Drones and local projects will tell the story of the osprey

Baby Ospreys at Loch Arkaig Picture sby Lewis Pate.

Ms Dench and colleague Mr Burton, 54, fell to the ground after a mid-air collision.

The crash killed Mr Burton and left Ms Dench with life changing leg injuries. Both were experienced fliers.

In her new expedition Ms Dench aims to bring attention to the osprey one of the country’s most magnificent birds.

The 43-year-old will make the 5,000-mile trip aboard a paramotor – a paraglider with a small propeller engine.

The expedition this year will see her cross vast expanses of ocean as she tracks migrating ospreys. She hopes to cruise on air currents 3,000 feet above the waves.

Human Swan first tracked Bewick’s swans

Scottish Osprey in Aviemore.

She told the Mail on Sunday: “I need to concentrate really hard to read the topography and calculate where the thermal is, then to trim the wing to ensure I stay in it. Otherwise you can just drop.”

A distant relative of actress Dame Judi Dench, she earned the nickname the Human Swan during a 4,000-mile paramotor flight in 2016.

At the time she was tracking the migration of Bewick’s swans across the Arctic tundra to the UK.

During the Flight of the Osprey, expected to last four months, Ms Dench, a UN ambassador for migratory species, plans to fly at least part of the way with the motor switched off, relying on the same thermals as the birds she’ll track.

Dame Judi said of the venture: “I think it is admirable and what a fantastic example at this time, when we are all so concerned about climate change, that Sacha is yet again drawing attention to its consequence.”

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