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30 photographed on the beach by John Wright last winter

Settled at her winter home

Our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05), has now been at her wintering site on the Senegal coast for over six weeks, and she has settled into the same winter routine as last year. Like last year she is fishing a maximum of 2km out to sea once or twice per day and then spending the rest of her time perched in exactly the same places as last winter; either on the beach or in the scattered trees just inland. You can see just how similar her daily routines are to last year by checking out the satellite tracking map and zooming in on the beach.

30 is spending her winter on exactly the same section of Senegalese beach as last winter

The past ten days’ satellite data shows that 30 is spending her winter on exactly the same section of Senegalese beach as last winter

The fact that 30 is favouring the same area as last winter is typical of an adult Osprey; most remain faithful to the same wintering site each year. When John Wright, Paul Stammers, Cat Barlow and Junkung Jadama visited the beach last winter they thought that it was a safe place for an Osprey to spend the winter and so it is excellent news that she is settled there again. You can read more about their visit here.

30 photographed on the beach by John Wright last winter

30 photographed on the beach by John Wright last winter

Children at the Urdaibai Bird Centre in the Basque Country watching the children at Edith Weston reading their Osprey stories

Exciting links through Ospreys

In March this year we linked over 100 schools from nine different countries during the inaugural World Osprey Week. We hoped that links with schools located elsewhere on the Osprey migratory flyways would bring the amazing migratory journeys to life for the students. The week was a great success and plans are well underway for World Osprey Week 2015 from 23rd-29th March next year.

Although the focus of World Osprey Week is on the spring migration of the Ospreys, we hope that schools will continue to follow the Ospreys and to maintain links throughout the year. With this in mind, last week Xarles Cepeda from the Urdaibai Bird Center in the Basque Country organised a Skype call to link some of the schools who participated in WOW in March. I was asked to chair the call and so it was with some excitement that I arrived at Edith Weston School in Rutland last Friday afternoon. Edith Weston is the closest school to the Lyndon Visitor Centre and so it seemed fitting for them to be involved. We logged onto Skype and established connections with the Urdaibai Bird Centre (where children from Montorre and Urretxindorra Schools were waiting), Bolonia School in Tarifa in southern Spain, Istituto Comprensivo Grosseto 1 in Italy and Tanji Lower Basic School in The Gambia. We were also joined on Skype by Iain MacLeod from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in New Hampshire, USA. You may remember that we followed one of Iain’s satellite tagged Ospreys, named Donovan, during WOW.

The Skype call allowed the children from the different schools to give short presentations about Ospreys and Iain talked about his work with Ospreys in the United States: with the aid of the Osprey that he keeps at Squam Lakes. The Osprey was found injured a few years agao and although it never recovered sufficiently to be released, Iain now uses the Osprey to teach students about the birds.

The pupils from Edith Weston Primary School who were involved in the Skype call with teacher Victoria Redshaw and Tim Mackrill and Ken Davies (right)

The pupils from Edith Weston Primary School who were involved in the Skype call with teacher Victoria Redshaw and Tim Mackrill and Ken Davies (right)

The children from Edith Weston read stories and poems that they had written about Osprey migration. Here are two of them:

Osprey’s Journey by Alicia

I looked around and saw the dull grey water and the trees – leaves abandoned. A strong wind ruffled in my feathers and the temperature began to drop. These were signs to tell me that it was Winter: the time all ospreys go to Africa, where the warmth lives. I spread my enormous wings – my journey had just begun.

Quickly, I flapped my wings against the harsh wind which was so strong that I had to use all my effort as I was so heavy with my large wingspan. I was soaring past fluffy snow-white but the golden sun never moved out of the way. It was as if it was chasing me while I glided through the deep blue sky.
In front of my eyes was my rest point, France! I heard children say “Bonjour,” to me; I realized that it meant “hello,” in my home’s language, English. I also heard people talk about a lake: lake means fish! Dinner was now in my hands! I flew over to the lake they were talking about and I caught a mackerel, a wriggling eel and a rainbow trout: eels were said to be rare in that lake! I had a rest on the Eiffel Tower: the land mark my parents talked about and I set off to Madrid, Spain!

Off I went soaring through the sky again, heading to Spain with the wind carrying me across the horizon to my next destination. While I was flying, I caught ten mackerel: fresh from the sea. “Yummy,” I whispered, looking out for land for Spain.

Sooner than I thought, there it was, Spain! I screeched in happiness as I was so close to Africa! Carefully, I listened to cheering which lead me to the football stadium where I gave Spain a goal because I kicked the ball into the goal. Everyone went crazy about my goal – have they never seen an osprey play football? I went over to a little stream for my dinner – you can tell I love my fish. I thought I should go to and set off to Africa.
I left Spain and set off to Africa, wondering what it might be like – the only thing I knew about it was the warmth, the sun and rare fish. I knew I was getting close because it was getting hotter and hotter.

I saw millions of ospreys dead ahead of me; I knew I was at the right place. My family was waving to me and all my friends were glad to see me. I enjoyed my journey and now I am happy to be in Africa with all my relations.

An Osprey’s migration by Melissa

This was the time. I am going to migrate to Africa. It will be a huge change in my life. I will miss the nest, the hides (though there not very hidden.) and all I can see is the dull, grey water. Here I go, I took one look at the camera then I set off.

WOW! I was starting my first ever migration because it’s getting nearer and nearer to winter here at Rutland. As I flew over, it started to get dark and I thought to myself it is going to be a starry night I better be quick to get to France, Paris.

Suddenly above me I could see other ospreys and they were all around me. Now I have just spotted in the distance the Eiffel tower and it was AMAZING! Just at that moment, I spotted a lake full of yummy fish. After a while I went down rested and then ate yummy fish.

The next day I started to travel to Spain and I spotted a church on the coast of Spain and I stopped on the cross of a famous church.

After my little nap I travelled to AFRICA! I will make it to Africa. I will see all the other ospreys and it will be very warm. Just at that very moment there was a huge canal that was full of my favourite fish. In the distance I could see all of the other Ospreys and I had finally made it to Africa, Senegal. I met all my friends and some of my family it was a huge change in my life but then I kept thinking of the nest and everything at Rutland. Then when it gets back to spring at Rutland I will travel back home with everyone else.

Thank you to Alicia, Melissa and all the children from Edith Weston for their excellent stories and poems. A huge thank you as well to to everyone who took part in the Skype link and particularly to Xarles Cepeda at the Urdaibai Bird Centre for organising it. How amazing to link people in three different continents!

Children at the Urdaibai Bird Centre in the Basque Country watching the children at Edith Weston reading their Osprey stories

Children at the Urdaibai Bird Centre in the Basque Country watching the children at Edith Weston reading their Osprey stories (thanks to Urdaibai Bird Centre for the photo)

Although World Osprey Week is still five months away, you can sign your school up now for free access to 38 lesson plans for both primary and secondary schools. The lesson plans are cross-curricular and will provide a new and exciting learning experience for your pupils. To sign-up, click here. Registering for WOW also gives you the chance to contact other schools who have signed up for the project, to create your own page on the website and to be added to our interactive WOW map.

An artist's impression of the new Volunteer Training Centre at Rutland Water

The 3000 Mile Challenge

As you will know if you have visited Rutland Water, volunteers are essential to the reserve. Whether it is managing habitats, greeting visitors, recording wildlife or monitoring Ospreys, we simply couldn’t do what we do without them; each year over 350 volunteers dedicate an amazing 35,000 hours to the reserve.

In recent years it has become increasingly obvious that we need better facilities to support the incredible work of our volunteers. With that in mind work has now started on a Volunteer Training Centre. The centre, which is being built just to the north of Lagoon 4, will provide much-needed new facilities, including training and learning areas, bunk rooms for residential courses, meeting spaces, a kitchen and a mess room, workshop with storage for tools and equipment, wash-rooms and drying facilities. To find out more about this exciting new building, click here.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded us £632,655 towards the Volunteer Training Centre and we have also received valuable funding from Anglian Water and various charitable trusts, but we must urgently find £170,000 to complete the build. With this in mind, we are launching the Wild Lives at Rutland Water appeal.

An artist's impression of the new Volunteer Training Centre at Rutland Water

An artist’s impression of the new Volunteer Training Centre at Rutland Water

The Wild Lives appeal gets off the ground this weekend with a special challenge. A team of Rutland Water volunteers, staff and supporters  are attempting to match the amazing 3000 mile migration of an Osprey from Rutland to West Africa. If you followed the journey of Osprey 30(05) from Rutland Water to the Senegalese coast this September, you’ll know that the flight took her 11 days to complete. However on Saturday the 3000 miles challenge team (as we’re calling them) are attempting to travel as far as possible in just one day. So far more than 80 people have signed-up to run, walk, cycle and kayak a total of almost 1500 miles around Rutland Water – that’s the equivalent of Rutland to Casablanca as the Osprey flies! The event is open for absolutely any one to join and it doesn’t matter how far you pledge to travel; in this case every single mile counts. So if you would like to join us and help us travel the equivalent of even further across Africa, you can sign-up here.

If you can’t join us on the day, then we’d be very grateful if you would consider sponsoring the team. You can do so via our Virgin Money Giving page.

30(05) migrated to the Senegalese coast from Rutland in 11 days

30(05) migrated to the Senegalese coast from Rutland in 11 days

We are very grateful to Anglian Water for providing free kayaks and canoes for the challenge and to Rutland Cycling for offering 20% off bike hire for anyone who’s participating. The team will be setting-off from Whitwell at 10am on Saturday morning – fingers crossed for some good ‘migrating’ weather!