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The latest satellite data shows that 30(05) continues to favour the same section of Senegalese beach each day

Merry Christmas

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we know where at least two of the Rutland Ospreys will be on Christmas Day. The latest satellite data shows that 30(05) remains very settled on the coast of Senegal and, a few hundred miles south, her daghter, 5F(12) is wintering at Tanji in The Gambia.

The latest satellite data shows that 30(05) continues to favour the same section of Senegalese beach each day

The latest satellite data shows that 30(05) continues to favour the same section of Senegalese beach each day

But there’s a third Osprey that we ought to mention too. His name is Ozzie. Let the children of Edith Weston Primary School explain…

The satellite tracking data really helps to bring the Osprey’s amazing migration life and we are very grateful to the East Midlands Group of the Hawk and Owl Trust for donating £500 towards the ongoing costs of receiving the data. This is the third year that the group has supported our work – so a huge thank you Chairman Simon Dudhill and the rest of the group.

A team of six volunteers erected the hide

A new Osprey viewing hide

It may be three months before we expect the first Ospreys to return to Rutland Water, but work is well-underway in preparation for their arrival. By far the biggest Osprey project job of the winter is the replacement of Waderscape hide at Lyndon. Waderscrape provides superb views of the Manton Bay Osprey nest and the new hide will be a great place to sit and enjoy the comings and going in the bay. It is larger than the old hide and much brighter and airier thanks to large glass viewing slots and windows. The hide, which has been funded thanks to our partnership with Caterpillar, has been erected by a team of volunteers, led by Ron Follows and Dave Cole over the past couple of weeks. Now that the hide is watertight we’ll be installing interpretation and a large screen TV – which will show live images from the nest camera – in the new year.

We are honoured that the Martin Lawrence Memorial Trust will be funding children’s learning resources for the new hide. Martin was a daily visitor to Waderscrape hide and made many friends among the project team. He very sadly died in October this year but we are delighted that his memory will live on through the kind donation and also a permanent memorial in the hide.

A team of six volunteers erected the hide

A team of six volunteers erected the hide

Putting the roof on

Putting the roof on

The new hide is bright and airy

The new hide is bright and airy

Looking back at the hide

Looking back at the hide

Part of the new interpretative material will be funded by a generous donation from the Horse and Jockey pub in nearby Manton. Over the course of the year the Horse and Jockey have included the ‘Osprey’s Nest’ (which is a bowl of nachos and chili) on their menu and each time someone has ordered one, they have donated 50p to the project: which amounted to £292 this year. A huge thank you to owner Jason Allen and all of the Horse and Jockey team. This is the third year that Jason and his team have made a donation to the project and we’re very grateful for their continuing support.

Horse and Jockey owner, Jason Allen (left) and myself with the Osprey's Nest

Horse and Jockey owner, Jason Allen (left) and myself with the Osprey’s Nest

As the work at the hide demonstrates, volunteers are vital to the running of Rutland Water Nature Reserve. We have a hugely dedicated team of over 350 people who help with all aspects of the reserve – from habitat management to welcoming visitors. Work is now underway on a new Volunteer Training Centre at the reserve which will provide much-needed new facilities to support the amazing work of volunteers. We’re currently running an appeal to raise the final funds for this exciting and innovative new building. To find out more, click here.

Three of the students from St Martin's Basic Cycle School who have helped out with the Osprey survey

Osprey Survey in The Gambia

Over the past three years we have been working with schools in The Gambia in an effort to help the students to learn more about Ospreys and the rest of the amazing wildlife that they have on their doorstep. We hope that the work, which is being coordinated by Junkung Jadama as part of the Osprey Flyways Project, will raise awareness of conservation and encourage the students to take more of an interest in the natural world; and maybe even think about a career in the environment.

Junkung visits all of the schools regularly to give the students talks and also takes groups out on fieldtrips. This gives the young people an opportunity that they simply wouldn’t get given the limited resources of each of the schools. This year we have embarked on another exciting new venture for the project – a survey of wintering Ospreys in coastal Gambia. The survey is being led by Junkung along with Clive Barlow, author of the Birds of Gambia and Senegal and Lamin Sanyang from the Gambian Department of Parks and Wildlife Management. Not only is this helping to provide valuable information on the wintering population of Ospreys in the region, but it is also providing fieldwork experience for students who have shown a real interest during previous fieldtrips. The winter-long survey began in late October and four of the students from St Martin’s Basic Cycle School in Kartong who joined the team have written about their experiences:

Junkung Jadama and Clive Barlow with students during one of the survey days

Junkung Jadama (second left) and Clive Barlow (seated) with students during one of the survey days

25th and 26th October

Being members of the Osprey Flyways Project the school privileged us to attend a birdwatching survey. It gave us great pleasure to be selected and take part in this survey. After having successfully conducted the survey, we intend to write these few words to express the experience we have gained in the course of the survey.

It was a two day trip (25th and 26th October 2014) lead by junking Jadama and Clive Barlow. We have always been hearing about Clive (the writer of a book on Gambian and Senegal birds) but we’ve never met him in person. This trip gave us the opportunity to meet him and interact with him. It also gave us the opportunity to see places we’ve never been to e.g. Bato Kunku, Tanji and Brufut Beaches.

During our survey we focussed on birds that are completely new to us. It was very interesting for us to see and identify European birds like the Osprey. We also learnt and observed their mode of feeding through fishing. We were amazed to find out that some of these Ospreys were ringed with different colours and marks/numbers.

One of the most interesting and enjoyable parts of the whole thing is our opportunity to use binoculars and telescopes. These are things we learnt in science but never saw them, not to talk of using them. Today we are proud that our knowledge on these gadgets is above the rest of our classmates because we saw them and used them freely; an opportunity our friends did not have. Because of the fact that everything was enjoyable and interesting, we did not even feel the long distance walked during the survey.

On a final note, we want to reaffirm our delightedness and gratefulness to Junkung and the Osprey Flyways Project for the interesting lessons taught to us. We strongly promise to continue our membership.

Farnara Jatta and Fatoy Secka

Three of the students from St Martin's Basic Cycle School who have helped out with the Osprey survey

Three of the students from St Martin’s Basic Cycle School who have helped out with the Osprey survey

29th and 30th November

We are members of the Osprey Flyways Project of St Martin’s Basic Cycle School, Kartong. We were selected to go for a birdwatching survey which took place on the 29th and 30th November 2014 and are happy to write about a few of the many things that we have experienced.
In the first place, we were exposed to places we never knew before, e.g. Tanji Marsh, Tanji Bird Reserve, Madiana and Bijoli Island. We really enjoyed our first ever boat trip into the Atlantic Ocean to Bijoli Island.

Secondly, our opportunity to see and learn the names of birds of different species and origin was a great achievement. It was interesting for us to know that some birds migrate all the way from Europe; including Osprey, Northern Gannet and many others. We saw some Ospreys that were ringed in Europe in different colours and numbers.

Our friends who preceded us in the birdwatching spoke to us about binoculars and telescopes which we were eager to see. Our participation in this trip gave us the opportunity to see and use them.

For us it is impossible to over-emphasise the experience gained, these among others are great achievements. We want to thank our coordinator (Mr Jallow) and Junkung for the exposure. We are happy to be members of the Osprey Flyways Project and we will encourage our friends to join the club so that they can also gain benefits.

Ebrima Bojang and Kaddy Darboe

Count the Ospreys! 8 Ospreys on Bijoli Island during the survey (photo by Olly Fox)

Count the Ospreys! 8 Ospreys on Bijoli Island during the survey (photo by Olly Fox)

All of the work carried out by the Osprey Flyways Project is funded by donations and our own fund-raising activities. Much of the funding for the Osprey survey has kindly been donated by IEPUK from Uppingham. This not-for-profit education and training organisation has become a valuable supporter of the project and earlier this month all of the IEPUK team took part in the annual Santa Fun Run in Stamford to help raise more funds for the project. They raised almost £300. A huge thank you to IEPUK for their ongoing support and for everyone who sponsored the team. If you would like to make a contribution to help the project, you can still do so here.

The IEPUK team at the Santa Fun Run (you might recognise a guest member of the team, second left)

The IEPUK team at the Santa Fun Run (you might recognise a guest member of the team, second left)

You can clearly read 5F's blue ring in this photo

Rutland Ospreys in Africa

Every time I download the latest satellite tracking data from 30(05)’s GPS transmitter it never ceases to amaze me. She’s wintering almost 3000 miles away on the Senegalese coast and yet I can tell you exactly where she roosted last night. Remarkable!

As we have come to expect, the latest batch of GPS fixes show that 30 has remained faithful to the same short section of coastline just south of the fishing village of Tiougoune, midway between Dakar and St Louis. She follows the same daily routine each day; catching a fish soon after first light and then spending most of the day perched on the beach. She then roosts in trees about 100 metres inland. To find out more about here winter home, click here.

The latest data shows that 30 is settled on the usual  short section of Senegalese coastline

The latest data shows that 30 is settled on the usual short section of Senegalese coastline

Although 30(05) is the only Osprey we’re currently satellite-tracking, we do know where another Rutland bird is spending the winter – and the bird in question happens to be 30’s daughter! Last December Osprey project volunteer Chris Wood was thrilled to see 5F(12) in The Gambia. He identified her at Tanji Marsh, a site that myself and the project team know very well from our trips to Gambia and Senegal. At the time 5F was too young to have returned to the UK, but it was really encouraging to know that she had at made it to Africa.

Given that most young Ospreys first return to the UK at two years of age, we hoped to see 5F at Rutland Water this summer. Although that never happened, I received the exciting news yesterday that she is now back at Tanji Marsh. Chris Wood is in The Gambia again and he’s sent us a series of photos of 5F that he took at the marsh yesterday. This is really exciting news because it suggests that she is now settled at Tanji, just as her mother is on the Senegal coast. Well done, Chris!

You can clearly read 5F's blue ring in this photo

5F(12) at Tanji Marsh yesterday

5F at Tanji 2

5F Tanji

It is great to know where one of the Rutland birds is spending the winter, but the fact that 5F has settled at Tanji is particularly significant. The Gambian fishing village is where we initiated the Osprey Flyways Project in 2011 and, as a result, we have strong links with Tanji Lower Basic School. We have recently installed a suit of computers in the school thanks to funding from Melton Mowbrary Rotary club and the school have even named one of their football teams ‘the Ospreys’!

Some of the computers we recently installed at Tanji Lower Basic School

Some of the computers we recently installed at Tanji Lower Basic School

Children at Tanji Lower Basic school wearing football kits donated by two Rutland schools

Children at Tanji Lower Basic school wearing football kits donated by two Rutland schools

The computers will allow children at Tanji to participate in World Osprey Week in March – and now that we know there is a Rutland Osprey within a short walk from the school, that takes on even more significance. Exciting times indeed!

We are always looking for ways to raise money for the Osprey Flyways Project and, with this in mind, I’m joining a team from IEPUK to run the Stamford Santa Fun Run. This involves running 5km dressed as Santa! If you would like to sponsor us, you can do so here. Any money raised will go towards our work in Gambia.Thanks to George Peach and IEPUK for their continued support of the project.