It now almost two months since World Osprey Week, but two of the birds we followed as part of WOW have only just made it back to their nest site. Tero and Seija are two of the most northerly breeding Ospreys anywhere in the world – their nest in Lapland is actually inside the Arctic Circle – and, knowing that spring arrives much later at such a northerly latitude, the birds do not hurry back to their nest site each year. In fact Seija was the first of the two birds to make it home; arriving on 10th May after a 42 day flight from the Ivory Coast. Her mate, Tero, was just three days behind her, having spent the winter 3000 miles away in Kenya, on the other side of Africa. Amazingly he had left his winter home on exactly the same day as Seija: 30th March (the day after WOW). There is a much more detailed account of their migrations on the Finnish Museum of Natural History website. You can check our their journeys via the animation buttons at bottom of our interactive WOW map.
With Seija and Tero safely back at their nest site, all of the WOW birds have now completed their spring migration. Between them the WOW birds have flown almost 40,000 miles across 48 different countries, spanning four continents. To get back to their nests they have had to make long, arduous crossings of the Sahara, night-time flights across the sea, navigate vast mountains ranges, and perhaps most worryingly of all, avoid the guns of hunters. Helena – one of the Finnish birds – survived crossing Malta where illegal killing of birds of prey remains a serious problem (see the Birdlife Malta website for more). Of course these nine birds are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bird migration. Each spring many millions of birds – many a fraction of the size and weight of the satellite-tagged Ospreys that we have been privileged to follow – make similar journeys. And that is what WOW is all about – a celebration of migration.
This year almost 250 schools from 12 different countries took part in WOW. Some made links with schools in other countries and, in some cases, continents; others used the interactive map to follow the journeys of the individual Ospreys; many downloaded the free teaching resources to bring Ospreys into their day-to-day lessons. We hope that by following the WOW birds on their spring migration that students and teachers have been as captivated by the amazing journeys as we have. We also hope that they have been able to learn about other countries in a new an exciting way. Through their remarkable journeys, migratory birds link people from many different cultures and backgrounds. They also demonstrate why international collaboration is so important when it comes to conservation.
One of the schools who got involved in WOW this year Hugglecote Community Primary School from Coalville in Leicestershire. Teacher Sarah Simpson has kindly sent some examples of their work. You can check it out in the gallery here. Well done to everyone involved!
Although all of the WOW birds have now made it home, schools can still register online via the Osprey Flyways Project. This gives you free access to 43 online lesson plans and ideas and the opportunity to make links with other schools who have registered for the project. To sign-up, click here.
A huge thanks to all the schools who got involved in WOW this year; and also to the Osprey researchers and organisations who have allowed us to follow their satellite-tagged Ospreys on migration. Particular thanks to Roy Dennis, Pertti Saurola, Iain MacLeod and Rob Bierregaard. You can learn more about the work they do via the Meet the WOW Ospreys page.
WOW will be back bigger and better next year, but if you’re a teacher who would like to learn more about how you can incorporate Ospreys into your teaching, why not register for our teacher training day in July. There is more information here.