There is no doubt about it. The UK is gripped by Osprey fever at the moment. Whether it is 03(97) – otherwise known as Mr Rutland – returning earlier than ever to find his nest covered in deep snow, Scotland’s most famous Osprey, Lady, returning to the Loch of the Lowes for yet another summer, or Monty sending shockwaves of excitement around the country when he suddenly landed back on the Dyfi nest a couple of days ago. One of the reasons that this is all so exciting is that we know the birds have just completed a 3000 mile migration that has taken them across the wilds of the Sahara, over the vast Atlas Mountains and perhaps even direct across the Bay of Biscay. It’s a journey that takes the birds through many different countries, contrasting cultures and spectacular landscapes. And it’s a journey that we celebrated a couple of weeks ago by holding a special concert entitled A Musical Migration.
The whole idea for the concert came about last summer when Paul Stammers and Michelle Househam were accompanying Melton-based choir Global Harmony and a visiting French choir, on a special Osprey cruise on board the Rutland Belle. As the cruise neared its end, the two choirs joined together to sing a traditional Senegalese folk song. Right on cue an Osprey passed overhead; and, as everyone admired it from the boat, someone joked that the Osprey would now know where to go for the winter!
Each year Global Harmony, a mixed a cappella world music choir, perform a concert to raise money for a local charity and, following their evening on the Rutland Belle, they kindly agreed to hold this year’s concert in aid of the Osprey Migration Foundation; which we set up in 2011 to link schools along the Osprey migration flyway and to provide wildlife education for schools situated in the key over-wintering areas in Africa. So on a snowy night in late March just under 150 people gathered in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Oakham to hear about an Ospreys journey from West Africa to Rutland. The narrative, which was based on 09(98)’s spring migration to Rutland last year, was accompanied by John Wright’s superb photography and fourteen songs from different countries on the flyway, performed superbly by Global Harmony. Click on the video below for the French leg of the journey.
In all the concert raised over £2000 for the Osprey Migration Foundation, which we will use to provide computer equipment for five schools in The Gambia who are part of our pilot education project. This will allow the students to watch the Manton Bay webcam and to follow satellite-tagged Ospreys as they migrate south this autumn. It will also enable the schools to get in touch with other schools on the migration flyway – in Rutland and further afield – providing an exciting way for all the students to learn about life in another country. For more on the project, click here.
We are extremely grateful to Global Harmony for choosing us as their charity concert – and we hope that this will be the first of a series of migration concerts. We’ve even got plans for a special performance at this year’s Birdfair! Sincere thanks, also, to Swarovski Optic for sponsoring the evening.
Watch out too for a DVD of the concert – coming soon thanks to the expert filming of Dave Cole.