Tanji Beach clean

Tanji Beach clean

One of the key aims of the Osprey Flyways Project is to raise awareness of the need to protect migratory birds at all times of the year. We were thrilled, therefore, to hear from Junkung Jadama this week about how children from Tanji Lower Basic School in The Gambia have been helping out. JJ writes:

“As the Osprey Flyways Project is concerned about environmental education the students of Tanji Lower Basic School and Osprey club members take this step to clean Tanji beach because people throw litter all over the beach that is important for migrating birds. If you look at the video you will find out that there are lots of old fishing nets on the beach which can be dangerous for the birds.”

JJ also sent us these photos of the students’ hard at work. It is amazing to see how many nets they managed to clear from the beach. Many birds – Ospreys included – can easily become tangled in these nets and so the students’  efforts are incredibly important. Well done to all of them.

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A wheel-barrow full of discarded fishing nets. Such nets pose a real danger to many birds - including Ospreys

A wheel-barrow full of discarded fishing nets. Such nets pose a real danger to many birds – including Ospreys

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Junkung Jadama organised the day - thank you JJ!

Junkung Jadama organised the day – thank you JJ!

Tanji Lower Basic School were one of four schools who got involved in a fantastic Skype link up during World Osprey Week. Xarles Cepeda from the Urdaibai Bird Center has sent us this brilliant video of the Skype call. We’re sure you’ll agree that all of the children did fantastically well.

If you would like to support our work in Africa through the Osprey Flyways Project, you can do so by sponsoring Kayleigh for her skydive – which is now just under two weeks away!

The project's education team (l-r) - Pete Murray, Jackie Murray and Ken Davies

WOW – Day 5

Yesterday was the final day of World Osprey Week and the project’s education team rounded off a very successful five days by visiting Wittering County Primary School, near Stamford. The Osprey is a brilliant species to incorporate into science lessons, and while at the school the team taught the children about osprey adaptations and food chains. Both topics are included in lesson plans that WOW schools can download for free. There is a sneak preview below, but to view the full list of teaching resources for both primary and secondary schools and to register for WOW, click here.

Osprey adaptations worksheet

The children at Wittering were very enthusiastic, and clearly remembered a great deal from a previous visit by the team. They’ll soon be choosing their Osprey Ambassadors and are also planning on submitting poems, stories, and science work for the Osprey Festival be held in Oakham later this term.

This week the project’s education team – Ken Davies, Jackie Murray and Pete Murray – has led sessions with over 550 school children. This included presentations and assemblies in local schools as well as Skype calls which linked three continents. Its been a fantastic week and simply would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of Ken, Jackie and Pete – a huge thank you to them all.

Although WOW has now finished, schools can continue to sign-up. Doing so gives you access to the teaching resources and also the opportunity to  contact other schools all round the world who are also studying Ospreys. If the Skype calls that we organised this week are anything to go by, establishing links with other schools in this way is a really exciting way for children to learn. So don’t delay, sign-up now!

Jackie Murray teaching children at Wittering Primary all about food chains

Jackie Murray teaching children at Wittering Primary all about food chains

The project's education team (l-r) - Pete Murray, Jackie Murray and Ken Davies

The project’s education team (l-r) – Pete Murray, Jackie Murray and Ken Davies

Ken and Jackie with children from English Martyr's School in Oakham

WOW – Day 4

We start tonight’s World Osprey Week blog with news from Wales. Earlier today three-year-old female, 3J – who fledged from the Manton Bay nest in 2013 and first returned to Rutland last summer – visited the Glaslyn nest in North Wales. We know that young Ospreys often wander widely in search of a nest and mate, so it will be interesting to see whether 3J settles in Wales, or returns to Rutland. For now it is just great to know she has made it back to the UK safely.

A screenshot of 3J perched beside the Glaslyn nest earlier today

A screenshot of 3J perched beside the Glaslyn nest earlier today (photo courtesy of Glaslyn Wildlife)

Having linked up three countries by Skype yesterday, today we made World Osprey Week truly international with a Skype that linked three continents. Over the past few weeks the project’s education team have been working closely with staff and pupils from Great Casterton Primary School and today children from the school gave a superb presentation to pupils from Istituto Comprensivo Grosseto 1 in Italy, Montorre and Urretxindorra schools in the Basque Country in northern Spain and Tanji Lower Basic School in The Gambia. They then had the opportunity to talk to Osprey expert Iain MacLeod from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in New Hampshire, USA. Special mention must go to the schools Osprey Ambassadors, Louie and Sam who read brilliantly on camera and also to the pupils in Italy who sang the Osprey song written by Hurst Lodge school last year.

The Osprey Song – performed by the Juniors at Hurst Lodge School from Andrew Holdsworth on Vimeo.

Pupils from Great Casterton School showing off their fantastic artwork

Pupils from Great Casterton School showing off their fantastic artwork

As the photo shows, the children at Great Casterton showed off some their fabulous Osprey artwork, and have said that they will enter it into the art category in our Osprey festival in July. You can read more about that here. Earlier in the day the team also received a very warm welcome at English Martyr’s school in Oakham where they gave an assembly to the whole school.

Ken and Jackie with children from English Martyr's School in Oakham

Ken Davies and Jackie Murray with children from English Martyr’s School in Oakham

Art was a theme that ran through most of today’s WOW presentations, and that isn’t surprising – through their incredible migrations and fishing prowess  Ospreys have inspired artists for many generations. We’re very fortunate to have a very talented artist, John Wright, on the project team and he has recently completed the artwork for a new book that we will soon be publishing thanks to a kind grant from the Martin Lawrence Memorial Trust. Ozzie’s Return written by Ken Davies is the follow-up to Ozzie’s Migration and, as the name implies, tells the story of the young Osprey’s flight home to Rutland Water. Here’s a sneak preview of just some of John’s fantastic work, which will also be available as limited edition prints later in the summer.

Ozzie's Return

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John Wright’s fantastic artwork will also be available as limited edition prints

We hope to launch Ozzie’s Return during the Osprey festival in July and it will be on sale at the Visitor Centres at Rutland Water and in other outlets in the Rutland area, as well as via the website. Watch out too, for a second book for older children that we’ll be publishing later in the year. Ozzie Leads the Way has also been written by Ken Davies, with illustrations by Fiona Gomez.

Artwork- Fiona Gomez

Ozzie Leads the Way features artwork by Fiona Gomez

Watch those eggs!

WOW – Day 3

Its been a beautiful spring day in Rutland today and the Manton Bay nest has been bathed in glorious sunshine for much of it. As we always hope during incubation, little of note happened at the nest for much of the day; the one exception being when 33 brought a large stick to the nest. Look how close he came to treading on the eggs…

Watch those eggs!

Watch those eggs!

Today is the third day of World Osprey Week This afternoon myself and the project’s education team visited Catmose College in Oakham where we linked up with students from Istituto Comprensivo 5 school in Grosseto, Italy and Tanji Lower Basic School in The Gambia via Skype. Despite one or two technical problems, it was exciting for the students to chat to each other, with Ospreys as the link. Each school gave a presentation and then asked each other questions.

SKype web

Toby Carter talking about the Rutland Ospreys to students in Italy and Gambia

One of the key aims of WOW is to link schools around the world through a shared study of Ospreys and if your school would like to get involved, you can sign-up here. Once registered you can create your own school page and be included on our interactive WOW map, which also shows the location of migrating Ospreys.  Each school page has the contact details of a teacher (which is only visible to other registered schools), allowing you to get in touch with each other – through email or, as we did today, via Skype. This is helping to create a community of like-minded schools who, we hope, will go on to enjoy long-term links. All as a result of Osprey migration!

You might also like to check out the competition for schools that we’re running as part of the Osprey Festival we’re organising in June.

The students from Catmose College gave a great presentation about Ospreys

The students from Catmose College gave a great presentation about Ospreys in Rutland

Education Officers Jackie and Ken with children at Leighfield Primary this afternoon

WOW – Day 2

Watching an Osprey diving to catch a fish has to be one of the most awe-inspiring wildlife spectacles, and there is no better place to do it at the moment than Horn Mill Trout Farm, where the specially-designed hide is offering wonderful opportunities for photographers. We reported yesterday that 33 is one of several birds that have been making regular trips, and Geoff Harries has kindly sent us these stunning photos of this master fisherman in action. You can even see the Osprey’s third eye lid in one of the photos. This helps protect the bird’s eyes when they hit the water during a dive.

Osprey 33 plucks fish from water web Osprey 33 flys off with fish web Osprey 33 with fish web Osprey 33 with fish close up web Osprey 33 third eye lid shot web

Ospreys are supremely well-adapted predators and as part of the teaching resources that are free to download for all schools who have registered for World Osprey Week, we have an adaptations worksheet that could form the basis of an exciting science or biology lesson. Just how are the Ospreys able to hold on to those slippery fish? There’s a sneak preview below, but to see a full list of the resources available for both primary and secondary schools, click here.

designed to be an osprey

Of course not all Ospreys have made it back to their nest sites yet. Pertti Saurola has kindly sent the latest update on the three Finnish birds that we are tracking. If you check out the WOW interactive map, you’ll see that they’ve all made good progress since the last update. Of particular note, Seija made a long crossing of the Mediterranean passing over the dangerous skies of Malta where illegal killing of migratory birds is still a major problem. Fortunately Seija made it safely across and is now in Albania. Ilpo and Tero meanwhile have reached Lithuania and Iraq respectively. For a more detailed description of the amazing migrations of the three birds, click here.

Finally, the project’s education team have been busy again today. This afternoon they gave a special WOW assembly at Leighfield Academy in Uppingham.

Education Officers Jackie and Ken with children at Leighfield Primary this afternoon

Education Officers Jackie and Ken with children at Leighfield Academy this afternoon