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.