You’ll be pleased to hear that volunteers Ken Davies and Lynda Berry will be keeping regular diaries on the website again this year. Aside from monitoring the Site B and Manton Bay nests, Ken works with our new Education and Outreach Officer, Lucy McRobert, to co-ordinate our work with schools…
On the Road Again!
In common with Osprey communities all over the Northern Hemisphere, we in Rutland are waiting expectantly for the return of the birds in the next few days and weeks. This year, there is an even more tangible air of excitement around the Reservoir and in the Visitors’ Centres, as staff and volunteers work together to prepare for the rapidly approaching World Osprey Week (March 24th – 28th), when Osprey friends all over the world will be united via the satellite-tracked northward migrations of Ospreys from many locations far and wide, as we follow routes including Venezuela to New York, Cameroon to Finland, and, of course, Senegal to Rutland. It’s going to be a roller-coaster ride, so log in, hang on, and join in!
Just to add to the frenzy of activity, it’s the first outing of the year for ‘The Osprey Roadshow’ today, so five of us are heading into Oakham bright and early to take morning assembly at Brooke Hill Academy, a thriving and successful primary school just a mile or so from the Reservoir. We are really thrilled that so many of our local schools have signed up for World Osprey Week, as well as schools all over Europe and America, and we want to give them a ‘heads up’ on how they can get the most from the week. In front of a throng of eager faces, we start with a short ‘refresher course’ on Ospreys, but these boys and girls are incredibly ‘switched on’ and remember virtually everything we have told them on previous visits about these very special birds nesting just a mile or so from their school. Tim then takes over and prepares to WOW them with details of World Osprey Week, and they respond to his questions with bright and clear answers. Apparently WOW is an acronym used in class as a mnemonic to do with adverbs and adjectives, but from hereon it is also a symbol for the exciting World Osprey Week to come!
Tim adds to the suspense and mystery of Osprey migration when he says : ‘There is one person in this hall who has actually seen this Rutland Osprey (30(05)) in her winter quarters on the beach in Senegal.’ Who could it be? Who has been lucky enough to be in a small party which tracked her down? Enter Paul, who takes over the assembly complete with his note-book (nicknamed ‘The Oracle’), and proceeds to give a detailed, illustrated – and occasionally emotional – account of the first ever close encounter with a satellite-tracked Rutland Osprey in Africa. We are enthralled too – this story has to become a regular part of the Roadshow for years to come!
We end with a film of a song performed for us by children from a school in the Basque region of Spain. It’s in their own language, but the accompanying pictures show us it is inspired by their studies of the Ospreys spending time nearby, and everyone is captivated by their enthusiastic singing and dancing! A super ending to our assembly! To find out more about the song, click here. Two of the older girls have been filming it, in preparation for a piece they have to present to their class later in the week. They approach us, tablet in hand, and ask very searching questions. The answers are typed into the tablet. One girl is fascinated by the unique nature of Osprey feet, and so has to type in the word ‘zygodactylic’. She is delighted when, as she reaches the end of the word, her device recognises it and finishes it for her! So you see, we’re not making it up! When quizzed about why Ospreys always carry their fish head forwards, she suggests ‘It’s so that the fish can see where it’s going.’ We like that very much!
After thanks and yet more questions and answers, we return to base for a de-brief. Barbara has filmed the event on her device, and perhaps we could ask Becky to distribute it to the volunteers to ask for their opinions and suggestions for improvements. It’s been Lucy’s first experience of the Roadshow, and she will take a leading role in future presentations. Tim is already making changes to a few of the slides. The activity, just minutes after we have finished, is evidence of the continually evolving, ever improving nature of what we do. The next school visit (English Martyr’s School, Oakham) will be even better. While we have been out of the office this morning, several more schools have signed up for World Osprey Week, including one within a mile of the Reservoir, and another over three thousand miles away. Such is the power of the Osprey to link communities.
Life in the Centre continues apace. Tim and Lloyd need to ensure that the webcam is ready to record the arrival of the first Osprey in the Bay. Kayleigh is familiarising herself with the intricacies of the till in preparation for Lyndon opening on Monday 17th March. Paul is concerned that someone is around for the very important first delivery of ice-creams for the Lyndon refrigerators. Lucy is poring over well over one hundred entries in her ‘When will the first Osprey arrive in Manton Bay?’ competition. Becky is giving last minute tweaks to the nest-monitoring rotas. And then there is the traditional Volunteers Pre-season Meeting on Wednesday evening. Everything is almost ready.
Now all we need is the long-awaited arrival of the guests of honour……