In recent years, advances in satellite tracking technology have greatly enhanced our knowledge of Osprey migration. As the journeys of satellite-tagged Ospreys 09(98) and 30(05) from Rutland Water demonstrate, GPS transmitters provide an incredible insight into the birds’ flights between Europe and Africa. There is something about bird migration that really captures people’s imagination and thousands have avidly followed the journeys of the satellite-tagged Ospreys from Rutland.
The interest in Ospreys, though, isn’t confined to Rutland. The global distribution of the species – they occur on every continent except Antarctica at some point during the year – means that they can link people all over the world.
In 2011, following a visit to West Africa, the Rutland Osprey Project founded the Osprey Flyways Project. The key aims of the project are to link schools along Osprey migration flyways and to provide wildlife education opportunities for schools in the key over-wintering areas.
For migratory birds like Ospreys, it is important that conservation effort focusses not only on the breeding grounds, but also on the migratory flyway and wintering areas. With this in mind we set-up a pilot education project in The Gambia in 2011. Funded entirely though fund-raising challenges and activities, the project aims to use the incredible migrations of Ospreys to raise awareness of the need to protect migratory birds while they are in West Africa.
The project is currently working with six Gambia schools; each of which is located in important wintering areas for Ospreys. Students from the schools are given talks in class by project coordinator Junkung Jadama and then taken on fieldtrips to help them appreciate the amazing diversity of wildlife that their country supports; something that normal teaching resources simply do not allow.
In order to help students understand more about the migratory journeys of Ospreys and other species from Europe, the project has installed computer equipment in the schools. This enables the students to follow satellite-tagged Ospreys on their migration, and also to make links with schools located elsewhere on the Ospreys migratory flyway. In January 2014 computers were installed in Tanji Lower Basic School and St Martin’s Basic Cycle School in Kartong thanks to a grant form Melton Mowbray Rotary Club. Prior to the involvement of the project these schools had just one working computer between them – for a total of 2500 pupils.
As part of the fund-raising for the project, we published a children’s book Ozzie’s Migration, written by Ken Davies and illustrated by John Wright. The book tells the story of a young Osprey’s flight from Rutland to The Gambia. The book was also used to help the Gambian students learn about the birds’ journeys.
In February 2013, we helped organise an international meeting hosted by Professor Yossi Leshem of Tel Aviv University in the Hula Valley in Israel. The conference brought together Osprey researchers and educationists from around the world for two days of brain-storming on how best to link satellite-tracking with education. As part of the action plan agreed at the conference, we have developed an interactive map which displays Osprey migration data and enables schools currently studying Ospreys to get in touch with each other. To view the interactive map click here and to join our network of schools, please complete the online application form.
World Osprey Week!
In March 2014 we organised the inaugural World Osprey Week (WOW) from 24th to 28th March 2014. WOW provided an exciting opportunity for schools to follow the amazing migratory journeys of satellite-tagged Ospreys and to make contact with other schools on the migratory flyways.
In all, more than 100 schools from three different continents got involved! And don’t worry if you missed it: even though WOW has now passed, you can still sign-up to the Osprey Flyways Project to gain access to free teaching resources and to make links with other schools. Schools signing up for WOW and the Osprey Flyways Project get free access to online resources to help students learn more about Ospreys and their amazing journeys. To see a full resources list click here. Each school is also added to our interactive map, and listed as one of our Osprey Flyways Project Schools – allowing teachers to get in touch with other schools elsewhere on the migration flyway.
- To provide computer equipment and internet access for all schools involved in the project in The Gambia. This will allow students to participate in the schools link, follow satellite-tagged Ospreys and watch Osprey webcams from around the world.
- To replicate the pilot project in schools throughout The Gambia, and in other parts of West Africa and other key-over-wintering/passage sites for Ospreys.
- To organise an international meeting, at a key migration watchpoint, for students and teachers involved in the project.