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Education News February


Rutland Ospreys Education Newsletter                           No 7 :  February 2017


It’s now just over two weeks since we returned from Senegal and Gambia, and what a brilliant trip it was!  We met with well over one hundred Ospreys all together, including a brief glimpse of our own 32(11), who was in his usual spot in the mangrove creeks off Missirah (Senegal), good views at Bulok (Gambia) of the young FR3 from the Loch of the Lowes in Scotland, as well as several other ringed Ospreys from France, Germany and Latvia! All this information will be of great value to the Osprey authorities in the various countries. In addition, we watched 225 different species of brilliant African birds, many amazing mammals and reptiles, such as Red Colobus Monkeys, two species of Dolphin, Fruit Bats, Warthogs and a massive Crocodile! Butterflies and Dragonflies were also splendid in the sunshine!

Male Osprey near Missirah.

The really exciting thought as we boarded our flight for home was that the Ospreys will not be far behind us, and in a few weeks they will be following their well-known routes back to their summer homes, including, of course, Rutland Water! We even had an Osprey-like experience when our flight was diverted to the Canary Islands for a refuelling stop and change of crew! Ospreys often get blown off course by strong winds – a few years ago one of our satellite-tracked males (09(98)) found himself heading for the Canary Islands, just like us, in a strong north-easterly, and for 24 hours we thought he would be lost! But fortunately the wind dropped and he was able to get back on track! We made this an episode in ‘Ozzie’s Return’. Fortunately our stop-over in the Canaries was not due to the wind, and we were soon on our way again back to the UK!

Now it is time to start thinking about the new Osprey season here in Rutland! The Ospreys will be back soon, and we will be ready for them!  Read on now to find out about all the brilliant new plans we have for 2017 – there is so much to tell you!



Osprey Ambassadors :

Several schools have now chosen their ”Osprey Ambassadors” to help us to keep their schools up to date with the latest Osprey news. If your school wishes to choose two or three Osprey Ambassadors who could be our link with your school, and be responsible for helping us to keep you up to date with the latest osprey news, take a look at the information on the Rutland Ospreys website by clicking here.

Contact Ken for help with your Ambassadors by e-mail at


Ambassadors WOW Warm-up

All Osprey Ambassadors (with a supervising teacher or adult) are invited to a World Osprey Week “Warm-up” on Saturday March 25th 2017 from 10.30am until 12.00 noon.

This will be a chance to meet other Ambassadors, get the latest Osprey information and do some osprey related activities. If you need more details or wish to book a place for your Ambassadors contact Jackie at

Ozzie’s Diary

The Latest Ozzie’s Winter Diary (No4) .telling about his latest adventures in Gambia, is now on the Rutland Ospreys website. See it by clicking here.  This will be his last diary entry before migrating back to Rutland!

World Osprey Week (WOW)    March 27th– 31st 2017

Teachers can register on the website with access to our free on line primary and secondary school resources which include fun activities, cross curricular projects and lesson plans, with ready to use pupil resources. Over 300 schools are registered and are now are using these materials!

Take a look at the WOW pages on website for more details by clicking here.

Movie competition 2017 – “Ospreys and Us”

This year as part of WOW individuals or groups of children are invited to make a two minute movie inspired by ospreys. Schools may want to have their own school movie competition and send us the best ones.

We will have separate primary and secondary school movie awards. Movies must be sent to us by Friday 26th May 2017, and the winners will be invited to a movie premiere, Ozzie’s “Ozcar” Awards on Wednesday  5th July held at Rutland Water!


For more information about making and submitting your movie click here. There are also some teaching notes about how to make your movie in both the primary and secondary teachers resources area of the website.



Please take a look at the Rutland Osprey Website as we have posted a lot of new information in the following sections…


Education Section

School visits; If you would like to visit the Lyndon reserve with an educational group, take a look at what we can offer. These are best in the Summer term – come and see the Ospreys! We can also visit local schools to give assemblies and run a choice of classroom activities.

Educational Visits Information video; There is a NEW 3 minute video about visits to the Lyndon Centre – see the link above (school visits).

Ospreys and Us; Movie Competition for Primary and Secondary Schools for 2017


World Osprey Week Section

Get your school involved in WOW in March and follow the migration of the Ospreys!

The latest news, live  tracking of the Osprey Migration and of special interest to children of all ages

Ozzie’s Winter Diary; Find out what Ozzie has been up to during his latest stay in The Gambia in Africa.

School resources; FREE school classroom resources – just register your school for free access to these.



Ken Davies will be at the Oundle Bookshop, Market Place, Oundle, from 10.30-12noon on Saturday 11th March  to sign his latest osprey books “Ozzie’s Return” and “Ozzie Leads the Way”.

Our other osprey publications will also be available!

Ozzie 001Ozzie leads the way - £8



Ozzie’s Winter Diary Part 4

It’s the final chapter of Ozzie’s Winter Diary by Ken Davies!


February 2017

Over the last week or so, anyone watching the wintering Ospreys in West Africa might have noticed a slight change in their behaviour. They seem a little more nervous, more active and alert, chasing around the beaches and lagoons more hurriedly than earlier in the winter. Even Ozzie himself, usually so calm and unruffled, is tense on his perch, uneasy, wary, on edge. What could it be that is causing this change?


Could it be anything to do with the group of ten visitors from England, who have been touring around Gambia and Senegal for the past week or so, checking out every single Osprey they see? Maybe the noise of the little outboard engine on their flimsy fishing boat has disturbed the peace of the lagoons? Or the glint of lenses and the rapid rattle of camera shutters have maybe become annoying to the Ospreys? No, the Ospreys always ignore these intrusions into their watery world, merely looking with disdain and disinterest at these odd beings and their weird habits.

Wait a minute. Some of the other birds on Tanji beach are behaving strangely too. Sandwich Terns are high in the air, circling, calling. Nervous flocks of wading birds alight momentarily on the tide edge, but then are off again, glinting in the light, turning and twisting. Further back, above the green undergrowth, a few primrose Yellow Wagtails dance in the air, a Sedge Warbler climbs a reed and descends rapidly, and a Nightingale suddenly bursts into haunting, captivating song! There is magic in the air!

A long time ago, an American poet called Walt Whitman wrote a line which seems just perfect for today :

‘….you are call’d by an irrestible call to depart…..’

Of course, that’s what it is! All these birds have received the call, and they’re getting ready, all in their own time and in their own way, to begin their long journeys northwards to their breeding grounds. They can feel it – that restlessness birds feel before they migrate, the general unease, the bristling, of a creature about to embark on a journey. Wildebeest in the Serengeti, Caribou in Northern Canada, the great whales in the oceans and the clouds of Monarch butterflies in Mexico – this restlessness touches them all. We humans feel it too – have you never felt the anticipation, the excitement, in the days before a holiday? Today, here on the coast of Western Africa, it is almost palpable. Every migratory creature on this beach, in the nearby lagoons and the tangled forests, is sensing the approach of the great journey ahead.

DSC02830Not all the birds are affected. The Pelicans continue to float around the shallows like stately Spanish galleons, unperturbed by the excitement around them. They are happy to stay where they are. The Caspian Terns are far too busy preparing their nests and eggs on nearby islands to take any notice of their smaller relatives preparing to leave the area. Even some of the Ospreys – the younger ones who only arrived here in Africa last autumn, or maybe the autumn before – still sit on the sand banks, impassive, calm, napping. They will stay throughout the seasons for another year or two – until they too receive the call to return to their European homeland.

For the group of ten enthusiasts from Rutland Water, their winter Osprey Odyssey in West Africa is nearly over too, and this morning they are gathering for the last time at their wonderful eco-retreat on the coast of southern Gambia*. A few walk down to the observation tower in the grounds, overlooking the thick undergrowth, for last encounters with such African jewels as the White-crowned Robin Chat and the Blue-bellied Roller, just two of the 225 different species that have been encountered over the past ten days. For some, this might be the last time they have the opportunity to study these birds at close quarters, and it is tempting to linger. We say fond farewells to our charming hosts, who gather at the gate to wave us off, and make for the airport. We think of Ozzie and the other Ospreys too – another few weeks and they will be following us. We need to get home and prepare for their return!

KENOne further parallel between our journey back to England and that of the Ospreys. Once on the ‘plane, the Captain comes over the intercom to say that owing to flight regulations and the need for refuelling, we will need to land briefly at Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. A general groan is audible from the passengers, but at least one person is pleased : wasn’t it one of our original translocated Ospreys, 09(98), who, after being fitted with satellite tracking equipment quite late in his life, found himself on one return migration being blown out into the Atlantic towards the Canaries? For 24 hours his life was despaired of as he was forced further and further off course by the unrelenting gale, and his tracking data made very grim reading for everyone.

Our ‘plane leaves Gambia behind. From my window seat I look down on the coastal islands off Senegal, including the fabulous Île d’Oiseaux, where we were walking barefoot on the sand, surrounded by Ospreys and Terns, just a few days ago. A story-book ‘Treasure Island’ adventure. The green and watery landscape of Senegal gives way to the harsher, brown features of Mauritania, and then we climb so high that all I can see is an expanse of rugged ridges and dried river valleys. Our Ospreys, including Ozzie, will be crossing this under their own power soon. Mentally I wish them all well.

Suddenly I am conscious that our flight has veered north-westward, and we are heading off towards Gran Canaria. We are over Ocean again, just as 09(98) was when the gale carried him off course all those years ago. Our pilot does not have to battle the wind, as 09 did, and we make a smooth landing. The doors are opened.  The cool night air is refreshing. Ospreys used to inhabit the rocky coastlines of all these volcanic Atlantic islands, but sadly only the occasional pair breed on the cliffs now.The ‘plane is refuelled, a new crew takes over, and we are soon airborne again. 09 had no chance to rest, or refuel. Once the wind dropped, he had to turn immediately and try to get back on course for Morocco, Spain, France…….and Rutland Water! As our ‘plane follows the same route more or less exactly, I am with 09 in the air, a dream-like fantasy of Osprey flight and survival. When I wake up, we are over the English Channel and almost at journey’s end.


And now we wait. Ozzie and the other Ospreys, together with countless millions of other birds of so many species, will be heading our way soon as the world turns and the magic of migration begins. And then it will be time to start writing ‘Ozzie’s Summer Diary’ again.

Photos;, John Wright, Kayleigh Brookes and Jackie Murray


*Footsteps Eco Lodge, Gunjur, The Gambia. Highly recommended.



Monday Monday

As the following photographs show, the volunteer team continue to work hard on the Lyndon reserve every Monday! Over the past couple of weeks the weather has been excellent for working outdoors, slightly cold but sunny and bright! Many thanks to Sarah Box, Roy Edwards and Jan Warren for these photos of the work (and tea breaks) in action!

Sarah Box 6th Feb (13)

(S. Box)

Sarah Box 6th Feb (12)

(S. Box)

Sarah Box 6th Feb (10)

(S. Box)

Sarah Box 6th Feb (9)

(S. Box)

Sarah Box 6th Feb (8)

(S. Box)

Sarah Box 6th Feb (7)

(S. Box)

Sarah Box 6th Feb (6)

(S. Box)

Sarah Box 6th Feb (5)

(S. Box)

Sarah Box 6th Feb (4)

(S. Box)

Sarah Box 6th Feb (2)

(S. Box)

Sarah Box 6th Feb (1)

(S. Box)

Jan 30th Jan (1)

(J. Warren)

Jan 30th Jan (2)

(J. Warren)

Roy Edwards 30th Jan

(R. Edwards)

Roy Edwards 30th Jan (2)

(R. Edwards)

Roy Edwards 30th Jan (1)

(R. Edwards)



Coming home soon

It’s absolutely fantastic that we have the ability to track one of our ospreys using satellites. The data from the transmitter on 30(05)’s back has given us a wealth of information over the years about her whereabouts, and the specifics of her migration. It won’t be long before we are able to watch 30, albeit via dots on a map, return once again from her beach in Senegal to Rutland Water.

Currently, and for the past few months, 30 has been spending her time perched on various pieces of driftwood in her section of the long stretch of beach between Dakar and St Louis in Senegal. She takes one or two trips out to sea to fish per day, and the occasional jaunt inland to perch in the dense woodland behind the beach. She has an idyllic life in the winter, with no-one to worry about but herself.

30 26th Jan

Soon though, she must return to her natal land to raise another brood of chicks. Her instinct will tell her when she should leave. Last year 30 began heading for home on 10th March. So she may only have another month of relaxation to enjoy! We look forward to seeing those little red dots move from the location above, and start creating an almost straight line back to England!

The aerial on 30's satellite transmitter is clearly visible in this photo

30 arriving home last year (Photo J.Wright)