We may be in the midst of a damp and miserable winter in the UK, but in just two months’ time, adult Ospreys from Rutland Water and other parts of Western Europe will be beginning their spring migration. For now, though, the vast majority of the birds will be wintering on the West Coast of Africa, anywhere from Mauritania to the Ivory Coast. And next week, the Rutland Osprey Project will be joining them!
On Tuesday myself and the team will be flying to Banjul for three weeks in Gambia and Senegal. During that time we’ll be joined by two groups of project volunteers who will each be with us for one week of Osprey-watching on the coast of Gambia. We’ll then be heading north into Senegal to visit the Somone Lagoon. It’s the place where Roy Dennis and BBC Autumnwatch managed to track down Einion, one of the juvenile Ospreys satellite-tagged by the Dyfi Osprey Project.
Following the sad loss of 09(98) in Morocco in September, we don’t have any Ospreys from Rutland Water with satellite transmitters, but we will be sure to check every Osprey we see for colour rings. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll find one of our own? Whatever, the case, we know we’ll see Ospreys from all over Europe. Over the course of two trips to West Africa we’ve identified 29 colour-ringed Ospreys. Over half of them have been from Germany, but we’ve also seen birds from Scotland, the Lake District, France and Spain. So, it’s about time we found one from Rutland Water!
Aside from being a great opportunity to observe Ospreys on their wintering grounds, the trip will also enable us to develop the project’s education work in West Africa. Over the past year we have been piloting a project in three Gambian schools, whereby local bird guide, Junkung Jadama, has been taking the students out on fieldtrips and teaching them about Ospreys and bird migration. We’ll be discussing with JJ, and others, how we develop this further. The next stage of the project will involve providing the Gambian schools with computers to enable the students to follow satellite-tagged Ospreys on their migrations back to the UK, watch webcam froms various nests around Europe and also get in touch with schools located elsewhere on the flyway. This, we hope, will encourage the young people to take more of an interest in nature conservation and provide opportunities that, otherwise, they simply wouldn’t have. We’re working closely with Rotary International on this and are especially grateful to Bill Hill and Melton Rotary (as well as Stamford-Burghley Rotary) for their valuable assistance so far. Here’s a video which we filmed during our trip last year.