Philosophy Friday

Yes! It’s my favourite day of the week! Philosophy Friday strikes again and this week we’re delving into the wonderful world of trees! We all know about the benefits of green spaces for our mental health, as many studies have shown it to reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, improve cardiovascular health and general mood. But forests and woodland have held a wealth of benefits for many years, some uses you may never have known! Obviously trees give us a fantastic means to fix carbon dioxide. This helps promote the reversal of climate change and global warming, taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and in return, providing oxygen, the very air that we breathe! As well as fixing carbon dioxide, woodland and forest ecosystems are lively hubs of nutrient recycling, taking in decayed biological matter from the soil and turning old material into new, balancing the whole ecosystem literally from the ground up. If it weren’t for trees we would have very poor quality soils and would be unable to enjoy wildflowers, and indeed the abundance of bird and mammal life which nest in their boughs and shelter from the weather. If you grew up around trees you will also know the brilliant fun to be had from collecting their seeds (conkers from horse chestnuts and ‘helicopters’ from sycamores!) as well as the endless hours of fun clambering, swinging and leaping from their branches as a kid. It’s fair to say trees are fantastic to look at on the surface, and make us feel calm when we see a sea of green ahead of us and around us as we walk.

But the secrets of trees lie even deeper rooted than this. Trees can effectively talk to each other by tapping into a subterranean network colloquially referred to as the ‘wood wide web’. In a woodland or forest, trees of the same or different species tap into this network via microscopic fungi associated with their roots, called mycorrhiza. These fungi form long filaments in the soil which may extend to deep inside the root network of trees, allowing chemical signals to be detected and passed on to neighbouring trees. This is incredibly important in woodlands, and an individual tree can signal to surrounding trees if it is under attack from insects, wood boring animals and diseases, which in turn stimulates the surrounding trees to increase their defences. Mother trees can also send extra resources via this network to its sheltered seedlings, which often grow nearby, or in a more insidious manner, for instance trees such as black walnut can spread toxins to out-compete its neighbours. So trees talk to one another! And it’s fair to say they’re one of our best sources of education about our natural world. From them, we’ve developed painkillers, blood thinners, skin treatments, treatments for malaria…the list goes on about their material uses too. So surely they’re the answer to our happiness, health, and climate change prayers? No catch. There are a growing number of people out there re-planting sections of rainforest, growing whole woodlands on their land and buying up acres of land to turn back into woodland and forest systems. What can we do as consumers? Recycling paper, cardboard and tissue will go a long way, as will buying recycled paper kitchen and toilet roll, and paper stationary for the office, as well as recycling books and borrowing books. But most importantly, visiting nature reserves and wooded areas where active preservation is being done to protect them, every penny you spend there goes into the habitat management of our woodland and forested areas in the UK to protect them and help them grow.

I think woodlands are tree-mendous fun to immerse yourself in, and is brilliant for stirring the creative juices too. At Lyndon Visitor Centre this month and next we will be thinking about tree workshops and guided walks around the site…stay tuned!

The three musketeers! 150th Chick!

What a terrific Tuesday! I arrived at the center to open up this morning, with the phone ringing as I stepped in through the door. Tom and Ann Price, our vigilant volunteers stationed down in Waderscrape hide, had been watching our ospreys from dawn for any signs of another new arrival. Tentatively they suggested they’d seen a third head pop up out of the nest as Maya came down to feed the two chicks…  went back through the footage on the webcam and found…

3 bobbing heads calling for fish! This was fantastic to see and I trawled back through the footage to catch a glimpse of the hatching event…

The best estimate I could make was when Maya was shifting bits of egg shell around the nest at about 22.58 last night, the chick had presumably hatched underneath her! This is a particularly poignant moment for the Rutland Osprey project, as it marks the 150th chick to hatch at Rutland water since the project began. This is a remarkable achievement by our birds to have produced so many healthy chicks, and a showcase of how hard the Osprey team have worked over the years to improve the profile and productivity of these incredible birds in England. It is really only fitting that our celebrity pair should win the title of 150th chick, as they have delighted many visitors, members of the public (and staff of course!) with their brilliant parenting skills, charisma and personality, which we have watched closely on our webcams. Maya and 33 will have their work cut out with these three hungry mouths, and we hope all four will hatch, we will have to wait and see if the three musketeers become the fantastic four!

Stay tuned for more updates as the chicks grow, and don’t forget you can donate to the Osprey project by text, and follow us on social media at:

Rutland Osprey project on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RutlandOspreyProject/

Twitter: @rutlandospreys

Instagram: @rutlandospreys

Whatever floats your boat…

As many of you will know, at Rutland water Osprey project, we want to immerse you in the world of the Osprey, show you up close how they live, feed, breed and fledge. What better way to complete the picture of Osprey life than by getting out onto the water itself? We are running cruises all through the summer, a mixture of dawn and afternoon cruises out onto Rutland water, 90 minutes of fantastic views of the birdlife on the water and in the air.. with (hopefully!) some views of flying/fishing Ospreys!

The cruise will be guided by myself and Katy Smart, offering a narrative of Osprey life, some fun facts and insights, as well as bad jokes! It’s great fun and a brilliant opportunity to see Rutland water as never before. We still have a lot of spaces left on our first cruise of the season, on the 25th May at 5.30pm until 7PM, lead by our Senior reserves officer Rebecca Pitman, so call us or book online to come and enjoy a cruise on the water!

For more info on the cruises, you can call us or find out more on the main webpage here: https://www.ospreys.org.uk/cruises/

Looking forward to seeing you all there! The first of the season is always exciting as hopefully all of our chicks will be hatching, and the parents will have their work cut out trying to feed those hungry mouths!

Wildlife Cruise

Hungry Mouths

Much to my despair, I was correct. My personal bet on the first chick to hatch was Thursday of last week, due to a very unfortunate trend in my role so far of every osprey related milestone to occur on my days off! Thursday was a day off.. but the eggs patiently waited until Saturday evening to hatch, when our centre had closed for the day and all staff were away from the webcams! Two beautiful (dinosaur looking) tiny Ospreys emerged into the world, demanding to be fed. They have had a fantastic couple of days in generally sunny weather, being fed by their attentive parents. 

We will be watching anxiously over the next couple of days for the arrival of the third chick, which will mark the 150th chick born at Rutland water since the project began! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merch ado about nothing..

Afternoon all! Still we are awaiting the moment when Maya reveals the first chick on the nest, but maybe she’s waiting for a bit more of a pleasant window in the weather, I know I would be! Just a little update about a few exciting things set to hit the Lyndon Visitor’s centre this week!

First in the line up is a brand spankin’ new range of T-shirts and polo shirts embossed with our new logo for the Osprey project. It’s very chic in design, the geometric shapes in the lettering represent the elements that our Ospreys have been masters of for hundreds of years: air and water! The T shorts and polo shirts are both made of organic cottons and feel fantastic to wear, come and see a few samples in the shop and carry the legacy of the project with you on your own adventures! We also have mugs, handmade soaps and candles with our new brand on, and we are trying to expand our new range still… stay tuned!

We’re also introducing an easier way to donate to the Osprey project: you can now text ‘Osprey’ to 70085 to donate £5 plus a standard message rate. You can also text for donating £10, £20 etc by texting ‘Osprey 10′ Osprey 20’. Anything you can donate will help immensely to our project, both for developing our outreach, activities, the centre spec, and of course the better conservation of our Ospreys. 

Feel free to come down to the centre to find out more about the project and why Ospreys are so fantastic!