I hope all reading this post will contact a teacher. Connecting children is the best hope for our planet, conservation is a great way to accomplish this, glad Ospreys are part of this effort
This is another winter report where I’m happy to say that our Ospreys are doing nothing but getting fat catching fish down in Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia (?), and Brazil.
North Fork Bob and Sr. Bones usually head north around the 20th of March, so we’re a month off from their departures. Bridgewater Art, our New Hampshire male, is on his first migration, so we don’t know when he’ll start north. He has a long way to go, so I won’t be surprised to see him head north before Bones or Bob.
Belle will start her second migration north probably fairly late—she doesn’t have a nest to get back to yet. Maybe she’ll surprise us and get up early enough to start housekeeping. Will she go back to Deep Bottom Cove where she spent so much time last summer, or head over to the Cape, where she spent the last month or so before heading south for her second migration? This is the really fun part of tracking juveniles.
Snowy, our almost 2-yr old, will be on his first trip north. He’s pretty much a teenager, and we all know they don’t get up before noon, so I don’t expect him to move before some time in April or even as late as May.
Then there’s Bridger and Rammie—our 2 Westport River, MA, adults with cell-tower-based transmitters. We have no idea where Rammie is, but we know Bridger got as far south as Bolivia. It will be fascinating to get their data, if they make it back.
So while our birds weren’t moving, I was. My New Hampshire colleague in the Osprey tagging game, Iain MacLeod, and I were invited to attend a workshop in Israel where, along with Osprey trackers from all over Europe, we brainstormed on how we can best take advantage of our tagged birds for educational outreach.
Who’d have thought that our research would wind up in the Jerusalem Post?
We also got some nice coverage up in New Hampshire:
. (Don’t believe the line about me tagging more Ospreys than anyone else—not true!)
Here are a couple of paragraphs describing where we're headed with the educational outreach. The British gang (Rutland Water) is spearheading this effort. They've set up a website that we'll use to connect schools on the breeding and wintering grounds of our target Ospreys. They've already got a couple of schools to sign up and the Rutland school is already email pals with a school in The Gambia, in western Africa. The site will be an Ospreys-only facebook-like site where school classes can communicate as they watch "their" Ospreys migrate north and south. We should soon have a map on the website that will automatically update as the data come in from all the Ospreys we're following--a couple on each flyway (a few North American schools will be logging on soon). The classes will be able to communicate about themselves, their schools, and their Ospreys and see where “their” Ospreys are. Here’s the website in its early, formative stage:
Linking satellite-tracking with education
Ospreys have nested at Rutland Water, an internationally important site for wetland birds situated in central England, since 2001 following a successful re-introduction project. In 2011, two adult Ospreys were fitted with GPS transmitters. The birds’ migration data was posted on the Rutland Osprey Project website (
) and was avidly followed by thousands of people around the world, including many schools. The data proved especially valuable in geography lessons where it was used to teach students about a diverse range of topics, including latitude and longitude, international development and different habitats and landscapes along the migratory flyway.
The migration of the two Rutland Ospreys, and the interest it generated, demonstrated the unique ability of migratory birds to link people around the world. To develop this concept further, the Rutland Osprey Project has initiated a pilot project, linking schools in the UK and The Gambia in West Africa. Students, aged between 8 years and 15 years, have exchanged letters and videos helping them to develop their knowledge of Osprey and bird migration, and to learn about another country and culture in a new and exciting way. As part of the pilot scheme, the project has developed a programme of fieldtrips for three Gambian schools, led by a local bird guide. This has given the students an opportunity to observe Ospreys and other wildlife in their local area.
Much of the initial work has been undertaken during trips by the Rutland Osprey Project team to West Africa but for the project to be sustainable in the long-term, computer and internet infrastructure is required in the African schools. This would allow students at those schools to follow satellite-tagged Ospreys online and to communicate with schools, via e-mail and Skype, in the UK and elsewhere on the flyways.
In addition to direct links between schools in the UK and The Gambia, there is potential to link schools and students from many other countries along the migration flyways between Europe and Africa and North and South America. With this in mind, the Rutland Osprey Project has set-up a trial website to demonstrate how schools could be connected. The website provides background information on each school and contact details of a teacher.
To register a school, go to this website and fill out some information about your school. Once that info is uploaded, the Rutland team will create a page for your school:
So, do you know a teacher that's really gung-ho and might be interested in something like this? We think the prime ages for this are middle-school kids, but we’re equal opportunity educators—older students could design research projects and really play with the data. Let me know if you have any ideas on this!
Spring, and our Ospreys, are coming!
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