Osprey Education Officer: A Life Apart

In a "normal" season the Osprey Education Team would host a series of club meetings for Osprey Ambassadors, from local schools, at Lyndon Nature Reserve. Osprey Education Officer, Ken Davies, has written this lovely account for us all to enjoy...

Just over three weeks ago (surely it was longer?) well over twenty young people were inducted as Rutland Osprey Ambassadors for the 2020 season, watched by proud parents and friends, and members of the Osprey Team, at a special event at our Volunteer Training Centre on the edge of Lagoon 4. Badges were awarded, membership cards and Osprey books distributed, cakes consumed, spirits raised, skills honed, anticipation sharpened. They travelled from near and far, representing local and distant schools – all fired with the same enthusiasm and zeal to do a good job and spread the Osprey message as widely as they could.

Last Sunday (April 5th) would have been the first Osprey Club meeting for them down in the Bay at Lyndon. They would have seen, through their binoculars and telescopes from the hide – many of them for the first time – Maya and 33(11), the nest, maybe a glimpse of an osprey egg or two. The hide would have been alive with chatter, excited cries of joy, interspersed with quieter moments as memory sticks were primed, notebooks updated, cakes demolished. Some would have stayed (willing parents permitting) well beyond the suggested 4.00pm departure time, still there as the evening volunteer shift took over to monitor the Osprey’s late repertoire of fishing, eating, incubating….and living free.

Osprey Ambassadors

Please note: this photo was taken, prior to the Government's guidelines on social distancing and the current lockdown situation.

Instead, the hide is locked and silent, all flaps closed, all equipment removed and stowed back where it has spent the winter. Paths and tracks unwalked, gates unopened, birdsong, butterflies and emerging orchids unheard and unobserved. The place has receded from human view, returned to a pre-reservoir time unseen and unimagined by man, woman or child – the realm now of the glossy beetle scuttling across the track, the newly arrived warblers constructing their nests and hurling out their songs, the subtle violets, wood anemones and coltsfoot showing their faces – and, in more recent time, the realm of the peerless Ospreys.

So where are they – these young enthusiasts, these staff members and volunteers, these fantastic Mums and Dads who were going to enjoy this new season with their sons and daughters? How are they keeping in touch with nature and the special experience offered here?  How are they coping in this strange atmosphere of human distance and isolation?

To start with our young Osprey Ambassadors. We know they’re there at home, working away at tasks and activities sent from their schools, engaging with their parents, pastimes and pets, co-existing with brothers and sisters, leaping daily around gardens and yards if they’re lucky enough to have them. We’ve seen photos of some of them working away at ‘Osprey Home School’, a brilliant series of activities posted each week on the Rutland Ospreys website (click here for more information). At least three I know are preparing blogs to go onto their school websites for all the pupils, teachers and parents to read. Not the same as interacting with the real Ospreys in the Bay, but pretty good given the circumstances.

It’s the same for the outstanding team of Osprey volunteers we have here. Even though their monitoring shifts in the hide have been suspended, many volunteers are still continuing their shifts, carefully watching the progress of the pair via the webcam on an assortment of desktops, laptops, tablets and even phone screens while sitting in their own kitchens and living rooms, and meticulously recording incubation times, fish catches and every other movement on the nest. Again, hardly as satisfying as being there in person, but at least some vital statistics of this unusual season will be garnered. Thank you to them all.

Maya and 33

And what of our fabulous Osprey team, many of whom are experiencing an Osprey season in their posts for the very first time? Preparations through February and early March were so thorough, so exciting, so full of plans, hopes and dreams. Most of them are on hold, to be sure, but there is no doubt that they will all come to pass one day. Meanwhile, we all keep in touch with one another from home, share ideas and make plans for future days. Yesterday we even saw one another thanks to something called Zoom – how amazing is that? There may be no school visits, no Osprey Club, no Lyndon visitors, no Osprey cruises, no Birdfair – but the sense of ‘TEAM’ is very strong within us all. Our new colleagues may be ‘in at the deep end’, experiencing a ‘baptism of fire’, but my goodness, they are all already showing their mettle and will be a formidable outfit when this is all over!

Keep to the rules, everyone, and stay strong and resolute. We will emerge from this together, and re-connect with the wonderful world of Rutland Water!

Maya incubating

Ambassador Osprey Club – Kens Challenge

As we cannot meet for Osprey Club, all Osprey Ambassadors have been set a challenge by Ken

For more information take  a look in the  Osprey Ambassadors section on the Osprey Education page.