I was lucky enough to be able to spend two weeks in Scotland this summer and the highlight of the trip was my visit to see the nesting Ospreys at Loch Garten. So when Osprey arrived in the office, I grabbed it with enthusiasm. Produced in conjunction with the RSPB, and with an excellent 32 page colour booklet to complement the program, it's a fascinating simulation of the problems faced by the osprey as a Scottish breeding bird.
You take the part of the manager of a nature reserve where ospreys are nesting. The booklet has given you an outline of the history of the osprey and you have to pick which year you want the simulation to start. The earlier the year, the harder the game is. Your aim is to make sure that the birds successfully breed and rear their chicks. To do this, you have to decide what your limited number of wardens is going to do during the vital spring and summer seasons. Some are needed to chase away the egg stealers, while others have to manage the site and keep disturbance to a minimum. Also wardens have to be spared to make people aware of the ospreys and to encourage the public support.
And, just like real life, when you've made your choices and allocated your resources you have to sit back and watch what happens. The graphics are beautiful, painting a picture of the reserve and the nest site. You can watch the ospreys as they swoop down to fish and take them to the nest.
Sadly, if you haven't allocated enough wardens to guard duty, you can also watch the egg thieves at work. Even the visitors can be a nuisance, their cars disturbing the birds if you haven't picked the right number of site wardens.
And to make it worse, factors totally out of your control such as the weather affect the final result.
Your success or failure at one reserve is taken as representative of the whole of Scotland and after the spring season you're shown how the osprey population has fared under your protection. You continue until you reach the year 1981 or you've run out of ospreys - a horrible thought. You can then compare your efforts with the magnificent results the RSPB achieved in reality which are shown in the booklet.
It's a smashing program. The instructions, both in the booklet and on the screen are excellent. The graphics and animation are more than adequate and the whole package has the quality that we've come to expect from Bourne.
Even the fact that it's educational - the well-illustrated booklet has a history of the Osprey and a things-to-do section - doesn't spoil the fun. So if you haven't been to Loch Garten yet, you can console yourself playing Osprey until you get the chance.