Monday, 17 February 2014

Big Schools' Birdwatch!

On Friday I helped a year 7 science class take part in the RSPB's 'Big Schools' Birdwatch'. For many of them it was the first time they had ever paid any attention to birds before, and once they had stopped giggling at the funny names members of the family Paridae are unfortunate enough to have, I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm with which they took up the challenge.

To start with, each student was given their own bird to look out for and a tally chart to record how many they saw. Unfortunately the storms on Friday prevented us from seeing as many birds as we might have done, but those that did manage to identify their species were left buzzing by the experience (reminded me of something). 

Even those that didn't were still captivated by the few birds that we did see. They would all run to one window to see a Crow, then to the next window to see a Magpie. These were species that I'd probably overlook nowadays, but the astonishment the students showed for them has made me realise that perhaps I should pay more attention to the more familiar things out there. After all, there is no reason why a Sparrow should be any less interesting than a Sparrowhawk! And even if only one student has taken away from that lesson a greater appreciation for the natural world, this planet can only be a better place for it. 

The students were amazed as a small murmuration of starlings rippled over our heads on Friday 
This week I have also been stepping up my search for a Barn Owl. Seeing as this is my first month as a local patch reporter, I thought I'd set myself a bit of an easy 'wild challenge', safe in the knowledge that a Barn Owl can often be seen gliding across the fields next to my house in the evenings. Worryingly however, I have not seen the Owl once this year so far. 

Barn Owls have been doing very badly these past four years, undermined by continuous bouts of extreme weather. It is estimated that as few as 1,000 breeding pairs still remain in England, so to lose the one in the fields next to my house would be another devastating blow to a species in serious decline.

Let's hope my search proves more fruitful in the coming weeks!


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