Birdwatch gives children a chance to discover nature

Picture: Eleanor Bentall
Picture: Eleanor Bentall

Woodpigeons, blackbirds and house sparrows are at the top of the checklist for children across Bedfordshire as the world’s biggest schools’ wildlife survey kicks off.

The RSPB Big Schools Birdwatch is running until February 23 and provides a chance for children to put down their books and get outside to experience and learn about the nature that lives nearby.

The Birdwatch involves children spending an hour watching and counting the birds that visit their outdoor space, before sending the results to the RSPB.

A recent survey of 200 teachers and 1,200 school children from around the UK revealed that 96% teachers believed it was important for children to experience nature at school, while 77% of pupils agreed. With close to a million school children taking part since its launch in 2002, the RSPB Big Schools Birdwatch is the perfect opportunity for schools to get outside, learn and make their first discoveries in nature.

Last year, more than 1,800 children and teachers in Bedfordshire contributed to the 73,000 who took part nationally, counting more than 100,000 birds across the country. The woodpigeon was the most common playground visitor in the county with an average of between 7 and 8 birds being spotted per school during the watch. Blackbirds, house sparrows and starlings also featured prominently in the results. With over 70 different species recorded in the 2017 survey, it is likely there will be a few surprises in schools this year too.

Sharon Sanderson, RSPB Education, Families and Youth Manager in the East, said: “The Big Schools Birdwatch is the chance for children to get a taste of the wild side where they live and go to school. It’s fun, easy and simple to set up, it works for all ages, and even if it’s a dull, rainy January day you can still gaze out of the classroom and see a flash of colour.

“Sadly, children are spending less time outside in nature, meaning they are missing out on the positive impact nature has on their education, physical health and emotional wellbeing. The Birdwatch is the perfect chance to experience nature first hand, make exciting discoveries and help provide scientists with valuable information.”

For the first time the RSPB has partnered with Cbeebies favourites Twirlywoos to provide exciting new activities and resources specifically tailored to Early Years, to help get their mini Birdwatches off to a flying start.

The Big Schools Birdwatch is a free activity and only takes an hour to complete. Teachers can pick any day during the first half of the spring term to take part, with the flexibility to run it as a one-off or as the centrepiece of a cross-curricular study, project work or a way for the children to improve their outdoor space.

To take part in the Birdwatch and help the next generation of children start their own wildlife adventure, visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch