Eagle-eyed schoolchildren set to count the nation’s birds
THOUSANDS of schoolchildren across Scotland will be swapping books for binoculars this term to take part in the UK’s biggest schools wildlife survey.
The RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch 2017 takes place during the first half of the spring term, with schools able to take part from now until February 17. The survey helps children discover the wonderful wildlife they share their school grounds with, whilst providing a helpful insight into which species are thriving or declining.
According to research conducted by the RSPB, one in five children are disconnected from nature. Big Schools’ Birdwatch aims to inspire children to care about the natural world around them in the hope they’ll want to help protect it for future generations.
Last year almost 7,500 pupils from schools all across Scotland took part by counting the birds that visited their school grounds, and it is hoped even more will take part this year.
Over the years, more than 70 different species have been recorded in UK school grounds, ranging from starlings and house sparrows, to red kites and green woodpeckers. In Scotland the blackbird remained the most common playground visitor in 2016. The top three was rounded off by starlings in second place, and carrion crows in third.
Judy Paul, RSPB Scotland’s education, families and volunteering manager said: ‘We hope that the excitement of taking part in Big Schools’ Birdwatch will inspire children across Scotland to explore the natural world around them, especially what they can find on their doorstep, as well as showing them the role that citizen science has to play in painting a picture of how birds are faring over the winter.’
The Big Schools’ Birdwatch is the school version of the Big Garden Birdwatch – ‘the world’s biggest garden wildlife survey aimed at families and individuals’. The event will take place over three days from January 28-30, 2017 and further information can be found on the RSPB website rspb. org.uk/ birdwatch. To register to take part, visit rspb. org.uk/schoolswatch.
Children watching birds at school, RSPB Big Schools Birdwatch.
Magpie Pica pica, standing among red berries – September.
Left: House sparrow, Passer domesticus, male, perched in garden in Co. Durham – October.
Starling Sturnus vulgaris, London, December