Ea­gle-eyed school­child­ren set to count the na­tion’s birds

The Oban Times - - Leisure -

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

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