Eyes to the skies: West of England school kids urged to watch the birds

West of England schoolchildren are being encouraged by Metro Mayor Dan Norris to discover the birds in their playgrounds as part of the UK’s biggest school bird-watching event.

Classrooms will be turned into bird hides, binoculars fixed to eyes and school kids urged to stare out of the window in a bid to chart the West of England’s wildlife.

This is all part of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ annual Big Schools’ Birdwatch running until Monday 20 February – which helps the charity build a picture of birds visiting school grounds and monitor any changes in the population.

Last year, participants discovered that the woodpigeon claimed the number one spot in the Big School Birdwatch rankings as the most commonly seen bird with an average of 7 per school spotted. The blackbird took second place with the carrion crow completing the top three.

One school getting involved is Warmley Park special school on Tower Road. Binoculars, books and clipboards was the order of the day for the sixthformers as they joined Mayor Norris in taking part in the count.

Mayor Norris said: “For six and a half weeks this new year, pupils gazing out of their classroom window will have a good excuse! Rather than daydreaming they’ll be taking part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch helping paint a vital picture of our feathered friends. This is a wonderful opportunity for our youngsters to celebrate the species that regularly flock to their school grounds and so get excited about nature, and the world around them. And most importantly, it encourages them to think about the issues involved in protecting our precious planet, and giving nature a home”.

Teachers, helpers or children don’t need to be experts to take part in the survey. All you have to do is spend one hour at any time noting the bird species seen in your school grounds at any one time. Then submit your results online.

Rachael Albon, RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch Co-ordinator added “Big Schools’ Birdwatch offers children the chance to contribute to a UK-wide citizen science project in their school grounds. This year we have made the Birdwatch even better by including historical results data so classes can compare their sightings with national data from previous years. It’s a great opportunity to provide a valuable learning experience and, together, be part of something bigger!”.

Everything a teacher would need to plan a fantastic Birdwatch and develop their children’s knowledge and interest in the birds they see every day is available to download, including guidance notes, recipes, things to make and counting charts, Mr Norris added.

To sign up, visit rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch

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